International Shipping from Singapore to Australia: An eCommerce Guide

Benedict Leong

Bridge in Australia with a plane flying by in the background - Janio International Shipping from Singapore to Australia

While 2020 brought about a lot of challenges, one interesting result is the accelerated growth of Australia’s eCommerce. Online sales in 2020’s Easter week eclipsed 2019’s Black Friday week sales and Australians are starting to show their appetite for great products at competitive prices as reported by Australia Post.1

2021 showed that this appetite for eCommerce has maintained after its initial growth in 2020. December is usually Australia’s biggest shopping season, but recent events are shifting the peak closer to November when Black Friday takes place. You can find out more about this shift and what Australians are buying in our recently updated Australia eCommerce Snapshot.

Some businesses in Singapore are already capitalising on selling to countries like Australia through platforms like Shopify long before this huge uptick. If you’re a Singapore-based business aiming to start selling and shipping cross-border to Australia, you’ve come to the right place to find out how shipping from Singapore to Australia can be done.

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Getting Your Products into Australia via Air Freight

Cross-border shipping means that your inventory will be based in Singapore and products will be sent internationally to Australia. If you’re doing cross-border eCommerce, shipments only happen once an order has been placed on your website. As speed is of the essence when it comes to cross-border eCommerce, sending your products via air freight is the best way to go.

Conversely, local distribution has your stocks stored in a warehouse in Australia closer to your target market. Stocks are shipped in bulk to the store and deliveries of individual parcels are fulfilled via the local warehouse or distribution centre.

However, there are some differences to note between shipping in bulk and shipping loose parcels via air freight.

Differences to note between air freight for parcels and bulk orders

B2C air freight shipments normally face fewer hurdles compared to B2B shipments as they are shipped to individuals compared to bulk shipping to businesses.

Most B2C shipments tend to be below the customs’ de minimis rate of the destination country and do not need extensive customs documentation and also pay fewer import duties and taxes. The minimum documentation needed are usually commercial invoices and packing lists. Australia has a de minimis value of AUD1000.

Bulk orders will face more regulation. The consignees of these orders are enterprises and businesses who need to be registered with local authorities. In most countries, your importing party also needs to have import licenses as well as other permits with relevant authorities at hand to clear destination customs clearance.

While import licenses may not be necessary to import most goods into Australia, parties importing restricted or controlled items still require the importer to register for permits with relevant local authorities.

How Does Air Freight from Singapore to Australia Work?

If you’re shipping to Australia from Singapore with Janio, your shipments will be flown out from Changi Airport in Singapore to Sydney Airport in Australia.

But before you begin preparing your Australia-bound order, it helps to know what can and cannot be shipped there. You can check out one of our recent articles to get an extensive list of Australia’s restricted and prohibited imports.

Sydney is used as Janio’s primary gateway into Australia for its connectivity to various countries like Singapore and the frequency of flights for this lane.

Janio also offers transhipment services via Singapore into Australia. You’ll have the option to ship directly from countries like Malaysia and Indonesia either directly to Australia or by tranship your goods via Singapore.

Infographic showing how parcels enter Sydney Airport, Australia from Singapore

Janio’s eCommerce B2C air freight from Singapore to Australia usually follows these steps.

  1. Collection – Your hired shipping company collects the goods from the origin address or you drop off the shipment at a designated point depending on whether you chose pick-up or drop-off arrangements with them. The origin address could be your supplier’s address or your own warehouse in Singapore.
  2. Consolidation – loose parcels need to be palletized and packed together with other shipments to prevent them from bouncing around or taking up too much space in the plane’s cargo hold. If you’re working with a shipping partner like Janio, this will take place at their warehouse.
  3. Terminal Handling at the Origin Airport – The shipment is sent to your shipping partner’s air cargo agent’s warehouse. Here, weighing and inspection of the cargo, tallying up the items with the commercial invoice and packing list, and checking all the necessary shipping documents take place.
  4. Origin Customs – Your goods and documents are then inspected by Singapore Customs officers to be cleared for export.
  5. Uplift and Mid-mile – Your order is loaded onto the plane and it takes off for Australia
  6. Destination Customs – Once the shipment reaches the airport in Australia (Sydney Airport if you’re shipping with Janio) it will undergo customs clearance by the Australian Border Force.
  7. Domestic flight in Australia (when necessary) – If your consignee’s address cannot be reached quickly by vans or bikes after landing in Sydney, an additional flight may be needed to deliver your shipment to an airport closer to your consignee’s address before distribution can begin.
  8. 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
  9. Last-mile delivery – After sorting, the shipments will be transported to your consignee’s address

