Steps for Importing a Car to Singapore

There are many steps to follow when importing a car into Singapore. By following these steps, it’ll eliminate any confusion that may arise, increase the efficiency of and simplify the importation process.

Infographic with the steps for importing a car to Singapore

Step 1: Check that your car complies with the local regulations

All cars to be imported into Singapore must meet all registration and technical requirements specified by LTA and NEA. Before you consider importing a new car or a used car, take note of the following. 

For new cars: 

  • They can only be registered if they arrive in Singapore within 3 months from the Certificate of Conformity or Completion Inspection Certificate issue date 

For used cars: 

  • There will be a surcharge of $10,000 for each registration 
  • Imported used cars will have to undergo emission tests 
  • Used cars must be less than 3 years old, unless they are classic cars and more than 35 years old

The primary technical requirements you should follow strictly for all car imports are as listed below: 

  1. Ensure that the car is compliant to the Exhaust Emission Standards
  2. Imported cars must only be right-hand drive cars 
  3. All cars must be fitted with approved front and rear safety belts that meet internationally recognised standards
  4. All car speedometers must display driving speed in kilometres per hour (km/h)
  5. All cars must have asbestos-free brake and clutch linings
  6. Cars are only allowed to use CFC-free refrigerant for air conditioners 
  7. Vehicles must comply with recognised international vehicle safety standards for headlamps and safety glass
  8. Only Electric Vehicles (EV) that are equipped with type 2 AC and combo-2 DC charging systems are allowed
  9. All imported cars must undergo fuel and economy tests

Refer to the Importation Guidelines prepared by LTA for the full technical specification.

Step 2: Obtain the required documents from the car manufacturer

These are all the required documents to acquire from the car manufacturer before the registration of the car: 

  • Documents to prove that the car is new or has never been registered for use such as the manufacturer invoice
  • Documents proving that your car complies with exhaust emission standards, exhaust noise emission standards and vehicle safety standards 
  • Compliance documents to show CO2 and fuel economy data tested in accordance with the UN ECE Regulation No. 101
  • A technical specifications catalogue from the manufacturer if brand or model of car was never imported to Singapore before

Step 3: Ship your car to Singapore

When it comes to transporting your car, there are options via 

If you were to choose sea freight, you can choose to ship via container or roll-on/roll-off (RoRo). 

The easiest way to have your car delivered to Singapore is to engage a shipping company or freight forwarder. A freight forwarding company is able to provide dedicated services of taking charge of documentation, customs clearance and even freight insurance.

M&P International Freights has vast experience with the importation of all kinds of goods. Contact us for efficient and trustworthy services!

Step 4: Obtain an Inward Cargo Clearance Permit

To proceed with shipping, your shipping agent or freight forwarder has to 

  • Submit an application using the TradeNet System and
  • Obtain an inward cargo clearance permit from Singapore Customs.

Step 5: Apply for an assessment of the vehicle’s customs value (OMV)

After your car has been shipped from its initial location, you’ll have to apply for an assessment of its customs value (OMV). OMV is determined by the purchase price, freight cost, insurance and other charges incurred during the sale and delivery of your car.

For a successful assessment, complete this declaration form and submit the following documents to Singapore Customs: 

  • Original manufacturer/purchase invoice 
  • Bill of lading, freight and insurance documents 
  • Payment documents for charges incurred during purchase and shipment of car 
  • Documentation of exhaust emission, windscreen tests 
  • Documentation of manufacture date of car 
  • Photos of car odometer showing mileage

If the imported car is a used car, you’ll need to prepare the original foreign vehicle registration documents. Photos of the interior, exterior and chassis number will also be required.

Step 6: Pay excise duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Next, you’ll have to prepare permit and processing fees, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Excise duty fees to collect your car. 

Excise duty fees are 20% of OMV and GST payable is 7% of the car’s customs value and duties payable. GST can also be 7% of the sum of the last selling price and duties payable. These fees are payable to Singapore Customs through interbank GIRO.

Step 7: Collect your car

Your car will be allowed to dock after all fees have been paid to Singapore Customs. Your car can be collected from the port after it has been verified and registered.

