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Ornamental fish

Ornamental fish refers to ornamental varieties of marine, brackish water, or fresh water:

  • Fish
  • Crustacea
  • Aquatic mollusca
  • Turtles
  • Marine sponges
  • Trepang
  • Any other form of aquatic life, including the young and eggs of the above

Fish and fish products intended for human consumption are not considered ornamental fish.

Generally, only licensed traders are allowed to import, export, or transship ornamental fish. Exceptions apply to travellers taking ornamental fish into or out of Singapore for personal purposes (i.e. as pets).

Licensing of ornamental fish traders

Only licensed traders may import, export, or transship ornamental fish for commercial purposes. Below are the steps you can follow to obtain the licence to import or export ornamental fish.

1. Fulfil the pre-requisites

Before you apply for the licence, please read our explanatory notes for import or export of ornamental fish. You must fulfil the following requirements before you can apply:

  • You must be a Singapore citizen, permanent resident, or an employment pass holder
  • You must be the manager of a business firm registered under the Business Registration Act, or the director of a company registered under the Company Registration Act
  • If you are self-employed, ensure that you have no outstanding Medisave liabilities at the time of application

2. Obtain prior approval of business premises from us

You must obtain prior approval from us if you intend to use your premises for activities relating to import, export, or transshipment of ornamental fish.

The premises must have facilities for holding, packing, and quarantine of ornamental fish.

You should also manage these premises well. Our guidelines on good management practices for ornamental fish import or export is available here.

3. Open and maintain a GIRO account

Open and maintain a GIRO account with us to enable payment of fees and permits. You can open your account by completing the application form for interbank GIRO and mailing it to us.

If you are changing any details of your existing AVS GIRO account, you have to re-submit a new GIRO application form. You are required to maintain the existing GIRO account until the new GIRO account is approved, as your licence may be suspended if you do not have a GIRO account with us.

4. Obtain a licence to import or export ornamental fish

Apply for and obtain a licence to import or export ornamental fish via LicenceOne.

 Licence Cost and validity

Licence to import or export ornamental fish

  • S$350 per licence.
  • Licence is renewable annually.

Ensure that you submit the following supporting documents along with your online application:

  • The floor plan of your premises designated for import or export activity of ornamental fish. It must include the quarantine and packing area. You may refer to the sample floor plan
  • A copy of the Unique Entity Number (UEN) notice issued to your company by the UEN issuance agency.
  • A copy of the tenancy or lease agreement of the premises (if applicable).

Importing ornamental fish

The following is an overview of the steps required to import ornamental fish for commercial purposes.

Import, export, and possession of piranhas, however, are strictly prohibited in Singapore.

1. Obtain an import health certificate

You are required to obtain an import health certificate issued by the relevant authority from your intended imports’ country of origin if the imports include ornamental species susceptible to any of these diseases:

  • Spring viraemia of carp (SVC)
  • Koi herpesvirus disease (KHV)
  • Epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS)
  • Epizootic haematopoietic necrosis (EHN)
  • White spot disease (WSD)
  • Furunculosis (Aeromonas Salmonicida)

More information on animal health certification requirements for import of ornamental fish can be found here.

Additional requirements for re-export to Australia

If marine ornamental fish are imported into Singapore for re-export to Australia, the relevant authority from the country of origin is also required to assure:

  • The disease status of the fish.
  • That the fish are wild-caught only, from areas at least 5 km away from a finfish aquaculture operation. The fish must not have come into contact with water, equipment, or fish associated with farmed food fish.

For further clarification on importing ornamental fish, you may contact us.

2. Apply for an import permit

You will require an AVS-issued import permit to import ornamental fish. CITES permits are also required if you are importing fish that are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

CITES-listed ornamental fish species include Asian arowanas (Dragon Fish), seahorses, stony corals, giant clams, and many others. The list of species in the CITES appendices is available here.

Non-CITES listed fish

Apply for an AVS-issued cargo clearance permit by declaring your import through TradeNet. This permit is valid for two weeks only.

You must provide the appropriate Harmonized System (HS) codes and product codes in your application. The list of product codes for import or export of ornamental fish is available here.

CITES-listed fish

If you intend to import CITES-listed (i.e. endangered species) fish, you will require:

  • A CITES export or re-export permit issued by the exporting country.
  • A CITES import permit issued by us.
  • A TradeNet import permit for the import of ornamental fish.
 Step Description

Step 1:

Obtain a CITES export or re-export permit issued by the exporting country’s relevant authority.

