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When you buy goods in Singapore, you are required to pay GST on your purchases if the retailer is registered for GST.
The Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) allows tourists to claim a refund of the GST paid at participating retailers, subject to the criteria and conditions of the scheme. Goods must be taken out of Singapore via Changi Airport or Seletar Airport.
Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS)
As of 19 August 2012, the eTRS has fully replaced the paper refund form system. So you no longer need to fill up different refund forms issued by different retailers. The current eligibility conditions for tourist refund still apply.
While you may use any credit / debit card or cash for your purchases, choosing just one credit/debit card to be used as an eTRS Token makes claiming your refund later easier. The eTRS token links all your purchases entitled for refund and you can retrieve all your purchases at one go when at the eTRS self-help kiosk at the airport.
At any point of purchase, the retailer will issue you an eTRS Ticket. So even if you do not use a credit / debit card as an eTRS Token, you will still be able to use the Tickets to apply for your refund claims at the airport. Don’t forget to collect your original receipt / invoice and eTRS Ticket before leaving the shop.
Which retailers participate in eTRS?
As eTRS is a voluntary scheme, not all retailers in Singapore operate the scheme. GST-registered retailers may choose to operate the scheme on their own or engage the service of a Central Refund Agency.
There are currently 4 Central Refund Agencies in Singapore:
Global Blue Singapore Pte Ltd
Global Tax Free Pte Ltd
Premier Tax Free & Fintrax Payments (Asia) Pte Ltd
Tourego Pte Ltd
Retailers who operate the scheme on their own usually display signs that indicate "Tax Refund" in their shops. However, it is best that you check with the retailers if they are operating the scheme.
How much refund can I receive?
The actual amount refunded may be lesser than the GST you have paid as a handling fee for the refund service will be deducted by the retailer, Central Refund Agency or operator of Central Refund Counter. Details of the charges will be reflected in the refund cheques or eTRS Tickets issued to the tourists.
How do I obtain my refund?
Do arrive at the airport early to allow sufficient time for your GST refund to be processed and goods to be inspected, if necessary. You are required to seek endorsement at the Customs Inspection Counter in the terminal where you will be checking in your goods or where your flight will be departing from. You must also depart with the goods on a flight within 12 hours after obtaining approval of your GST refund.
For check-in items: Prior to checking-in the goods, please proceed to the eTRS self-help kiosk at the Departure Check-in Hall (before Departure Immigration) to apply for GST Refund.
For hand-carry items: Please proceed to the eTRS self-help kiosk at the Departure Transit Lounge (after Departure Immigration) to apply for GST Refund.
Purchases with eTRS Tickets: Proceed to the eTRS self-help kiosk to apply for your GST refund. At the kiosk, you will be asked to:
- Swipe your passport
- Declare your eligibility and acceptance of the TRS conditions
- Swipe your Token or scan the barcode of the Ticket to retrieve and verify your purchase details which you wish to claim a refund on
- Select your refund options. For credit card refund, the approved refund amount will be credited to the specified credit card. For cash refund, you can proceed to the Central Refund Counter (CRC) in the Departure Transit Lounge (after Departure Immigration) to collect your cash.
- Once you have completed the steps above, you will receive a Notification Slip showing the status of your refund issued by the kiosk. If "Not Approved" is indicated on the Slip, please proceed to the Customs Inspection Counter for the physical inspection of the goods. Please present the goods, together with the original invoice or receipt, your boarding pass or confirmed air ticket, eTRS Tickets and Notification Slip to the Customs Inspection Counter for endorsement.
For more details on the conditions and refund procedures, please visit the following websites:
> Tourist Refund Scheme (Singapore Customs)
> Guide for Visitors on Tourist Refund Scheme
> Tourist Tax Refund Guide