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HomesingaporeOver 4,600 cases of duty and GST evasion at Singapore land checkpoints...

Over 4,600 cases of duty and GST evasion at Singapore land checkpoints in first 10 months of 2023

SINGAPORE: Authorities detected more than 4,600 cases of travellers and importers who failed to declare and pay duties and Goods and Services Tax (GST) at Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints in the first 10 months of the year.

Over S$1.4 million (US$1.03 million) in penalties was handed out as a result, and nearly S$14,200 in duties and GST was recovered.

The figures were revealed by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and Singapore Customs in a news release on Thursday (Nov 9), as they urged travellers and importers – including couriers – to declare and pay for their overseas purchases. These include items carried for or on behalf of another person.

Those who avoid paying duties and taxes may also be charged in court.

“It is not worth to take a risk and pay more,” a Singapore Customs spokesman said. “We have seen people trying to evade duty and GST as low as S$10 to as much as S$2,000 and they end up paying 10 to 20 times more.”


The authorities highlighted that it detected 58 cases in its latest operations at the land checkpoints in October, recovering about S$625 in duties and GST. A total of S$9,700 in penalties was imposed.

Half of the cases involve tobacco-related items, but those involving homeware and furnishings, fashion and personal accessories – such as parts of furniture items, luxury bags and shoes – are on the rise, they added.

“About 28 per cent of the cases from the recent operations are from these categories,” they said.

In October, Customs and ICA officers directed more than 200 inbound cars and travellers for enhanced checks, during which they detected “a variety of irregularities”.

In one case, a woman was found with two undeclared luxury bags and apparel, subject to GST of S$56. She had to pay a penalty of S$560.

Another involved a work permit holder who did not declare 10 sets of night curtains in his vehicle, which were intended for commercial use. The amount of GST involved was about S$60, and he was handed a S$600 penalty.

Authorities also detected cases of people carrying undeclared cigarettes, such as a woman who hid two packets around her waistline and a man who hid four packets in his bag.

In both cases, the cigarettes were disposed of at the checkpoint as they did not comply with standardised packaging requirements.

“We will continue to conduct enforcement operations, including joint operations with other government agencies regularly, as part of our ongoing efforts to ensure compliance with Singapore’s customs and tax laws; as well as to ensure the security of our borders,” the authorities said.

Individuals who fraudulently evade customs duty or excise duty, or attempt to do so, may be fined of up to 20 times the amount of duty and GST evaded upon conviction. They may also be jailed for up to two years.

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