Figure 8 Chinese furniture

How to Ship furniture from China to Singapore: The Must Read Guide

Chinese furniture

If you’re looking for an affordable way of shipping furniture from China to Singapore, then you should read this guide.

Because I am going to show you the basic, efficient and faster way of shipping furniture.

They are simple and practical ways to ensure the furniture reaches your warehouse or doorstep in Singapore safely.

Let’s get started:

Why need a Freight Forwarder paetner in China to help I importing to Singapore?

a) They Help Get Cheaper Shipping
b) Help in Fast and Easy Shipping from China
c) Customized Service and Customer Attention when Shipping Furniture from China
d) Freight Forwarders Guarantee Operational Effectiveness and Flexibility

What's the Advantages & Disadvantages of FCL shipping?

Advantages of FCL shipping:

Reduced price per cubic meter in comparison to an equal weight or volume of products shipped by LCL sea freight or air freight.
More appropriate to maximize amount and goods packaging to optimize the usage of space within a20” or 40” container.
Boosted security levels and reduced risk of destruction because of negligible handling (loading, temporary storage, unloading) of your furniture.

Disadvantages of FCL shipping:

Not economical; unless the volume of your consignment is 15-20 cubic meters(Equivalent to 50 – 70% of a 20” container).

What's the Import Clearance procedure in Singapore

Step 1: Apply for Unique Entity Number (UEN) and activate your Customs Account
Step 2: Enroll for Inter-Bank GIRO
Step 3: Apply for Customs Import Permit
Step 4: Prepare Cargo Clearance Documents
Step 5: Keep your Trade Documents

What's the Export Clearance Procedure in China:?

i. Observe the laws
ii. Ensure your supplier has customs permit for export
iii. Prepare all the needed declaration documentation and reveal all information to customs truly
iv. Use the correct HS customs classification code.
v. Offer other relevant documentation, if required


#1: Know Customs Clearance Procedures in China and Singapore

When it comes to furniture shipping from China to Singapore, you must clear them with customs in the two countries.

You can do the customs clearance on your own, though it is advisable to engage the services of a customs broker to undertake the documentation for you.

Import Clearance procedure in Singapore

Singapore boasts as the second busiest container seaport in the world and is the doorway to the ASEAN region.

In compliance with Singapore’s standing for its business-friendly and simple regulatory environment, import formalities in the country are straightforward and efficient.

Obtaining the necessary permits and authorizations can be completed in short order.

The country is predominantly an open and free port economy.

More than 99 percent of all goods into Singapore are duty-free.

The state charges a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 7%.

Customs clearance

Customs clearance

For dutiable imports, the customs calculates the taxable amount for GST based on the CIF, Insurance, and Freight) amount, including all duties and other levies.

To ship furniture from China into Singapore, you should make a declaration with the Singaporean Customs.

Since furniture is a non-dutiable good, you will only pay the 7% Goodsand Services Tax.

All imports priced above $400 are attract a GST.

For that matter, first, you will have to establish if you should be paying the GST when your furniture enters Singapore.

To ensure success of the furniture shipping process, kindly follow the procedure below to acquire the necessary import permits and authorization from the respective competent authorities.

Step 1: Apply for Unique Entity Number (UEN) and activate your Customs Account

Since you will be importing furniture from China to Singapore, you will need to enroll with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) or the appropriate UEN issuance firm to acquire a UEN; and activate your Customs Account.

Step 2: Enroll for Inter-Bank GIRO

You or your declaring representative should have an Inter-Bank GIRO (IBG) with Singapore Customs.

This will enable you to pay for GST, levies, penalties and other fees on services provided by Singapore customs directly from your bank account.

You may allow your declaring agent to work with your IBG to pay for the goods and services tax for your customs permit a day after acceptance of your application for IBG.

The authority will deduct the GST from the Inter-Bank GIRO of your declaring agent if you do not have an IBG with them.

