Singapore Tourist GST Refund Scheme

Tourist Refund Scheme

Yes, as a tourist when you purchase commodities from a retailer who takes part in eTRS (electronic Tourist Refund Scheme), you will be able to make a claim through which the GST you paid (via purchases made in Singapore) will be refunded to you.

The actual refund amount you receive in comparison to the GST you paid on your purchase will be lower. This is because a deduction will be applicable in the form of handling charges in order to process your request for a refund. This fee will be levied by the Central Refund Agency/Operator/Retailer of Central Refund Counter. The fee details will be displayed on the eTRS ticket that is issued to you.

Qualifying Conditions for a Tourist

In order to claim for a GST refund, you should be a tourist. You need to comply with the following conditions to be considered as a tourist:

  • You should not be either a permanent resident or a Singapore citizen.
  • For the last 2 years, you should have spent 365 days or lesser in Singapore prior to making a purchase.
  • You should not have any employment in Singapore for the previous 6 months prior to making your purchase.
  • You should not be a crew member who belongs to the aircraft through which you’re making an exit from Singapore.
  • When you’re making the purchase, you should be at least 16 years old (or above).
  • In case you hold a student pass, your purchase should be made 4 months before your student pass expires.

Qualifying Condition for a GST Refund

To get tourist refund you need to meet the following conditions:

  • Buy commodities from a retailer and ask for an eTRS ticket.
  • Including GST charges, you need to spend a minimum of S$100. You can accrue a maximum of 3 same-day receipts and invoices from retailers who have identical GST registration numbers in order to meet the minimum purchase value.
  • You claim for your GST refund via an eTRS ticket (at the eTRS self-help kiosk) or a token at the airport.
  • Make an exit along with the commodities in less than 2 months from the date on which you made a purchase either through the Changi International Airport Departure Hall or via the Seletar Airport Passenger Terminal.
  • Make an exit along with the commodities in less than 12 hours after your GST refund has been approved.
  • Claim for your GST refund from the authorised central refund counter in less than 2 months from the application’s approval date.
  • As a student pass bearer, you need to mandatorily comply with all the conditions mentioned earlier. Also, you should have bought the goods in the last four months prior to the expiry of your student pass. And, you plan to make an exit along with the commodities and stay out of Singapore for at least 12 months.

What Goods are Eligible for GST Refund?

Any commodity on which GST charges are applicable will qualify for a refund (standard-rated goods). Under TRS (Tourist Refund Scheme), services will not qualify for GST refund.

A few exclusions include:

  • Commodities that are partly or entirely consumed in Singapore.
  • Commodities that are exported for commercial or business-related reasons.
  • Commodities that are transported by freight.
  • Accommodation in a hotel, boarding house, hostel, or any other similar establishment.

TRS-Registered Retailers in Singapore

Since TRS is a scheme that is voluntary in nature, it is not necessary that every retailer in Singapore employs this scheme. A GST-registered retailer can choose to either run this scheme individually or seek assistance from Central Refund Agencies. Presently, in Singapore there are three Central Refund Agencies:

Global Tax Free Pte Ltd If a retailer is associated with this agency, you can find the sign "Global Tax Free" displayed in their shop.
Tourego Pte Ltd When a retailer is affiliated with Tourego Pte Ltd, the shop will have a sign "Tourego" displayed in their shop. Tourego Pte Ltd provides only digital eTRS tickets.
Global Blue Singapore Pte Ltd In case a retailer is integrated with this Central Refund Agency, you can look out for a sign that displays "Global Blue" in their shop.

Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme

The Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme will help you avoid the hassle of filling various refund forms that are issued by different retailers at each specific retail shop in order to claim your GST refund. When you buy goods from a retailer who has employed this scheme, all you need to do is display your passport (in person) to the retailer as a proof to show that you’re eligible for a refund under the Tourist Refund Scheme. You will need to display your actual passport. A photocopy or an image of your passport will not be accepted.

