Providing International Services

Your services are considered international services if they fall within the provisions under Section 21(3) of the GST Act. International services are zero-rated (i.e. GST is charged at 0%). Depending on the nature of service, you may also need to determine the belonging status of your customer (i.e. whether your customer is a local person or an overseas person) before zero-rating your supply of services.

International Services

You may zero-rate your supply of services (i.e. charge GST at 0%) only if it falls within the description of international services under Section 21(3) of the GST Act .
It is important to note that not all services provided to overseas customers can be zero-rated.

Find out more information about international services in this extract of Section 21 of the GST Act (207KB).

Types of International Services

 
NoType of ServicesQualifying Criteria to Zero-RateGST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides 

1

(a) Media Sales

Place of circulation is substantially outside Singapore

S21(3)(u)

Webpage on Advertising services

GST: Treatment of Advertising Services (295KB)

 

(b) Media Planning

Services are provided contractually to and directly benefiting overseas person

S21(3)(j)

 

(c) Creative and Production Sales

Services are provided contractually to and directly benefiting overseas person

S21(3)(j)

 

(d) Brand Public Relations

Services are provided contractually to and directly benefiting overseas person

S21(3)(j)

 

(e) Event Organising

Event is held wholly outside Singapore; or
Services are provided contractually to and directly benefiting overseas person in his business capacity

S21(3)(i);S21(3)(k)

 
NoType of ServicesQualifying Criteria to Zero-RateGST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides

2

Co-location service in Singapore of computer server equipment (i.e. providing a physical environment for the operation of computer server equipment)

Services supplied:

  1. under a contract with an overseas person ; and
  2. which directly benefits an overseas person .

S21(3)(s)

GST Treatment of Web-Hosting Services and Server Co-location Services (253KB)

The following table provides details on types of services which will be regarded as international transport for goods and passengers:

NoType of ServicesQualifying Criteria to Zero-RateGST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides

3

International transport of passengers

Passengers must be transported:

  1. from Singapore to a place outside Singapore;
  2. from a place outside Singapore to Singapore; or
  3. from a place outside Singapore to another place outside Singapore.

From 1 Jul 2010, the international transport of passengers by sea qualifies for zero-rating:

  1. where the transporting vessel is bound for or returning from a fixed port of call outside Singapore, including
    • from a place outside Singapore to another place outside Singapore;
    • from a place in Singapore to a place outside Singapore; or
    • from a place outside Singapore to a place in Singapore.
  2. where the transporting vessel sails to or from international waters and the course of transportation occurs "substantially outside of Singapore".
  3. A course of transportation is considered "substantially outside Singapore" if travel in Singapore waters is only needed for departing to or returning from international waters.

S21(3)(a)

You are a local travel agent. Your customer buys a single air ticket for flights from Singapore to Japan and then to Los Angeles.

You may charge GST at 0% on the air tickets because it is a contract for international transport.

From 1 Jul 2010, "cruise-to-nowhere" packages, (i.e. cruises in international waters which do not dock at any port outside Singapore), will qualify for zero-rating.

GST: Travel Industry (150KB)

GST Guide for the Marine Industry - 2010 Budget Changes (489KB)

4

International transport of goods; and any transport of goods within Singapore (including handling, loading and unloading), being part of the international transport supplied by the same person or agent.

To qualify as international transport, the goods must be transported:

  1. from Singapore to a place outside Singapore;
  2. from a place outside Singapore to Singapore; or
  3. from a place outside Singapore to another place outside Singapore.

From 1 Jul 2010, the international transport of goods by sea qualifies for zero-rating:

  1. where the transporting vessel is bound for or returning from a fixed port of call outside Singapore, including
    • from a place outside Singapore to another place outside Singapore;
    • from a place in Singapore to a place outside Singapore; or
    • from a place outside Singapore to a place in Singapore.
  2. where the transporting vessel sails to or from international waters and the course of transportation occurs "substantially outside of Singapore".
  3. A course of transportation is considered "substantially outside Singapore" if the travel in Singapore waters is only needed for departing to or returning from international waters.

    Zero-rating also applies to the domestic transport of goods within Singapore if it is supplied as part of the international transportation of goods, and it is supplied by the same supplier. The supplier does not need to perform the domestic transport activities himself, but must be contracted to provide both the international and domestic leg of transportation.

    Zero-rating does not extend to domestic transport services provided to passengers.

