Cross-border Trucking from Malaysia to Singapore

Benedict Leong

View of the causeway between Singapore and Malaysia

Need to Ship to Southeast Asia via Sea, Air or Cross border Trucking? Get a quote here!

Singapore’s strategic position, strong economy, and business-friendly policies make it a popular regional hub for many businesses. The country’s strong earning power and good digital and logistics infrastructure also helps drive Singaporean eCommerce. The country’s strong connectivity also makes it a fan favourite for sea and air distribution to other countries, but what about if you wanted to deliver to Singapore instead?

While air and sea freight are the most common transport modes in Southeast Asia, cross-border trucking provides delivery speed without breaking the bank on each shipment. Whether you’re an eCommerce merchant looking to deliver to your Singaporean online shoppers or a business looking for Singapore-inbound supply chain solutions, it’s worth looking into how cross-border trucking could work for you.

When should you consider cross border trucking?

Suitable for both direct to consumer (B2C) and bulk freight (B2B) logistics requirements, cross border trucking comes in full-truckload (FTL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) varieties. Cross-border trucking provides a nice balance between speed and costs as it’s faster than sea freight but cheaper than air freight. In cases where countries share a land border or where trucking is available – such as deliveries from Malaysia to Singapore – cross-border trucking should never be overlooked.

Whether you should use this mode depends on a few factors: how quickly you need your shipment to arrive, your logistics budget and the type of items that need to be delivered. Cross-border trucking is cheaper than air freight but can take around an additional day for deliveries.

On the other hand, air freight has a lot of restrictions on what can and cannot be uplifted onto planes, with items that contain chemicals or flammable material like health and beauty products requiring additional documentation and oddly-sized or bulky items costing too much to reliably ship via air freight. Cross-border trucking generally runs into less red-tape and has more freedom in what you can truck, in both types of goods and odd sizes.

As different types of shipments have different needs, it helps to have a shipping partner flexible enough to cater each orders’ unique needs. When you work with Janio’s flexible end-to-end service you can be assured that we’ve got a solution that works for all your B2C and B2B freight and delivery needs.

How does Cross-border Trucking Work from Singapore to Malaysia?

While cross-border trucking goes through the same general international shipping steps that you can find in air freight, there are some differences when it comes to customs clearance, which will be covered later below.

One thing worth noting regarding cross-border trucking between Malaysia and Singapore is that unlike cross-border trucking between other countries, trucks from both Malaysia and Singapore can travel within each other’s borders. This reduces the need for loads to be transferred between trucks across borders, reducing handling and potential damage.

Map showing how cross-border trucking works from Malaysia to Singapore and list of customs documents needed for import into Singapore

  1. Collection – Your hired shipping company collects the goods from the origin address or you arrange to have your shipment dropped off at an address designated by your shipping partner. The origin point could be your office or warehouse while drop-off points could include warehouses like Janio’s at T-space.
  2. Consolidation and Loading – If you are shipping less than full truckload (LTL), your shipments need to be consolidated together with other shipments first. If you’re working with a shipping partner, this will take place at their Malaysia warehouse. Once the truck is loaded, the truck will head to the customs checkpoint at the border
  3. Origin Customs – Once the truck has reached Malaysia’s customs checkpoint at the causeway, customs officers from the Royal Malaysia Customs Department will inspect your shipment and its accompanying documents. Once everything is in order, your order heads to the Malaysian border.
  4. Mid-mile – Your order crosses the causeway to Singapore’s part of the causeway
  5. Destination Customs – Once it’s reached Singapore’s border, officers from Singapore Customs will also check your order and documents. Once your order has cleared customs, the truck carrying your shipment will continue to either a warehouse if break bulk is necessary or go straight for last mile delivery to the destination if it is carrying a full truckload shipment (FTL).
  6. Sorting and Distribution – The orders are moved via vans or trucks to the transport logistics hub, where they are sorted and dispatched to their relevant destinations.
  7. Last-mile delivery – After sorting, the shipments will be transported to your consignee’s address.

Keeping track of which stage of the shipment your order is currently at can be kept simple when you work with a partner with merchant portals that help to keep track of both B2C and B2B international shipments. Contact us below to find out more!

First Mile Delivery and Consolidation

First mile delivery is the stage where your order leaves the origin address in Malaysia. The type of cross-border trucking arrangement, such as being FTL or LTL determines whether your order goes straight to the customs checkpoint or to your logistics partner’s warehouse first.

If you are shipping via LTL, you can arrange with your freight forwarding partner for pickup or can drop off your order at your shipping partner’s warehouse. At the warehouse, your order will be consolidated with other orders into a truck before it can head for Malaysia. LTL shipments tend to leave based on fixed schedules from your shipping partners’ warehouses.

Alternatively, if you are shipping via FTL, you’ll be chartering the whole truck without the need to operate on fixed schedules. The truck will arrive at your premises for you to load. When loading your items on the truck, ensure that your shipment is properly secured via lashing, floor stoppers or by using air bags. Once the truck is fully loaded and the order properly secured, it’ll head straight to the causeway.

Before the delivery begins, ensure that your order is properly packed and labelled to minimise the chances of damage during transit. To learn more about the best practices in packaging your goods, we’ve covered this topic in our packaging guide.

