The US is one of the biggest eCommerce markets in the world, so if you sell online, it should probably be on your radar. But while there are a lot of opportunities to grow your business by exporting to the US, there are also many intricacies to be aware of. Here’s what you need to know before you start shipping internationally from Singapore to the US.  

Snapshot of the US eCommerce market 

American shoppers spent over 700 billion USD online (949 billion SGD) in 2020, and this number is expected to hit 1 trillion USD (1.4 trillion SGD) by 2022, thanks to the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behaviour. The categories with the biggest share of total online retail sales are books, music and video, followed by computers and consumer electronics, toys and hobby products, office equipment and supplies, and apparel and accessories.

With a population of 330 million (approximately 50% of whom are Gen Y and Z) and 90% internet penetration, the US presents a significant opportunity for global eCommerce businesses to expand. 

How to ship to the US

There are two ways to ship products to the US: air and sea freight. Sea freight is generally the cheapest international shipping option from Singapore, but it takes 50-54 days for goods to arrive. Air freight is much quicker ( 6-13 days, or 1-4 days with express shipping), and given how important fast shipping is for customers, it is probably your best option. 

What to know before you ship

Before you enable parcel delivery to the US, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the customs rules, so your shipments don’t get held up and your customers aren’t surprised by any potential duties and taxes upon delivery. 

What to include

Any shipments you send to the US will need to include a commercial invoice with the country of origin of the merchandise (where it was manufactured, not where it was sent from), the shipper name and full address, including suburbs, and the receiver’s name and address. You’ll also need to provide an accurate HS code, a proper description of the merchandise (it can’t be declared as a gift), and the number, weight (in kgs and lbs), and commercial value of the items. 

You’ll also need to provide any relevant permits depending on the items being shipped (see Restricted and prohibited goods), and an insurance policy and certificate of origin if needed.

Your shipping partners will generally provide other necessary items, including:

  • An airway bill
  • A packing list
  • A section 321 type 86 eCommerce manifest
  • A cargo manifest 

De minimis threshold

The US has a de minimis threshold of 800 USD (1084 SGD), which means customers won’t need to pay duties and taxes on orders under that amount. Orders under the threshold are also eligible for expedited clearance. However, you’ll still need to provide the right information and follow certain procedures to avoid delays.

Customs clearance

Most B2C orders go through an informal clearance process, which only requires you to provide a commercial invoice and air waybill. However, for B2B shipments, goods valued over 2500 USD (3391 SGD), and regulated goods, you’ll need to provide those documents plus a 5106 form completed by the importer, customs bond, and potentially other licenses and permits.  

Restricted and prohibited goods

Certain items are prohibited or restricted from entering the US, such as live plants and animals, perishable goods (e.g. meat, fish, vegetables and fruit), narcotics and psychotropic substances or other controlled substances, and all liquids. These items may require additional documentation, meet certain requirements, or have a special permit to clear customs, or they may simply not be allowed to enter the US at all.  

What Shippit has to offer

Shippit is a multi-carrier shipping platform, which means we work with several delivery providers to bring you the lowest internationally shipping rates in one place. Our customers can post to the US with our partners like Aramex, Janio, and DHL and our lowest rates startfrom 18 SGD for 0.5 kgs. 

Instead of trying to negotiate the lowest Aramex shipping rates, Janio shipping rates, and DHL shipping rates on your own, consider using Shippit. We also make it super simple to print labels and provide parcel tracking information to your end customer.