- The Straits Times
This story was updated on Thursday (Feb 20).
Amid a global shortage of face masks, more Singaporeans are turning to overseas retailers to ship in masks for themselves and loved ones – but now, they will have to declare their purchases to the Government.
On Friday (Feb 14), the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) announced that anyone importing surgical face masks, thermometers, particulate respirators and protective gear have to inform authorities by filling in forms declaring the purpose of their imports.
The agency explained that in light of the “surge in demand” for these items, it was implementing tracking measures to “facilitate the import of (these) devices into Singapore during this period”.
The new rule – which does not apply to another popular healthcare item, hand sanitisers – covers both commercial sellers and individuals buying the items for personal use.
The form requires buyers’ names, contact numbers, addresses, proof of purchase, and – if any – doctors’ prescriptions and the names of family members using the items.
Buyers will then receive an acknowledgement, which must be sent to their freight forwarder to import the items. HSA said incomplete forms would be be rejected.
Malaysia-based online shopping aggregator iPrice said on Wednesday (Feb 19) that e-commerce sites saw a spike in orders from Singapore for reusable and N95 face masks, hand sanitiser, antiseptic and toilet paper.
In particular, prices of reusable masks jumped nearly three times, but has gradually come down after the Government announced it was monitoring sellers, it added.
Yesterday, the Singapore Customs reminded travellers in a Facebook post that they had to pay GST on items brought back from overseas, including surgical masks and hand sanitisers, if they were for sale commercially or exceeded the limit for personal consumption.
No additional Customs restrictions had been imposed on the import of face masks and hand sanitisers, it added.
The sign depicted in the Facebook post was recently put up at the Singapore Cruise Centre in response to a surge in the…
Last week, the Government also cracked down on sellers who were offering the masks at grossly inflated prices. The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has since issued letters of demand to retailers 3 Stars and Deen Express, and e-commerce sites Carousell, Lazada, Qoo10 and Shopee.
Of the six, Deen Express has apologised for its prices, but more complaints of scammers selling the masks on Carousell have since emerged on social media. MTI also said 3 Stars had not changed its pricing.
The Consumer Association of Singapore told Business Insider on Tuesday (Feb 18) that it received 387 consumer complaints about the prices of face masks, thermometers and hand sanitisers in retail shops and on e-commerce platforms between Jan 1 and Feb 17.
Earlier this month, SingPost also slapped declaration requirements on all mask shipments exported out of Singapore.
The measures followed online outrage after Chinese nationals and several celebrities, including Singapore’s BY2 and China’s Hu Haiquan, were found to have purchased hundreds of boxes of masks from the Republic and sent them on to China.