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New Clearance Concept for Cargo: ICA Transforming Cargo Clearance Process

            In 2021, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) cleared over 10.8 million consignments, containers and parcels. Over 29.5 million low-value goods were also cleared through the air cargo checkpoints. The volume of cargo cleared through our checkpoints is expected to grow further as Singapore strives to secure its position as a global trade hub with new infrastructure developments such as Tuas Port and Changi East Industrial Zone.

2.          To manage the increasing cargo volume, ICA is transforming the cargo clearance process with the New Clearance Concept for Cargo (NCC Cargo). NCC Cargo will provide a seamless and efficient cargo clearance experience for our industry partners (i.e. importers and transport companies), through greater use of automation and paperless clearance. It will also use data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) for risk profiling of cargoes to more effectively secure Singapore’s borders.

Operationalisation of NCC Cargo at Tuas Port

3.          When fully operational in 2040, Tuas Port will have an annual handling capacity of 65 million Twenty-Foot-Equivalent-Units (TEUs) – a 30 per cent increase from Singapore’s overall annual handling capacity of 50 million TEUs today.

4.          ICA has progressively implemented NCC Cargo at Tuas Port since October 2021 with the following initiatives: (a) ‘On-the-Fly’ Clearance; and (b) Mobile Cargo Screening System (Mobile CASS).

(a) 'On-the-Fly' Clearance at Tuas Port

5.          ICA has implemented the “On-the-Fly” Clearance initiative to speed up the cargo clearance process.

6.          Currently, at the older port terminals, drivers will proceed to the Radiographic Scanning Portal (RSP) which is located some distance from the pier after the cargo containers are unloaded from the vessels to the vehicles. They will drive through the RSP for the scanning of their containers and proceed to a holding area to wait for the results while ICA Image Analysts analyse the scanned images. This process takes approximately between 14 and 20 minutes. 

7.          At Tuas Port, after the cargo containers are loaded onto the vehicles, drivers will drive through the RSP which is placed nearer to the pier. This enables the containers to be scanned earlier. With “On-the-Fly” Clearance, drivers no longer need to proceed to a holding area, but can instead continue to drive towards the Terminal Exit Gate after going through the RSP, and en route they will be informed of the scan results through the Mobile Data Terminal (MDT)[1] on board the vehicle. Concurrently, ICA’s Cargo Screening System (CASS) will digitally validate the Cargo Clearance Permits (CCPs). Cargoes with anomalies will be directed to the Cargo Inspection Centre (CIC) located near the Terminal Exit Gate for further checks. In comparison to the process at the older port terminals, “On-the-Fly” Clearance takes approximately only three to five minutes.

(b) Mobile Cargo Screening System (Mobile CASS)

8.          Currently at the older port terminals, ICA officers performing secondary checks at the CIC and Red Lanes[2] of the Terminal Exit Gate are only able to access the Cargo Screening System (CASS) via a desktop computer in the duty office. As such, they will need to physically proceed to the office to validate the CCPs after checking the goods at the secondary checking bays at the CIC.

9.          At Tuas Port, ICA officers are equipped with the Mobile CASS, a mobile device that allows access to CCP information and supporting cargo documents. Using the Mobile CASS, ICA officers can validate CCPs on the spot at the secondary checking bay, and do not have to return to the duty office to do so. This reduces waiting time for the drivers.

Upcoming NCC Cargo Initiatives at the Checkpoints

10.        To realise the vision of a more secure and seamless cargo clearance experience at all the checkpoints, ICA will implement additional NCC Cargo initiatives progressively:

  • Using AI technology to assist ICA Image Analysts in detecting anomalies in scanned cargo, parcel and baggage images. This will strengthen our ability to prevent prohibited and contraband items from entering Singapore.
  • Enabling lorry drivers and attendants at the land checkpoints to self-clear using biometrics, similar to immigration clearance at the passenger halls.
  • Collaborating with Singapore Customs to introduce a paperless cargo clearance process for conventional cargo.
    • Currently, cargo drivers will have to present hardcopy CCPs and supporting documents at the checkpoints for validation. ICA officers will scan the barcode of each CCP to retrieve the cargo information.[3]
    • With paperless clearance, traders/drivers will submit the vehicle licence plate number and corresponding CCP numbers via ICA’s SG Arrival Card (SGAC) e-Service before the cargo arrives at our checkpoints. Traders will also be encouraged to submit supporting documents via TradeNet during permit declaration. ICA officers will be able to easily retrieve all CCPs and supporting documents using just the vehicle licence plate number when the vehicle arrives at the checkpoint. [Refer to Annex for more information on the ongoing trial details and process flow].

Benefits of NCC Cargo

11.        ICA will continue to leverage technology to achieve a more efficient and effective cargo clearance process. Initiatives such as ‘On-the-Fly’ Clearance, Mobile CASS and paperless clearance reduce the time taken for cargo clearance. With the time savings, industry partners can optimise resources and increase the number of trips made per day.

12.        The automation of processes will also enable ICA to redeploy our officers to take on higher value tasks, for example, as Image Analysts and Cargo Profilers. Through data analytics and AI, ICA will have stronger capabilities to detect anomalies and prevent undesirable cargo from crossing our borders. The streamlining of cargo clearance processes will also help entrench Singapore’s position as the premier global trade node in Asia.

13.        At the same time, we will re-tool and upskill our officers with the relevant competencies, to ensure that they can effectively perform these transformed roles.

20 APRIL 2022


[1] The Mobile Data Terminal is a mobile device issued by PSA, located in the vehicle’s cabin, which displays the scan results. 

[2] All dutiable, controlled goods and prohibited goods are to be declared at the Red Lanes. The goods, along with the import license, or authorisation, must be shown to an ICA officer for examination and customs clearance.

[3] Previously, ICA officers will also manually endorse CCPs for clearance at the checkpoints. This has ceased since 1 February 2022. A six-month adjustment period till 31 July 2022 has been given to the industry to prepare for this change; drivers may still request for ad-hoc endorsements if required during this period.


Engaging industry partners to implement a feasible paperless CCP clearance system

From 15 November 2021 to 28 February 2022, ICA conducted a trial involving five freight forwarders under the Singapore Aircargo Agents Association (SAAA) at Changi Airfreight Centre. The purpose of the trial was to work out a feasible paperless cargo clearance system using the SGAC. The trial was later extended to Airport Logistics Park Singapore (ALPS) on 18 March 2022. The feedback gathered from the industry partners during the trial will be taken into consideration in the progressive implementation of the paperless CCP clearance system at the remaining cargo checkpoints in late 2022.

ICA_Transforming Cargo Clearance Under The NCC infographic_final