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

Image credit: Porch | Pixabay

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:

Prohibited and controlled goods in Singapore infographic
ShopBack Infographic

The case for Bak Kwa

Image credit: Flickr | David Boté Estrada

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. In addition, 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?

Image credit: Unsplash | chuttersnap

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:

OptionBeerSpirits (including D.O.M, samsu and soju)Wine (including Yomeishu, rice wine, cooking wine and sake)
A-1 litre1 litre
B1 litre1 litre-
C1 litre-1 litre
D--2 litres
E2 litres--


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?

Image credit: Flickr | Andrea Ngyuen

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.


United Kingdom


All meat and meat products, milk and dairy products, and potatoes from non-EU countries are banned from entering UK.

Each traveller is permitted to carry from non-EU countries:

  • Fruits and vegetables including eggs, egg products, honey up to maximum total combined weight of 2 kg;
  • Fish and seafood products up to maximum total combined weight of 20 kg.



No restrictions as long as it is for personal consumption



Do not carry fresh plants, fruits, vegetables, livestock, agricultural, animal and marine products into Taiwan. You should proceed to the quarantine counters to apply for the quarantine procedure if you are carrying such items. Processed/ cooked food are fine except pork or poultry products.

South Korea


Do not carry fresh plants, fruits, vegetables, livestock, agricultural and animal products into South Korea. Otherwise processed/ cooked food such as bak kwa and lap cheong are fine.



Most meat products and animal derived products are barred in Japan, including raw meat, processed goods and dairy products. Similarly, dairy products, fruits and vegetables are also prohibited for health and safety reasons.



Generally, you are not allowed to carry any fresh and processed food products into Australia. The following items must be declared at the customs upon arrival if you really need to bring them along:

  • Commercially prepared, packaged fruit and vegetable juices that do not require refrigeration;
  • Preserved and packaged fruits and vegetables including jams, chutney and pickles)
  • Canned meat products;
  • Meat floss
  • Commercially prepared and packaged oysters
  • Mussels, abalone, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, crabs and lobsters for personal use



Generally, food products are permitted to enter USA as long as they are unopened and commercially packed. However, do note that fresh, dried or canned meats or meat products, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables are banned from most countries and should be declared at the customs.


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!

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