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Travelling has taken off in 2022 and there’s no stopping travel-starved Singaporeans in 2023. Compared to the list of fancy destinations to stamp on the passport, being able to travel across the causeway to enjoy some affordable dining and shopping is probably a higher priority for many of us.
Before you rush over to Johor Bahru (JB) with your family during the Chinese New Year long weekend, it’s important to know the things you can and cannot buy. (After all, it’s been a great opportunity to visit family and relatives while stocking up on cheap deals).
Types of Things You Can Buy in JB
With the favourable exchange rate, JB is a shopper’s paradise for Singaporeans. Here are some of the types of things you can buy in JB that make Singaporeans exclaim “cheap, cheap, cheap!”
#1 Fresh Fruits & Vegetables (Durians Included)
You are allowed to buy a small, reasonable quantity (i.e. hand-carried size) of fruit and vegetable products for personal consumption. When it comes to fruits, many of us can’t wait to savour fresh durians and buy more to share with our families back home. However, taking the strong smell of durians into consideration, it is best that you buy only vacuum-packed durians if you are traveling by public transport such as bus and train.
#2 Dried Confectionery & Processed Food Items
Similar to fruits and vegetables, there is a cap on the maximum quantity of dried food items you can purchase. Each individual is allowed to buy up to 5kg or 5 litres of processed food items, excluding fresh produce and poultry products, and the total value cannot exceed S$100 per person. You are also allowed to buy up to 1kg of cleaned dried bird’s nest with no restriction on the total value.
While this seems little, you can actually purchase up to 20kg of snacks and titbits if you are traveling as a family of 4. You will definitely be able to stock up your snack corner at home and your pantry in office.
#3 Frozen Seafood Items
If you’re into shopping for groceries in JB, you will be happy to know that you are allowed to buy up to 5kg of frozen seafood products including fish (out of which a maximum of only 2kg of frozen crabmeat and prawn meat is allowed). You are not allowed to buy live seafood products. Refer to the full list of allowed food items and quantities into Singapore under the regulations of Singapore Food Agency.
#4 Personal Care Products
There are no restrictions on buying beauty and personal care products in JB. Apart from pampering yourself with a variety of beauty and wellness services including massage, manicure and hair treatment, you can replenish daily essentials ranging from cosmetics, shampoo, and body lotion, to sanitary pads and dental products.
#5 Fashion & Luxury Items
Ladies can rejoice even more, as you can shop to your heart’s content for new clothes and jewelry pieces in JB with no restrictions. So, it may well be a good time for you to stretch that currency game over the holidays and explore new looks for more #ootd instagram shots.
Types Of Things You Cannot Buy In JB (Petrol Included)
As much as there are many things you can buy at JB, there are also things that you should avoid buying and bringing back to Singapore at all cost.
#6 Petrol (Not Too Much)
If you drive across the causeway frequently, then pumping petrol definitely tops your list of priorities. However, do note that you are only allowed to enter the Malaysia custom by car with a three-quarter tank. The rule has been implemented to limit Singaporeans from loading up too much petrol, especially with the recent opening of borders in Malaysia. All Singapore-registered cars are also not allowed to pump the subsidized RON95 petrol (but you can still pump RON97 petrol).
#7 Chewing Gum
One of the first few things that many Singaporeans tend to buy after passing the Malaysia custom is likely to be chewing gum. It’s a fuss-free candy that keeps us refreshed (and even addicted sometimes). However, remember to finish all your gums before you return to Singapore because it’s a prohibited item. The only exception is medicated or dental gum, which you would have a clinic-issued slip or receipt as proof of document.
#8 Tobacco-related Products
It is important to note that the definition of tobacco-related products are not only limited to cigarettes. It broadly factors in any product that contains nicotine or tobacco that may be used for application or delivery into the human body, including but not limited to: chewing tobacco, imitation products such as e-cigarettes and vaporisers, smokeless cigar and oral/nasal snuff.
While cigarettes and tobacco products are considered dutiable items (i.e. items you have to pay tax to bring into Singapore), other similar products such as vaporisers and shisha are prohibited items. In addition, cigarette lights that take the shape of a pistol or revolver are also not allowed due to security reasons.
#9 Controlled Drugs And Psychotropic Substances
While certain types of medicine and pharmaceutical products are allowed on the basis that you have an import permit or authorisation form from the relevant controlling authority, there are drugs and pain substances that are strictly prohibited. Some examples are cannabis, cocaine, heroin and inhalants. Refer to the full list of controlled drugs and substances under Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) regulations.
#10 Firecrackers And Fireworks
It used to be an auspicious and fun activity to play with firecrackers and fireworks during the festive season, however they are mostly banned in Malaysia (except for a few types such as Happy Boom and Pop-pop fireworks). Anyone found possessing, selling, buying or playing is punishable by law in the country. In any case, you are not allowed to bring these items back to Singapore, as they are combustible products (i.e. items that can potentially catch fire and explode under heat).
#11 Telecommunication Equipment
Besides obscene articles and publications, other telecommunication equipment is also not allowed. Some examples are scanning receivers, military communication equipment, telephone voice changing equipment and radio-communication devices except cellular mobile phones or other equipment approved by Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA). Not to forget, reproductions of copyright publications, tapes and records are also prohibited. Refer to the full list of prohibited telecommunication equipment under IMDA regulations.
#12 Endangered Species And Their Parts
Endangered species of wild life and products derived from the body of such animals, such as rhinoceros horns, are strictly prohibited from your journey back to Singapore. However, you are allowed to buy and import certain breeds of domesticated pets like dogs and cats, provided that you have fulfilled all the necessary requirements published on National Parks Board website.
Do ensure that you have completed all 9 steps (as shown below) before bringing your new furry friend to Singapore.
Source: Animal & Veterinary Service
In summary, here are the items you are not allowed (or require specific authorization) to bring across the causeway.
To keep your shopping experience at JB enjoyable and stress-free, it may be advisable to go for items that are typically allowed. When in doubt, you can always check with the relevant authorities when passing through the custom. Once you are cleared with the dos and the don’ts, it’s shopping time!
To really take advantage of the great shopping opportunities, consider getting a multi-currency card like Revolut or YouTrip. Not only will you get better forex exchange rates compared to changing your money at the moneychanger, but you also enjoy better security and peace of mind as you don’t have to risk carrying a huge bundle of cash. You can also deactivate or lock your card from further transactions if you lose your card or suspect that it is being used for fraudulent activities.
If you’re interested in YouTrip, check out our step-by-step guide for registering for YouTrip. Use the promo code DNS5 during registration to receive an additional $5 in your YouTrip account!
Another great option for travellers is the Revolut Card, sign up with our link to receive a bonus S$15 top-up to your account! T&Cs apply. For new sign-ups only.
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