S21(3)(a);
S21(3)(b)

You provide transport services from a warehouse in Singapore to the airport and then out of Singapore.

You may zero-rate the total value of transportation services (including the local transportation costs) since you are providing both international and domestic transportation services.

GST Guide for the Logistics Service Industry (536KB)

GST Guide for the Marine Industry - 2010 Budget Changes (489KB)

5

Services of the following description:

  1. Insuring or arranging for insurance; or
  2. Arranging for international transport.

Services must be in relation to the international transport of passengers or goods.

S21(3)(c)

Premiums / commissions for the following types of insurance:

  1. Marine cargo, Marine hull
  2. Aviation cargo, aviation hull
  3. Travel insurance (which is identifiable with journeys involving carriage of passengers or goods to and from Singapore)

GST Guide for the Logistics Service Industry (536KB)

GST: Guide for the Insurance Industry (Second Edition) (304KB)

 

NoType of ServicesQualifying Criteria to Zero-RateGST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides

6

Lease or hire of any type of transport for use outside Singapore throughout the period of lease

The transport is:

  1. exported by the lessor to such a place; or
  2. already outside Singapore at the time of the supply.

S21(3)(d)

You may zero-rate your leasing services if you lease trucks for use in Johor.

NoType of Services

Qualifying Criteria to Zero-Rate

GST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides

7

Services are any of the following:

  1. cultural, artistic, sporting, educational, or entertainment services,
  2. exhibition or convention services; or
  3. other services supplementary to those listed above. This includes organising the performance outside Singapore.

Services must be performed completely outside Singapore.

S21(3)(i)

An event management company charges a fee for organising a concert in Malaysia.

A management course entirely conducted in Beijing, China.

NoType of Services

Qualifying Criteria to Zero-Rate

GST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides

8

Services performed directly in connection with goods

Services must be directly in connection with goods for export and supplied to an overseas customer, at the time the services are performed.
Services must not include media sales under S21(3)(u).

S21(3)(g)

You provide engraving services for pewter vases to be exported to Australia. The service is billed to an overseas customer.

You provide domestic transport services to an overseas customer by collecting the goods from a local warehouse and delivering them to the airport for overseas export.

GST Guide for the Logistics Service Industry (536KB)
Clarification on 'Directly in Connection with' and 'Directly Benefit' (471KB)

9

Certain financial services supplied in connection with goods.
The full list of services can be found in the First Schedule of GST (International Services) Order. Please refer to paragraph (h) in the extract of Section 21 of the GST Act (207KB).

Services must be in connection with goods for export or goods that are moved from a place outside Singapore to another place outside Singapore (i.e. out-of-scope supplies of goods)

S21(3)(h)

An insurance company provides export credit insurance to company A to protect company A from non-payment by its overseas customer for goods exported.

GST Guide for the Insurance Industry (304KB)

NoType of Services

Qualifying Criteria to Zero-Rate

GST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides

10

Services made directly in connection with land or buildings.

These may include:

  1. Services made in the course of construction, repair, and maintenance of any building.
  2. Services provided by estate agents, auctioneers, architects, and engineers.

Services must be directly in connection with land or buildings located outside Singapore.
Services must not include media sales under S21(3)(u).

S21(3)(e)

An architect in Singapore provides design services for a building located in China.

An estate agent in Singapore sells a house in London.

GST: Construction Industry (English version) (273KB)

GST and the Construction Industry (Chinese version) (269KB)

11

Services performed directly in connection with goods.

Services must be directly in connection with goods located outside Singapore at the time the services are performed.
Services must not include media sales under S21(3)(u).

S21(3)(f)

A local company provides repair services for a computer network system in Malaysia.

NoType of Services

Qualifying Criteria to Zero-Rate

GST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides

12

Services supplied to overseas persons

The services must be supplied:

Services must not relate to land or goods in Singapore, other than goods referred to in S21(3)(g).

The overseas person must not be in Singapore at the time the services are performed.

Services must also not include media sales under S21(3)(u).

S21(3)(j)

You provide market research services on 'price of medical services' for an overseas company.