First mile delivery in Singapore

The first mile stage in international shipping is when the shipment leaves the origin address, which can be the merchant’s address, be it a storefront, office, or warehouse. Depending on your arrangement with your logistics service provider, your shipment would be picked up by your shipping partner or dropped off at your partner’s designated location.

Before your goods leave your origin address, the product has to be packaged and labelled appropriately to facilitate smooth cross border shipping. Packages may sometimes go through bumpy rides like turbulence.

Having extra padding for fragile items, like bubble wrap and packing peanuts, is recommended to prevent your products from bouncing around or getting deformed during shipping. To learn more about the best practices in packaging your goods, we’ve covered this topic in our packaging guide.

Additionally, shipping labels and the appropriate customs documentation must be visible to and accessible by customs officers to inspect the shipment. You can check out our guide on labeling your shipments which you can also find in our resources for B2C shipping to Southeast Asia.

After this, you can choose to drop your order off at your shipping partner’s drop-off point, or have it picked up from your address. Most shipping partners would have a cut-off time for submitting orders for drop-offs and pickups so that they can optimise their route.

If your shipment is a B2C parcel, it has to be consolidated on a pallet at a transportation hub or at a warehouse at the origin airport together with other packages with the same destination country before it can be sent for customs clearance. As B2B shipments are already consolidated, the shipment can be transported directly to the airport for customs clearance.

Some warehouses in Singapore also have transportation hub capabilities and are able to sort your parcels and have it ready for customs clearance within the same location such as those within 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.

Terminal Handling and Origin Customs Clearance in Singapore

After your shipment has been collected and consolidated, your shipment will go through terminal handling at your shipping partners’ air cargo agent’s warehouse near Changi Airport (SIN). Here, weighing and inspection of the cargo, tallying up the items with the commercial invoice and packing list and checking all the necessary shipping documents take place.

After that, your goods need to be cleared for export by Singapore Customs at Changi Airport. In Singapore, exported goods are not subject to customs duties and Goods and Services Tax (GST) but all goods must be declared.2

If you’re shipping parcels directly to your online shoppers in Australia, your shipment usually needs to have the following documents ready in order to be cleared for export:

  • Commercial invoice
  • Airway bill
  • Packing list
  • And other licenses and permits depending on the items being shipped

If the goods are dutiable or subject to control, you must obtain an export permit. Goods that are exempted from needing an export permit can be found on Singapore’s Customs website. This permit can be applied for via Singapore’s Trade.net portal.3 You must declare the FOB value of your shipment in the export permit.4

Be sure to work out with your shipping partner what kind of customs documentation is needed for your different shipments to Australia before the shipment starts to minimise problems at customs.

After checking these documents and clearing your shipment for export, your shipment is ready for uplifting onto a plane.

Uplift and Mid-mile

Your shipment is then loaded onto a plane, also known as getting uplifted, and the shipment is flown to Sydney Airport (SYD) for direct injection into Australia.

Customs Clearance in Australia

After landing in Sydney Airport, your items will be inspected by officers from the Australian Border Force (ABF) before it can be cleared for import into Australia.

In Australia, customs clearance of your parcels  will usually take around 1 to 2 days.

The following information needs to be provided with your customs documentation:

  • Shipper’s & consignee’s phone number and address
  • Certificate of Origin match with house invoice or commercial invoice
  • Incoterm used – e.g. FOB, CIF
  • Retail price of good (transaction value/ FOB value) plus cost of freight
  • Correct Currency and Photos of the goods
  • If needed provide Purchase Order number and reference number (if needed for larger eCommerce marketplaces or enablers that are already registered with Australian Customs and Border Force)
  • These will then be pre-audited by Janio customs partners

To be gain import clearance into Australia, your shipment will need to have the following documents prepared:

