Tourists in Singapore may use the Tourist Refund Scheme to receive a GST refund on purchases made while there. If all necessary criteria are fulfilled, the tourist only needs to go to a Singapore airport and complete the process there.

Tourist Refund Scheme

The Tourist Refund Scheme connects Central Refund Agencies and participating retailers on a single platform. Under the Tourist Refund Scheme, tourists in Singapore who meet certain criteria may claim a refund of the 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST) paid on their purchases of at least S$100.

Eligible tourists are entitled to up to three same-day receipts and invoices from shops with the same GST registration number to meet the S$100 requirement. However, goods that have already been used or consumed in Singapore, goods which are to be exported for commercial purposes, goods to be exported by freight, and accommodation and any related services are ineligible for the refund.

A person is classified as a tourist who is allowed to apply for the GST refund if the following criteria are fulfilled: being neither a citizen nor a permanent resident of Singapore, spending 365 days or less in Singapore during the 24-month period before the date of purchase, not having been employed in Singapore during the 6-month period before the date of purchase, not being a member of the crew of the aircraft being used to leave Singapore, being at least 16 years old at the time of purchase, and having purchased all relevant goods in the four-month period before the expiry of the person’s student pass if the person holds one.

The Tourist Refund Scheme is available to any tourists bringing purchases made in Singapore out of the country as long as two conditions are fulfilled. The first is that the tourist must be leaving Singapore within two months from the date of purchase. The second is that the tourist must leave Singapore via either Changi Airport or Seletar Airport.

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Businesses and the Tourist Refund Scheme

Businesses also play important roles in the exercising of the Tourist Refund Scheme. To participate in the Tourist Refund Scheme, a business must be GST-registered; have good tax compliance, payment, and internal records; have proper accounting and record-keeping; be able to process at least 5,000 tourist refund claims per month on average over the 12-month period preceding the time of application; have the necessary system to conduct Tourist Refund Scheme operations, engage the services of the Central Clearing House (CCH) and Central Refund Counter (CRC) and fulfil all related requirements; and comply with all conditions imposed by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

The participation of businesses in the Tourist Refund Scheme is voluntary. Shops with a “Tax Free” sign displayed are participating in the Tourist Refund Scheme. Businesses may take part in the Tourist Refund Scheme either by operating as an independent retailer or by working with any of three Central Refund Agencies. Central Refund Agencies in Singapore include Global Blue Pte Ltd, Global Tax Free Pte Ltd, and Tourego Pte Ltd.

The amount of money that a tourist receives on a GST refund is always less than the amount of GST the tourist paid on the relevant purchases. This is because there will be a handling fee charged for the refund service provided by the Central Refund Agency, retailer, or operator of the CRC.