Guide To GST Refund In Singapore
Are you going to shop in Singapore? Buy your favorite Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Celine and Hermes Bags, but do not forget to claim your tax refund. In this guide, we will explain what the tax is and how the process goes to get your money back.
What is GST?
The tax imposed on the price of the goods is called VAT in Europe and Sales Tax in the US. However, in Singapore it’s called GST, meaning Goods And Services Tax. The GST rate is now 7% and tourists can claim this back after their stay.
Who are eligible to apply for tax-refund?
People with permanent resident outside Singapore like tourist. The requirement is that you need to spend 365 days or less in Singapore in the last 24 months before the date of purchase.
For students (exchange students), you need to start shopping in the last four months before leaving the country. Then you are required to stay outside of Singapore for 1 year, starting on the date when you leave the country with the goods.
The minimum purchase value is set at $100 SGD. If you’re looking for designer bags, then you’re way above this minimum.
Important Note: Not all stores are participating to the GST refund program, so look for the ‘Tax Free Logo’ or other ‘Tax Free Sign’ displayed outside the shop.
Time limit for Custom Approval
When you’ve just purchased the goods, you have 2 months the time to claim your GST back.
“After the GST refund is approved by the customs, you are required to leave Singapore within 12 hours.”
Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS)
In Europe, the tax-refund is processed with receipts and forms, but in Singapore you can do it electronically. There is a new system called eTRS aka Electronic Touris Refund Scheme. The eTRS works in two ways:
1). With credit card or debit card as your Token
Select a credit card or debit card to use as a Token. Use this card whenever you make a purchase and all data will be stored inside. When you go to the airport or cruise terminal, search for the nearest eTRS self-help kiosk and swipe the Token. All of your purchases will instantly appear.
When you’ve chosen a credit card or debit card to as a Token, you can still pay with cash or other credit and debit cards. You are not required to us the same card to pay for all your purchases.
2). Without credit card or debit card as your Token
It’s not required to use a credit card or debit card as a token. If you don’t have a card or don’t want to use your card as a token, there are other ways. Your second option is to collect eTRS ticket every time you buy goods at the retailer. When you’ve collected all the eTRS tickets and you want to claim your GST refund, just go to the eTRS self-help kiosk and scan all your tickets one at a time.
How to claim Tax Refund: Step By Step Instructions:
1. At the store: can I get GST back?
If you haven’t spotted the ‘tax-free logo sign outside the store, ask the Shopping Assistant whether they participate to the GST Refund program. You can never be more certain.
2. Show your passport
At the check-out or cashier, tell the Shopping Assistant that you want to claim GST refund. Then show your passport to verify that you’re a tourist.
Do you want to use your credit card as a token? Yes, then go to 3a. If not, go to 3b.
3. Select your credit card as a token
Tell the SA that you want to use a credit or debit card as a Token and give her the card. This is highly recommended because it will make the process so much easier at the eTRS self-help kiosk.
“The selected credit or debit card will be used as a Token and it will function like a database. Every time you make a new purchase, the information will be stored inside. However, it doesn’t mean you need to use the same card for every payment; you can still pay using other cards or even cash.”
3b. Collect eTRS tickets
Take this step if you don’t want to use a credit or debit card as a token. And skip this step if you choose step 3a.
Pay your goods in cash or with debet and credit card. The Shopping Assistance will present you an eTRS ticket, make sure you keep this safe. The eTRS ticket is like a tax-refund form in Europe and without the eTRS ticket you wont be able to process the refund.
4. At the airport
“If your goods are inside the checked luggage, make sure you don’t check-in first. The Customs might need to inspect your goods.”
If the tax-refund goods are heavy and you have them in your checked luggage, then go the Departure Check-in Hall to process the GST refund.
If your tax-refund goods are not heavy and you’re going to carry them by hand then go to the Departure Transit Lounge to process the GST refund.
Checklist: do you have all the documents?
- receipt/invoice, eTRS ticket or credit card that has been used as a token
- Travel document or international travel ticket
- Purchased goods
5. At the eTRS self-help desk
Step 1). Find the nearest eTRS self-help desk, then present the eTRS token, original invoices/receipts, Passport and travel documents.
Step 2). Declare eligibility for TRS and accept the conditions.
Step 3). To verify your purchases either swipe the credit or debit card that you’ve used as a Token or scan the barcode of the eTRS tickets one by one.
Step 4). Choose how you want your GST refunded?
- At Chanqi International Airport, you can choose between cash refund or credit card refund.
- At Seletar Airport or Marina Bay Cruise Centre or the International Passenger Terminal at Harbourfront Centre, you can select either credit card refund or bank cheque
e). Now collect the notification slip, then double check whether the information is correct.
6). Your goods might need to be inspected
When the Custom Inspection Counter request this, you need to show your purchased goods, the original receipts, eTRS tickets and your boarding pass as a confirmation that you’re going to leave the country soon.
7. Collect your GST refund
There are few options to get your refund back:
Cash refund: If you’ve selected for cash refund at the Changi International Airport, then you need to go to the GST Cash Refund counter in the Departure Transit Lounge. This is located after the Departure Immigration. You need to present the notification slip to collect the money.
Credit card refund: If you’ve selected for credit card refund, the money will be credited to your card within 10 days.
Bank cheques: For this option, you need to drop the notification slip into the designated cheque refund box provided, only after you’ve complete your information like payee name and mailing address. The bank cheque will be send to you in 14 days.
GST refund is less under TRS program
Like in Europe, there is work involved to process the GST refund application. For this work, you need to pay a fee and this will be deducted from the GST refund. The total amount of GST refund is always less than the GST rate of 6%
How is much is the fee?
The fee can vary depending on the refund service charged by the retailer/refund agency or refund counter. In general, the GST refund is 5.56% of the retail price of the goods.
VAT refund overview in Singapore
|Value||GST Refund in S$||GST Refund in %|
|$500 SGD||$28 SGD||5.60%|
|$1000 SGD||$55 SGD||5.50%|
|$2000 SGD||$111 SGD||5.55%|
|$4000 SGD||$225 SGD||5.63%|
|$6000 SGD||$338 SGD||5.63%|
|$8000 SGD||$442 SGD||5.53%|
|$10000 SGD||$595 SGD||5.95%|
|$12000 SGD||$714 SGD||5.95%|
|$14000 SGD||$833 SGD||5.95%|
|$16000 SGD||$952 SGD||5.95%|
|$18000 SGD||$1071 SGD||5.95%|
|$20000 SGD||$1203 SGD||6.02%|