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Relocating to Singapore

All you need to know about relocating your household goods and pets

Moving abroad involves months of organization, especially if you are planning to relocate to Singapore with your family and pets. Did you know that your dog might need a rabies shot between one and twelve months before it enters Singapore? You and your family will also need tetanus and diphtheria shots to be allowed entry to the country.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

If you’re wondering how to relocate to Singapore, this section is for you. As every expat knows, moving abroad involves more than hopping on a plane  with a suitcase. How can you prepare for this life-changing move?

In a country where space is an expensive commodity, our comprehensive  relocation guide  advises you on how to find home goods storage.  Because more affordable housing in Singapore is unfurnished, we also take you through how to ship your treasured belongings. There are plenty of insider tips as part of the  relocation steps process,  like how you can save money by applying for customs relief using  a  Customs In-Non-Payment (GST Relief)  form.

Singapore with Pets

If your pet is joining you, we have all the information you need about how to make sure they make it safely into the country. Be warned, Singapore has a banned breeds list. First to fourth generation Bengal or Savannah cats are banned, as well as Pit Bulls, Akita, and other breeds of (often large) dogs. Check out our “Moving with Pets” section for a full list.

Moving and shipping household goods

One question our relocation experts regularly answer is how to move household items and belongings when moving abroad. There is a simple answer: use our moving and shipping services for a smooth journey to Singapore. Our experts guide you through the process every step of the way, connecting you with the best service providers in Singapore and your home country.

How to Ship Household Items and Belongings to Singapore  

Singapore is an island nation with one of the busiest border crossings in the world, the Johor-Singapore Causeway (Tambak Johor-Singapura in Malay). This means hiring a car to drive your goods to Singapore is possible, but an unlikely option for most expats. The costs can also quickly mount up when flying your goods, especially with larger pieces of furniture being harder to carry in cargo.

The most realistic and reliable option for expats is to ship bulky belongings and furniture to Singapore. Shipping is ideal because it is cheaper than moving goods by air and easier to organize in advance than moving goods by car.

Step One: Choose a Reliable Company

It is worth putting a lot of time into researching the shipping company you will use. Not all goods shipment companies are tailored for relocations, just as not all relocation companies are used to dealing with smaller, quicker goods movement for individuals.  Search for recent reviews and testimonials, as well as comparing multiple companies.

Be careful to choose a company for its quality, not just price. Common expat horror stories talk about companies offering a lower quote to get your business, then driving up the price by charging fees for hidden extras after your relocation has begun.

Step Two: Choose Your Service

The company you select is likely to have different services for you to select from. This can include hiring a shipping container for exclusive use or not. If you choose this option, the company might suggest a home survey where an employee will visit your house to find out how many belongings you are taking with you and their size.

Step Three: Give them Details

The shipment company will need to know specific details about where they are sending your goods. They will also want to know concrete dates to set a timeline.  For this, you will either need to find a home in advance or have a storage unit ready in Singapore for your goods.

Step Four: Pack,  Send  and Receive

While some companies will offer a goods wrapping service, most will expect you to have packed your belongings safely and securely for transit.  This should be done in more than enough time for the collection. We suggest packing everything carefully and with plenty of protection to prevent any breakages.

Once your goods are on their way, you just need to take yourself to Singapore and wait for the good news that all of your items have cleared customs.

What to Pack When Moving to Singapore  

You should be easily able to buy any kind of furniture and kitchen appliances you need in Singapore: Amazon delivers to the country,  IKEA has two stores in the city state, and there are many furniture stores available across the city.

What’s more, Singapore has a tropical climate and is warm year-round. There is no need to pack heavy winter coats and blankets.

Customs Regulations for Singapore

When you are relocating to Singapore, most household goods that you have owned and used for over three months should pass easily through customs.  Customs regulations are the same for both airport and shipping cargo.  If you do not follow Singapore customs allowances and regulations, you can face lengthy delays to collect your belongings or they can even be destroyed.

Importing your household items into Singapore incurs Goods and Services Tax (GST). Expats transferring residence or migrating to Singapore must apply using a Customs In-Non-Payment (GST Relief) form to receive relief from this tax.

Conditions for Relief
  • proving you, the owner, have used the goods for at least three months;
  • importing goods within six months of moving to Singapore;
  • not disposing of the goods for three months after they have been imported.

Alcohol, tobacco products, motor vehicles, and items such as private planes and boats must always pay Goods and Service Tax.

You can collect your goods directly from the PSA Port area.

Singapore Prohibited and Restricted Items

You cannot bring tobacco, drugs, or chewing gum into Singapore. The country also prevents the following items from being imported:

  • pistol or revolver shaped cigarette lighters;
  • items created from rhinoceros’  horn or any endangered animal;
  • telecommunications equipment, such as scanning receivers.

View the full list at the Singapore Customs  website.

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Home good storage

Immediately after relocating, some expats find they need  long-and short-term storage solutions.  Renting storage space in Singapore is possible across the city. It is best to plan your storage solution in advance so that you can coordinate with your moving company.

When you enquire with a shipping company, make sure you know what is included in your package. Some storage companies do not provide pick up or delivery, or even padlocks. Checking for additional and administration charges is also advised.

InterNations GO! can take care of this stressful aspect of moving abroad. Our extensive Moving and Shipping services make storing your valuable home items and comforts a breeze. Make an enquiry today to see how we can help you.

