Section 33(1) Agent and the Importation of Controlled Goods
The IRAS has published the sixth edition of the GST guide on imports, on 20 January 2021.
Key update to this e-tax guide is that an overseas principal who is registered for GST in Singapore no longer needs to seek approval from Singapore Customs to use a non-section 33(1) agent to import controlled goods (e.g. military goods or strategic control goods).
As it is, when an overseas person (without any establishment in Singapore) is registerable for GST in Singapore, the overseas person will need to appoint a section 33(1) agent in Singapore (akin to a fiscal representative for VAT in Europe) to assume all the GST responsibilities of the registered overseas person, including the reporting and payment of GST due.
In practice, when the overseas person imports goods into Singapore, the UEN number and the details of the appointed section 33(1) agent will be used for import clearance. However, for controlled goods, the section 33(1) agent may not have the necessary authorization or license to import controlled goods.
Without the revision to the e-tax guide, the overseas person would have to seek approval from Singapore Customs to use the UEN and import license of another local person (also known as non-section 33(1) agent) to import the controlled goods.
The waiver of the need to seek approval from Singapore Customs is a good move by the IRAS as it removes the administrative burden for the overseas person.
However, controls must be in place such that the non-section 33(1) agent does not recover the import GST for goods imported on behalf of the overseas person (since the import permit is under his name) and procedures must be in place to include the import GST paid by the non-section 33(1) in the overseas person’s GST return.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions on GST.
Eddie is the co-founder and Tax Director of Jed Tax Consulting Pte Ltd. Jed Tax Consulting is an independent GST consulting firm in Singapore, provides support to clients with all aspects of GST matters (e.g. MES renewal, ASK and ACAP review, IRAS audit queries, tax codes review and set-up, GST advisory, GST return filing and in-house training etc). Jed Tax Consulting is supported by a team of accredited tax practitioners and advisors with vast experience in IRAS and Big 4 accounting firms.
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