Visitors to Singapore may be eligible for a refund of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) on their purchases when they leave Singapore. GST is chargeable at the prevailing rate of 7% by GST-registered businesses on all sales of goods and services made in Singapore.
You can claim a GST refund if:
- You are not a Singapore citizen or permanent resident of Singapore;
- You are 16 years old or above at the time of purchase;
- You are not a member of cabin crew or flight crew of the aircraft departing from Singapore;
- You have not spent more than 365 days in Singapore in the last 24 months before the date of purchase;
- You have not been employed in Singapore at any time during the past six months before the date of purchase;
- You have spent a minimum of S$100 (including GST) from the same retailer. (You may accumulate up to three same-day receipts/invoices from the same retailer to meet this minimum purchase requirement);
- You depart with the goods via Changi International Airport or Seletar Airport within two months from the date of purchase;
- You depart with the goods within 12 hours after the refund claim has been completed at the eTRS self-help kiosk or your refund form has been endorsed by Singapore Customs; and
- You are a student pass holder who besides fulfilling all the criteria listed, have purchased the goods not more than four months before the expiry date of your student pass and intend to depart with the goods and remain outside Singapore for a minimum period of 12 months.
The GST refund is claimable on all goods purchased, except for:
- Goods wholly or partly consumed in Singapore;
- Goods purchased for business or commercial purpose;
- Goods exported by freight; or
- Services such as accommodation, car rental, entertainment and tour charges.
Visitors are generally required to present their passport at the point of purchase to prove their eligibility for the Tourist Refund Scheme. The Tourist Refund Scheme is a voluntary scheme. Hence, not all retailers in Singapore operate the scheme. GST-registered retailers may choose to operate the scheme on their own or engage the services of central refund agencies. Currently, there are two such central refund agencies:
Retailers who operate the scheme on their own usually display signs that indicate "Tax Refund" in their shops. However, it is best that you check with the retailers if they are operating the scheme. A new electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) was also launched in mid-2011 that replaces the current paper-based tourist refund system, making it easier for tourists to claim GST refunds. For a comprehensive guide to tax-free shopping in Singapore and the detailed guide to obtaining your GST refund, please visit the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) webpage here.
GST refunds should be claimed at the airport prior to departure, and are generally made in cash (to be collected at the Departure Transit Lounge following check-in) or credited directly into your credit card. Check with the store you make your purchase from for more information.