Singapore risks: medicines, drugs, death sentences and tourism

double-pan balamce with drugs on both sidesSingapore has the lowest reported recreational drug usage in the world.  There are reasons for that – drug users are punished with severity, and people deemed to be dealers are put to death.

Singapore publishes lists of the drugs that are banned or restricted, which provides the assurance that you can at least check to see if you are okay, well before you leave home.

All medicines containing any one of a number of ingredients require specific authorisation from the Singapore authorities before you can safety take them with you.  But if you have obtained the authorisation, and have the necessary documentation with you, then you will not experience any problem with the authorities.

Judicial system

The rules of the Singaporean judicial system are such that you basically want to avoid even being regarded as a suspect.  The law constrains judges to apply sentences harshly and there are very few extenuating circumstances permitted.  Attempts by foreign governments to apply pressure for a lighter sentence are frequently seen as interference.  Recent changes to the sentencing laws in 2013 give the judges some leeway in commuting mandatory death sentences to life imprisonment if they find that there are special circumstances.

Recreational drugs

The Misuse of Drugs Act (1972) creates a presumption of trafficking based on specific quantities of drugs found in your possession.  So in a legal sense, “trafficking” does not need to be proved, merely possession.

You may be searched or required to provide a urine sample for analysis, by any police officer without a warrant on “reasonable suspicion” that you may have a controlled drug or other contraband.  Any premises may likewise be searched without a warrant on “reasonable suspicion”.

If a urine sample tests positive, you will be charged with drug possession, even if you consumed the drugs prior to entering Singapore.  If you use recreational drugs, you should stop sufficiently far ahead of your trip to Singapore that you are “clean” on arrival.

Mandatory death penalties

Mandatory death penalties are applicable for amounts exceeding the following:

  • cannabis mixture: 500 grams
  • cannabis resin: 100 grams
  • cannabis: 500 grams
  • cocaine: 30 grams
  • hashish: 200 grams
  • heroin: 15 grams
  • methamphetamine: 250 grams
  • morphine: 30 grams
  • opium: 1,200 grams

It has been estimated that 70% of the death sentences carried out in Singapore are for drug offences.  For lesser amounts the penalty may be life imprisonment.  For really tiny amounts you may be sentenced to judicial beating.

Official list of restricted medicines

It can take quite a bit of searching to locate the official list of medicines restricted in Singapore.    We provide a summary list below.  At the time the article was written the authoritative link was at   There you should scroll down and click on the menu item on the right that says “Bringing Personal Medications Into Singapore”.

Authorisation is required for medicines

If your medication contains ANY of the substances in the “Appendix A” list (copied below) then you should complete a form available on their web site and apply for authorisation to take it into the country.  This must be submitted no less than ten days before entry.

Once you have completed the form the official procedure is:

Email the form to:   or

  • Fax to: (65) 64789068; or
  • Mail to:
    Audit and Licensing Division
    Health Products Regulation Group
    Health Sciences Authority
    150 Cantonment Road, Cantonment Centre
    Blk A, #01-02, Singapore 089762

The following documents and information are required to be submitted with your application:

  1. Names and dosages of the medicines (both trade/brand names and names of active ingredients contained in the products)
  2. Total quantity of each type of medicines that will be brought into Singapore
  3. Your doctor’s letter or medical prescription verifying for the need of the medicines
  4. Your flight details and intended length of stay in Singapore (applicable for visiting tourists)
  5. Your passport or identity particulars and contact details (address, fax number and/or email)

No more than three month’s supply of ANY medication (even if you have applied for authorisation) may accompany you.  For prescription medicines not on the list  you are required to have a letter from your doctor and a copy of the medical prescription with you as proof that the medicines are for your personal use.

Singapore Health Products Regulation : “Appendix A”

The Singapore Government’s Health Services Authority maintains a list of scheduled substances on their web site.  This is their “Appendix A” of Controlled Substances subject to Import/Export controls.

The list below was retrieved from their site on 6 April 2013, at which time it had last been updated on 2 April 2013.  We do not regularly maintain this list, which is here to give you a general overview of the medicines that are restricted or forbidden in Singapore.  You should check with their web site for updates.

