There are no extra restrictions on masks and hand sanitisers, but the usual customs duty applies to the import of these items, Singapore Customs said yesterday.
It issued the clarification after a picture of a sign recently put up at the Singapore Cruise Centre instructing travellers to declare their purchase of face masks was shared on social media. The new sign had been placed below another one telling travellers to declare dutiable goods like cigarettes, alcohol and new items.
The post had prompted some concern whether the import of face masks and hand sanitisers was being clamped down on.
Singapore Customs said it had put up the sign at the cruise centre in response to a surge in the number of ferry passengers hand-carrying the items in large quantities.
These passengers had carried the items with values in excess of their GST import relief thresholds or had bought the items for commercial purposes, and thus had to pay customs duty for them according to existing rules that would also apply to other dutiable goods, it added.
Face masks and hand sanitisers have been highly sought after since the coronavirus outbreak last month, with many shops and online sites running out of stock.
A Singapore Customs spokesman said: “As a number of travellers had quantities of masks and sanitisers with values in excess of their GST import relief thresholds or which were for commercial purposes, they were stopped at the baggage screening area and turned back to the Customs service counters for GST payment.
“The sign was therefore put up with good intentions by our front-line staff to remind travellers to make their GST payments first before proceeding for customs clearance, so as to minimise inconvenience and help expedite their clearance at the Singapore Cruise Centre.”
The customs spokesman added that the sign was put up at the cruise centre only in response to a localised problem, and that it has since been taken down.
Under the law, all goods brought into Singapore are subject to 7 per cent GST.
Travellers are granted GST import relief on new goods purchased overseas and brought into Singapore for personal use.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.