Customs Guide for Personal Effects Shipping to Singapore

Essential Documents & Customs Information For International Removals to Singapore

Are you planning on moving, or returning, to Singapore and taking personal effects, household goods or furniture with you? Whenever you make a booking with 1st Move International Limited, we will give you all the advice you need when shipping your goods, including how to import them into your new home country when you arrive.

However, here is a quick reference guide to give you a heads up on the documentation that you may need for international removals to Singapore.

Table of contents

What Are Personal Effects?

According to Singapore Customs, importing used personal effects and household goods into Singapore will incur Goods and Services Tax (GST), although an importer can apply for GST relief if they meet the following criteria;

  • Singaporeans and Permanent Residents that have been living overseas and returning to live permanently in Singapore
  • Foreigners transferring residence to Singapore

Also, the importer must be the owner of the items, and they must have been in their possession, and used, for more than 3 months. The importer must also not dispose of the items within 3 months of importing them, and must import them within 6 months of their first arrival in Singapore.

What Documents are Required to Import Personal Effects into Singapore?

Employment Pass

An Employment Pass is issued by the Ministry for Manpower and it allows foreign professionals, managers and executives to work in Singapore. If your pass is still being processed then you can submit the acknowledgement letter from the Ministry of Manpower along with a letter from your employer.

National Registration Identity Card

Returning Singaporean residents, or permanent residents will need to submit a copy of the front and back page of their National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) which is a compulsory identity document issued to all citizens and permanent residents of Singapore.

The NRIC includes a unique Identity Card Number, which is a set of nine alphanumeric characters.

Re-Entry Permit

A Permanent Resident will also need to submit a copy of their Re-Entry Permit. This allows someone to retain their permanent residence status when they are outside of Singapore. Leaving Singapore without a valid re-entry permit means a loss of permanent residency status.

Proof of Employment Outside Singapore

For returning Singapore nationals, or permanent residents, proof of employment outside of Singapore is also required. This can be in the form of work or resident Visa or immigration endorsements from the origin country.

Packing Inventory

This is a list and description of the goods that are being shipped. We will provide a packed inventory for any items that we are packing on your behalf, but for any items that you pack yourself you will need to provide us with an inventory advising the description of the items packed. Not to worry though, we will provide you with a blank inventory to complete once you have made your booking with us.

You will need to present this to Customs in Singapore for them to review before they release your personal effects shipment to be delivered to you.

Bill of Lading

Once your goods have shipped from the UK, the shipping line will confirm the sailing date and estimated arrival date. They will also provide us with the Bill of Lading, which is the transport document specific to your shipment.

This document includes the name of the owner of the goods as well as the collection and delivery addresses in the UK and Singapore. We will issue an “Express Bill of Lading” which means that an original document isn’t required, and you can claim your shipment with the shipping agent in Singapore using a copy only, which we will provide to you.


Whether you have a UK or Singaporean passport, or one issued elsewhere, we still require a good quality picture of the photo page. This must be in the same name as your shipping documents and be valid at the time of shipping.

What Items Are Prohibited to be Imported into Singapore?

There are items that you are not allowed to bring into Singapore with you, and it is considered an offence to attempt to, these include;

  • Chewing Gum
  • Controlled Drugs
  • Firecrackers
  • Cigarette Lighters of Pistol or Revolver Shape
  • Reproduction of Copyright Publications

Please ensure that your packed inventory is sent to 1st Move International as soon as possible, so that we can check that there aren’t any items that may cause issues for Customs clearance in Singapore. For more details check the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority website.

What Items Are Restricted to be Imported into Singapore?

There are some items that are restricted, and these are known in Singapore as Controlled Items. These can require import permits, or further inspection by Customs before they are released. These include;

  • Medicines/Pharmaceuticals
  • Poisons
  • Plants
  • Alcohol and Tobacco products
  • Films, Videotapes etc
  • Newspapers, books and magazines

Again, sending your packed inventory to 1st Move International as soon as possible allows us to check your items for potential issues.

Am I Able to Bring New / Unused Items to Singapore as Personal Effects?

As mentioned above, all used household articles and personal effects that are imported into Singapore, and do not meet the criteria for relief, will incur Goods and Services Tax. This would mean that the importer would be required to obtain a Customs In-Payment (GST) permit to enable them to arrange the payment of the GST.

The cost of GST would be 8% of the shipper’s declared value of the goods.

Can I Bring My Car With Me to Singapore?

The import of cars and motorbikes into Singapore is discouraged, although some motor vehicles, such as pre-1940 vintage cars, can be given Duty Exemption in some cases. These will still be subject to GST and be approved by the Land Transport Authority (LTA)

Importing motor vehicles will always incur GST, and may incur duty costs. The Customs duty cost is 20% of the market value, and there is an Additional Registration Fee (ARF) that is a tax imposed upon registration, and this can be 110% of the market value.

No car more than 3 years old is allowed to be imported into Singapore.

For Motorbikes, the Customs Duty rate is 12%, and the ARF is 15%, of the market value.

If you are still adamant on importing a car or motorbike into Singapore, then contact Autoshippers who have been exporting cars to Singapore for over 25 years. Take a look at their Singapore Car Import Guide for more details, or to request a quotation.

Is There Anything Else I should Know?

The owner of the goods doesn’t need to be in Singapore to clear the goods in person, as long as all of the required paperwork is completed in advance, with a copy of the importer’s passport. If you are not planning to be in Singapore to clear in person, please let us know as early as possible so that we can ensure everything is set up correctly for you.

If an importer does not have an employment pass, they can clear without as long as they are willing to pay GST. The “used value” of the goods must be declared for the GST assessment.

Shipping Furniture and Household Effects to Singapore

If you are moving, or returning, to Singapore then 1st Move International are here to help. Our team of international removals experts are on hand to help with any questions that you have, and to help make international removals to Singapore as stress-free as possible.

If you would like more details of our packing and shipping services, then take a look at our website where we can show you that shipping personal effects with 1st Move International is the faster, safer, smarter way to do so. You can also ask us for a quotation by completing the easy-to-use quote form on this page.

Your Pallets Packed - Posted Live on Facebook

Your life, carefully wrapped, beautifully packed, and protected for the journey ahead.

We are extremely proud of our unique packing process. We are one of the only international movers in the UK that uses this tried and tested method to ship your treasured personal possessions overseas.

This is our craft - lives packed with care and attention for their journey overseas. Visit our Facebook page to find a snapshot of each shipment captured as the final pallet is wrapped.

We're proud to post these images, showcasing our removals team's passion and skill. Your personal effects are in the very best hands and are now destined for new adventures abroad.

Come and have a look.