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How to Import Food Products in Singapore

Updated on Friday 29th March 2019

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How-to-import-food-products-in-SingaporeBy Vlad Cuc, specialist in company formation matters

The development of the accommodation industry has also led to the growth of the restaurants sector and many foreign investors are interested in opening a company in this segment in Singapore. Most the restaurants offer various courses based on international cuisine which is why they need to import most of the foodstuff. It must also be taken into consideration that all traders and restaurants selling or preparing food are subject to stringent requirements imposed by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority in Singapore (AVA).

In order to be allowed to import food into Singapore, businesspersons must first register a company here and obtain a Unique Identification Number. 

Our Singapore company formation agents can offer more information on the licenses required to import food in the city-state. We can also help foreign investors who want to open companies in Singapore which deal with the import and distribution of food products.

Steps in opening a company for the import of food in Singapore

The first step in importing food products in Singapore is to register a company with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). This is a procedure in which our Singapore company formation specialists can help if the business owner is a foreigner.

Once the company is registered, a few additional steps need to be respected. These are:

  1.           apply for the trading license or register with the AVA, according to its regulations;
  2.           consult the food regulations applied to the types of food products the company will import;
  3.           comply with the regulations imposed on the import of specific categories of food products;
  4.           comply with the safety and labeling requirements imposed by the Agri-Food Authority;
  5.           apply for the import permit and comply with the inspection requirements of specific products.

It is of high importance to know that the AVA will issue the trading and the import licenses only to companies registered with ACRA. Foreign companies can set up branch offices or subsidiaries in Singapore if they want to import food products and sell them in the city-state.

You can rely on us for the company registration procedure of several business forms in Singapore, in accordance with your needs.

The video below shows how you can import food products in Singapore:

Classification of food products in Singapore

An investor, whether local or foreign, who want to open a company in Singapore which has as a main object of activity the import of food products must first know the regulations imposed by the Customs Authority and by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority. One of these regulations refers to the classification of food products based on which the import license is issued.

According to the AVA, food products are classified into:

  • -          meat which can be frozen, chilled, processed or canned, and most importantly only beef and poultry are covered by this license;
  • -          fish is a different category of meat products and includes fishes, mollusks, crustacean which can be chilled, frozen, canned, processed or living;
  • -          fresh fruit and vegetables must be imported raw and unprocessed – these products cannot be cut or canned;
  • -          fresh and processed eggs fall under different categories of imported food products in Singapore;
  • -          processed food which contains all other categories of food products not mentioned above.

Singapore companies dealing with the import of food can also import and sell various appliances used for preparing food as long as they do not need electricity.

Another distinction to be made is that between importing food products and live animals (poultry and livestock) which must be done under special conditions.

Given the extensive legal framework under which the import of food products can be done, we invite you to talk to our Singapore company formation consultants about the licenses you will need for your business.

Importing fresh food in Singapore - a process explained by our experts who can help you open a company in Singapore

The AVA issues several types of special licenses for those importing foodstuff in Singapore based on the type of products imported and their use. Singapore companies in the industries related to food products can import both fresh and processed food products. Special regulations apply to certain products such as eggs, fish and other meat products.

The import of fresh food also includes vegetables and fruit and falls under the Control of Plants Act which provides for certain requirements these products must comply with. Also, all fresh food imported into Singapore must be labeled with the name and address of the producer, the products’ expiration date and a description of the merchandise. Considering a company will usually import more than one product, the company is required to obtain an import license for each food product. For more details on how to obtain an import license or on how to open a company in Singapore, do not hesitate to contact our team of company formation advisers.

The import of processed foodstuff in Singapore

Companies importing processed food into Singapore are also required to apply for an import permit issued by the AVA. The foodstuff must be produced in proper conditions and for that reason, they must be accompanied by certified documents stating these conditions. Additionally, the importer must also provide information about the expiry date of the products, the names of the producer and importer, the quantity of the product and a description of the foodstuff and its packaging.

Companies importing food into Singapore must first register with the Customs Authority and obtain a UEN number and must also open a GIRO account with the AVA.

Customs registration for importing food products in Singapore

One of the most important steps which need to be complied with when importing food products in Singapore is to register with the Customs Authority. Once the food products enter the country, the company will need to obtain the customs permit. In order to do that, the Singapore company must first open and activate a customs account and appoint a declaring agent. The same agent will need to open an Inter-GIRO bank account through which all the duties, fees and GST are paid upon transactions completed with the Customs Authority.

The declaring agent will be the person applying for the customs permit on behalf of the company and will handle all activities with the Customs Authorities.

Our company registration advisors in Singapore can offer more information on the customs procedures which need to be completed when importing food products.

Documents for importing food products in Singapore

All imported products, including foodstuff, must be accompanied by specific documentation when entering the country. Among these documents, the invoice, the certificate of origin, the AWB/BL, a list of the imported products, information about the quantity and the price of the products must be presented. Depending on the food products imported, other documents can be requested. Based on these documents, the Singapore company will receive the customs clearance.

For assistance in obtaining special licenses for importing food into Singapore, do not hesitate to contact our Singapore company formation representatives.

 

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Roger Pay is the Managing Director of Bestar and an experienced company formation consultant. He will help you open your company in Singapore as fast as possible. 

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As a Bestar clientyou will benefit from the joint expertise of local lawyers and consultants for opening an offshore company in Singapore.

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