Shipping from China to Singapore: Guide for E-commerce Sellers To Ensure Smooth Logistics Processes

Written by the Amazon Team
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for your information only and must not be construed as a guarantee of future results or legal, tax or financial advice. Many factors influence the demand for your products, including price fluctuations, consumer demand shifts, and sellers remain responsible for determining the products they sell and their prices. If you are in doubt as to the action you should take, please consult your legal, financial, tax, or other professional adviser. The links provided are for information purposes only and Amazon does not warrant the accuracy of any information provided in these links.

As e-commerce sellers, it is crucial to ensure that your logistics processes run smoothly in order to fulfill orders efficiently. It is also a common sight for retailers to ship items from China to Singapore, both to stock up inventory in the warehouse and to ship goods directly to buyers.

In this guide, we touch on methods to ship from China to Singapore, the processes, documents to prepare, costs and most importantly, tips to ensure that your logistics can run smoothly.

Methods for shipping from China to Singapore

When shipping goods from China to Singapore, there are 2 main methods that sellers can use — air freight and sea freight.

1. Air freight

Air freight refers to the shipment of goods via a plane. Goods are loaded onto a plane till the maximum weight load is reached before it sets off to its destination. This mode of transport is faster than sea freight and is usually more expensive.

2. Sea freight

Sea freight refers to the shipment of goods via a cargo ship. Goods are packed into containers and loaded onto a shipping vessel before sailing to its destination. This takes longer than air freight but is typically more cost-efficient.

a. FCL

Full container load (FCL) is when you have enough cargo to fill an entire shipping container. In such cases, it is more cost-effective to ship via FCL as you will be paying a flat rate for the entire container, instead of paying per cubic meter (CBM) occupied.

b. LCL

On the other hand, if your cargo is not enough to fill a full container, you can opt for less than container load (LCL) instead. This means that your goods will be combined with others to fill a container. With LCL, you only pay for the space that your goods occupy.

Choosing between air and sea freight

With 2 methods available, it is important to understand the differences between them to choose the right shipping option for your cargo. Here are some key differentiating factors.

Speed

Air freight can ship goods a lot faster as compared to sea freight. Shipping from China to Singapore via air takes about 5 to 14 days, while sea freight takes about 6 to 31 days.

Thus, if you have any urgent deliveries or perishable goods, air freight is the way to go. To maximize savings for larger volumes of cargo that are not time-sensitive, go for sea freight.

Shipping cost

Globally, approximately 80% of goods are transported by ships. Sellers that ship in bulk or large quantities that can fill an entire container will get to enjoy economies of scale. In fact, any cargo above 2 CBM is likely to be more cost-effective being shipped via sea than air.

If you are looking to ship small quantities of samples or small order batches, air freight can be more economical.

Cargo restrictions

Air freight has strict regulations regarding the types, sizes and weights of items that can be shipped. Bulky, odd-sized or dangerous goods typically cannot be shipped via air. Some examples include:
  • Liquids (e.g., nail polish, colognes, perfumes, nail polish remover)
  • Aerosols or gas (e.g., deodorant, hairspray, paint)
  • Toxic or corrosive items (e.g., batteries, phones, cameras)
  • Food
On the other hand, sea freight does not have such restrictions on cargo. If your goods fall into the list of prohibited items, opt for sea freight.

Shipping fragile items?

Both air and sea freight are suitable for shipping fragile items. The key to preventing damage during the shipment is to ensure that the shipping agent provides extra protection for the cargo such as using bubble wrap and wood crates to cushion any impact.

It is also good to have cargo insurance in case of any unavoidable damages.

Overview of shipping from China into Singapore

Disclaimer: This section aims to provide general guidance around shipping from China to Singapore. In an ever-changing regulatory landscape, you are encouraged to refer to the websites of General Administration of Customs (China) and Singapore Customs websites for the most recent regulations and guidance around shipping from China to Singapore.

From origin location to port

The first step is first mile delivery, which refers to when the goods are dispatched from the origin location to the port. The origin location can be a manufacturing facility or warehouse where the goods are manufactured or stored.

Before goods get dispatched, they will be packed and labeled properly to expedite the customs clearance process.

Customs clearance at China port

Once all goods have reached the air or sea port, they will be inspected by China’s customs officials.
Air freight
If you opted for air freight, the China airport that your goods may be shipped from will depend on the nature of your goods.

The destination airport in Singapore will be Changi Airport.
Sea freight
If you opted for sea freight, your goods will be shipped from Shenzhen ports to the Port of Singapore.
Documents required
At this stage, you will need the following documents to get clearance for export:
  • Bill of lading
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Exporter of Record or export permit (for bulk shipments)

Customs clearance at Singapore port

When the shipment arrives at the air or sea port in Singapore, they will be inspected by Singapore’s customs officials before getting clearance.
  • Bill of lading
  • Certificate of origin
  • Insurance policy
  • Receipt of payment of import duty and taxes
  • Other relevant permits, licenses and certificates
For bulk shipments, ensure that you have these documents as well:
  • Unique Entity Number (UEN)
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Customs import declaration

From Singapore port to destination

After clearing Singapore customs, B2B shipments will be transported from the port directly to the destination via trucking. B2C shipments, on the other hand, will be moved to a transportation hub before last mile delivery to the customer’s address.

