Returning from holiday with bak kwa in your luggage? Guide on prohibited and controlled goods in Singapore

PHOTO: Pixabay

It's no secret that Singaporeans love to travel. Just look at how fast air tickets are being snapped up during long weekends and school holidays. Usually, we would want to return home with some mementos to remember the holiday destination by.

Probably because we are known as a nation of foodies, one of the first few items we think of buying back would be related to food. But have you ever confirmed whether it's alright to return with that pack of bak kwa (a Chinese savoury-sweet barbecued meat product)?

Read this article to save you the trouble of having that local delight confiscated at the customs!

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1. PROHIBITED FOOD ITEMS IN SINGAPORE

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Being a nation with scarce natural resources, there isn't a long list of prohibited food products to bring into Singapore. The most famous restriction is probably chewing gum, which has somehow raised eyebrows globally when the ban was first implemented in 1992.

Actually, chewing gum is not illegal in Singapore. However, it is illegal to sell or import gum here, except gum for dental or medical reasons. So if you are thinking of bringing in some gum back home for personal consumption, that's okay. A maximum of two packs per person can be brought in, as long as they are not for sale or import.

2. CONTROLLED FOOD PRODUCTS IN SINGAPORE

Generally, you may return with food products in your luggage for personal consumption without first obtaining an import permit in Singapore. However, you should take note of the list of controlled food products and their approved sources, to avoid getting them confiscated.

Here's an easy reference table on what, how much and where you can return with food products in your luggage:

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THE CASE FOR BAK KWA

Therefore, if you intend to satisfy your bak kwa craving by bringing some back from Johor Bahru in Malaysia, stop. Unfortunately, bak kwa is considered a meat product.

Furthermore, you can see from the table above that Malaysia is not on the list of approved sources for such products. Therefore, you will be flouting the law if you are returning from a holiday in Hong Kong or Taiwan with popular meat and processed meat products such as lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and pork skin paper.

3. ANY RESTRICTIONS ON BRINGING IN ALCOHOL?

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Travellers arriving in Singapore can enjoy duty-free concession on alcohol as long as all the following conditions are met:

You are 18 years old or above;

You have spent at least 48 hours outside Singapore immediately before arrival;

You are not arriving from Malaysia;

The alcohol is for your own consumption; and

The alcohol can be imported into Singapore.

Check out your alcohol duty-free concession options in the table below:

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The above restrictions apply to both alcohols purchased outside Singapore as well as those bought at Duty-Free Shops (DFS) Singapore. In addition, don't forget that you aren't supposed to return with alcohol products if you are arriving from Malaysia!

4. CAN I TAKE SIGNATURE LOCAL EATS WITH ME FROM SINGAPORE TO MY FRIEND STAYING OVERSEAS THEN?

We understand that there may be times when you wish to share delectable local eats with your loved ones or buddies residing overseas. However, it is always wise to do some homework before leaving to ensure you aren't carrying any prohibited items over.

For your quick reference, we have compiled a list of popular travel destinations in Singapore and what you can or cannot bring over below.

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BAG THOSE TASTY HOLIDAY MEMORIES HOME, ONLY IF YOU CAN

Always check the regulations before you pack that box of yummy local speciality in your luggage for your home trip. Don't assume that you can return home with everything you purchase overseas. For prohibited and controlled items, just enjoy the delicacy to your heart's content. Keep that awesome taste in your mind instead of bagging the physical item home!

This article was first published in Shopback.