Single Debit/Credit Card as eTRS Token

When you make a purchase from a retailer who is on eTRS, it is recommended that you use a single debit or a credit card as your eTRS token in order to link all your purchases that qualify you for a refund. When you use only one credit or debit card as your eTRS token, it will help you recover all purchases made by you in a single go when you apply for your GST refund claim at the airport via any eTRS self-help kiosk.
Note: You can also choose to pay for your purchase via cash or any other debit or credit card.

eTRS Ticket Issuance

You will be given an eTRS ticket by your retailer when you make a purchase. You can apply for your GST refund when you’re departing by using either your debit or credit card as an eTRS token or an eTRS ticket (digital/paper).
Note: Always make sure to collect the actual invoice/receipt and an eTRS ticket (digital or paper) before you exit from the retailer’s shop.

How to Claim GST Refund Under Tourist Refund Scheme?

1. GST refund for commodities you’re checking-in

When you have commodities or goods that are bulky in nature that needs to be checked-in, you will need to claim your GST refund at the allocated area for GST refund in the Check-in Hall (departure) prior to checking-in the goods you’ve purchased.

2. Refund for carrying goods of high value?

Any commodity which is of high value or that needs to be hand-carried, you need to make your GST refund claim in the Departure Transit Lounge (post Departure Immigration).

3. GST Refund when you’re departing

Make sure you reach the airport earlier so that there is enough time to process your GST refund claim and also for the inspection of your goods.

4. Claim GST Refund at Self-help Kiosk for Other Goods

You need to follow the steps given below in order to raise a GST refund claim via a self-help kiosk:

  1. Submit your documents
    • Passport.
    • Travel documents.
    • Actual receipts and invoices.
    • Digital or/and paper eTRS tickets.
    • eTRS token (if applicable).
  2. Give your confirmation
    • Confirm that you qualify for Tourist Refund Scheme.
    • Acknowledge the terms and conditions of TRS.
  3. Authenticate a purchase you made
    • By swiping your eTRS token debit or credit card or
    • By scanning the barcode which is present on your eTRS ticket.
  4. Select your refund method
    • Seletar Airport: Cheque or refund through a credit card.
    • Changi International Airport: Alipay, or refund via cash/credit card.
  5. Gather your notification slips
  6. You’ll be issued with a notification slip by the self-help kiosk. You can check your refund status by following the instructions that is mentioned on the notification slip. In case, your goods need to be inspected physically, you’ll need to provide the following at the Customs Inspection counter:

    • The purchase you have made.
    • Actual receipt or invoice.
    • eTRS ticket.
    • Your confirmed ticket or boarding pass.
  7. Get your refund
    • When you opt for receiving your refund via a credit card, in less than 10 days the sanctioned refund amount will be credited back to the credit card specified by you.
    • When you choose to get your refund through Alipay at the Changi International Airport, you need to go to the “GST Cash Refund” counter which is near the Departure Transit Lounge (just after the Departure Immigration) along with an authorised notification slip in order to process the refund amount to your relevant Alipay account.
    • When you intend to get a cash refund at the Changi International Airport, you need to visit the GST Cash Refund counter with your sanctioned notification slip in order to collect your refund amount via cash.
    • In order to receive a refund via a bank cheque, you will have to fill in the required details on a sanctioned notification slip. Place this slip into a relevant cheque refund box. The bank cheque will be mailed after 14 days from the date on which you dropped the sanctioned notification slip into the required cheque refund box.

Penalties to Prevent TRS Abuse & Fraud Claims

IRAS is given the authority by the eTRS system to identify any kind of an inappropriate claim that has been made. IRAS will take a stringent action against foreigners who make false claims intentionally with an aim to receive the GST refund under TRS or with an intention to misuse the scheme.

  • Goods will be inspected physically: Before the approval of a GST refund claim, goods might be subjected to physical inspection by Singapore Customs officers.
  • Enforcement authority: With the help of the enforcement powers, IRAS might take hold of commodities and foreigners who try to cheat by submitting false GST refund claims will be taken into custody.
    Against such kind of miscreants, vigorous enforcement measures will be undertaken, sometimes it may involve prosecution as well. In case an offender is convicted, he or she:
    • Might be levied with a penalty which is 3 times the tax refunded amount.
    • Might end up paying a fine which can go up to S$10,000, he or she might be jailed also for up to 7 years.

With the Tourist Refund Scheme or TRS, tourists can not only have a seamless shopping experience, but also a hassle-free experience of getting the refund on GST purchases.

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