Chinese traditional furniture

Chinese traditional furniture – Photo courtesy: Top China Travel

Step 3: Apply for Customs Import Permit

You can either do the application on your own or assign a declaring agent to do it on your behalf.

To apply for the customs import permit, you will need to register as a declaring agent and request for a TradeNet user ID.

Submission of the license application is through Trade Net, which is available via Trade Net front-end software from Government Front-End module or an approved software vendor.

Each application of permit ordinarily costs $2.88.

The fee does not cover the service levies billed by service providers like declaring agents, freight forwarders, among others.

In case you are involving a declaring representative to present the license application, make sure you confirm the price they charge for their services.

Step 4: Prepare Cargo Clearance Documents

The approved permit application has a validity period.

You should confirm the validity of the license issued for the clearance of your furniture.

For shipping of containerized furniture from China to Singapore, you require the shipper seal number and container number when applying for a license.

Documents necessary for Containerized Furniture

When importing containerized furniture from China by sea, you are not required to issue the hard copy of the customs license.

Besides, this also applies to supporting paperwork to the checkpoint officials at the points of entry.

Packing furniture

Packing furniture – Photo courtesy: Pak Mail

You need to furnish the customs permit and supporting documentation like packing list, invoice, and a bill of lading to the checkpoint officials for validation.

Documents necessary for Conventional Cargo

For conventional cargo, you should present the furniture, hard copy of the customs permit.

Besides, all supporting paperwork to the checkpoint officials when clearing your consignment for customs approval.

For a shipment which needs partial clearance, you should present the same customs permit each time for authentication until the whole you clear the whole consignment.

Step 5: Keep your Trade Documents

Generally, you should keep the applicable supporting documentation relating to the import of the furniture from China for five years from the date of approval of the permit application.

You can store these documents either as images or hard copies.

You should always be in a position to produce these documentation upon request by Singapore customs.

Export Clearance Procedure in China

When importing China to Singapore, Chinese customs charges no export tax,but you will have to pay a 17% VAT, which is non-refundable.

Generally, your Chinese supplier holds the key to quickening the process of clearing your furniture with the China customs.

Here are tips that can be instrumental in making sure you accurately fill all your declaration documents.

Customs Officers inspecting cargo

Customs officers inspecting cargo

i. Observe the laws

This is indeed the vital principle.

Consult your customs broker or freight forwarding agent in case you have questions concerning what is needed.

ii. Ensure your supplier has customs permit for export

Make sure your Chinese supplier has either registered successfully with the customs and has the registration license or has entrusted another company to do the customs clearance for them.

iii. Prepare all the needed declaration documentation and reveal all information to customs truly

Customs retains the right to decline any declaration documents that do not meet the requirements.

To avoid additional expenses and delays, advise your supplier to issue true and exact information about their furniture needed by the customs to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Here are the necessary declaration when doing export clearance:

  • Country of origin
  • Value and details of the furniture
  • Finished/semi-finished
  • Composition of the furniture
  • Destination of furniture
  • Name/contacts of the supplier
  • Harmonized System code
  • Recipient
  • Destination of product

iv. Use the correct HS customs classification code.

Your supplier should provide the right HS code since the customs may apply fine for any consignment declaration having incorrect harmonized system code.

HS code structure

HS Code structure – Photo courtesy: Quora

v. Offer other relevant documentation, if required

Typically, the exporter will conduct the export clearance procedures.

Your supplier needs to furnish China customs with:

#2: Hire a Freight Forwarder in China

When shipping furniture from China to Singapore, it is much simple getting a freight forwarder near you, or within the country.

Also, a number of them are capable of managing the shipping of your house fittings from China.

This is very true, but there is a better option to select, which is engaging a local freight forwarding agent in China.

Let’s check the advantages and reasons why you need to partner with a local freight forwarding company when importing furniture from China to Singapore.

a) They Help Get Cheaper Shipping

Just as furniture made in are comparatively cheap, Chinese freight forwarders will also be less costly due to the lower expenses, exchange rate, and cost of labor, among other factors.