Steps for Registering a Car in Singapore

Though it is easier to purchase a car through a car dealer, self-importing can be cheaper by 10% or more. Below is a step by step guide of how you can register your car after it has been docked on land.

Infographic with the steps for registering a car in Singapore

Step 1: Prepare the documents needed to register your car

To register your car, multiple documents will have to be prepared for application to Land Transport Authority (LTA). The documents to be submitted for vehicle approval include: 

  • Compliance certificate on exhaust emission standards
  • Compliance documents to show CO2 and fuel economy data tested in accordance with the UN ECE Regulation No. 101
  • Compliance documents to show o show the MPO as measured in accordance with the UN ECE Regulation No. 85
  • New car, deregistration and export documents from the foreign country
  • Used car original foreign vehicle registration
  • Technical catalogue provided by car manufacturer
  • Original car purchase invoice
  • Bill of lading 
  • Inward cargo clearance permit

Step 2: Submit an application to the LTA

The application for car approval to LTA can be made through the Vehicle Inspection and Type Approval System (VITAS) website. A fee of $256.80 will be charged for VITAS application.

If you’re importing a used car, the application is to be submitted at least 3 months before it turns 3 years old.

Step 3: Send your car for inspection at an LTA-Authorised Inspection Centre

After your car has been approved, the next step is to send it for an inspection at any LTA-authorised inspection centre. Inspection fees are $64.20 across VICOM, STA and JIC inspection centres. 

Once your car passes the inspection, you’ll receive an approval letter with a VITAS Approval Code (VAC). With the receipt of VAC, you can go ahead to register your car.

Step 4: Obtain a Certificate Of Entitlement (COE)

To register your car, you must first obtain a COE in the category that your car belongs to. 

Open COE bidding exercises are conducted twice every month. The exercises usually begin on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month at 12pm. Every exercise ends at 4pm on the Wednesday of the same week. 

The table below shows the different categories of COE for cars and the latest COE prices as of March 2022:

Category A
Cars up to 1600cc & 97KW
Category B
Cars up to 1600cc or 97KW
Category E
Open - All except motorcycles
$71,556
$98,889
$99,010

To participate in the bidding exercise, a bid deposit of $10,000 will have to be paid and administration fees ranging between $2 and $10 are charged by the bank.

Step 5: Apply for a motor insurance policy for your car

Motor insurance policy is essential as it covers you from financial liabilities to third parties and car repairs if accidents happen. 

With appropriate coverage, it can help you with the car towing, repair and replacements post accident. Additionally, some motor insurance may offer drivers medical coverage due to the accidents. 

When deciding on the various insurers, the 2 major factors to consider are 

  • extent of coverage and 
  • cost of coverage.

Step 6: Make an appointment to register your car

The next step is to make an appointment with LTA for the submission of the required documents. There are 8 required documents to be submitted to register your car: 

  • Filled application form for registration and licensing of a motor vehicle (form R01)
  • Identification documents of the car owner
  • Approval letter with VAC
  • Temporary COE (TCOE)
  • Motor insurance cover documentation 
  • Notice of bid Vehicle Registration Number (VRN)
  • Inward cargo clearance permit

Step 7: Pay the registration fee and additional charges

After the submission of the documents, the following fees have to be paid to LTA to register your car: 

  • $200 registration fee 
  • Road tax
  • Special tax for diesel cars 
  • $10,000 used car import surcharge 
  • VES surcharge or rebate 
  • COE

Step 8: Collect registration notification and receipt

Upon successful registration of your car, you can collect the notification of registration and receipt from LTA, Vehicle Quota & Registration Division (10 Sin Ming Drive, Singapore 575701).

Step 9: Fix your registration number plate to the car

Every car in Singapore must have a Vehicle Registration Number (VRN). You can either choose to use the VRN automatically assigned by LTA for your new car or bid for a VRN to your liking.

Bid prices begin at $1,000 and you may submit your bid online between Friday, 1am and Wednesday, 4.30pm via One Motoring.

Cost of Importing a Car to Singapore

Here’s a summary of all the costs associated with importing a car into Singapore.

