Shop tax free and hassle free. Here’s a guide on how to get a refund for Goods and Services Tax.
Eligibility for the Tourist Refund Scheme
As a tourist in Singapore, if you make any purchase of more than SGD 100 (including GST) at participating shops, you may claim a refund on the 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST) paid on your purchases. You are entitled up to 3 same-day receipts/invoices from shops bearing the same GST registration number to meet this minimum purchase amount of SGD 100. To know whether a shop is participating in the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS), look for a “Tax Free” shopping logo or sign displayed at the shop. You can also check with the retailer whether your purchases are eligible for GST refund.
Are you eligible for a GST refund? You must be a tourist and must meet the following criteria:
- You are not a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident;
- You spent 365 days or less in Singapore in the last 24 months before the date of purchase;
- You have not been employed in Singapore in the past six months before the date of purchase;
- You are not a crew member of the aircraft or ship that which you are leaving Singapore by;
- You are aged 16 or above at the time of purchase;
- If you are a student pass holder, you must have purchased the goods in the last four months before the expiry date of your student pass and remain outside of Singapore for a minimum period of 12 months after departing with your goods.
- You are leaving Singapore from Changi Airport or Seletar Airport. You will not be eligible for a GST refund if you are leaving by the Causeway.
- You must have made your purchases within two months from when you apply for a refund.
Purchases that are not eligible for a GST refund include:
- Goods which you have already used or consumed in Singapore.
- Goods that you are exporting for commercial purposes.
- Goods that will be exported by freight.
- Accommodation in a hotel or hostel, and services such as car rental and tour charges.
For more information on eligibility criteria and conditions of the scheme, please click here.
Where to get your refund:
If you are leaving by air, apply for your GST refund using the Electronic Tourist Refund self-help kiosks (eTRS kiosks) found at Changi Airport Departure Check-in Hall (before departure immigration) and Departure Transit Lounge (after departure immigration); and at Seletar Airport Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) duty office.
How the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) works
The Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) was introduced to allow you to apply for your GST refunds electronically and to replace the use of paper refund forms. This offers you an easier way to get your refund because you no longer have to fill up different refund forms issued by different shops.
There are two ways to claim your refund using the eTRS.
1. 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.
2. If you don’t have a credit/debit card, or don’t wish to use your card as a Token, you must remember to collect an eTRS Ticket 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.
How to claim your tax refund in three simple steps:
1. At The Airport
If you plan to check-in your purchases, you must apply for your GST refund before you check in your luggage. If you check in your purchases, you will not be entitled to a refund.
This is because Singapore Customs may want to inspect your purchases before processing the 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 kiosk found there.
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 individually to retrieve your purchase details.
After you have called up your purchase details, follow the instructions on the eTRS kiosk 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.
3. Collect Your Refund
If you are departing from Changi Airport, you can choose to receive your refund in cash, or have it credited to your credit card. If you are departing from Seletar Airport, you can choose to receive your refund by bank cheque or have it credited to your credit card.
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.
Do note that the actual amount refunded to you will be less than what you paid in total GST because of handling fees. The details of the handling fees will be shown on the eTRS Tickets issued to you.
Note: You must depart with your goods within two months from date of purchase and within 12 hours after obtaining approval of your GST refund. GST refund must be claimed from the approved central fund counter operator within two months from date of approval of the application.
For a fuss-free tax refund experience, do bring along your passport while shopping. Most major shopping malls offer tax refunds but will require proof of purchases, as well the shopper’s original passport as proof of identification.