Step 2:

Apply for and obtain an AVS-issued CITES import permit via LicenceOne.

Step 3:

Pay the permit fee of S$12 per permit per species. The permits are subject to a minimum total fee of S$60.

Step 4:

Submit an inward TradeNet declarationto obtain an import permit.

You must provide the appropriate Harmonized System
(HS) codes and product codes in your declaration. The list of product codes is available here.

You are also required to include the relevant CITES documents and import health certificate (if applicable) as supporting documents for this application.

All applications must be submitted via TradeNet before 5.30 pm on Mondays to Thursdays, and before 5 pm on Fridays. This enables same-day processing. Applications made on Saturdays, Sundays, and Public Holidays will be processed the next working day.

3. Additional requirements for genetically modified organisms

Only written approval from us will enable you to import genetically modified fish or transgenic fish.

Genetically modified fish or transgenic fish coming into Singapore for commercial release or research purposes must first undergo a risk assessment by the Genetic Modification Advisory Committee (GMAC). We will determine whether the fish can be safely imported by taking GMAC’s advice into account.

For information on GMAC and its guidelines, please refer to the GMAC website.

Exporting ornamental fish

Licensed traders who intend to export ornamental fish are required to fulfil our export requirements, as well as the destination country’s import requirements.

1. Check the destination country’s import requirements

Find out what the import requirements of the destination country are. Some countries require that ornamental fish export health certificates be issued by the exporting country’s relevant authority.

Import requirements can be found on the website of the destination country’s relevant government authority.

2. Apply for an export permit

You will require an AVS-issued export permit to export ornamental fish. Additional permits from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are also required for export of CITES-listed fish.

CITES-listed ornamental fish species include Asian arowanas (Dragon Fish), seahorses, and giant clams. CITES-listed species can be found in these CITES appendices

Non-CITES listed fish

Apply for an AVS-issued cargo clearance permit by declaring your export through TradeNet. This permit is valid for two weeks only.

You must provide the appropriate Harmonized System (HS) codes and product codes in your application. The list of product codes for import or export of ornamental fish is availablehere.

CITES-listed fish

If you intend to export CITES-listed (i.e. endangered species) fish, you will require:

  • A CITES export or re-export permit issued by us.
  • A CITES import permit issued by the destination country.
  • A TradeNet export permit.
Step Description

Step 1:

Apply for and obtain an AVS-issued CITES export or re-export permit via LicenceOne.

Step 2:

Pay a permit fee of S$12 per permit per species. The permits are subject to a minimum total fee of S$60.

Step 3:

Obtain a CITES import permit from the destination country’s relevant authority.

Step 4:

Submit an outward TradeNet declaration to obtain an export permit.

You must provide the appropriate Harmonized System (HS) codes and product codes in your declaration. The list of product codes is available here.

All permit applications must be submitted via TradeNet before 5.30 pm on Mondays to Thursdays, and before 5 pm on Fridays. This enables same-day processing. Applications made on Saturdays, Sundays, and Public Holidays will be processed the next working day.

3. Apply for an AVS-issued ornamental fish export health certificate

This step only applies to you if the destination country mandates that an ornamental fish export health certificate is a condition for entry.

Apply for this certificate by following the steps below.

 Step Description

Step 1:

Determine what the importing country’s specific export health certificate requirements are.

Step 2:

Apply for and obtain an AVS-issued health certificate for export of ornamental fish via LicenceOne.

Step 3:

Upload the documents confirming your consignment’s fulfilment of the destination country’s health certification requirements along with your application.

Step 4:

Pay S$16.80 per certificate.

Each certificate is valid for 10 days from the date of issue, and takes one working day to process. Same day issuance (i.e. express service) is available at a fee of S$33.60.

Step 5:

We will arrange for an inspection of your consignment prior to approval of the export health certificates.

  • S$63 per hour for inspection during office hours.
  • S$133 per hour for inspection outside office hours, or on an urgent basis.

AVS Quality Assurance Scheme (AQUAS)

If you are a regular exporter, you should consider joining the AVS Quality Assurance Scheme (AQUAS). AQUAS is a voluntary scheme offered by AVA for all licensed ornamental fish exporters. The scheme aims to establish an ordered and coordinated quality process control for the export of ornamental fish that consistently meets AVS’s export certification requirements as well as capacity to comply with the import requirements of specific importing countries. AQUAS also seeks to maintain a high standard of hygiene and sanitation in member’s premises in order to export fish of high quality.

Transshipping ornamental fish

You will need a transshipment permit for transshipment of ornamental fish. However, you are required to first obtain a licence to import or export ornamental fish before applying for a transshipment permit.

