Apr 27 2011

How tourists can get a sales tax refund in Singapore

Published by at 10:18 am under Money & costs,Shopping


If your Singapore itinerary includes a shopping spree on Orchard Road you’ll be happy to learn that the 7% GST included in prices can be refunded when you leave the country.

To be eligible for the GST (goods and services tax) refund you must meet several conditions. You must be 16 or older; you must be tourist, meaning you are not a Singaporean citizen or resident, have not spent more than 365 days of the last two years in Singapore, and have not worked in Singapore during the last 6 months; and you and the purchased items must leave Singapore by air. You cannot get the refund if you leave by road, train, or boat.

Recoup the taxes on that $1,000 bag

OK, assuming you meet the above conditions here’s what you need to do.

First, spend S$100 or more at a participating retailer. The GST refund program is voluntary and not all stores participate — those that do display a Tax Free Shopping or Premier Tax Free sign in their window. Department stores, electronics shops, and high-end clothing stores almost always participate. The refund is not valid for services or consumable goods, so you cannot get a tax refund on hotels, spa services, or restaurant bills.

Second, get a receipt and a GST refund form at the time of purchase. You will need to show your passport to prove that you are a tourist, then complete the GST refund form and have it endorsed by the retailer.

Lastly, finish the paperwork at the GST Refund Inspection Counter at Changi Airport. You’ll need to show your passport, air ticket, the original receipt, the completed GST refund form, and the items you purchased to finalise the refund.

There is a GST refund counter in each terminal and before and after immigration, so for bulky items you can complete the refund before checking your bags. You can choose to receive the refund as cash, a bank cheque, or a refund applied to your credit card. An administration fee is deducted from the refund amount so you won’t actually get back the full 7% — it’ll be closer to 6%.

The tourist GST refund is overseen by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and you can find further details on their official website.

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13 responses so far

13 Responses to “How tourists can get a sales tax refund in Singapore”

  1. Ptron 27 Apr 2011 at 10:42 am

    Some retailers insist that the refund is by credit card if the goods are purchased by credit card. Mustafa Centre is one example of this.

  2. Tanyaon 27 Apr 2011 at 11:25 am

    thanks for the additional info!

  3. caffeinejoltedon 02 Jun 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Hi Tanya,

    The IRAS link you included on your post was for the businesses offering the refund. Here’s the link for the customers: http://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/page04.aspx?id=10834
    You might also want to update your post with the eTRS. We’d love to have your input on the how-to’s for that as well.

    And I’ve been confused about this bit of detail and am hoping you can enlighten me. So it says that “You must spend a minimum amount of S$100.00 (including GST) on purchases from the same retailer in the same day to qualify for refund under the TRS. You may accumulate up to a maximum of 3 same-day receipts or invoices from the same retailer to meet this minimum purchase amount.” If I purchase at least $100 from 5 different retailers who are offering this refund scheme, can I get a refund for each of the 5 purchases? Or am I only allowed to refund the transaction made from 1 retailer? Same goes if I bought at least $100 from a certain retailer on Day 1 then went back to that same retailer and bought another $100 worth on Day 2, will I be allowed to refund both transactions or am I limited to just 1 day’s worth of transaction?

    Hope you can help!

    Thanks a bunch,
    C

  4. Tanya Procyshynon 06 Jun 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks caffeinejolted – I changed the link as you suggested.

    To answer your question, there’s no limit to how many transactions you can claim a refund. Say you spend S$100 at the Sony Store, then S$100 at Tangs Department Store, then S$100 at the National Geographic store, you can claim a tax refund for the 3 transactions.

  5. kylieon 04 Nov 2012 at 9:34 am

    Hi!

    Just wanted to know, is the tax refunded in SG cash? and does cosmetics get to be tax free? Say I shop at sephora, do I ask them for a GST refund form from them?

    Thankyou!

  6. j raja sekharon 10 Dec 2012 at 11:32 pm

    sir
    I have purchaged a TV for Sin$1750. I did not take GST voucher from mustafa. and also there is no time to get as the airport people informed that i should produce gst. I brought the Tv to India and paid Rs 5000 as a tax at airport. can i claim tax refund from singapore Government
    Raj Sekhar

  7. Tanya Procyshynon 11 Dec 2012 at 11:23 am

    You must get a receipt at the store and then complete the tax refund paperwork at Changi Airport. I think it is too late for you to get a refund.

    The Singapore government website about tourist tax refund is gst@iras.gov.sg and you can email them at gst@iras.gov.sg

  8. AJon 03 Jan 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Hi Tanya,

    I was wondering what the situation would be for someone who is a foreigner who purchases something from the United States and has it delivered to Singapore.

    I’m going to be flying through there in a month’s time (from New Zealand) and am looking at having a purchase sent to Singapore to pick up there. Would I be liable to pay GST on that purchase?

  9. Tanya Procyshynon 08 Jan 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Hi AJ – If it’s above a certain value (I think around $300 SGD), you’re liable to pay GST on items shipped to Singapore from overseas. I’ve done lots of online shopping while I’ve been living here, and for items around $200 USD coming from overseas I’ve never had to pay GST.

  10. Monique Aleon 05 Apr 2013 at 11:57 am

    Hi Tanya! This blog is very informative. I would just like to have additional information.
    1. Is the minimum $100 spending requirement for refund applicable to cumulative receipts from different merchants?
    2. If we bought goods from the great Singapore sale will we still be able to avail of the refund?
    3. We will having a side trip to Malaysia, are goods brought from there be covered with the refund?

    Thank you!

  11. Andrewon 30 Jun 2013 at 4:39 am

    Hi everyone,

    i’ve paid up front in full for a ring in Singapore and was issued an eTRS slip. But i have not gotten my ring yet (needs about 1 week to be ready) and i have departed the country. Can i still claim after i collect my ring and depart with it with the same eTRS slip?

  12. amirul mon 09 Aug 2013 at 11:33 pm

    hi… Is there a limit for transactions i can claim a refund? Let’s say I bought equipment worth s$ 20000, can I claim a refund?

    Thank you,

  13. Sanathon 12 Oct 2013 at 10:24 am

    Hi,

    I was told that I can claim GST refund for transactions made the last 3 months even if I have left Singapore. Is it true? Could I claim GST refund during my next trip if its less than 3 months? What good/services are entitled to this?

    Kindly assist.

    thanks.

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