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Research by Country/Region January 16, 2018  
SINGAPORE: CUSTOMS, TAXES and DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS for IT PRODUCTS and SERVICES IMPORTS

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A. Is this country a member of the Information Technology Agreement?

B. Customs documentation requirements for IT products

C. Software: duties and taxes, updates, licenses, electronically delivered

D. IT services: tax treatment and other regulations

E. Refurbished, used, or repaired computer equipment imports


A. IS THIS COUNTRY A MEMBER OF THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENT?
YES
Signatories to the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) have eliminated their import duties on a wide range of information technology products, including software and computer hardware. For more information on the ITA, and exact tariff elimination schedules of signatories, click here.
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B. CUSTOMS DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS FOR IT PRODUCTS

What are the documentation requirements for the physical import of software? For other information technology products?
The tangible import of software and other information technology products into Singapore must be covered by a Customs payment permit. Customs may also request the importer to furnish invoices, bills of lading and other supporting documents pertaining to the imported goods.
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C. SOFTWARE: DUTIES and TAXES, UPDATES, LICENSES, ELECTRONICALLY DELIVERED

DUTIES AND TAXES ON SOFTWARE IMPORTS

Are duties assessed on the intellectual property of the software or on the medium on which is it presented?
Singapore is a free port; most products enter Singapore duty free, including software.
    Are taxes assessed on the intellectual property of the software or on the medium on which is it presented?
    A Goods and Services Tax (GST) is assessed based both on the intellectual property of the software
    and on the medium on which it is packaged.

    Is customized software treated differently than packaged software?
    The above treatment is applicable to both customized and packaged software.
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    IMPORTS OF SOFTWARE UPDATES

    What are the customs duties and tax implications for software sold with updates when the full sales price, including cost of updates, is shown on the original commercial invoice? Are duties and taxes paid on that amount? What happens when the updates are sent at a later date? Are duties/taxes applied again? If so, based on what value? How should information presented on the commercial invoice for the original and subsequent shipments to avoid paying duties/taxes more than once on a single sale?
    GST is payable on the goods at the time of import. Hence, GST is payable on the value of the software in the first instance and on the upgrades when these are subsequently brought in at a latter stage. In situations where the “full sales price” is invoiced to the buyer, the invoice must clearly indicate the portion of the sales price that is attributed to the software and the portion of the sales price that is paid for future upgrades/updates. In the absence of itemisation of the goods, the entire invoice value would be taken to be the sales price of the software only.
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    SOFTWARE LICENSES: CUSTOMS CLASSIFICATION, IMPORT DUTIES, TAXES, OTHER

    Are software licenses classified in Harmonized System 4907?
    Software licenses are not separate imports and thus classification under the Harmonised System is not needed.

    Are import duties/taxes applied? If so, on what cost/price base are they levied?
    Licence fees paid under the software license agreements should be included in the value of the imported software for GST purposes if it is related to the goods and is a condition of sale of the goods.

    Are withholding or other additional taxes applied on software licenses? If yes, how?

    If a U.S. license agreement is included in the packaging or is part of the installation/registration of shrink-wrapped software imported from the United States, would that agreement be binding on consumers in your market? If so, would U.S. or local laws pertain?

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    SOFTWARE DELIVERED OVER THE INTERNET/ELECTRONICALLY DELIVERED SOFTWARE

    Are taxes applied to software delivered to the end-user over the Internet? If so, on what value?
    The import of ‘digitised’ goods over internet is treated as services for GST purposes and is under the purview of Inland Revenue Authority Singapore (IRAS). GST is payable if the software is physically imported into Singapore, by sea, air, land and post. More information can be found at the IRAS website, http://ww.iras.gov.sg

    Would the situation be different if this software were instead delivered to a distributor who has a license to produce (replicate) and sell the software?

    What are the documentation requirements for the electronically delivered import of digitized products (i.e. software, movie downloads) over the Internet or other networks?
    None.

    Must an electronically delivered software import be accompanied by a physical shipment of the same product?
    Singapore Customs does not have such a requirement.
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    D. IT SERVICES: TAX TREATMENT AND OTHER REGULATIONS

    Are services (i.e. training, set-up, etc) relating to the sale of software taxed? If so, at what rate and based on what value?
    There is no GST if the technician is from abroad. If a company is a registered in Singapore, then the 4% GST is applied on services such as setting up hardware/software.

    Are U.S. IT solution providers permitted to send personnel into the country to set up hardware/software-related systems?
    Yes.

    Are special visa, work permits, and/or professional certification by an accredited body required?
    Companies interested in setting up or training should contact the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Singaporean agency that controls work permits. The Short-Term Employment Pass (STEP) is needed for work that lasts for one month or less. Applicants should obtain MOM form 8, a letter from the local firm, and qualification papers and testimonials, in order to apply. The pass is only distributed once, is not renewable and cannot be extended. If a different product requires set-up or training, then a new STEP can be issued. If a longer period of time is needed, MOM also controls passes that last between 2 and 5 years.
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    E. REFURBISHED, USED, OR REPAIRED COMPUTER EQUIPMENT IMPORTS

    1. REFURBISHED COMPUTER EQUIPMENT
    Is the import of refurbished computer hardware, parts, and accessories (including toner cartridges) permitted?
    There is no restriction on the import of refurbished hardware, parts and accessories (including toner cartridges).

    If so, what are the documentation requirements?
    All imports have to be covered by GST payment permit. Customs may request the importer to furnish invoices, bills of lading and other supporting documents pertaining to the imported goods.

    Is special labeling required?

    What value should be shown on the invoice?
    The invoice value should be the price actually paid or payable for the goods in question.

    How are duties and taxes assessed?

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    2. USED COMPUTER EQUIPMENT
    Is the import of used computer hardware, parts, and accessories (including toner cartridges) permitted?
    The answeres are the same as for refurbished equipment. See answers above.
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    3. REPAIRED COMPUTER EQUIPMENT
    Are duties and taxes assessed on the re-import of repaired computer equipment?
    GST is relieved on the value of the original goods sent overseas for repairs but payable on new parts that have been added during the repair and re-furnishing under a Customs payment permit.

    How should the commercial invoice appear?
    There must be proper Customs outward and inward permits taken out at time of export and re-import to be eligible for GST relief on re-import.
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    RESPONSE INFORMATION

    This response was prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce/Commercial Service in Singapore in February 2003. For further clarification please contact:
    Ms. Chia Swee-Hoon
    Senior Commercial Specialist
    U.S. Embassy, Singapore
    sweehoon.chia@mail.doc.gov

    Special Notes: The above information is intended to serve only as unofficial guidance. In seeking to obtain government rulings in specific cases, it will often be necessary to refer to special laws, separate regulations and announcements, and case-by-case decisions by the government. Beyond the general guidelines shown above, legal counsel should be retained at an early stage of consummation of a major procurement contract, and before entering into any legal commitments.

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