The transshipment permit can be obtained via TradeNet. You must provide the appropriate Harmonized System (HS) codes and product codes in your application. The list of product codes for import or export of ornamental fish is available here.

All permit applications must be submitted via TradeNet before 5.30 pm on Mondays to Thursdays, and before 5 pm on Fridays. This enables same-day processing. Applications made on Saturdays, Sundays, and Public Holidays will be processed on the next working day.

Personal allowance for ornamental fish

If you are transporting ornamental fish into or out of Singapore as pets, you do not need to obtain the licence to import or export ornamental fish. However, you must fulfil the conditions for personal allowance stated in the “Bringing in ornamental fish” and “Taking ornamental fish abroad” sections below.

Please note that the personal allowance only applies to traveller’s baggage and not to items shipped by cargo.

Bringing in ornamental fish

You may bring in ornamental fish from any country as long as the required import conditions are met.

If you intend to bring in ornamental fish in quantities exceeding the stated personal allowances (refer to table below), or are transporting your consignment via cargo, you must obtain an ornamental fish import permit via TradeNet first.

An ornamental fish import permit from TradeNet is not required if you keep the quantity of ornamental fish within personal allowance limits. However, an AVS-issued import permit may be required instead. 

Ornamental fish brought in by travellers generally fall under two categories:

  • Species which do not require an AVS-issued import permit.
  • Species which require an AVS-issued import permit.

Species which do not require an AVS-issued import permit  

An import permit is not required for import of the species listed below.

CITES-listed species

If you are bringing in species listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), you are required to apply for CITES permits before import.

CITES-listed ornamental fish species include Asian arowanas (Dragon Fish), seahorses, and giant clams. The list of CITES-listed species is available in the CITES appendices

 Species Personal allowance (Maximum amount allowed without an AVS-issued licence. CITES permits are required regardless of quantity of fishes)
Asian arowanas (Dragon Fish)
  • One fish in no more than three litres of packing water per person per trip.
  • Maximum two pieces allowed in no more than six litres of water per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.
Hard/CITES corals/Calcareous algae rocks
  • Five pieces per person per trip.
  • Maximum 10 pieces allowed per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.
Seahorses
  • Five pieces per person per trip.
  • Maximum 10 pieces allowed per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.
Giant clams
  • Five piece sper person per trip.
  • Maximum 10 pieces allowed per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.

Apply for CITES permits

Apply for the required CITES permits by following the steps listed below:

 Step Description

Step 1:

Obtain a CITES export or re-export permit from the exporting country’s relevant authority.

Step 2:

Apply for and obtain an AVS-issued CITES import permit via LicenceOne.

Step 3:

Pay a permit fee of S$12 per permit per species. The permits are subject to a minimum total fee of S$60.

More information on importing Asian arowana (Dragon Fish) is available in our factsheet.

Non-CITES listed species

 Type of ornamental fish  Personal allowance (Maximum amount allowed without an AVS-issued licence)

Fish (excluding kois and carps)

  • Thirty pieces packed inno more than three litres of water per person per trip.
  • Maximum 60 pieces allowed in no more than six litres of water per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.

Non-swimming marine invertebrates (e.g. soft corals, starfish, sea cucumbers, etc.)

  • Five pieces weighing not more than five kg in total, per person per trip.
  • Maximum 10 pieces weighing not more than ten kg in total allowed per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.

Any import combination of the above is allowed, provided the shipment does not exceed five kg, and the quantity of each item stays within the respective stated limit.

Species which require an AVS-issued import permit

An AVS-issued import permit is required for import of the species listed below.

Non-CITES listed species

 Type of ornamental fish  Personal allowance (Maximum amount allowed without an AVS-issued licence)

Kois or carps (Cyprinus carpio)

  • Thirty pieces packed in no more than three litres of water per person per trip.
  • Maximum 60 pieces allowed in no more than six litres of water per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.

Apply for an AVS-issued import permit

Apply for an AVS-issued import permit before you bring your ornamental fish into Singapore. A permit fee of S$3.50 is payable per consignment.

Note to travellers

The above guidelines apply to species allowed for import under Singapore laws. If you are not sure whether the species you intend to bring in is allowed here, or whether CITES permits are required, do clarify with us before import.

When in doubt, please declare your items to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers.

Enquiries on the import of ornamental fish can be directed to (65) 67519804.

Taking ornamental fish abroad

You may take ornamental fish abroad as long as required export conditions are met.

