What are the Import Restrictions in Singapore?

4 min read|Last Updated: November 25, 2022|

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Every country has their own set of import restrictions and controlled goods – Singapore is no exception. There are certain import restrictions in Singapore which includes:

  • Edible items
  • Animals
  • Both prescribed and non-prescribed drugs.

One of the common mistakes made by those who are coming into Singapore or businesses registration in Singapore is that they fail to check whether the goods and commodities they are bringing are restricted in Singapore.

What is the List of Restricted Items & Controlled Goods in Singapore?

Some of the list of restricted items that are most commonly brought into Singapore include:

  • Food items – e.g., meat, meat products, fruits, vegetables, fish, and seafood products
  • Pornographic videos
  • Video games
  • Audio recordings
  • Publications
  • Guns & ammunition
  • Prescribed and non-prescribed medications
  • Plants
  • Poisonous substances
  • Animals
  • Telecommunication equipment

Governing Bodies to Apply for Import Licenses in Singapore

There are different controlling agencies, depending on the nature of the product that you would be importing. These agencies will make the decision whether to authorise these controlled goods.

  • Food items

    The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and the Food Control Department oversee the importation of food items.

    There are various Acts that govern the importation of such food items:

    • Fresh fruits and vegetables – governed by the Plants Act which requires all packages for such items to be labelled accordingly
    • Processed food – certificate of produced and manufactured products to ensure food safety
    • Meat & seafood – governed by the Wholesome Meat and Fish Act, where all seafood products are required to be chilled, frozen or canned
  • Videos, audio recordings, and video games

    The Media Development Authority (MDA) is the controlling agency for all media-related importation. Sample videos and audios may be requested and that the Singapore laws stated that it should not contain any prohibited or obscene acts.

    The permit, if approved by the MDA, is valid for one year upon renewal.

  • Guns & ammunition

    The Arms and Explosive License by the Singapore Police Force is required for the importation of such items. All licenses are issued on the condition that the person who will use the guns and ammunition is of sound mind and these licenses may be cancelled at any time if deemed necessary.

  • Medications

    The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) oversees the importing of pharmaceuticals and medicines. For registered medicinal products, HSA will issue the Import License for Medicinal Products to importers who are authorised by the product license holders to import on their behalf. It should be noted that these products should comply with HSA’s Good Distribution Practice standard.

    If the medicinal products are not registered in Singapore, they can still be imported on a named-patient basis, subject to approval by the HAS. The importer will have to disclose the product details, importer details as well as patient and physician details. In addition, the importer will also have to maintain records on both the supply and use of unregistered medicinal products.

  • Plants & animals

    The AVA also controls the importing of plants and animals. For those who are visiting Singapore and bringing plants, it is advised that they should hold the certification from the country of origin of the plants.

    According to Singapore’s Animals and Birds Act, an import license must be obtained from the AVA one month before importation. For those who plan to import animals or birds for sale purposes, a fee must be paid in order to acquire a permit. Permits are available at no cost for the importation of domestic animals.

  • Poisonous substances

    The importation of imported poisons which are meant for local sales will require the importer to first receive a Poison License. Applicants who are not operating a pharmacy, are visitors, or both are required to attend a brief training session before their license is approved. This training session is mandated by the Poison Act.


How to Retrieve my Restricted Goods in Singapore?

After knowing the controlling agencies, the next step is to apply for the licenses and/or permits. Once approved, these are the steps for acquiring your restricted items.

  • Importers must be willing to undergo a thorough search for all the imported goods or consignments upon arrival

  • Certificates from relevant authorities should also be available to provide evidence of the country of origin or show if the goods imported fulfill Singapore’s custom laws


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Are toy guns prohibited?2021-09-06T12:08:57+08:00

No license is required for the importing of toy guns, but a Licensing Officer from the A&E Division of the Singapore Police Force must still inspect and approve the toy guns. The toy guns must not look like real guns – if they do, they will not be approved by said Licensing Officer. All unapproved toy guns will either be disposed of, or re-exported – the choice is up to the importer.

Are there any import restrictions for endangered species of plants and animals?2021-09-06T12:03:06+08:00

Yes. CITES, which stands for The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is an international between various countries. Its purpose is to ensure that any international trade in specimens of wild animals and plans does not threaten the survival of those species. An importer looking to import CITES-listed plants or animals, for either personal or commercial purposes, must apply for a CITES import permit. The permit can be obtained from AVA, one week prior to import. When applying for the Singapore CITES import permit, you must also attach a CITES export/re-export permit from the exporting country.

Why is it important to restrict the importation of certain items into a country?2020-07-03T15:29:57+08:00

Countries have import restrictions to protect the safety and health of all citizens and foreigners living there. When a government senses danger which may be caused by the importation of an item, it may choose to ban or restrict the importation of such an item. If the imported items may threaten the economic condition of a country, a government may place restrictions which may be made through the trade authorities of both countries involved.

What products are subject to import control in Singapore?2021-09-06T12:02:25+08:00

Some imported goods are duty-free, while certain others are subject to import control upon their arrival in Singapore. Chewing gum which is neither medicated nor approved by the Health Science Authority of Singapore (HSA) is prohibited. Singapore also restricts the entry of tobacco or any tobacco products into the country. Although all food items are allowed to brought into Singapore, food for human consumption from certain countries of origin can be restricted.

These, among other controlled goods, should be declared by an importer at the immigration checkpoint upon arrival in Singapore.

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