Moving to USA from Singapore: Tips on Shipping Your Belongings to USA

Cover Image for Moving to USA from Singapore: Tips on Shipping Your Belongings to USA

So, you’re moving from Singapore to the USA! Whether you're taking the leap for the first time or returning home after years abroad, moving isn't just about changing locations—it's about recreating a sense of home thousands of miles away.

Whether it's a beloved piece of artwork from Haji Lane or a family heirloom that has travelled the world with you, these items aren’t merely possessions; they are memories and echoes of your life in Singapore, helping you feel at home wherever you are.

We understand that the thought of shipping your precious belongings across oceans can seem daunting. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

This guide offers essential tips and insights to help you move your valuables safely and efficiently to your new or familiar home in the USA.

1. Determine What is Worth Shipping

Determine what is worth shipping

Before you start packing, take a moment to decide what really needs to make the journey with you to the USA.

Start by evaluating the sentimental and financial worth of each item against the shipping costs.

High-value, irreplaceable items like family heirlooms or essential documents are definite candidates for shipping, but what about bulky furniture or everyday appliances? Purchasing these anew in the States might be more cost-effective.

Also, consider your immediate needs upon arrival to ensure essential items are readily available.

Make a clear list, categorising items into 'must-haves' and 'replaceables'. This not only eases your packing process but also helps you manage your budget.

Here’s a heads-up: the USA has specific rules on what can or cannot enter its borders. Be sure to check the restricted and prohibited items list to avoid any customs issues.

Utilise tools like JustShip AI Shipment Review tool to ensure compliance and verify that your items are shippable to avoid delays or penalties.

JustShip AI Shipment Review tool

JustShip AI Shipment Review tool

For more detailed guidance on preparing for your move, visit our Moving Overseas Checklist.

2. Air vs Sea Shipping: Which One to Choose?

Choosing between air and sea shipping is a critical decision in your moving process.

Air freight, while faster, tends to be more expensive. It is ideal for transporting essentials you’ll need immediately upon arrival or high-value items that require less handling.

On the other hand, sea shipping is more economical and better suited for bulkier, less urgent items. This option, although slower, can significantly reduce your shipping costs.

When deciding, consider factors like cost and timing. What’s your priority: speed or budget?

Here's a comparison to help you understand the differences:


Air Shipping

Sea Shipping


Faster, usually within 2-10 days. Ideal for essential items needed immediately upon arrival like essential clothing.

Slower, typically taking 20-45 days. Suitable for non-urgent shipments like furniture.

Volume & Weight

Best for smaller, lighter shipments.

More cost-effective for larger, heavier shipments. Ideal for bulkier items.

Risk of Damage & Loss

Relatively lower risk of damage and loss as it involves less handling of goods which can be preferable for fragile and high-value items.

Relatively higher risk of damage and loss as it often involves longer transit times and more handling, but suitable for durable items.

For a more tailored approach, consider a hybrid strategy: ship essential and high-value items via air for speed and security, and opt for sea shipping for less urgent, bulkier items to optimise cost and efficiency.

3. Preparing Your Belongings for Shipment


labelling boxes while packing

The right packing can make all the difference. Use suitable packing materials like sturdy boxes, bubble wrap, crates, and packing peanuts to protect your items during their journey. Label each box clearly with contents and handling instructions—it’s a lifesaver for customs and unpacking!

Not confident about packing? JustShip offers professional packing services exclusively for our shippers to ensure your valuable items are well-protected for the journey.


Accidents happen. Opt for comprehensive insurance to cover your belongings against loss or damage during transit.

JustShip offers insurance at a fee set at 2.4% of the declared value of your items. For more information about the insurance we provide, please visit our insurance support page.

JustShip’s insurance add-on

JustShip’s insurance add-on

Customs Declaration

A precise customs declaration is essential to avoid delays and penalties.

Please ensure you provide a comprehensive list of the categories of items you are shipping using our shipment form. Here’s an example:

sample of a detailed description

JustShip’s shipment form: sample of a detailed description

It's crucial to note that customs authorities may request information about the material composition of your items, especially for clothing. Therefore, it's important to be specific when declaring your items on our form.

Some countries are particular about whether items in a shipment are new or used. Clearly marking this distinction in your declaration can ensure clarity at customs and expedite the clearance process. So, separate and identify new items from used ones in your declaration.

A little extra effort now can prevent potential customs issues and delays later in the process.

Duties & Taxes When Shipping to the USA

No one likes surprises when it comes to fees. Here’s the scoop on what to expect for customs duties and taxes when shipping to the USA:

  • No Additional Taxes: Good news! Your shipments to the USA won’t attract any extra taxes.
  • Duty-Free Threshold: Items valued under about 800 USD (that's roughly 1000 SGD) enter duty-free. So, if you’re not shipping very expensive items, you likely won’t pay any duties.

But, what if your items are above this value? Using JustShip’s Rate Calculator, you can get a rough idea of any potential charges.

JustShip’s rate calculator with DDP

JustShip’s rate calculator with DDP

To keep things smooth, consider our DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) option, pre-pays all the duties upfront, so there are no hold-ups at customs.

JustShip’s pre-pay duties and taxes (DDP) option

Have questions about shipping personal effects? Check our Personal Effects Shipping: Your FAQ Answered for more details.

4. Prepare Required Forms if Requested

The US customs authority may require additional documents to allow your items through. Familiarising yourself with these forms will ease your entry into the USA:

  1. CBP FORM 5106 (Create/Update Importer Identity Form) and
  2. CBP FORM 3299 (Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles)

Fill out these forms if customs requests them from the recipient via email. Be aware that incomplete submissions could lead to shipment rejection.


Moving to the United States from Singapore is a significant step, but with the right preparation, it doesn’t have to be daunting.

Assessing what to take, choosing the right shipping method, packing securely, and preparing for customs are all steps on the path to a successful relocation.

At JustShip, we’re here to help you make international relocation as smooth as possible. Ready to start your journey? Contact us today, and let’s get moving!

Whether you’re an experienced international mover or making this big leap for the first time, our guide aims to simplify your transition, ensuring you can begin your new chapter in the USA with confidence.

Happy moving!

May 20, 2024

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