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Australian woman gets A$2,664 fine at airport for bringing Subway sandwich from Singapore

She was charged with the hefty fine for not declaring that the sandwich contained chicken and lettuce, which breached Australia's strict biosecurity laws.

Australian woman gets A$2,664 fine at airport for bringing Subway sandwich from Singapore

Jessica Lee (left) shared with her followers on TikTok how she was fined AU$2,664 for bringing a Subway sandwich into Australia. (Screengrabs: TikTok/@_jessicaleeee)

Now that’s one way to eat fresh: An Australian woman shared the importance of checking and doing immigration declaration forms properly after she was fined for not declaring the contents of her sandwich, which breached Australia's strict biosecurity laws.

In a TikTok posted on Jul 1, Jessica Lee said: “I just paid $2,600 for my Subway, just from Singapore, you know?” 

She was returning home to Perth after her trip to Europe with a short stopover in Singapore. 

While admitting that it was an oversight on her end, Lee continued: “I bought a footlong Subway at Singapore (Changi) Airport, because I was a hungry girl after my 11-hour flight. 

“I ate six inches before my second flight, and then saved the other six inches for the flight, which they were more than happy with.” 

However, what she didn’t realise was that, in addition to carry-ons and luggage, the declaration form applied to her sandwich as well.  

“I didn’t tick chicken, and I didn’t tick lettuce. Chicken and lettuce!”  

Lee then held up a form with a notice of infringement, showing the A$2,664 (S$2,535) fine she had incurred. 

She concluded that paying the fine within 28 days of the notice wouldn’t be easy: “I quit my job before this trip, and I have rent to pay.” 

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry issues fines to travellers who breach the Biosecurity Act by failing to declare or making false declarations on restricted items. 

According to a spokesperson who spoke to, “All airlines play mandatory biosecurity messaging (video/audio) in flight at top of descent (just prior to landing – not mid-flight when passengers might be sleeping) highlighting things of biosecurity risk, and the need to declare food and ingredients, and to leave all food on-board.” 

Similar messages are also available at the arrival areas in Australian airports. 

In a separate TikTok on Jul 17, Lee shared that the authorities discovered her sandwich because her partner wanted to declare cigars that he had bought. She said that the customs officer even joked about how she was saving her sandwich for dinner.  

“I didn’t think I’d done anything wrong,” she added.  

It was only when a biosecurity officer came over and noticed the sandwich did she end up in hot water.

Many of the comments were sympathetic to Lee, suggesting that she contest the fine.

Some of the comments on Lee's original TikTok expressing support for her. (Screengrab: TikTok)

Brands got in on the action as well, with Domino’s Australia commenting “please make this right” on one of Lee’s TikToks, with Subway Australia responding: “We are working some magic.”

Domino's Australia and Subway Australia's comments on one of Lee's TikToks. (Screengrab: TikTok)
It’s unclear yet what the brand has planned, but we’re hoping it has nothing to do with chicken and lettuce.
Source: CNA/mm