According to the Focus Taiwan website, airport officials seized 3,020 surgical face masks from a Taiwanese citizen heading to Singapore in late February – the largest seizure since export restrictions on face masks were put in plate in late January due to the corona virus.
Each Taiwanese citizen is permitted to export 250 masks per trip. After seizing the face masks, Customs returned 250 to the passenger. The seized masks will be sent for use by the government in their efforts to prevent the spread of the corona virus.
I usually don’t post about non-US customs seizures, but found this article interesting for several reasons:
- No mention of secondary inspections, no seizures followed by a letter from CBP with threats of a civil penalty, etc.
- Sounds like the seizure process in Taiwan is slightly more painful than in the US and it appears the traveler didn’t miss her flight. If this happened in the US and there was a restriction on the export of face masks, I’m sure she would have been detained, all her belongings searched and then held in detention until they missed their flight.
- While it seems like this would never happen in the US since it appears to lack due process for a taking by the government, and while I am usually very supportive of individuals who have their goods (especially currency) seized, this time I am siding with the Taiwanese government on this one.
Interesting to note, the Taiwan customs reported confiscating over 171,450 face masks over 851 seizures since the rule was passed on January 24th. Besides export control efforts at the airport, Taiwan Post (equivalent to our USPS), has also seized outbound shipments of surgical masks destined for overseas. The ban on exports ends on April 30th unless extended. I also read another article from Focus Taiwan that Taiwan is expected to ramp up production of face masks to about 13 million per day.
Anyways, interesting read and the first time I’ve heard of a customs seizure at an airport in a foreign country.