AVA launches mobile app with information on what travellers arriving in Singapore can bring in

AVA's SGTravelKaki app is meant to help travellers be more mindful of what can be brought into Singapore. -- SCREENGRAB: AGRI-FOOD & VETERINARY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE
AVA's SGTravelKaki app is meant to help travellers be more mindful of what can be brought into Singapore. -- SCREENGRAB: AGRI-FOOD & VETERINARY AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Ate some delicious peaches while holidaying in Australia and thinking of bringing some home to Singapore for your family? Go ahead.

Under Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) rules, travellers into Singapore can bring back fresh fruit and vegetables from all countries, so long as they are in "small, reasonable quantities" and are "hand carried for personal consumption".

However, a "phytosanitary certificate", which is basically a health certificate for agricultural products, is needed if the fresh fruit and vegetables are from the American Tropics, which includes countries like Brazil, Colombia and Peru.

Such certificates can be obtained from a food and agriculture authority in the country the fruit was bought, and you must have it with you when you return to Singapore.

To provide travellers with a handy guide on the dos and don'ts of what is allowed, the AVA launched a mobile application called SGTravelKaki in April. It is available for iPhone and Android devices.

The SGTravelKaki app covers rules on animals, drugs and medicine, dutiable goods, food, and pet food.

This information is also available on the AVA website's travellers page.

An AVA spokesman said the app is part of its public education campaign as there are those who aren't aware of what is allowed into Singapore.

On July 6 in the SundayLife! section of The Sunday Times, columnist Sumiko Tan wrote that she had brought in a roast goose from Hong Kong.

Under AVA rules, all forms of poultry, including cooked or processed food containing poultry, can be brought in from only 13 countries including Australia, the United States and New Zealand. There's also a 5kg limit.

Hong Kong is not on the list.

Ms Tan was not aware of the rule. When two readers pointed it out to her, she contacted the AVA to apologise for what she did.

AVA has since told her that she had violated its regulations, and she was advised that she should always check what travellers are allowed to bring in.

Latest figures from AVA show that there were 670 cases of people bringing in food they shouldn't have in 2013. This figure does not include cases where travellers realised their mistake and threw away the food at checkpoints.

Those who bring in forbidden products can be warned, made to pay a composition fine or prosecuted.

Singaporean undergraduate Cheryl Lai, 21, said the SGTravelKaki app will come in useful when she is travelling to an unfamiliar country.

She has brought home fruit from places such as Cambodia and Myammar, and makes sure they do not exceed her handcarry allowance.

Ms Alicia Seah, director for marketing communications at Dynasty Travel, said Singaporean tourists like to buy local produce.

"It happens very often," she said. "When people go to the supermarkets or night markets, they will buy fruits, vegetables and other local products. In fact, in Hong Kong it's not uncommon to have people buying even roast duck to bring back."

The company's tour guides will advise the travellers about AVA's food regulations. They also dissuade travellers from bringing back cooked food as these are more likely to become contaminated along the way.