From bak kwa to designer bags: What you can (and can’t) bring into Singapore from your overseas trip
So you know the obvious ones. Chewing gum is banned, and so are e-cigarettes.
But what about seafood? Eggs? Or that lovely tray of prosciutto you found in Italy, perfect for the Christmas charcuterie board?
The joy of vacation shopping is bringing things home to prolong that holiday mood. As you wander the aisles of supermarkets, malls and liquor stores around the world, here is what you need to know about what you can bring back from abroad.
The guidelines below refer to items for your own consumption.
If you have spent more than 48 hours overseas in a country other than Malaysia, you are allowed to bring in 2 litres of duty-free liquor such as spirits, wine and beer. All liquor you carry, whether purchased in Singapore or abroad, counts towards your duty-free quota.
Take note of what category your drinks fall into. Sake, for instance, constitutes a wine, while soju is regarded as a spirit.
For more information, go to str.sg/wCFP
Want more? You can bring in up to 10 litres of duty-paid liquor without needing a Customs permit. To do so, declare and make payment for goods on the Customs @ SG Web application (str.sg/wCFW), which you can do while overseas.
You will not have to declare your items again upon returning to Singapore, but keep a downloaded copy of your receipt to show Customs officers if you are asked.
Use this formula to calculate how much you will have to pay in duties: total quantity in litres, multiplied by Customs and/or excise duty rate, multiplied by percentage of alcoholic strength. For instance, you have to pay $12.32 for a 1-litre bottle of wine of 14 per cent alcoholic strength.
For a list of duty rates, go to str.sg/wCFm
Each person can bring in 5kg of meat products, including cooked food containing meat, as long as they come from approved countries. For the full list, go to str.sg/wCFs
But do not bring in bak kwa (barbecued sweet meat) from across the Causeway, as Malaysia – along with South-east Asian destinations such as Thailand and Indonesia – is not on the approved list of countries for meat products.
You can bring up to 5kg of seafood products, out of which a maximum of 2kg of frozen cooked crab meat and frozen cooked prawn meat is allowed. These can come from any country.
But if you are buying live or frozen oysters, they must come from one of eight countries, including New Zealand, Australia and the United States. For the full list, go to str.sg/wCFs
Eggs, fruit, vegetables and more
Each person is allowed to bring in up to 30 chicken eggs from a number of places (str.sg/wCFs), including west Malaysia.
When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, a bag or box that can be hand-carried constitutes the “small, reasonable quantity” that the Singapore Food Agency permits. These can come from any country.
All other food products such as cheese, snacks and milk powder fall under the category of processed food. You can bring in a maximum of 5kg or 5 litres, as long as the value does not exceed $100. The one exception is bird’s nest – 1kg is allowed, with no restriction on value.
You will have to pay a goods and services tax (GST) on items exceeding the GST relief limits – $500 if you have spent 48 hours or more overseas, or $100 for 48 hours or less.
This includes luxury items such as designer bags. For instance, if you have travelled out of Singapore for two weeks and purchased a bag that costs $15,000, you will have to pay 7 per cent GST on $14,500.
The GST will increase to 8 per cent on Jan 1.
The tax applies even if you have paid a foreign sales tax overseas, and may also apply to gifts. If no receipts are available, the value will be based on the cost of identical or similar goods from the same country, or the price of the goods if they are sold for export to Singapore (inclusive of shipping and insurance fees).
As with alcohol duties, you can pay GST on the Customs @ SG Web application while overseas, or do so at the Customs tax payment office upon arrival in Singapore.
For more travel stories, go to str.sg/travel.