LivingTravelDuty free shopping in Singapore

Duty free shopping in Singapore

Tax-free shopping may have been invented elsewhere, but Singapore perfected the concept. The island-state is literally littered with shopping malls (many malls are connected via air-conditioned underground passages); On top of that, the 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST) that applies to purchases in Singapore can be refunded at Changi Airport before your outbound flight.

The Electronic Singapore Tourist Refund System (eTRS) reduces the number of steps required to claim a refund. The old paper system will remain in place for retailers that are not registered with the eTRS system.

For eTRS purchases, you will be asked to specify a single credit or debit card to serve as a ‘token’ for your tax-free purchases. You can still make purchases with other credit or debit cards, but the token will be used later in the refund process.

Step one: in the store

Look for stores with a blue “Duty Free Shopping” or “Duty Free Premier” label in advance, and shop there.

You must purchase at least SGD100 (US $ 64) worth of merchandise (GST included) from any store. This can take the form of a single receipt or a maximum of three same-day receipts from the same store.

If the store is on the eTRS platform, the store will provide you with an eTRS ticket for your purchases at checkout. Save all receipts and corresponding eTRS tickets; they will be used later in the refund process.

If the store is not on the eTRS platform, please present your passport at checkout and request a Global Refund Check or Premier Refund Coupon (depending on the participating refund agency, see below). This form will be completed by the retailer. Keep it with your receipt to present to customs upon departure.

Step two: at the airport

For eTRS-enabled purchases , go to the eTRS self-help kiosk at the airport. There are two kiosks at the airport: one before check-in (for items to be checked in with your luggage) and one in the departure lounge (for items to be carried by hand).

At the kiosk, you will swipe your passport, then swipe your token or scan your eTRS tickets. You can then choose your refund options: you can credit the balance on your ‘token’ card or get a cash refund at the departure transit lounge.

You will then receive a paper copy of the notice with the details of your refund. Show this receipt at the Customs counter, along with the goods and the original receipt.

If you did not purchase from eTRS-enabled stores, you must first validate the check or voucher at the Singapore Customs counter. Show your passport and travel documents (boarding pass, confirmed departure ticket). Have the products and receipt ready for identification.

Having incomplete documents or not displaying the products will disqualify you from receiving a refund.

Step three: at the refund desk

After registering, you can claim your GST refund at the central refund counter (for eTRS), at the global refund counter, or at the Premier Tax Free counter in the departure lounge (refunds for the latter two will depend on the agency of participant reimbursement) see below).

Refunds can be claimed in cash, direct transfer to your credit card, or airport purchase vouchers. A handling fee will be deducted from the amount owed.

GST Refund Agencies in Singapore

Most stores in Singapore are affiliated with one of two central reimbursement agencies: Global Blue Singapore (+ 65-6225-6238; and Premier Tax Free (+ 65-6293-3811;, which specify a minimum purchase of SGD100 to qualify for a refund.

Stores not affiliated with any agency administer their own GST rebate schemes. The minimum purchase amount for GST rebate varies among unaffiliated retailers, so be sure to request details before making your purchase.

GST refund exceptions and disqualifications

Any legal visitor over the age of 16 can claim refunds for their purchases, with the following exceptions:

  • Visitor must not be a Singapore citizen or have Singapore Permanent Resident status (exceptions apply for Student Pass holders – see below)
  • The visitor must not have spent more than 365 days in Singapore in the previous 24 months before making the purchase.
  • Visitor must not have worked in Singapore within six months prior to purchase.
  • Visitor must not be a member of the flight or cabin crew of the aircraft departing Singapore

Visitors to Singapore with student passes can claim refunds, only if they meet the above criteria and if:

  • Purchases must have been made 4 months or less before the Student Pass expires
  • Merchandise must be removed from Singapore within 2 months of purchase
  • The Student Pass holder must leave Singapore and stay abroad for at least 12 months.

Certain products do not qualify for the tax refund:

  • Items that have been fully or partially consumed in Singapore (i.e. you cannot claim a tax refund for a partially consumed bottle of open scotch)
  • Items intended for commercial or commercial purposes.
  • Items to be exported by freight
  • Accommodation (hotel expenses)

No more than SGD500 (US $ 320) in taxes per person will be refunded. Merchandise must be removed from Singapore within two months of purchase.

GST refund cannot be redeemed if departing Singapore by land or cruise.

For more details, check out these sites:

  • Singapore Customs – Tourist Refund Scheme
  • Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS)

For more information on shopping in Singapore, read these articles:

  • Singapore Big Sale: One Month of Reduced Price Shopping in Singapore
  • Money in singapore
  • Gallery of shopping malls in Singapore

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