They are not only affordable regarding transportation rates but other handling charges as well.

The situation in China enables them to come up with the best pricing dependent on your distinct shipping requirements.

This, in turn, results to higher profit margins for you, or you can sell your furniture at more competitive prices.

Be aware that majority of freight forwarding companies having operations in China will liaise with a local forwarder or logistics company.

This is because of Chinese freight forwarders local knowledge, and lower cost.

You realize, therefore, that the freighting agent in your country is not capable of managing China shipments directly.

b) Help in Fast and Easy Shipping from China

It’s very crucial for a shipping agent to adjust their operations fast to serve better your needs and also provide versatility in how to manage your cargo.

Multinational freight forwarding companies are stuck with engaging their own abroad office to ship your furniture.

Sometimes, this is not the best choice since their associated office may lack the skills that is right for you.

This implies they are incapable of switching service providers or enhance their service level in a situation arises.

You would better work with a freight forwarder big enough to handle you transportation needs, and small enough to listen to your concerns

c) Customized Service and Customer Attention when Shipping Furniture from China

Mostly, you will be working with one or two people in an office of independent forwarder that will handle your entire logistics process.

Local shipping agents provide a more intimate,  local forwarders offer a more close, one-to-one partnership.

It can aid boost your business as they get acquainted with your operations and requirements.

They can as well empathize with your day-to-day challenges since you are not just a customer to them.

China forwarders will give you the attention you deserve and come up with solutions quickly whenever a problems occurs.

d) Freight Forwarders Guarantee Operational Effectiveness and Flexibility

There are several documentation and administration, currency, timings, logistics, language barriers, time differences, and strict export and customs formalities to consider.

Freight forwarder

Freight forwarder

Both China and Singapore have different rules that need to be understood and adhered to by the forwarding agent to guarantee safe and quick shipping of the furniture from China to Singapore.

Local freight forwarders have at their disposal several options in choosing the best price, carrier and routing combination.

They can as well easily adjust and modify their operations to focus directly towards you – the buyer.

The possibility that an independent agent does everything within their capability to address a problem is much higher than when dealing with a multinational.

Multinational forwarding companies generally deal with too many issues to try and assist you with a sense of urgency.

Freight forwarding agents provide several advantages to entities and individuals alike.

At times they are not suitable for everyone nor every consignment.

Therefore, comparing your requirements and their services closely should guide you on whether or not a shipping agent is the appropriate fit for your freight.

Selecting the right forwarding partner will assist you concentrate on the main business.

The right freight forwarder should possess sufficient experience to balance and improve your operational, shipping cost, speed, and supply chain management.

#3: Choose an Appropriate Incoterm

The Incoterm 2010 you select will dictate the control you have at every stage during the process of shipping furniture from China to Singapore.

Incoterm 2010

Incoterm 2010

Whoever has say over the sea freight will have higher bargaining power, and command over the costs.

If you allow your seller to take charge of the shipping, you will have to work with the price, and terms agreed between him and his freight forwarder.

Always ensure that these terms are working to your advantage and if not, demand for improvement.

You should make it a point to negotiate with the forwarding agent directly to try and secure reduced freight price and schedules that conform to your needs.

Alternatively, you can hold the consignment off till you have a sizable quantity of cargo to have more leverage with carriers and freight forwarders.

Apart from cost, your choice of Incoterm you use for importing furniture from China to Singapore may also impact other critical elements like:

  • Transit times
  • Supply chain efficiency
  • Conditions of the furniture, among others.

These are aspects that can either make or break your shipping campaign.

CIF, EXW, and FOB are viable Incoterm alternatives for shipping furniture from China.

Each comes with varying amount of responsibility, security, and risk.

Select an Incoterm that gives you the most control over the shipping of goods.

Bear in mind: Whoever is in charge of the shipment controls the price!

#4: Go for sea freight

I understand that sea fright has its fair share of disadvantages including taxes, port duty, lead time or onward inland delivery.

