Ultimate Guide for Tourists to Claim Tax Refund in Singapore

Do you think claiming tax refunds are a hassle and not worth your time? Let me break down the easy steps for you.

Step 1: Ensure your eligibility

Step 2: Check if your purchases qualify for tax refund

Step 3: Request for tax refund at the retailers

Step 4: Proceed to Customs Inspection Counter at Airport for endorsement

Step 5: Proceed to the Central Refund Agency after immigration if you have opted for cash refund

Who’s eligible to claim tax refund?

Tourists who:

are not a Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident of Singapore;

have not spent more than 365 days in Singapore in the last 24 months before the date of your purchases;

have not been, at any time, employed in Singapore in the past 6 months before the date of your purchases;

are 16 years old or above at the time of purchase; and

are not a member of the crew, of the aircraft or ship on which you are departing Singapore.

How to qualify for tax refund?

If you have made purchases for goods:

above SGD100 (including GST). Accumulation of up to 3 same-day invoices/receipts from same retailer (bearing the same GST registration number) to meet this minimum purchase amount;

from GST refund participating retailers who usually display “Tax Refund” in their shops (no harm just to ask!);

unopened and unused;

not for business or commercial purpose; and

not exported by freight.

You must also be:

departing with the goods via Changi International Airport Departure Hall/ Seletar Airport Passenger Terminal/ Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore/ International Passenger Terminal at Harbourfront Centre within 2 months from the date of purchase;

Depart with the goods within 12 hours after obtaining approval of your GST refund; and

claiming the refund from the approved central refund counter operator within 2 months from the date of approval of the application.

What to do at the retail shop?

Ask the cashier for tax refund during payment of your purchases and you will also need to show your passport to prove eligibility. For some departmental stores e.g. Takashimaya, you may need to proceed to their customer service counters for the Tax Refund procedure. Remember to keep the original receipts and the goods unopened and unused.

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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.

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How much refund can I receive?

The GST in Singapore is 7%. However, you will not be getting the full 7% refund as there will be a handling fee for the refund service 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 you. For Global Blue Tax, the handling fee is estimated to be 2% if your purchase is SGD100. You can do your calculations here if the retailer is using Global Blue as the Central Refund Agency.

Before leaving for the airport

To ensure that you have enough time for the tax refund process, I will suggest packing of your GST eligible goods and receipts aside for easy retrieval. You may need to show the goods for inspection at the Customs Inspection Counter if there’s any issues during the tax refund request.

Also find out where the Customs Inspection Counter/eTRS self-help kiosks are located at your place of departure:

  • Changi International Airport Departure Check-in Hall (before departure immigration) and Departure Transit Lounge (after departure immigration) of Terminals 1, 2 and 3;
  • Seletar Airport, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) Duty Office;
  • Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 2M Mezzanine;
  • Singapore Cruise Centre at Harbourfront - Level 1 and Level 2

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.

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For more information, pls refer to below links:

> Tourist Refund Scheme (Singapore Customs)

> Guide for Visitors on Tourist Refund Scheme (86KB)

> Tourist Tax Refund Guide (2.75MB)

Also check out the videos on how to claim tax refund with eTRS:

https://youtu.be/YS9Gd1M2RR8

https://youtu.be/mR3nGkXbKqg

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