Flashback: practical information on Singapore

Singapore is an easy-going city where just about everything is available. This flashback concentrates on shipping our car from Bangladesh to Singapore and the paperwork for the car in this country.


1. Shipment from Bangladesh:

In Chittagong, Bangladesh, we arranged for our car to be shipped by cargo ship in a container. If you have the option between India and Bangladesh, shipping from Bangladesh can save you some real money. In India the lowest freight rate we found was US$ 1600 [Chennai, with Maersk Sealand] but in Bangladesh we found PIL Shipping [a Singaporean company] where we only paid US$ 250 for the freight.

Since we didn't make a flashback of Bangladesh, we'll give you a quick run-down on our arrangements in Bangladesh so you’ll have a clear picture of shipping possibilities.

On the Bangladesh side:

At PIL Shipping we talked to Mr Jakir and paid the following:
- container: US$ 250
- VAT (tax): US$ 18.45
- Bill of Lading: US$ 4.48
- Total: US$ 272.94 which now [Sept '05] is around 18284 taka.
It was possible to pay in dollars but PIL Shipping does not accept credit cards.

Filling in an address of the sender and receiver on the shipping document may seem complicated, if not impossible [if you don't have a receiving party] but we tackled this one by filling in Coen’s full name and passport number in both blanks.

Via PIL Shipping we found a customs broker, Mr Ahsan of A2Z International. To him we paid the following:
- a fixed price for his work, for documentation and customs: 5000 taka
- costs for stuffing and lashing [securing the car in the container]: 1000 taka
- total: 6000 taka [around 75 euros]

Names, Addresses, GPS points:
Isphahani Builing, 3rd floor
Sheikh Mujib Raod, Agrabad C/A
tel: 713301, 713306, 727791
[gps: N 22˚19.434" - E 91˚48.737"]

A2Z International, customs broker:
Mr Ahsan
Progressive Tower [Mezzanine Floor]
1837 Sk. Mujib Road, Agrabad
Tel: 810541 / 810342 or cellphone: 0189 - 320833
[gps: N 22?19.722" - E 91?48.710"]

Customs office [where we went with Mr Ahsan to get the Carnet stamped]:
[gps: N 22˚18.741" - E 91˚47.918"]

We are very content with the way the arrangements were completed in Bangladesh. The whole procedure, from the first meeting until getting the car into the container, took about two days. PIL Shipping as well as Mr Ahsan were friendly, cooperative and they arranged things in a professional way. We can recommend both organizations to other travellers.
What you have to watch out for, in case you meet other agents, is that they all start talking about US$750 dollars for the paperwork and customs. Most probably they don't know about the Carnet de Passage and thus assume that you [they] have to bribe the customs with big money [apparently around US$ 250] to get the car cleared. It took us some time to explain to PIL Shipping and Mr Ahsan how the Carnet de Passage worked but then Mr Ahsan did a great job explaining the Carnet to the customs officials [to at least 10 different "important"people] and got it stamped for us [because there are so many "important" people at the customs we received at least five stamps...].

On the Singapore side:

At PIL Shipping we talked to Mrs Alice and paid the following:
- THC [Terminal Handling Charges] and VAT [tax]: S$ 187
- DO [Delivery Order]: S$ 50
- Totaal: S$ 237
S$ = Singapore Dollar, the rate was S$2.06 for 1 euro

Via PIL Shipping we found our customs broker, Dave of RongDe. To him we paid the following:
- a fixed amount for trucking, lifting and opening the container: S$ 240
- our agreement included that we would do the unlashing ourselves to save costs but when the time came Mr Dave found somebody to do this for us [without costs]. He also arranged for a truck with a compressor so we could inflate the tires again [we had had to deflate them in order to pass underneath the door of the container]. Great guy

Names, Addresses:
PIL Shipping:
We don't have the complete address but it's a huge building on Cecil Street, which lies between the Thian Hock Keng temple and Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre [see your guidebook].

Dave Gordev of RondDe, customs broker:
Keppel Distripark Blk 513 #02-108
Kampong Bahru Road
Singapore 09449
tel: 6377 5256-59

Office [we didn't go there, we only went to the warehouse]:
7, Keppel Road Tanjong Pagar Complex
#03-40 Singapore 089053
tel: 6223 1833

We knew beforehand about the S$ 237 which we had to pay to PIL Shipping but we were unpleasantly surprised by another S$ 240 for the trucking, lifting and opening of the container. So the costs of the shipment on the Singapore side were relatively high. The help of Mrs Alice in finding our customs broker and the help of Mr Dave were both great and we recommend both organizations for a smooth shipping procedure on the receiving end.

2. Road permit, car pass, insurance, etc:

To be honest, it is difficult to give a clear picture of these issues. Around the same time that we arrived in Singapore, two other couples also arrived. We all talked to the AA [independently from each other, it was only later that we met and compared stories] about what paperwork we'd need and what the costs of insurance would be, and we all got a different story. For the other stories please check the websites: www.worldtourrecord.com and www.patandhelen.co.uk The AA told us that we only needed the Carnet and no road permit. But when we arrived at the border with Malaysia the customs asked us why we didn't have a road permit because apparently you do need one. Fortunately they let us pass and didn't charge us anything for not having one.

Singapore has an ERP system [something like "Electronic Road Payment"] in order to tackle the traffic jams. The cars have a small box fixed on their dashboard into which the driver’s cash card fits. When they drive underneath an ERP point, a fee is automatically deducted. Since we only used public transport we didn't find out what the consequences would be of driving underneath an ERP without this box. It is unclear to us whether foreigners are exempt from this ERP system or not. We thought we needed a car pass in order to cross the Causeway, a toll bridge which has to be crossed in order to leave the country. So at the customs we asked for a car pass which brought up a lot of issues, among which our not having a road permit. We shouldn't have bothered at all because you can simply cross the Causeway without stopping at a booth to pay this fee. Tip: don't ask about a car pass, just get your Carnet stamped and keep on driving!

Third-party insurance is compulsory but the AA would charge us S$ 95 for 1 week or S$ 190 for 1 month, including Malaysia. This we found too expensive and since we used only public transport anyway we didn't bother about an insurance. We did some calling around but other companies wouldn't sell us an insurance at all because we're foreigners or insure us for a minimum of one year. The strange thing is that the other two couples got completely different prices from the AA. The www.worldrecordtour.com did get an insurance but went to Johor Bahru at the Malaysian border by bus and bought a much cheaper insurance for Singapore/ Malaysia [something around Rm 40 [10 euros] for two weeks.

Posted: Ma - September 26, 2005 at 11:44 PM