April 11, 2011

Shopping Tax/GST Refund in Singapore

Got to rebate my shopping taxes! Some tourists don't know this when they go to Singapore. You can actually get the tax refund which is the GST charges when you purchase an item in Singapore. So what is GST? It stands for Goods and Services Tax and is similar to VAT or Valued Added Tax in most countries. Singapore's customs offers "Tourist Refund Scheme" where tourist such as myself can claim GST refunds from goods we purchased in Singapore at the airport before departing. But it's not that simple. Here are few reminders so that you won't make the same mistakes as we did. 

GST Refund Basics
First I'll explain the basics before going to the reminders. You should ask for a GST refund form from the establishment where you bought the items. But you can only ask for a GST refund form when the following are TRUE:
1. You purchased an Item or Service that has GST charges.
2. The retailer or service center is a participating establishment of the program. Which most retailers are. 
3. You should have purchased at least S$100 in one specific store on a specific day only
4. You can accumulate a maximum of 3 receipts as long as it is from the same establishment and has the same DATE.
5. GST forms are valid only for 2 months from the date of purchase. 

After understanding the basics, read the following reminders and tips. 
1. You cannot claim GST refunds without the GST forms from the establishments
2. Always ask for a GST form on the spot. Most establishments won't bother to explain or offer you the GST forms. 
3. You can accumulate a maximum of 3 receipts per day per establishment. So if you are shopping separately with your friends and went over S$100, better to not get the GST refund form just yet. Wait for your friends and maybe they bought some things on the same establishment.
4. Most establishments accept accumulated receipts from different branches. But better to clarify with the establishment itself. 
5. Check all your receipts before leaving the area so as you won't need to go back to get the GST refund forms. 
6. Keep the original receipt together with the GST refund form. You will need them both at the Airport for claiming. 
7. For those items that you have GST refunds, put them in your luggage where it is easy to get or access. Customs or GST refund officers at the airport sometimes check the items on the spot, specially expensive items. 

Reminders at the Airport when claiming your GST Refund:
1. Have your GST refund forms endorsed at the GST Refund Counter located at any terminal of Singapore Airport. 
2. At the GST Refund Counter, you must bring with you your passport, boarding pass, GST refund forms and Receipt.
3. You should endorse you GST Refund Forms only 12 hours before your scheduled flight. 
4. Go to the airport 3 to 4 hours before your scheduled flight to allow sufficient time for inspection and verification. 
5. Unpack all items that has GST refunds for the checking officer to verify. If you're not in a hurry you can unpack your luggage when requested. This usually happens when you have bought expensive things like electronics, high valued apparels and bags and the likes. 
6. After obtaining the Singapore Customs' endorsements of your GST Refund Forms, you can claim your tax refunds from Global Refund or Premiere Tax Free. Which are both located at the airport, usually after immigration. 

For more information about GST and GST refunds please visit Singapore Customs' official website

More about our One Week Trip to Singapore


Anonymous said...

You may wish to know that effective from 19 August 2012, the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) will fully replace the paper refund form system. By connecting multiple Central Refund Agencies and retailers on a single platform, eTRS enhances the tourists' experience by offering a hassle-free shopping experience and a consistent GST refund claim process.

From Jan 2013, eTRS will also apply to goods brought out of Singapore on international cruise via Singapore Cruise Centre at Harbourfront and Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore (MBCCS) at Marina South. IRAS will release more details by 1 September 2012.

For more information and to see links to "how to" videos, you can also go to:

Unknown said...

This sounds great! Tnx for the heads up.. I'll try to post more about this when it launches..:)