What is it?
The Licensed Warehouse (LW) Scheme allows approved companies to store imported dutiable goods, namely liquor, tobacco, motor vehicles, petroleum and biodiesel blends, for an indefinite period of time in a designated area licensed by Singapore Customs, with the duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) suspended. This designated area is termed as licensed premises.
Duty and GST will be payable when these goods are removed from the licensed warehouse for local use or consumption. Duty and GST are not payable when these goods are removed for export, or when supply or sale of these goods takes place while they are in the warehouse.
You may refer to an overview of the procedures for storing dutiable imports in licensed warehouses.
Types of Licences under the LW Scheme
There are 3 licence types to cater to the different needs of companies:
- Licensed Warehouse Type I
- Licensed Warehouse Type II
- Licensed Warehouse Type III
The level of facilitation accorded, as well as the criteria on the company’s record-keeping and internal controls standard, increase from Type I to Type III.
Type I and II licensees need to qualify for the “Standard” and “Intermediate” bands under the TradeFIRST framework respectively, while Type III licensees need to qualify for the “Enhanced” or the “Premium” bands.
A summary of the benefits for the 3 LW licence types can be found in the Licensed Warehouse Scheme Handbook (Chapter 2.8).
How to Qualify?
To qualify for the Licensed Warehouse Scheme, the company must:
- Be GST-registered with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore
- Have a valid Customs Account
- Have good compliance records with Singapore Customs
- Ensure the premises to be licensed is a storage-based facility with security measures in place
- Have good stock record-keeping and warehouse procedures
- Be responsible for the security, accountability and control of the dutiable goods
- Undergo TradeFIRST assessment and attain the minimum band to qualify for the respective licence types under the LW Scheme
An annual licence fee is payable upon issuance of the licence. It is based on the projected potential duty* or the average past monthly duty** of the dutiable goods stored in the licensed premises:
Projected Potential Duty or Average Past Monthly Duty
S$1 million or less
More than S$1 million but less than S$10 million
S$10 million or more
*Projected potential duty is the total customs and excise duties of the projected maximum quantity of goods at any one time in the proposed licensed premises.
**Average past monthly duty refers to the average of the total customs and excise duties of all goods stored in the intended licensed premises on the 1st of each month during the period of 12 months (or, if the premises has been used to store goods for a shorter period, that shorter period) before the date of the application.
- Accountability to Other Competent Authorities
- Obtain the necessary approvals from the relevant competent authorities
- Inventory Control
- Ensure inventory records and supporting documents are properly maintained and updated
- Physical Security Control
- Ensure adequate security measures in the licensed premises
- Ensure all entrances and exits are secured when there is no movement of goods in the licensed premises
- Obtain prior approval from Singapore Customs for any structural alteration to the licensed premises
For containers sealed with a red customs seal, the application to unstuff dutiable goods at a licensed warehouse should be e-filed to the Company Compliance Branch one working day before the unstuffing.
Goods that are not fit for human consumption may be destroyed under Customs’ supervision.
Fees for supervision of unstuffing, survey and destruction are applicable accordingly.
How to Apply?
Step 1: Complete the TradeFIRST Self-Assessment Checklist.
Step 2: Prepare these supporting documents:
- Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority BizFile Report
- Audited financial statements for the past 3 years
- One copy of the layout plan. Please indicate the intended licensed premises, entry/exit points and security features such as closed-circuit televisions and alarm systems in the layout plan. The plans must show the address affixed with the company stamp
- Title deed or tenancy agreement
- Other relevant documents
Step 3: Apply online.
Singapore Customs reserves the right to impose a Banker’s Guarantee or insurance bond, if required. The quantum is based on the average past monthly duty of the dutiable goods stored.
Once the application is successful, we will contact you to follow up with your application.
For further assistance, please call 6251 3027 or email email@example.com.
Errors and Offences
Traders may be penalised if they do not comply with Customs requirements or conditions on the Licensed Warehouse Scheme enforced under the Customs Act.
For minor offences under the Customs Act, Singapore Customs may offer to compound the offences for a sum not exceeding S$5,000 per offence. Offenders may be prosecuted if the offences committed are of a fraudulent or serious nature.
- Incorrect Harmonized System (HS) code, HS quantity & unit, packing/goods description
- Incorrect outward transport details and/or place of receipt that do not tally with the actual export shipment.
You may view this table on common offences and the penalties upon conviction.
Penalty Upon Conviction
Failure to comply with conditions imposed on removal of dutiable goods from customs control.
Section 27(1)(c) of the Customs Act:
A fine not exceeding S$5,000.
Making an incorrect declaration.
Section 128(1)(a) of the Customs Act:
A fine not exceeding S$10,000, or the equivalent of the customs duty, excise duty or GST payable, whichever is greater; or imprisonment not exceeding 12 months; or both.
Illegally removal of goods from customs control.
Section 128K(a) of the Customs Act:
A fine not less than 10 times the customs duty, excise duty or GST evaded, or S$5,000, whichever is lesser; and not more than 20 times the customs duty, excise duty or GST evaded, or S$5,000, whichever is greater.
Higher penalties are applicable for:
- Second or subsequent conviction, or
- Offences involving tobacco products. Refer to the Customs Act for more details.
More information on the prescribed offences and penalties under the Customs Act.
You are accountable as a licensee for the dutiable goods stored in or moved from/to your licensed warehouse. We encourage you to observe the following Dos and Don’ts to improve your compliance with regulatory requirements:
✔ Conduct regular briefing sessions to remind staff and clients on the requirements of the Licensed Warehouse Scheme.
✔ Keep proper records of the time-in and time-out of any person visiting the warehouse for the collection of goods.
✔ Assign a supervisory level staff to personally oversee the stuffing and unstuffing of containers.
✔ Remind drivers, including those from an external transport company, that they should deliver dutiable goods for export directly to the checkpoint and not stop along the way at other locations to collect other goods.
✔ Ensure drivers report to the designated lane at the checkpoint for customs clearance by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers.
✔ Conduct regular stock checks and report any discrepancies detected to Singapore Customs.
✖ Remove any duty-unpaid goods from the licensed premises without proper permits.
✖ Break the Customs red seal and unstuff a container sealed with the Customs red seal without any Customs approval.
✖ Store other types of goods (non-dutiable goods) in the licensed premises meant for duty-unpaid goods. (Except for LW Type III licensees)
✖ Allow any unauthorised personnel to enter the licensed premises meant for duty unpaid goods.