However, this mode of transport boasts of numerous benefits that will make it your better option for shipping your furniture from China to Singapore.

Economic advantages that come with ocean freighting are of gain to you who would like to ship furniture from China to Singapore.

Sea freight is still among the most economical modes of transportation for both you and the forwarding agent.

Ocean shipment is not only beneficial in transporting bulk goods.

Sea freight can also accommodate more consignment, and this is another aspect why you should choose it over other modes of transport.

Sea freight from China to Singapore

Sea freight from China to Singapore

This is advantageous for any business and implies that you are capable of bulk buying smaller house fittings and establish an avenue for better business.

Others may be of the opinion that long lead times on your cargo is a disadvantage.

Nonetheless, if you have the patience to wait and plan upfront, then the economical nature of sea fright is a no-brainer.

The longer lead times are known to every person shipping by sea.

Therefore, once you have ordered for your furniture from China, using updated tracking system, you will know the duration the furniture will take to reach Singapore.

#5: Get a Shipping Insurance

Cargo insurance coverage is an essential ingredient of the logistics process.

It secures your consignment while in transit and lets you go about your business with confidence and peaceful mind.

Marine insurance covers your furniture against loss or physical damage during shipping from China to Singapore.

Most importers tend to think that the carrier is the party who should take care of this insurance.

Nevertheless, being responsible for the insurance coverage’s ensures that you place the correct amount and type of insurance on your goods.

Shipping furniture from China to Singapore exposes them to an array of risks, some which consist of loss or destruction due to:

  • Hijack, theft or pilferage
  • Mistakes during shipping like dropping, careless or incorrect handling
  • Carrier accident such as aircraft crashing, vessel sinking, road traffic accidents, vehicle fire, among others
  • Exposure to salt water or rain
  • Variations in temperature.

Majority of these risks are hard for you to handle in person.

This is because the cargo will be under the control, custody, and care of third parties.

They will limit their responsibility for the damage or loss of your shipment.

#6: Choose Appropriate Mode of Shipping

Sea freight is the most economical mode of shipping your furniture from the supplier’s factory in China to your premises.

You can choose from a range of shipping containers.

This is particularly true when transporting larger quantities based on Full Container Load (FCL) terms.

LCL vs. FCL Shipping

FCL vs. LCL Shipping

However, majority of importers do not buy large enough amounts to occupy a whole container with products.

For this group of buyers, Less than Container Load (LCL) alternative remains.

· FCL Shipping

FCL is aglobal ISO standard meaning one (full) container load (20” or 40”) havinggoods for one buyer.

FCL shipping is the most affordable transportation mode when shipping from China.

However, for it to be a viable alternative, it requires you to buy a comparatively large amount of products.

· LCL Shipping

LCL is a global ISO standard meaning a consignment owned by different importers that are put together into one container.

LCL shipping allows you to ship smaller quantities of goods that does not have enough size to make FCL a viable choice.

Additionally, this mode of transportation is more economical compared to air freight.

Advantages of LCL shipping:

  • Gives you a very economical middle way for transporting your furniture too heavy for air transportation, but insufficient in weight or volume to qualify FCL shipment a non-viable alternative.
  • Highly favorable for goods inspections and reduce packaging expenses if repacking is needed.

Disadvantages of LCL shipping:

  • Higher cost per cubic meter in comparison to FCL shipments
  • Commonly a non-viable shipping alternative for consignment volumes above 15 cubic meters because of its higher loading, handling, unloading, and freight charges per cubic meter in comparison to FCL shipping of furniture from China to Singapore.

· Port-to-Port Shipping

Port to Port Shipment describes a type of shipping, which begins at the loading port and ends at the port of destination.

Port-to-Port delivery is the primary method of ocean freight transportation which has been employed by shipping companies for hundreds of years.

Bill of lading is the common name of the shipment document, often used in Port to Port transportation.