13

Services within the list of prescribed services:

  1. Services of engineers, accountants, lawyers and other similar consultancy services;
  2. Data processing and provision of information.
  3. The testing of a sample of goods that are taken from or form part of:
    • goods outside Singapore at the time the services are performed, or
    • goods for export outside Singapore;
  4. Handling, storage at, or transport of goods to or from the place of export to or import from, or handling or storage of such goods in connection with such transport
  5. Exhibition or convention services;
  6. Training or retraining for any business or employment;
  7. Services supplementary to, including the organising services referred to in sub-paragraphs (e) and (f).
  8. This list of prescribed services above cannot include any services related to accommodation and entertainment.

The prescribed services must be supplied:

For services (a) and (b) stated in the prescribed list, the services must not relate directly to any land or goods situated in Singapore.

Unlike S21(3)(j) above, your overseas customer can be in Singapore to receive these services.

S21(3)(k)

Example for (a) and (b):

You provide consultancy services on 'feasibility of conducting business in Singapore' to your overseas customer.
Example for (d):

If you supply transport and handling services to an overseas customer from the point of import (e.g. Free Trade Zone) to the warehouse that the goods were consigned, your transport and handling services can be zero-rated.

GST Guide for the Logistics Service Industry (536KB)

Example for (f) and (g):

You provide training (excluding formal education courses such as diploma, graduate and post-graduates courses) in Singapore for participants from all over the world (including Singapore). You may zero-rate your training fees to overseas companies who send their overseas staff to attend the course in Singapore.

Section 21(4)(a) of the GST Act defines an aircraft as one which is used or intended to be used:

  1. Not for recreation or pleasure; or
  2. For recreation or pleasure but is so used only for international travel.

International travel is defined as being:

  • From a place outside Singapore to another place outside Singapore
  • From a place in Singapore to a place outside Singapore
  • From a place outside Singapore to a place in Singapore

Section 21(4)(a) of the GST Act defines a ship as any ship, including an oil rig. There are three exceptions:

  • Any ship licensed as a passenger harbour craft or pleasure craft
  • A ship granted a vessel permit by the Public Utilities Board
  • Any ship designed or adapted for use for recreation or pleasure, and used within Singapore

For details, please refer to the e-Tax Guide on GST Guide for the Marine Industry - 2010 Budget Changes (489KB).

NoType of Services

Qualifying Criteria to Zero-Rate

GST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides 

14

Certain services in connection with:

 

  1. the handling of ships or aircraft, or
  2. the handling or storage of goods carried in the ship and aircraft.

 

 

The services are prescribed in the Third Schedule of GST (International Services) Order. 

Please refer to paragraph (l) in the  extract of Section 21 of the GST Act (207KB).

S21(3)(l)

Example for item no. 14: You provide handling and storage services within FTZs or designated areas for imported goods or goods to be exported. 

GST Guide for the Aerospace Industry

(928KB)

 

 

GST Guide for the Marine Industry - 2010 Budget Changes

(489KB)

GST Guide for Logistics Service Industry

(536KB) -

relevant only for item no. 14

 

15

Pilotage, salvage or towage services

 

S21(3)(m)

 

16

Services comprising the surveying or classification of any ship and aircraft for the purposes of any register

 

S21(3)(n)

 

17

Supply (including the letting and hire) of any ship or aircraft

The ship or aircraft is not leased for the purpose of providing the following services substantially in Singapore:

  1. transport of passengers,
  2. accommodation,
  3. entertainment,
  4. catering of food or beverages, or
  5. education services

S21(3)(o)

 

18

Certain services comprising the repair, maintenance, broking or management of any ship or aircraft

 

The services are prescribed in the Sixth Schedule of GST (International Services) Order. Please refer to paragraph (p) in the  extract of Section 21 of the GST Act (207KB).

S21(3)(p)

 

19

Supply (including the letting or hire) of qualifying aircraft parts

Aircraft parts must be parts and equipment designed and built for exclusive use on an aircraft.
They should be certified as airworthy by:

  1. a person certificated by a national civil aviation authority (for non-military aircraft); or
  2. the government owning that aircraft (for military aircraft)

S21(3)(x)

 
NoType of Services

Qualifying Criteria to Zero-Rate

GST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides

20

Certain services in connection with the provision of an electronic system relating to import and export of goods.

 

The services are prescribed in the Seventh Schedule of GST (International Services) Order. Please refer to paragraph (t) in the extract of Section 21 of the GST Act (207KB).

 

S21(3)(t)

You provide an electronic system through which the application of import/ export permits can be made. You may zero-rate the processing fee charged to customers who use your permit application system.