If you use Singapore as a regional distribution hub and ship to multiple countries in Southeast Asia, you could also consider hiring warehouse space at Singapore’s Free Trade Zone. Free Trade Zone warehouses also have the benefit of deferring tax charges on non-dutiable goods until they enter a country’s official borders, which helps with both cash flow and also as a storage area for regional hubs in Southeast Asia.

Origin Customs Clearance in Malaysia and Mid-mile

Once the truck arrives at the customs checkpoint at Johor, officers from the Royal Malaysian Customs Department will inspect your order and the documentation accompanying it.

To get your goods cleared for export, you’ll need the following documents ready:

  • Commercial invoice
  • Airway bill
  • Packing list
  • Export permit (if necessary)

The exporter generally needs to register with the Companies Commission of Malaysia to export goods which require a license. Some of the products that need a license for export include certain plants, wood, minerals, and other commodities. You can check out the list of items that need an need this export license on the official Royal Malaysian Customs Department website.1

Your goods also need to be classified and declared to Malaysian Customs prior to export. Like most Customs Offices, Malaysia uses the Harmonised Systems Tariff Code to classify your goods. You can look up the classification of your goods using the HSS Explorer.2 Depending on what you’re shipping, your order may be charged duties and taxes.

For a quick overview of Malaysia’s export procedures, you can find it on their official website (Malay language)3

On the other hand these are just some of the basics you need to know. If you’d like to find out more, you can check with our customs clearance experts if you’re unsure of which documents to apply for and how to declare your goods.

Once the order has been cleared for export, the truck carrying your order can pass through the checkpoint and take the causeway to the Singaporean customs checkpoint.

Destination Customs Clearance at Singapore

Officers from Singapore Customs will inspect your goods and documentation to see if it can be cleared for import into Singapore.

Unlike air freight, goods that enter Singapore via trucking do not benefit from de minimis rules. Usually, imports under Singapore’s de minimis rate of SGD400 imported via air freight or courier are eligible for GST relief.4 However, for cross-border trucking, duties and taxes will apply.

A Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 7 per cent will be levied on all goods imported into Singapore. Customs duties will be levied on products like tobacco and intoxicating liquors among others. You can find the full list of dutiable goods at Singapore Customs official website.5 When importing into Singapore, customs values of imports are calculated using the CIF method which includes the cost of the goods, cost of insurance and the cost of freight of the shipment.

You’ll also need to prepare these documents for your goods if you are importing B2C shipments into Singapore via trucking:

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Airway Bill
  • Packing List
  • Insurance policy (if applicable)
  • Certificate of Origin

If you are importing larger volumes into Singapore to a business entity, you’ll also need the following prepared:

  • Customs Import Declaration
  • Unique Entity Number (UEN)
  • Customs permit

For bulk imports, the importing party must first register for a UEN with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) in Singapore and activate its customs account prior to importing into Singapore.6 Then, you’ll need to apply for an Inter-Bank GIRO with Singapore Customs so that you can pay for the relevant import duties, taxes and other fees to Singapore Customs directly.

Once your UEN and Inter-Bank GIRO are set up, the importing company will need to apply for a customs import permit via TradeNet. This can be done by the importing party or through a declaring agent or freight forwarder. To see different types of import permits or cases where import permits aren’t needed, you can check out Singapore Customs’s official website.7

When your goods have cleared customs, it enters the last mile delivery stage. How this is handled depends on the nature of your delivery.

Wrong documentation could see your shipment stuck in customs, costing you valuable time. To minimise the chances of this happening, you can check out our customs clearance resources or find out more about our customs clearance expertise by contacting us below:

Need to Ship to Southeast Asia via Sea, Air or Cross border Trucking? Get a quote here!

Last Mile in Singapore

After entering Singapore, where the truck carrying your goods heads to next depends on whether your shipment is an FTL shipment with a single destination or otherwise. If it’s an FTL shipment with no other stops, it will head straight for the consignee’s address.

Most of the time, other shipments need to be de-consolidated at your shipping partner’s warehouse in Singapore first. After de-consolidation, the order will be sorted to vans or other trucks which will carry out the last mile delivery of your order to your Singapore-based consignee. If you’re shipping with Janio, we make multiple delivery attempts if required to ensure your consignee gets your order.

Cross-border trucking is a flexible delivery method that can deliver a wider variety of goods with less red-tape compared to air freight. However, it’s not usually a one-size-fits-all as each shipment has unique needs. Find out how our flexibility end-to-end Malaysia to Singapore logistics solutions can be tailored to your unique needs by contacting us below today!

 

Need to Ship to Southeast Asia via Sea, Air or Cross border Trucking? Get a quote here!

To find more on the latest news on logistics and eCommerce in Southeast Asia, consider signing up for our Janio newsletter.

References:

  1. Royal Malaysian Customs Department – Import/ Export
  2. Royal Malaysian Customs Department – HS Explorer 
  3. Royal Malaysian Customs Department – Quick Guide to Exporting 
  4. Singapore Customs – Importing by Post or Courier Service 
  5. Singapore Customs – Duties and Dutiable Goods 
  6. Singapore Government – UEN
  7. Singapore Customs – Import procedures
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