It is also referred to as ocean bill of lading, marine bill of lading or port to port bill of lading.

Port-to-port delivery of furniture from China to Singapore is typically fit for importers who have dealt with container cargo shipments before.

You should go for this mode of shipping if you possess enough skills in container shipment.

Also, you need to have a person available ready to handle the consignment, including documentation, import customs clearance, finding a domestic carrier, among other tasks.

Yes, you can cut cost while using this shipping mode, since you will cut back on some of the services.

With Port-to-Port delivery, you can freely handle the freight at your appointed time.

The technological advancements in the logistics field and standardization brought by containerization comes with several benefits.

You can now enjoy flexible transport options from both actual or contractual carriers.

Also, technology makes it possible for you to track you cargo during the entire journey till it arrives at your destination port.

· Door-to-Door Shipping

Door to Door Shipment encompasses the whole transportation from your supplier’s factory to your warehouse.

You should carry out this mode of shipping using one carrier under a single transport document, often a multimodal bill of lading.

Chinese furniture

Chinese furniture – Photo courtesy: Foshan Sourcing

If more than one transporting company is responsible for the shipping or you have more than one kind of transport document, then the shipment cannot be termed as door to door delivery.

This can be an economical alternative because the door delivery prices are usually very affordable when booked solely from door to door.

However, the shipping mode offers you very little control over the process of delivery making it challenging to plan appropriately.

Time delays could impose unforeseen expenses to the shipment.

For that matter, it is crucial to assess these likelihoods and ensure that the outcome is still the best and most economical alternative for your freight.

· Port to Door Shipping

If transportation of your furniture begins at the port of loading in China and ends at your warehouse,in Singapore.

Then this type of shipment is referred to as port to door delivery.

Port to door shipment uses multimodal bill of lading as the transport document.

Port-to-door shipping is an option for additional savings.

Your Chinese supply delivers the consignment to the designated port of destination.

Then your freight forwarder clears the cargo with the Singapore customs and deliver them to your final destination.

By doing so, you relieve yourself from the headaches relating to inland transportation of the goods within Singapore.

#7: Proper Packaging of Furniture

When choosing your packaging materials, it is crucial to examine carefully the kinds of packages which are available.

You should take into consideration the quarantine stipulations of Singapore.

Packaging furniture for shipping

Packaging furniture for shipping – Photo courtesy: Pack Mail

When packaging your furniture for shipping from China, you need to consider aspects such as:

  • Breakage
  • Moisture
  • Pilferage and
  • Weight

The mode of transportation and destination determines how you package your furniture.

You should design your packaging in a manner that it can sustain repeated loading and unloading and stress.

To guarantee protection of your furniture during shipping, use the following checklist:

  • Plastic encasing: Yes (on exterior carton)
  • Freight remark: Yes (imprinted on exterior carton)
  • Interior cartons: 5 layers
  • Exterior cartons: 5 layers
  • Pallets: Yes (ISPM 15 EU Standard)

Ensure to furnish your supplier with precise and straightforward export packaging prescriptions.

Do not let them decide by on what to do, and issue graphical illustrations whenever possible.

#8: Let Supplier Handle the Shipping

Depending on the Incoterm you decide to apply, you can task the supplier to manage the shipping of your furniture from China to your doorstep in Singapore.

To ensure you get the best deal, do comparison of pricing between two or more seller with the same Incoterm.

If you are unfamiliar with overseas shipping or fresh to importing, try to select an Incoterm that delivers the goods as far practical, for instance, DAP to door.

Conversely, if you have built relations with a dependable shipping company, try to apply FOB and leave the rest to the freight forwarding agent to handle.


Shipping goods globally takes time.

For instance, furniture shipped from China, on average, takes around 13 days to reach the Port of Singapore.

During the time, check your commercial invoice, packing list, the bill of lading, and other related freight documents to ensure that everything is in order.

At BanSar, we can handle all your furniture shipping needs from China to Singapore.

Talk to us today for competitive shipping rates from China.

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