Fulfill your orders with Amazon FBA

Prefer to outsource order fulfillment? Opt for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) — with one of the most advanced fulfillment networks globally, Amazon allows you to store your goods in our fulfillment centers.

We also pack and deliver any orders and handle customer service and returns for these products. FBA can enable you to scale your business and improve your sales.

Tips to ensure logistics can run smoothly

In logistics management, it is important to account for possible circumstances that may cause delays. Some of these situations include lockdowns due to COVID-19 or peak shopping seasons.

Account for peak season orders

To ensure that there is sufficient inventory to fulfill all orders, it would be good to account for orders during peak seasons. Such occasions include Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

Using inventory turnover as a gauge, have a chat with your manufacturer to plan for the forecasted demand. This way, you can produce more goods and store them in the warehouse in preparation for these seasons.

Boost sales on Amazon Prime Day

Prime Day is Amazon's annual deal event exclusively for Prime members — it features amazing deals for products from top brands and small businesses.

If you are an Amazon seller, ensure that you have enough inventory to prepare for this peak season!

Book special containers in advance

If you have goods that require special containers to be shipped, it would be good to book them months in advance. For example, transporting perishable goods such as wine and certain food products would require a refrigerated container.

Booking containers in advance ensures that you are less likely to be affected by a shortage, should it happen.

Outsource to a 4PL service provider

Another tip to ensure optimum logistics management is to outsource it to a 4PL service provider. A 4PL company outsources activities to their logistics partners or 3PL companies to do the job, while managing and optimizing logistics processes.

The company will manage all aspects of order fulfillment such as the shipping and storage of products. Outsourcing this allows you to tap on the expertise of a 4PL to prepare for or adapt quickly in the event of a shipping delay.

Cost of shipping from China to Singapore

The cost of shipping from China to Singapore can differ depending on many factors such as the mode of transport, time of the year, carrier availability, nature of goods and more.

Air freight costs

Air carriers charge by volumetric weight or actual weight (in kg), whichever is higher. Volumetric weight is calculated by dividing the volume of the shipment in CBM (length x width x height) by 5000*.

For example:
An item with dimensions 20cm x 30cm x 70cm and weight 10kg, will have a(n)
  • Actual weight of 10kg and
  • Volumetric weight of (20cm x 30cm x 70cm) ÷ 5000 = 8.4kg
In this case, since the actual weight (10kg) is higher than the volumetric weight (8.4kg), the chargeable weight is 10kg.

*Note that this divisor may vary for different carriers. You are encouraged to check your provider's website for details.

Sea freight costs

Sea carriers charge differently for FCL and LCL shipments.

FCL:
For FCL shipments, you pay the full rate for the entire container. This price is dependent on several factors like the size of the container and origin and final destination.

LCL:
LCL shipments only require you to pay for the space that you occupy in the container. This is calculated by volume which is length x width x height in CBM. Thus, the more space you need, the more you pay.

FAQs about shipping from China to Singapore

How long does it take to ship from China to Singapore?
It depends on whether you are shipping by air or sea.

For air freight, shipping from China to Singapore may take approximately 5 to 14 days depending on the China airport that you are shipping from. Sea freight takes approximately 6 to 31 days depending on which China port you are shipping from.

Do take into account public holidays in both the origin and destination countries when estimating the duration. Use the above state timeframes for indicative purposes only, and plan for enough time for shipping due to unforeseen circumstances and delays such as COVID-19.
What are the taxes and duties incurred for shipping from China to Singapore?
Exporting from China
Starting from 1 January 2022, China imposes export tariffs on 106 export commodities with fixed tax rates. You may refer to the Ministry of Finance of the People's Republic of China for updates on taxes and duties incurred.

Importing to Singapore
In an ever-changing landscape you are encouraged to refer to the latest guidelines on Singapore Customs website.

The GST on imported goods is calculated based on the goods’ CIF (cost, insurance and freight) value. The GST of non-dutiable goods includes the CIF value and any incidentals, whereas the GST of dutiable goods includes the CIF and all other import duties and charges.
What items are prohibited for import to Singapore?
Here are some items that are prohibited for import to Singapore:
  • Chewing gum
  • Firecrackers
  • Shisha
  • Replica tobacco products
  • Obscene materials such as books and video tapes
  • Endangered wildlife or products derived from them
For more information, view the full list of prohibited items here.

Note: The information provided in this article is for your information only and must not be construed as a guarantee of future results or legal, tax or financial advice. Many factors influence the demand for your products, including price fluctuations, consumer demand shifts, and sellers remain responsible for determining the products they sell and their prices. If you are in doubt as to the action you should take, please consult your legal, financial, tax, or other professional adviser. The links provided are for information purposes only and Amazon does not warrant the accuracy of any information provided in these links.

Quick Survey

Let us know if you found this article useful.
© 2022, Amazon.com Services LLC.