Singapore customs procedures are fully digitized and integrated into the National Single Window (TradeNet), an information technology platform that connects the trading community with the Singapore Customs Department and other trade regulators.
At a glance, according to information from the World Trade Organization (WTO), Singapore continues to be a very open economy, since the country’s two-way trade in goods and services represents 320% of GDP.
A large part of the exchanges constitute transit trade, which highlights the country’s position as a center of trade: in 2020, 55% of total merchandise exports were re-exports.
There all trade declarations are filed and processed through TradeNet.
An import permit must be obtained for each shipment to be imported, except in certain situations specified in the regulations.
To apply for a permit (or any certificate or authorization), importers must register as a declaring agent and obtain a TradeNet user ID; otherwise, they can designate a declaring agent to apply for an import permit on their behalf.
Reporting agents must undergo an assessment by the Singapore Customs Department during the registration process, as well as for subsequent renewals.
This evaluation is carried out in accordance with a set of criteria established in the Reporting Agents Management Framework, the objective of which is to raise the level of competence and professionalism of the reporting agencies, encouraging those agencies to improve their internal control procedures and processes. and maintain a good compliance record.
Import permit applications are submitted electronically through the TradeNet Frontend application; the approved permit is sent to the merchant through the same application.
Typically, an application for a permit costs SGD 2.88. According to the Singapore Release Time Study (2018), the customs permit application submitted through the one-stop shop is generally approved within 10 minutes.
In September 2018, Singapore launched the Networked Trade Platform (NTP), a next-generation trade and logistics ecosystem that serves as a one-stop shop and connects players across the value chain from Singapore and abroad.
Still sourced from the WTO, the NTP will gradually replace the Single Window as the single platform for permit applications.
With the NTP, an approved TradeNet import permit can be returned directly in structured data format to the trader, who can reuse the data for other service transactions with the Singapore Customs Department or the trader’s trading partners, thereby reducing costs and speed up processes.
Currently, TradeNet and the NTP operate in parallel.