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Cross-border Trucking from Singapore to Malaysia

Written by
Benedict Leong
Published on
August 26, 2020
Updated on
June 27, 2023

While air freight and sea freight are the most common transportation modes in Southeast Asia, the causeway that Singapore and Malaysia share enables a third transportation option which can be both fast and affordable: cross-border trucking.

Having been trade partners for many years, the causeway between Singapore and Malaysia has been recognised as one of the busiest in terms of freight traffic. Malaysia itself is no slouch when it comes to eCommerce expenditure, which has also been boosted by the increasing need for social distancing. Along with reduced flights as of the time of this writing, businesses be they eCommerce-enabled or not should never overlook cross-border trucking as an option.

When should you consider cross border trucking?

Coming in full truckload (FTL) and less than truckload varieties (LTL), cross-border trucking is suitable for both direct to consumer (B2C) and bulk freight (B2B) shipping needs. While air freight is fast and sea freight is economical, cross-border trucking brings the best of both worlds. Cheaper than air freight and faster than sea freight, cross-border trucking is a transportation mode that shouldn’t be overlooked for anyone looking to ship from Singapore to Malaysia.

Whether you should use this mode depends on how quickly you need your shipment to arrive, the budget you’re willing to spend on this shipment and the type of items being shipped. Cross-border trucking is cheaper than air freight but can take around an additional day for deliveries.

On the other hand, air freight has a lot of restrictions on what can and cannot be uplifted onto planes, with items that contain chemicals or flammable material like health and beauty products requiring additional documentation. Cross-border trucking generally runs into less red-tape and has more freedom in what you can truck between Singapore and Malaysia.

As different types of shipments have different needs, it helps to have a shipping partner flexible enough to cater each orders’ unique needs. When you work with Janio’s flexible end-to-end service you can be assured that we’ve got a solution that works for all your b2c and b2b freight and delivery needs.

How does Cross-border Trucking Work from Singapore to Malaysia?

While cross-border trucking goes through the same general international shipping steps that you can find in air freight, there are some differences when it comes to customs clearance, which will be covered later below.

One thing worth noting regarding cross-border trucking between Singapore and Malaysia is that unlike cross-border trucking between other countries, trucks from both Singapore and Malaysia can travel within each other’s borders. This reduces the need for loads to be transferred between trucks across borders, reducing handling and potential damage.

  1. Collection – Your hired shipping company collects the goods from the origin address or you arrange to have your shipment dropped off at an address designated by your shipping partner. The origin point could be your office or warehouse while drop-off points could include warehouses like Janio’s at T-space.
  2. Consolidation and Loading – If you are shipping less than full truckload (LTL), your shipments need to be consolidated together with other shipments first. If you’re working with a shipping partner, this will take place at their Singapore warehouse. Once the truck is loaded, the truck will head to the Customs checkpoint at the border
  3. Origin Customs – Once the truck has reached Singapore’s customs checkpoint at the causeway, Singapore Customs officers will inspect your shipment and its accompanying documents. Once everything is in order, your order heads to the Malaysian border.
  4. Mid-mile – Your order crosses the causeway to Malaysia’s part of the causeway
  5. Destination Customs – Once it’s reached Malaysia’s border at Johor, officers from the Royal Malaysia Customs Department will also check your order and documents. Once your order has cleared customs, the truck carrying your shipment will continue to either a warehouse if break bulk is necessary or go straight for last mile delivery to the destination if it is carrying a full truckload shipment (FTL).
  6. Sorting and Distribution – The orders are moved via vans or trucks to the transport logistics hub, where they are sorted and dispatched to their relevant destinations
  7. Last-mile delivery – After sorting, the shipments will be transported to your consignee’s address

Keeping track of which stage of the shipment your order is currently at can be kept simple when you work with a partner with merchant portals that help to keep track of both B2B and B2C shipments. Contact us below to find out more!

Air, Land or Sea, our flexible shipping solutions keep your deliveries going forward

First Mile Delivery

This delivery stage is when your order leaves the origin address. Whether it goes to your partner’s warehouse or straight to the customs checkpoint depends on whether you’re using a less-than-truckload shipment or a full-truckload shipment.

If you are shipping via LTL, you can request for pickup or can drop off your order at your shipping partner’s warehouse. At the warehouse, your order will be consolidated with other orders into a truck before it can head for Malaysia.

Packaging and labelling is paramount before first mile delivery to prevent potential damage during delivery. To learn more about the best practices in packaging your goods, we’ve covered this topic in our packaging guide. LTL shipments tend to leave based on fixed schedules from your shipping partners’ warehouses.