The following substances and products or any stereoisomeric form, ester or ether, and salts of a substance specified below,

n-(1-methyl-4-piperidyl)-N-phenyl formanide, 1-Hydroxy-3-pentyl-6a, 7, 10, 10a-tetra hydro-6, 6, 9-trimethyl-6-H-dibenzo [b, d] pyran, 2-Methyl-3-morpholino-1, 1-diphenylpropanecarboxylic acid, 1-Methyl-4-phenylpiperidine-4-carboxylic acid, 2,5-Dimethoxy-4,alpha-dimethyl-phenethylamine, 2,5-Dimethoxy-alpha-methylphenethylamine, 2-amino-1-(2, 5-dimethoxy-4-methyl) phenylpropane, 3-(1,2-Dimethylheptyl)-1-hydroxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydro-6,6,9-trimethyl-6H-dibenzo [b,d] pyran-1-ol, 3,4,5-Trimethoxy-alpha-methylphenethylamine, 3-Methoxy-alpha-methyl-4,5-(methylenedioxy)phenethylamine, 3-Methyl fentanyl, 3-Methylthiofentanyl, 4-Bromo-2,5-alpha-methylphenethylamine (also known as Brolamfetamine), 4-Bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-Cyano-1-methyl-4-phenyl-piperidine, 4-Cyano-2-dimethylamino-4, 4-diphenylbutane, 4-Ethyl-2,5-dimethoxy-alpha-methylphenethylamine, 4-Methylaminorex, 4-Methylthioamphetamine, 4-Phenylpiperidine-4-carboxylic acid ethyl ester, 5-Methoxy-N,N-diisopropyltryptamine,

Acetorphine, Acetyldihydrocodeine, Acetylmethadol, Alfentanil, Allobarbital, Allylprodine, Alphacetylmethadol, Alphameprodine, Alphamethadol,Alpha-Methyl fentanyl Acetanilide, Alpha-Methyl fentanyl, Alpha-Methylthiofentanyl, Alphaprodine, Alprazolam, Alpha-Methyl-3,4(methylenedioxy) phenethylamine (also known as Tenamfetamine), Amfepramone, Aminorex, Amobarbital, Amphetamine, Anileridine.

Barbital, Benzethidine, Benzphetamine, Benzyl fentanyl, Benzylmorphine(3-benzyl-morphine), Betacetylmethadol, Beta-hydroxyfentanyl, Beta-hydroxy-3-methyl fentanyl, Betameprodine, Betamethadol, Betaprodine, Bezitramide, Bromazepam, Brotizolam, Bufotenine, Buprenorphine, Butalbital, Butobarbital.

Camazepam, Cannabinol derivatives, Cannabinol, Cannabis and cannabis resin, Carfentanil, Cathine, Cathinone, Chlordiazepoxide, Chlorphentermine, Clobazam, Clonazepam, Clonitazene, Clorazepate, Clotiazepam, Cloxazolam, Coca leaf, Cocaine, Codeine, Codoxime, Cyclobarbital.

Delorazepam, Desomorphine, Dexamphetamine, Dextromoramide, Dextropropoxyphene, Diamorphine,(Heroin) Diampromide, Diazepam, Diethylthiambutene, Difenoxin, Dihydrocodeine, Dihydroetorphine, Dihydromorphine, Dimenoxadole, Dimepheptanol, Dimethylthiambutene, Dioxaphetyl butyrate, Diphenoxylate, Dipipanone, Drotebanol.

Ecgonine, and any derivative of ecgonine which is convertible to ecgonine or to cocaine, Estazolam, Ethchlorvynol, Ethinamate, Ethylloflazepate, Ethylmethylthiambutene, Ethylmorphine (3-ethylmorphine), Eticyclidine, Etilamfetamine, Etonitazene, Etorphine, Etoxeridine, Etryptamine.

Fencamfamin, Fenetylline, Fenproporex, Fentanyl Fludiazepam, Flunitrazepam, Flurazepam, Furethidine, Gamma hydroxybutyric acid, Glutethimide, Halazepam, Haloxazolam, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphinol, Hydromorphone, Hydroxypethidine, Isomethadone, Ketamine, Ketazolam, Ketobemidone.