Vaccinations and health requirements for Singapore

Do not let getting the vaccinations required for expats entering Singapore fall to the bottom of your “to-do” list—some vaccinations require multiple shots over the course of a few months. But which shots do you need for Singapore? If you have a fear of needles, you can breathe easy.

There are no  vaccinations required to gain a Singapore employment visa or S Pass.  However, it is highly recommended that anyone living in Singapore is vaccinated per the regulations in their home country.

Singapore Immigration Vaccination Requirements  

While there are no official vaccination requirements for Singapore immigration, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that you are immunized against hepatitis A, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and diphtheria before entering Singapore. Routine vaccines such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), polio, influenza, and varicella (chicken pox) are also not mandatory but considered important to have.

If you are planning on vacationing around Asia, consider get vaccinated for  the following diseases:

  • Rabies
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis B
  • Tuberculosis

Always consult with your doctor about the vaccinations you need before you leave your home country.

Vaccinations for Children

Children under the age of 21 are required to present evidence they are vaccinated against diphtheria and measles before being granted a dependent or long-term visit pass. If they are medically unfit for these vaccinations, a doctor’s certificate stating that this is the case will be accepted instead.

Yellow Fever

You are not required to get a yellow fever shot before you go to Singapore. You will only need a yellow fever vaccination, and verified certificate, if you have arrived from a WHO designated transmission country.

Health Requirements for Singapore Immigration  

You should be in general good health to travel to Singapore.  Travelers from the Middle East may be screened for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) upon arrival.

Mosquitos in Singapore

Mosquitoes are common in Singapore,  especially in the warmer months.  Unfortunately, it is part of the package of living in a tropical, Southeast Asian country. It is recommended that you wear long sleeved tops, pants, or long skirts, and use insect repellant around homes, offices, and outdoor spaces, to reduce the risk of being bitten.

There is low risk of contracting malaria in Singapore. Instead, you should be aware of the symptoms of dengue fever, with the country having over 14,600 reported cases in 2019. Symptoms include a high fever, rash, headaches, and muscle and joint pain. Visit a doctor  immediately if you believe you have contracted dengue.

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Moving with pets

If you are considering moving to Singapore with pets, you should know that you are fine to bring them with you as long as they are fit and healthy.  However, the city-state’s Animal and Veterinary Service  (AVS)  asks  you keep in mind how the  age, medical conditions, and ability to cope with the stress of travel will affect your furry friend during a pet relocation to Singapore. You should also consider if your pet will be able to cope with the tropical climate.

Important Things to Remember

If you decide that your pet will be comfortable making the journey, there are some practicalities to consider. One important thing to check is that your pet’s breed is permitted in Singapore.  If this is the case, you can move ahead with making sure they have all of the necessary vaccinations for import, as well as meeting conditions like having an ISO compliant microchip.

If you have accommodation provided or have found a house already, you should also establish if it is appropriate for your animal. Remember that while rules for cats in housing are up to individual landlords, Singapore authorities only allow up to three approved small breed dogs per private residence.

Transporting Your Pets to Singapore 

You can bring pets into Singapore in two main ways:

  • fly them into Changi Airport: operating hours 08:00-13:00 then 14:00-22:30, Monday to Saturday;
  • drive them across the Malaysian border at the Tuas Checkpoint: operating hours 08:00-10:00, Monday to Saturday.

Vaccinations for Pets

Before you transport your pets, you need to ensure that they have been vaccinated properly. This includes identifying your country’s rabies risk and vaccinating your pet accordingly, ensuring they have a serology (titer) test if necessary.

Rabies

Your animal does not need a rabies vaccination if it is being exported from the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, or Australia. Pets from all other countries should have been vaccinated  not less than 30 days and not more than 12 months  before  entry, with a blood test certificate to prove they do not carry the virus.

Quarantine

Once you have ensured that they are up to date on all necessary vaccinations, you should reserve a quarantine space.  This is only required if your dog is from a category C or D country as listed on the Singapore AVS website, which includes the USA, Canada, Netherlands, France, and Germany.

Any pets needing to be quarantined will go into the Sembawang Animal Quarantine Station (SAQS) upon arrival. They will be kept here for up to 30 days. You have to reserve a space through the Quarantine Management System (QMS) at least three months before their arrival into Singapore.

Taking Your Dog to Singapore

As long as  your dog has the appropriate vaccinations and is an accepted breed, you can bring them with you to Singapore. Necessary vaccinations (excluding rabies) are  canine distemper, canine hepatitis, and canine parvoviral infection. This  must be  supported by vaccination records upon arrival in Singapore.

Expats must obtain a dog license for each pet before importing them. You can learn more about this at the  AVS website.  Please note that all dogs must be leashed when in public areas.

Banned dog breeds include all forms of Pit Bulls, as well as larger breeds such as Akita and Neapolitan Mastiff. Also banned are:

  • Boerboe
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Tosa
  • Perro de Presa Canario

Any crosses of these breeds are also prohibited from entering Singapore.

There are also strict rules regarding breeds (and cross breeds) of: Doberman Pinscher; Rottweilers; German Shepherds; Mastiffs; and Bull Terriers. Though they are allowed to enter the country, they must have obedience training. They must always be muzzled in public in addition to being on a lead.

Taking Your Cat to Singapore

It is illegal to import first to fourth generation Bengal or Savannah cat  crosses  into Singapore.

All cats must be vaccinated against  cat flu (feline calicivirus and feline viral rhinotracheitis) and cat enteritis. This  has to  be  supported by vaccination records upon arrival in Singapore.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: March 19, 2020

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