Alternatively, if you are shipping via FTL, you’ll be chartering the whole truck without the need to operate on fixed schedules. The truck will arrive at your premises for you to load. When loading your items on the truck, ensure that your shipment is properly secured via lashing, floor stoppers or by using air bags. Once the truck is fully loaded and the order properly secured, it’ll head straight to the causeway.

If you use Singapore as a regional distribution hub and ship to multiple countries in Southeast Asia, you could also consider hiring warehouse space at Singapore’s Free Trade Zone. Free Trade Zone warehouses also have the benefit of deferring tax charges on non-dutiable goods until they enter a country’s official borders, which helps with both cash flow and also as a storage area for regional hubs in Southeast Asia.

Origin Customs Clearance at Singapore and Mid-mile

After the truck is fully loaded, it will head to the Singapore customs checkpoint at either Woodlands or Tuas. In Singapore, exported goods are not subject to customs duties and Goods and Services Tax (GST) but all goods must be declared.1

Your shipment will need the following documents ready to clear customs at this stage:

  • Commercial invoice
  • Bill of lading
  • Packing list

If you’re shipping in bulk to export out of Singapore, you’ll also need to prepare the following information and documents for Singapore customs:

  • Unique Entity Number (UEN)
  • Export permit and permit number

A UEN number and Customs Account are needed for both exporting from and importing into Singapore. A UEN is a standard identification number for businesses to interact with government agencies in Singapore.2 The UEN can be obtained by registering with a UEN issuing agency, such as Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Once you have your UEN, you can register for a Customs Account on the online portal.

If the goods are dutiable or subject to control, you must obtain an export permit. Goods that are exempted from needing an export permit can be found on Singapore’s Customs website. This permit can be applied for via Singapore’s portal.3 You must declare the FOB value of your shipment in the export permit.

After checking these documents and clearing your shipment for export, the truck carrying your order will cross the causeway to the Malaysian customs checkpoint.

Destination Customs Clearance in Malaysia

Once the truck carrying your goods arrives in Malaysia, your order will be inspected by officers from the Royal Malaysian Customs Department. One main difference between customs clearance for air freight and cross-border trucking is that de minimis rules don’t apply to non-air freight shipments.

The de minimis rate refers to a value threshold where fewer or no duties and taxes are charged if the shipment’s customs value, which includes your good’s price, shipping fee, and insurance costs if any, is below that point. This only applies to goods that are delivered via air freight. In Malaysia, the customs valuation is valued using the CIF method, which includes the cost of the goods themselves as well freight and insurance costs.

Since de minimis rules don’t apply to trucking imports, duties and taxes will be levied on your order at the Malaysian border. You would have to pay sales and service tax (SST) of between 5 – 10%, and the import duties and income tax depend on the product category as declared by the harmonised systems code (HS code) which could go up to around 25 per cent. You may find out the percentage of your import duties, and taxes you need to pay through Royal Malaysian Customs Official HS Code finder.4

In addition to covering customs charges, to clear your goods for import into Malaysia, you’ll generally need the following documents:

  • Customs Import Declaration
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Waybill
  • Packing List
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Other relevant permits, licenses and certificates

For non B2C imports, the importing party must first register with the Companies Commission of Malaysia to import or export goods which require a license. Some of these items include certain livestock, batik sarong, electric domestic equipment, pharmaceutical products, and more. You may check out the list of items that require a license to export or import on Malaysia’s Customs website.5

Once registered, a company must then apply for an import license from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). Malaysia uses a privatized single digital window for all import and export regulations called Dagang Net.6

If you’re still unsure about the customs clearance process, check out our updated customs clearance guide for more information.

Distribution and Last Mile in Malaysia

Once your shipment clears customs and enters Malaysian borders, where it heads next depends on the nature of your shipment. If your shipment needs to be deconsolidated first, it will head to your logistics partner’s warehouse first for break bulk. FTL shipments that have a single destination will head straight to the last mile stage of the journey.

At your logistics partner’s warehouse, your order will be deconsolidated and sorted to different vans or trucks for last mile delivery to your consignee’s address. If you’re shipping with Janio, we have multiple delivery attempts to ensure that your consignee receives your shipment.

As can be seen, cross-border trucking can also have quite a few variations depending on what you’re shipping and whether you’ll need a full truckload or not. With Janio, we can help you work out which freight solutions best for your cross-border trucking needs and have your orders delivered on time and on target. To find out more about or services or request a quote, reach out to us via the link below:

Air, Land or Sea, our flexible shipping solutions keep your deliveries going forward


  1. Singapore Customs – Export Procedures
  2. UEN Singapore Government
  3. Singapore Customs – Permit Exemptions
  4. Royal Malaysian Customs Department HS Explorer
  5. Royal Malaysian Customs Department – Import/Export
  6. Dagang Net Technologies Sdn Bhd