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For GST-registered businesses

With effect from 1 April 2009, the Hand-Carried Exports Scheme (HCES) is applicable if you wish to zero-rate your supply to overseas customer for goods hand-carried out of Singapore via Changi International Airport.

On this page:
Hand-carried exports which HCES does not apply
How does HCES work?
Charging of GST and reporting the sale
Exemption from HCES
Tourist Refund Scheme vs. Hand-Carried Exports Scheme

Hand-carried exports which HCES does not apply

This scheme does not apply to goods hand-carried out of Singapore via:

  • Sea;
  • Land; or
  • Seletar Airport

To zero-rate the supply of goods hand-carried out of Singapore via the above routes, you need to maintain all the export evidence as required in GST: A Guide on Exports (840KB).  
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 How does HCES work?

  1. Take up an export permit

    You must take up a valid export permit (OUT Permit or Cargo Clearance Permit) via TradeNet®  for the goods that will be hand-carried out of Singapore via Changi International Airport. This is regardless of the value and quantity of goods. You may subscribe for TradeNet® or appoint a TradeNet® declaring agent (e.g. your freight forwarder) to declare for the export permit.

  2. Present the goods for inspection at the airport

    The person bringing the goods out of Singapore (the carrier) must present the goods to Singapore Customs at the airport for inspection with the valid export permit, supporting invoice and his proof of intention to leave Singapore (e.g. boarding pass or confirmed air-ticket). Singapore Customs will endorse on the export permit if everything is in order.

  3. Bring the goods out of Singapore

    The carrier must bring the goods with him in his hand-carry or check-in luggage out of Singapore within 12 hours after getting the endorsement on the export permit.

  4. The carrier returns the endorsed export permit

    To qualify for zero-rating, you must receive the endorsed export permit within 60 days from the date of supplying the goods.

  5. Maintain documents to support the zero-rating of the hand-carried exports

    You must maintain the following documents to support your zero-rating of the hand-carried export under the scheme:

    • Copy of endorsed export permit
    • Copy of invoice/ tax invoice issued for the goods sold
    • A list of invoices/ tax invoices and export permits issued under the scheme
    • Evidence of payment made to overseas customer for the refund of GST that was previously charged at the time of sale (if you charged GST at the time of sale and made a refund to your customer after receiving the endorsed export permit)

For more information, please refer to GST: Guide on Hand-Carried Exports Scheme (616KB).  
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Charging of GST and reporting the sale

You have the following options:

  1. You charge and collect GST from your customer at the time of sale. An invoice/ tax invoice should be issued. Upon receipt of the endorsed export permit within 60 days from the date of sale, you should refund the GST charged (less any administrative fee imposed by you) to your overseas customer.
  2. You do not charge GST to your overseas customer at the time of sale.

At the time of filing your GST return

Your declaration of the hand-carried sale would depend on whether you have received the endorsed export permit. 

 

Option 1:
Charge GST at time of sale
Option 2:
Do not charge GST at time of sale

You have received the endorsed export permit

  • Report the sale as a zero-rated supply (Box 2)

Conditions:

  • Export permit is endorsed by Singapore Customs and received within 60 days from the date of your supply.
  • You have refunded the GST to your customer.
  • You maintain all documents to support zero-rating under the scheme.

You have received the endorsed export permit 

  • Report the sale as a zero-rated supply (Box 2)

Conditions:

  • Export permit is endorsed by Singapore Customs and received within 60 days from the date of your supply.
  • You maintain all documents to support zero-rating under the scheme.

You have not received the endorsed export permit

  • Report the sale as standard-rated supply (Box 1)
  • Account for the output tax (Box 6)

If you receive the endorsed export permit subsequently, you can claim back the output tax previously accounted for to IRAS. In the GST return for period which GST was refunded:

  • Report the sale as zero-rated supply (Box 2)
  • Reduce the value of sale from “Total value of standard-rated supplies” (Box 1)
  • Reduce the GST refunded from “Output tax due” (Box 6)

Conditions:

  • Export permit is endorsed by Singapore Customs and received within 60 days from the date of your supply.
  • You have refunded the GST to your customer.
  • You maintain all documents to support zero-rating under the scheme.

You have not received the endorsed export permit

  • Report the sale as a zero-rated supply provisionally
  • To maintain all documents to support zero-rating under the scheme

However, if you do not receive the endorsed export permit within 60 days from the date of your supply, you should:

  • Report the sale as standard-rate supply (Box 1)
  • Account for output tax using the tax fraction of 7/107

In situation where you had provisionally reported it as zero-rated supply, you may need to make an adjustment by filing GST F7.

 
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Exemption from HCES

If you are unable to present the goods for inspection due to certain commercial reason, you may apply to be exempted from the scheme by submitting the application form GST F17: Application for Exemption from Hand-Carried Exports Scheme (71KB) to the Comptroller of GST. Please refer to GST: Guide on Hand-Carried Exports Scheme (616KB) for more details.
  
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Tourist Refund Scheme vs. Hand-Carried Exports Scheme

The Tourist Refund Scheme is a separate scheme from Hand-Carried Exports Scheme. For more information on operating the Tourist Refund Scheme, please refer to Tourist Refund Scheme.
 

Tourist Refund Scheme Hand-Carried Exports Scheme

This scheme allows tourists to obtain GST refund on goods that they have purchased from participating retailers in Singapore and brought out of Singapore via the airports or cruise terminals.

 

This scheme is applicable if you wish to zero-rate (i.e. charge GST at 0%) your supply to your overseas customer for goods that are hand-carried out of Singapore via Changi International Airport.

Your customer is a bona fide tourist who satisfies all eligibility criteria under the scheme.

Your customer is an overseas person who has business establishment or whose usual place of residence is outside Singapore.

For example, you should use the Hand-Carried Exports Scheme if you are selling to an overseas company.

The person bringing the goods out of Singapore must be the tourist (i.e. your customer). 

The person bringing the goods out of Singapore can either be you or your overseas customer. It can also be someone who is authorized by you or your overseas customer (e.g. employee).

At the time of sale, you need to charge GST to your customer. 

The tourist who wish to seek a refund on his purchases, may apply for his refund via the eTRS self-help kiosk.

After the tourist has completed the refund request via the self-help kiosk or at Singapore Customs Inspection counter, he will be given a Notification Slip informing him of the refund status. All the refunds will be processed by the Central Refund Counter (CRC).

The tourist can proceed to the Central Refund Counter in the Departure Transit Lounge (after Departure Immigration) of Changi International Airport to collect his cash if he chooses cash refund. For credit card refunds, the refund will be made directly to the specified credit card and he does not need to go to CRC.  Tourists departing via Seletar Airport or cruise terminals will receive their GST refund claims via credit card or bank cheque. 

At the time of sale, you may choose to charge GST or zero-rate your supply.

If you choose to zero-rate your supply, you must obtain the export permit (endorsed by Singapore Customs) within 60 days and all required documents to support the zero-rating of your supply.

If you choose to charge GST to your overseas customer, there is no facility to obtain GST refund at Changi International Airport.

You do not need to declare any export permit.

You need to declare a valid export permit for the goods that will be hand-carried out of Singapore.

  

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FAQs

The person bringing the goods out of Singapore (the carrier) must be 16 years old or above at the time of presenting the goods to Singapore Customs at the airport.  He can be the supplier, the overseas customer or a person who is authorized by the supplier or the overseas customer (e.g. employee).


No, the Hand-Carried Exports Scheme only applies to goods that are sold to overseas customers. As you are selling and delivering goods to a local customer, you must charge GST on this local sale.


 

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Last Updated on 3 January 2014


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