  • Airway bill
  • Packing list
  • Commercial invoice
  • Certificate of origin (if applicable)
  • Insurance policy (if applicable)
  • Import Declaration (N10) – Post (B374 Form) – for goods above AUD1000 or controlled items, including those that arrive via courier or post
  • Self-assessed Clearance form – for goods under AUD 1000 but arrive via air or sea cargo

Australia’s de minimis and customs duties

In 2018, Australians need to pay 10% GST on any cross-border eCommerce purchase into Australia. According to the Australian border force, these taxes should be collected by the eCommerce merchants outside Australia at the point of sale.5

To check if you need to collect GST at the point of sale, you need to be earning AUD 75,000 in the last 12 months from selling to people based in Australia. Once you have crossed this threshold, you need to register for GST in Australia and begin collecting the amount. You can check more details on this from the Treasury of Australia6 and Australia Border Force 17 & 2.8

The GST is calculated using the customs value of the goods added with the cost of overseas freight and insurance. Customs value itself is calculated using the ‘transaction value’ which is the price of the goods itself together with costs incurred after importation such as inland freight and inland insurance costs. For a more detailed breakdown and links to official examples for these, you can check out our article on Australia’s de minimis and prohibited imports.

The above is intended to serve as a guide and not legal or financial advice. For a full breakdown of these definitions, please refer to Australia’s Customs Act 1901 Section 159 for customs value and 161 for transaction value.9

When import declarations are required

Importing into Australia doesn’t require an import license, but importing certain goods like tobacco or alcohol requires import permits. These products also incur customs duties and taxes at the border as well.

If you’re sending an item below AUD1000 into Australia by courier or post, your purchasers do not need to fill in the Self-Assessed Clearance form (SAC). The SAC needs to be filled in if your goods are valued at or under AUD1000 but arrive via air or sea cargo. You can find out about the different SAC’s on the Australian Border Force’s page on import declarations.10

On the other hand, if they are importing an order above AUD1000, the order will incur an import processing charge.11 Orders above AUD1000 will require the purchaser or importer to fill in a full Import Declaration (N10) form. They will also be notified by the Australian Border Force that they need to pay any import processing charges or customs duties and taxes. You can find the full list of duties and taxes for your type of goods or HS Codes on this Australian Border Force page.12

After the order has been cleared for import into Australia, the order will be ready for distribution and last mile delivery.

Distribution and Last Mile in Australia

If you’re shipping with Janio, you can ship anywhere in Australia. If your order’s destination address is reachable by vans or motorcycles, your order will be taken to your logistics service provider’s warehouse first to be deconsolidated from its pallet if required, then sorted to the vehicle that will take the order to your customer.

The last mile delivery leg of the journey is where your parcel will be sent from the destination warehouse to your consignee’s address. During the last mile delivery stage, your logistics service provider will ensure that your shipment is received by your consignee.

Australia is a vast country though. If your destination within Australia can’t be reached in a timely way by land transport, it may need a domestic flight or a boat to get there. After this trip, the order will head to your shipping partner’s warehouse to prepare for the last mile trip via vans, or motorcycles as highlighted above.

 

Now that you know how you can use air freight to deliver your eCommerce products from Singapore to Australia, you’ll need a flexible shipping partner who’s got your eCommerce logistics and international shipping needs covered from first mile to the last. Contact us below to find out more about how we can help you or if you’d like an air freight quotation to ship to and throughout Southeast Asia.

 

Need to Ship to Australia? Sea, Air or Land, we've got Freight that takes you forward

References:

  1. Australia Post 2020 eCommerce Industry Report
  2. Singapore Customs – Export Procedures
  3. Singapore Customs – Permit Exemptions
  4. Singapore Customs – Export Procedures
  5. Imports Into Australia – GST Changes | Tax Alert – March 2018 | Deloitte New Zealand
  6. The Treasury of Australia – Applying GST to low value goods imported by consumers – Q&A
  7. Australia Customs and Border Service – GST and other taxes when importing
  8. Australia Customs and Border Service – Valuation of Imported Goods
  9. Australia Customs Act 1901
  10. Australia Border Force – Import declarations
  11. DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION AND BORDER PROTECTION NOTICE No. 2015/44 3
  12. Australia Border Force – Current tariff classification
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