Mailing masks overseas incurs penalties as Taiwan enforces export ban

E-commerce retailers found to have tried to deliver surgical masks to China

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Masks confiscated by the Customs at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Jan. 31

Masks confiscated by the Customs at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Jan. 31 (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwanese government reiterated on Thursday (Jan. 30) that those attempting to smuggle surgical masks abroad through the mail or bring more than allowed when departing the country will face punishment.

A month-long ban on exporting surgical masks, including N95 respirators, was announced on Jan. 24 by the Executive Yuan to ensure domestic demand for such protective gear will be met in light of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. Individuals are also prohibited from carrying more than five boxes of masks (each containing 50 masks) when leaving Taiwan.

Some online retailers, however, were found to have been purchasing masks and reselling them to China, which has reported over 9,700 cases of the novel coronavirus and more than 200 deaths, reported Newtalk.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF), which oversees the Customs Administration, stressed that while such sales on e-commerce platforms are legal, delivering the banned items overseas are not.

During the ban period, which lasts from Jan. 24 through Feb. 23, attempts to export, mail, or use international express service to ship surgical masks out of Taiwan without a permit from the Bureau of Trade will constitute an offense of the Customs Anti-smuggling Act and incur penalties accordingly.

Outbound travelers are also being warned against bringing with them more than 250 regulated masks, the maximum amount allowed. Violators will be subject to a fine of up to three times the price of the masks and will have their goods impounded, pursuant to the Customs Anti-smuggling Act.