Singapore Industry Guides

Information You Need to Succeed

Setting Up a Freight Forwarding Business in Singapore

Legal Requirements

Register Your Business on ACRA

The first step in any business venture is registering the company with ACRA, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore. Once approved, your company will receive a business licence with a Unique Entity Number (UEN), which is required for the application of other licences and permits.

Freight Forwarding Licensing Requirements

Registering with Singapore Customs

Any Import, Export or Transshipment of goods will require activating an account with Singapore Customs (SC) using the company UEN. Account activation, which is free, is generally completed in less than 48 hours. As long as business entities remain registered on ACRA, their Customs Account will remain valid.

Other Legal Formalities

Depending on their assets, operational model and scope of business, and specific needs of clients, Freight Forwarding Companies may require one or more permits from the following authorities:

  • Singapore Customs (SC)
  • Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS)
  • Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)
  • Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS)
  • Land Transport Authority (LTA)
  • Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
  • Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)
  • National Environment Agency (NEA)

Licences to be obtained from Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) for Sea Freight Forwarding

  • Harbour Craft Licence – To operate vessels within Singapore’s port
  • Port Clearance Certificate – To operate vessels beyond Singapore’s port
  • Ship Registration Certificate – To transport passengers or goods
  • Port Limit Manning Licence – For crew members to work on-board your ships and vessels
  • Launch a New Vessel Permit – To launch a new vessel more than 15 meters long in the port
  • Ship Station Licence – To operate radio-communication equipment on your Singapore registered ship
  • Ship Sanitation Control Certificate – To certify your vessel’s sanitary condition to transport goods
  • Permit to discharge/load/transit dangerous goods and dock vessels carrying such goods
  • Other Licences and Permits for related activities

Notable Freight Forwarding Companies in Singapore

Sinnwanng Express Enterprise
SDL Logistics
Crown Line
Kuehne + Nagel
DSV AIR & SEA
Panalpina World Transport (S)
Nippon Express (S)
Expeditors Singapore
Ceva Logistics Asia
Geodis Wilson Singapore
Bollore Logistics Singapore
ALPS Global Logistics

What is Freight Brokering?

Increasing demands around the world for imports and exports and their fast delivery have kept the logistics industry steadily growing. Freight Brokers play a crucial role working as middlemen between shippers and carriers in ensuring cargos are transported securely to where they are required and on time. Equipped with the most current knowledge of freight carrier services, Freight Brokers will:

  • expedite the sharing of information and documentation between customers and carriers
  • pair customers with freight carriers
  • provide customers with shipping quotes.
  • book orders and line carriers up for loading
  • communicate with dispatchers and drivers to track the status of cargos
  • update customers on status of shipments and assist with any ad-hoc matters
  • attract new customers and secure new accounts

Challenges Ahead

While opportunities for growth in the traditional freight brokerage business are still optimistic, digital freight brokering looms over its head as a disruptive competitor. And the competition has been kicked up Amazon’s recent launch of its freight brokerage platform,  which enables shippers to get instant quotes and match with a freight service. Therefore, many brokers are or will be expanding their business into digital space, taking advantage of technological advancement, which has the ability to reach more potential customers in a faster, more efficient manner. Traditional freight brokers that cannot keep up with this trend and the highly competitive market that it creates may find themselves losing profitability and market share steadily.

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