If you take ornamental fish abroad in quantities exceeding the stated personal allowances, or are transporting them via cargo, you will require a TradeNet export permit. This permit can only be obtained by licensed traders of ornamental fish.

The "Ornamental Fish" section contains more information.

While an export permit from TradeNet is not required if you keep your consignment within personal allowance limits, you may still be required to obtain an AVS-issued export permit.

Ornamental fish taken abroad by travellers generally fall under these two categories:

  • Species which do not require an AVS-issued export permit.
  • Species which require an AVS-issued export permit.

Species which do not require an AVS-issued export permit

An AVS-issued export permit is not required for export of the ornamental fish species listed below.

CITES-listed species

If you are exporting ornamental fish species listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), you are required to apply for CITES permits before export.

CITES-listed ornamental fish species include Asian arowanas (Dragon Fish), seahorses, and giant clams. The list of CITES-listed species is available in the CITES appendices.

 Type of ornamental fish Personal allowance (Maximum amount allowed without an AVS-issued licence. CITES permits are required regardless of quantity of fishes)

Asian arowanas (Dragon Fish)

  • One fish in no more than three litres of packing water per person per trip.
  • Maximum two pieces allowed in no more than six litres of water per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.

Hard/CITES corals/Calcareous algae rocks

  • Five pieces per person per trip.
  • Maximum 10 pieces allowed per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.

Seahorses

  • Five pieces per person per trip.
  • Maximum 10 pieces allowed per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.

Giant clams

  • Five pieces per person per trip.
  • Maximum 10 pieces allowed per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.

Apply for CITES permits

Apply for the relevant CITES permits by following the steps listed below.

 Step Description

Step 1:

Apply for and obtain an AVS-issued CITES export or re-export permit via LicenceOne

Step 2:

Pay a permit fee of S$12 per permit per species. The permits are subject to a minimum total fee of S$60

Step 3:

Obtain a CITES import permit from the destination country’s relevant authority

Information on taking Asian arowanas (Dragon Fish) abroad is available in our factsheet.

 

Non-CITES listed species

 Type of ornamental fish Personal allowance (Maximum amount allowed without an AVS-issued licence)

Fish (excluding kois and carps)

  • Thirty pieces packed in no more than three litres of water per person per trip.
  • Maximum 60 pieces allowed in no more than six litres of water per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.

Non-swimming marine invertebrates (e.g. soft corals, starfishes, sea cucumbers, etc.)

  • Five pieces weighing not more than five kg in total per person per trip.
  • Maximum 10 pieces weighing not more than ten kg in total per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.

Any export combination of the above is allowed, provided the shipment does not exceed five kg. The quantity of each item must fall within the respective limits stated above.

Species which require an AVS-issued import permit

An AVS-issued import permit is required for import of the species listed below.

Non-CITES listed species

 Type of ornamental fish  Personal allowance (Maximum amount allowed without an AVS-issued licence)

Kois or carps (Cyprinus carpio)

Thirty pieces packed in no more than three litres of water per person per trip.

  • Maximum 60 pieces allowed in no more than six litres of water per car. Two or more persons must be present in the car.

Apply for an AVS-issued export permit

Apply for an AVS-issued export permit before you take your ornamental fish abroad. A permit fee of S$3.50 per consignment applies.

Enquiries on AVS-issued export permits can be directed to (65) 67519804.

Note to travellers

You should check what the import requirements of the destination country are before transporting any ornamental fish overseas.

The export limits listed above may not be similar to the personal limits defined by the importing country, if there are any.

Additional requirements may also apply. For example, some countries may require that an ornamental fish export health certificate be produced for entry, and insist that the certificate be issued by the exporting country’s relevant authority.

Apply for an ornamental fish export health certificate

Apply for an ornamental fish export health certificate by following the steps below.

 Step Description

Step 1:

Check what the importing country’s specific export health certificate requirements are.

Step 2:

Apply for and obtain a health certificate for export of ornamental fish via LicenceOne.

Step 3:

Upload the documents confirming your consignment’s fulfilment of the destination country’s specific health certification requirements.

Step 4:

Pay a fee of S$16.80 per certificate.

Each certificate is valid for 10 days from the date of issue and takes one working day to process. Cerificate issued on the same day (i.e. express service) is available at a fee of S$33.60.

Step 5:

We will arrange for an inspection of your consignment prior to approval of the export health certificates. The professional inspection fees are:

  • S$63 per hour for inspection during office hours, from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm.
  • S$133 per hour for inspection outside office hours, or on an urgent basis.