Lefetamine, Levomethorphan, Levomoramide, Levophenacylmorphan, Levorphanol, Lofentanil, Loprazolam, Lorazepam, Lormetazepam, Lysergamide, Lysergide and other N-alkyl derivatives of lysergamide, Mazindol, Mecloqualone, Medazepam, Mefenorex, Mephentermine, Meprobamate Mescaline, Mesocarb Metazocine, Methadone, Methadyl acetate, Methcathinone, Methamphetamine (also known as Methylamphetamine), Methaqualone, Methyldesorphine, Methyldihydromorphine (6-methyldihydromorphine), Methylphenidate, Methylphenobarbital, Methyprylon, Metopon, Midazolam Monoacetylmorphine Morpheridine, Morphine methobromide, other pentavalent nitrogen morphine derivatives Morphine N-oxide, Myrophine.

n,alpha-dimethyl-3,4-(methylenedioxy)phenethylamine, n,N-Diethyltryptamine, n,N-Dimethyltryptamine, n,[alpha-methyl-3,4-(methylenedioxy) phenethyl] hydroxylamine, n-ethyl-alpha-methyl-3,4-(methylenedioxy)phenethylamine, Nicocodine, Nicodicodine, Nicomorphine (3, 6-dinicotinoyl-morphine), Nimetazepam, Nitrazepam, n-methyl-alpha-ethyl-3,4-(methylenedioxy)phenethylamine, Noracymethadol, Norbuprenorphine, Norcodeine, Nordazepam, Norketamine and its dehydro derivatives, Norlevorphanol, Normethadone, Normorphine, Norpipanone.

Opium, Oxazepam, Oxazolam, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, para-fluorofentanyl, Parahexyl (3-hexyl-1-hydroxy-7, 8, 9, 10-tetrahydro-6, 6, 9-trimethyl 6h-dibenzo [b, d] pyran), Pemoline, Pentazocine, Pentobarbital, Pethidine, Phenadoxone, Phenampromide, Phenazocine, Phencyclidine, Phendimetrazine, Phenmetrazine, Phenobarbital, Phenomorphan, Phenoperidine, Phentermine, Pholcodine, Piminodine, Pinazepam Pipradrol, Piritramide, Poppy-straw and concentrate of poppy-straw, p-methoxy-alpha-methylphenethylamine, Prazepam, Proheptazine, Properidine (1-methyl-4-phenyl-piperidine-4-carboxylic acid isopropyl ester), Propiram, Psilocin, Psilocybine, Pyrovalerone.

Racemethorphan, Racemoramide, Racemorphan, Remifentanil, Rolicyclidine, Secbutabarbital, Secobarbital, Sildenafil, Sufentanil, Tadalafil, Temazepam, Tenocyclidine, Tetrazepam, Thebacon, Thebaine, Thiofentanyl, Tilidine, Triazolam, Trimeperidine, Vardenafil, Vinylbital, Zipeprol, Zolpidem.

While every effort has been made to verify the contents of this list, we advise travellers to check their medication with the Singapore consulate before travel and to apply for prior permission.

Web site bug

On the Singapore Health Sciences Authority web site there is a Frequently asked questions section.  You can only access that using Internet Explorer.  More modern browsers fail with a Javascript error that says “POST requests are not permitted from foreign domains.”

Complementary medicines

Many complementary medicines contain no pharmacologically active ingredients and would consequently not run foul of regulations, other than perhaps on the import of alcohol.  However, those that contain Schedule 1 or Schedule 3 “Poisons” (according to the list available on the Health Services Authority web site) are subject to similar regulations to medicines. viz. doctor’s script (must be a registered medical doctor, not a shaman, beauty therapist or coach, etc.) , the documentation required, and a 3-month limit on supplies.

The Singapore Health Sciences Authority recommend on their web site that for further information you should contact:  Alternatively, you may call Tel. (65) 6866 3522 or (65) 6866 3592 for assistance.

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