Exporting guide to Singapore

Overview

Singapore is a small, but wealthy city-state with an open and trade-driven economy. It is a leading financial, shipping, and trade hub for the Asia Pacific region, and the government has a pro-business economic and trade policy.

Ease of doing business

The UK has a free trade agreement (FTA) and a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) with Singapore.

The DEA puts an end to outdated rules, making it easier for UK goods and service exporters to target new opportunities in Singapore.

New businesses can be set up in a matter of hours as Singapore has a stable government, strong rule of law and effective regulatory system.

Common business environment with the UK

The UK and Singapore share a common language and have strong historical ties. Both economies have similar business and legal practices and share similar technical standards.

Gateway to Asia Pacific

Singapore’s location makes it a gateway to South East Asia and Asia Pacific. It is one of the UK’s largest trading partners in Southeast Asia, making it a good place from which to seek business opportunities in the wider region.

Singapore with digital hologram

Singapore: at a glance

Currency

Singapore Dollar

Business language

English

GDP per capita

$72,795

Actual figure (IMF, 2021). The UK is $47,203 (IMF, 2021, projected figure)

Economic growth

7.6%

(IMF, 2021)

Time zone

GMT +8

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Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Singapore have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors.

Check for trade barriers

Trade barriers, such as tariffs or taxes, can raise costs, cause delays, or even stop you from exporting. Check for any issues that may impact your business when exporting.

See current trade barriers

See resolved trade barriers

Check duties and customs

Find information on how to export goods from the UK. View the duties, rules, restrictions, and the documents you need for your products.

See current duties and customs procedures

Doing business in Singapore

Preparing to export

Free trade agreement and Digital Economy Agreement

The UK has a free trade agreement with Singapore, which came into force on 1 January 2021.

The UK also has a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) with Singapore, which came into effect on 13 June 2022

Taxation

The UK and Singapore have signed a double taxation agreement.

UK companies operating in Singapore will be subject to local taxation requirements.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) provides more information on tax in Singapore.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Singapore is 7%. Find out more about Singapore's Goods and Services Tax.

VAT

You can zero-rate the sale of goods exported to Singapore. You must get evidence that the goods were exported and keep it as part of your records.

Regulatory bodies

Enterprise Singapore is the national standards and accreditation body in Singapore. It acts to ensure the safety of 33 categories of household electrical, electronic, and gas products.

For products in the respective categories, you may contact the following government agencies regulating them:

Health Sciences Authority (HSA) - medicines, medical devices, and health related products.

Singapore Food Agency (SFA) – food product and products containing food or beverages.

Land Transport Authority (LTA) – Motor vehicles.

Trade barriers

Check for any reported barriers to trading with Singapore.

Report any trade barriers that are affecting your business so we can help fix them.

Operating in Singapore

Routes to market

Singapore is an excellent logistical hub for Southeast Asia and one of the easiest places in the world to start, run and do business. Options which may work well for you are:

  • using direct sales - as English is widely spoken it’s easy to do business via direct sales in Singapore, though factors such as distance may make this less attractive.
  • using agents and distributors -factors such as distance from the UK and lack of experience in the market means many exporters appoint an agent or distributor. They may be able to act across neighbouring markets in South East Asia, but be wary about giving too wide a territory to a Singapore-based representative.
  • setting up a regional office - many UK companies set up a regional office in Singapore. Communications across South East Asia are fast and easy, and incorporating a company can be done in a day. The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) has a London office and can provide support.

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower also provides information on starting a business in the country, including a list of Singapore government agencies who can help.

Intellectual Property

The Intellectual Property (IP) regime is administered by the national IP office, Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), and covers key IP rights such as:

  • patents
  • trade marks
  • designs
  • geographical indications
  • plant varieties
  • copyright
  • confidential information

IP registrations are generally processed quickly and businesses can find helpful IP information in English on IPOS’s website.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.