Tourists buying goods from retailers who participate in the electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) may claim a refund of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) paid on purchases made in Singapore. GST is chargeable at the prevailing rate of 7% by GST-registered businesses on all sales of goods and services made in Singapore.
Qualifying as a Tourist
To be eligible for GST refund, you must be a tourist and meet the following criteria:
- You are not a Singapore citizen or permanent resident;
- You spend 365 days or less in Singapore in the last 24 months before the date of purchase;
- You have not been, at any time, employed in Singapore in the past 6 months before the date of purchase;
- You are not a member of the crew of the aircraft on which you are departing from Singapore;
- You are 16 years of age and above at the time of purchase; and
- If you are a student pass holder, you must have purchase the goods in the last 4 months before the expiry of your student pass.
Qualifying for GST refund
You may qualify for tourist refund if the following conditions are satisfied:
- Spend at least SGD100 (including GST). You may accumulate up to 3 same-day invoices/receipts from retailers bearing the same GST registration number to meet this minimum purchase amount;
- Apply for your GST refund using the Token or eTRS tickets at the eTRS self-help kiosk at the airports;
- Depart with the goods within 2 months from the date of purchase either via:
- Changi International Airport Departure Hall; or
- Seletar Airport Passenger Terminal;
- Depart with the goods within 12 hours after obtaining approval of your GST refund;
- Claim the refund from the approved central refund counter operator within 2 months from the date of approval of the application; and
- If you are a student pass holder, you must have fulfilled all the above criteria, purchased the goods in the last 4 months before student pass expiry date and intend to depart with the goods and remain outside Singapore for a minimum period of 12 months.
Goods that qualify for GST Refund
All goods on which GST is charged (“standard-rated goods”) are eligible for refund except:
- Goods wholly or partly consumed in Singapore;
- Goods exported for business or commercial purposes;
- Goods that will be exported by freight; and
- Accommodation in a hotel, hostel, boarding house, or similar establishments.
Services are not eligible for GST refund under the Tourist refund scheme.
Retailers Operating TRS
The Tourist Refund Scheme is a voluntary scheme – 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 4 Central Refund Agencies in Singapore:
- Global Blue Singapore Pte Ltd: Retailers affiliated with this agency display “Global Blue” sign in their shops. Website: http://www.globalblue.com
- Premier Tax Free & Fintrax Payments (Asia) Pte Ltd: Retailers affiliated with this agency display “Premier Tax Free” sign in their shops. Website: http://www.premiertaxfree.com/
- Global Tax Free Pte Ltd: Retailers affiliated with this agency display “Global Tax Free” sign in their shops. Website: http://www.global-taxfree.com.sg/
- Tourego Pte Ltd: Retailers affiliated with this agency display “Tourego” sign in their shops. This agency has developed the world’s first mobile application for issuing digital eTRS tickets that tourists can store via an e-wallet in-app. Visit its website for more information on its tourist refund solution. Website: http://www.tourego.com/
Amount of GST refunded under TRS
The actual amount refunded to you will be lesser than the GST you have paid on your purchases due to the deduction of a handling fee for the refund service charged by the Retailer/ Central Refund Agency/ operator of the Central Refund Counter.
Availability of TRS at Points of Departure
TRS is available to tourists bringing purchases out of Singapore within two months from the date of purchase via:
- Changi International Airport; and/or
- Selatar Airport
For more information on the eligibility criteria and conditions of the scheme, please visit https://www.iras.gov.sg/IRASHome/GST/Consumers/Tourist-Refund-Scheme/
Applying for TRS
Visitors are required to present their original passport in person at the point of purchase to prove their eligibility for the Tourist Refund Scheme. Photocopies or images of passports are not acceptable. There are two ways to claim your refund using the eTRS:
- Choose one credit/debit card to be used as a token. Every time you make a purchase, present the same card to the retailer. This card will be used to link up all your purchases to you. When you want to get a refund at the airport, go to an eTRS self-help kiosk and swipe that Token. Details of all your purchases will be retrieved at one go, and you can proceed to make your claim following instructions on the kiosk. Note that when you choose a credit/debit card to be used as a Token, you do not necessarily have to pay for your purchases using that card. You can still pay by cash or by other credit/debit cards;
- If you don’t have a credit/debit card, or don’t wish to use your card as a Token, you must collect an eTRS Ticket (either paper or digital) from the retailer when you make a purchase. When you apply for your refund at the airport, go to an eTRS self-help kiosk and scan all your eTRS tickets one by one. You can then claim your refund by following the instructions on the kiosk.
Claim process in three simple steps
Step #1: At the Airport
- If you plan to check-in your purchases, you must apply for GST refund before checking-in your luggage. If you check in you purchases, you will not be entitled to a refund. This is because Singapore Customs may want to inspect your purchases before processing refund. You can apply for your refund at the eTRS self-help kiosk in the Departure Check-in Hall (before departure immigration) at the airport.
- If you plan to hand-carry your purchases, proceed to the Departure Transit area (after departure immigration) at the airport with your purchases and apply for your refund at the eTRS self-help kiosks found there.
Step #2: At the eTRS self-help kiosk
- At the kiosk, swipe your passport and the credit-debit card that you have chosen as your eTRS Token. This will call up details of all your purchases. Alternatively, scan your eTRS tickets (either paper or digital) to retrieve your purchase details.
- After you have called up your purchased details, follow instructions on the eTRS to apply for your GST refund. At this stage, you will be asked to choose whether you want your refund to be made to your credit card or in cash (for tourists departing from Changi Airport). If you are departing from Seletar Airport, you will be asked to choose your refund to be made by bank cheque or credit card. When you are done, the kiosk will issue you a Notification Slip. Read it to see whether you need to go to the Customs Inspection counter, where customs officers may ask to see your purchases for further verification. It is important for you to arrive at the airport early to allow sufficient time to process your GST refund and for the inspection of goods.
Step #3: Collect your refund
- If you choose to have your refund in cash, head to the Central Refund Counter in the Departure Transit Lounge (after departure immigration) with your Notification Slip to collect your cash.
- If you choose to have the refund credited to your credit card, you may proceed to boarding after completing your claims at the eTRS kiosk. The money will be credited to your specified credit card within ten days.
- If you choose to have your refund by bank cheque, you need to write your name and mailing address on the Notification Slip and drop the slip into the cheque refund box. The bank cheque will be mailed out to you 14 days later.