Singapore is regarded as the friendliest country to work with. Friendly countries attract foreigners to invest in them. Other reasons why countries prefer trading with Singapore include a stable financial system, skilled manpower, low corruption, favourable geographical location and reliable infrastructure. Even though the country may be favourable to trade with, you still have to live with their rules.
You can import many types of goods into the country, but we will focus on the importation of agricultural produce. The country imports most of its food since its land lacks natural resources. Agricultural practices such as livestock keeping and aquaculture are non-existent and this makes the demand for international food higher. Most Singaporean products and delicacies rely on the importation of ingredients to manufacture food. The country has a population of 5 million as of 2019 and they receive 7 million visitors into the country, so importing food makes for a high-income venture.
Here are a few rules below if you intend to import food into the country based on the different food categories:
Food importing rules
Fresh food import – importing fresh food is regulated by the Control of Plants Act. The Act dictates that the product should not contain any prohibited pesticide. Your fresh food will then be tested to determine the levels of pesticide used. If the pesticide was used in excess, then your food will be rejected. Ensure your packaged food is also labelled correctly by providing these details: product description, name and address of the producer and date of packing.
Another authority known as the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), inspects your produce. At this stage, you should have an import permit. We will identify briefly how you can obtain one. Ensure the party you are importing to, has a valid License for Import and Transhipment of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables issued by the AVA body.
Meat and seafood – importing meat and seafood are guided by the Wholesome Meat and Fish Act. You will need the approval of the AVA to import. You can import these foods in any form without any restrictions: chilled, canned and frozen. Not all countries have the country’s approval to import seafood. Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, the USA, France and the United Kingdom are the only countries allowed to import seafood. An importer must possess a health certificate from their country for every food consignment.
Import of processed foods – this trading process is guided by the Sale of Food Act. The Act regulates factors like labelling requirements, packaging, expiration date and permitted levels of ingredients in the foods. Processed foods are considered a high risk as they are responsible for ailments such as heart diseases, hypertension and cancer. Due to the risks involved, the foods are subjected to thorough laboratory tests. An importer is required to have a health certificate from their country. The certificate will contain details about: names and addresses of the consignor and consignee, product description and the weight of the package.
Steps to importing your produce in the country
- Familiarize yourself with the regulations guiding the import of goods before you even get an import permit. We have already mentioned some of the acts based on the category of food you are importing.
- Obtain a Unique Entity Number (UEN) by registering with a body called Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Once you get your UEN, activate it through the country’s customs.
- Then proceed to apply for a trader’s license with a body called Singaporean Food Agency (SFA). The annual license fees differ depending on the type of food you are importing in the country. For example, it will cost you roughly S$378 annually for fresh fruits and vegetables and S$84 for meats and fishes.
- Once you have the trader’s license, apply for an import permit through the country government’s TradeXchange online system.
- In the platform, you will be asked to provide your country’s establishment code and product codes.
- Upon approval, you will be issued with a Cargo Clearance Permit (CCP) which also acts as an import permit.
- An important thing to consider is that you may be compelled to apply for additional licenses and permits should you wish to import different food categories e.g. vegetables and meat. However, if you are importing meat and fishes, you will only work with one license since these two items belong to the same category.
Importing and selling food in Singapore is a venture worth looking into since Singapore imports most of its food and this means an exporting country’s economy can change massively due to the country’s high food demand. You only need to understand the country’s import regulations and within no time, you will be trading with the country successfully.