ItemCost
Shipping and customs costsCustoms costs, quarantine inspection fees, international freight, port service charges and shipment insurance for your car
Used car surcharge$10,000
Excise duty20% of the OMV
GST7% of the total cost, insurance and freight and excise duty
Application for LTA vehicle approval$286.50
Certificate of Entitlement (COE)Up to $99,010 (March 2022)
Registration fee$220
Additional registration fee (ARF)
  • 100% for first S$20,000 of OMV
  • 140% for next S$30,000
  • 180% above S$50,000
  • VES surcharge$10,000 to $20,000

    Importing a car to Singapore is estimated to be about $95,000 excluding COE.

    Tips for Importing a Car to Singapore

    Cargo ship with cars

    Before purchasing your desired car model, it is important to do in-depth research. Here are some important tips that can be helpful to aid your process of importing the right car to Singapore.

    Tip 1: Compare prices of cars from different countries

    The price of cars is affected by a few factors including the 

    • actual cost, 
    • demand, 
    • consumer perception and 
    • country-specific taxes. 

    Many people have the misconception that cars are always cheapest when purchased from their country of origin. However, that may not always be the case, especially for used cars. A good example would be a BMW that costs cheaper in the US than its country of origin.

    Tip 2: Check accident history information for second-hand cars

    Some signs that a car has been through accidents are mismatched paintworks, replaced parts and panel gaps. Request for the car’s accident history information report to prevent potential issues from buying a poorly repaired car. 

    The report should include the

    • Exterior, interior and engine condition 
    • Service and repair records
    • Mileage history
    • Purpose of use and flood damage data

    Tip 3: Check for the rarity of your car’s parts

    Another consideration will be the rarity of car parts of your preferred car brand and model. 

    You may first check if your car’s specific parts can be easily found locally by doing a Google search. For a deeper understanding, you can visit suppliers to learn about the costs of other permissible variants. 

    By doing so, you’ll be able to know the potential costs involved before making a purchase decision.

    Tip 4: Find a reliable freight forwarder to ship your car

    Finding a reliable freight forwarder is essential to importing a car smoothly. It is best to do your research before deciding who you’d like to work with. 

    You’d want to engage a freight forwarder who: 

    • Has proper licensing, certifications and specific freight forwarding expertise
    • Can handle all documentation, custom clearance, and freight insurance for you
    • Will communicate with relevant parties to bring your car to Singapore
    • Are known for providing great customer service at excellent rates

    M&P International Freights is known to be efficient and trustworthy, and has vast experience dealing with international clients. Work with us and we’ll provide you with the most efficient routes, competitive rates and quality services.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Where can I import a car from?

    The most common countries to import a car from will be the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Japan or Australia. You can import a car from its country of origin as long as it is a right-hand drive car. For example, you can import Toyota and Honda from Japan and BMW from Germany.

    Can I import a used car into Singapore?

    You can import a used car that’s less than 3 years old, unless they are classic cars that are older than 35 years old. Importing a used car will incur an additional surcharge of $10,000. 

    All imported used cars will also have to undergo an emission test at the VICOM Emission Test Laboratory (VETL).

    Is it cheaper to import a car or purchase one locally?

    Though the importation process can be time-consuming, it can be significantly cheaper to import your own car. You can refer to the table below for a clearer understanding.

    FactorsPurchase from Authorised Dealer (AD)Imported Car
    Cost of carMore costlyCheaper
    OriginTypically from regional factoriesFrom original manufacturer
    Servicing and warrantyMore reliableLess reliable
    Waiting timeShorter or immediateLonger
    Replacement partsReadily availableMay have difficulty finding

    If you take time to research, you may be able to import a fine quality car that can cost cheaper than purchasing 1 from an AD.

    What is the difference between shipping my car via a container and RoRo?

    Both RoRo and container shipping are sea freight services. RoRo shipping is less expensive and has more reliable departure and arrival dates as compared to container shipping. 

    However, it doesn’t allow the car owner to ship any personal belongings together with the car. It isn’t available in every country, whereas container shipping is accessible everywhere.

    Importing a Car to Singapore

    This guide serves as a resource to ease the process of importation for everyone who is looking to bring their own car into Singapore. 

    Hiring an export specialist like a freight forwarder may smoothen the car importation process as you’ll be aware of all the steps required. Nevertheless, you can explore self-importation if you desire a car that is unavailable in Singapore, or to save money!

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