NoType of Services

Qualifying Criteria to Zero-Rate

GST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides

21

The qualifying services are:

  1. storage services;
  2. goods management services;
  3. services of holding an auction or exhibition of the goods;
  4. broking services and other similar services;
  5. conservation and restoration services;
  6. valuation services; and
  7. insurance services.

It includes services performed on the goods during the period in which the goods are removed from the warehouse under the Temporary Removal for Repair and Maintenance or for Auctions and Exhibitions , and returned to any warehouse under SWS after the event.

The qualifying services must be supplied:

  1. under a contract with an overseas person ; and
  2. which directly benefit an overseas person .

The services must be performed on qualifying goods stored in a warehouse under the Specialised Warehouse Scheme (SWS) :

  1. a work of art;
  2. an antique;
  3. an artefact;
  4. a collector's item;
  5. a precious metal (gold, silver, platinum, palladium);
  6. a precious stone (diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald);
  7. jewellery; or
  8. wine

according to the Ninth Schedule of the GST (International Services) Order.

For more information, refer to paragraph (y) in the extract of Section 21 of the GST Act (207KB).

S21(3)(y)

Specialised Warehouse Scheme and Zero-rating of Supplies (368KB)

The e-Tax guide also contains information on the zero-rating of a supply of storage space in a warehouse under SWS (e.g. the provision of 'private storage units'). This is regarded as a supply of goods, instead of storage services, for GST purposes.

NoType of ServicesQualifying Criteria to Zero-RateGST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides 

22

Sale and lease of air and sea containers

The containers:

  1. are used or to be used for international transportation of goods; and
  2. comply with the prescribed requirements in the Eight Schedule of GST (International Services) Order.

Please refer to paragraph (v) in the extract of Section 21 of the GST Act (207KB).

S21(3)(v)

GST: Zero-rating of Container Services and the Sale & Lease of Containers (259KB)

 

23

Certain services comprising the repair, maintenance or management of any air or sea containers.

The containers:

  1. are used or to be used for international transportation of goods; and
  2. comply with the prescribed requirements in the Eight Schedule of GST (International Services) Order.

Please refer to paragraph (w) in the extract of Section 21 of the GST Act (207KB).

S21(3)(w)

 
NoType of Services

Qualifying Criteria to Zero-Rate

GST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides

24

Certain services comprising the provision of telecommunications.

The services are prescribed in the Fifth Schedule of GST (International Services) Order. Please refer to paragraph (q) in the extract of Section 21 of the GST Act (207KB).

Services must comprise telecommunications transmitted:

  1. into and out of Singapore; or
  2. outside Singapore.

S21(3)(q)

You are a telecommunications company and provide auto roaming service and international calls.
Zero-rating Telecommunication and Related Services under Section 21(3)(q) (202KB)

NoType of Services

Qualifying Criteria to Zero-Rate

GST ActExamples & Relevant e-Tax Guides

25

Trust services in relation to a foreign trust

  1. a trustee of the foreign trust (including a trust company providing services in its capacity as trustee of the foreign trust); or
  2. a trust company to a trustee of the foreign trust

S21(3)(r)

 

Belonging Status of Customers

Under certain zero-rating provisions e.g. sections 21(3) (j), (k) and (s), you need to determine the belonging status of your customer, that is, whether your customer belongs to a country outside Singapore, before you can zero-rate your services. Your customer can be either an individual or a business.

Customer is an Individual

Your customer will be treated as belonging in Singapore if his usual place of residence is in Singapore during the period of service. For GST purposes, an individual should have only one usual place of residence at any point in time.

The "usual place of residence" means:

  • The individual stays in that country voluntarily and for a settled purpose (e.g. to pursue a course of study or employment)
  • The individual's stay in that country has some degree of continuity apart from temporary or occasional absence, and is part of the regular and habitual pattern of his life

The Comptroller of GST may regard the residential address of an individual as his "usual place of residence". If your customer has a Singapore residential address, he will, for GST purposes, be regarded as belonging in Singapore.

These are cases where an individual stays overseas to study or work and he has more than one residential address. From 1 Apr 2010, the Comptroller of GST may regard the individual as belonging overseas when all of the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. He is absent from Singapore for a continuous period of at least one year. Any temporary return to Singapore for vacation or other reasonable purposes is acceptable.
  2. He stays at a fixed place in the overseas country.
  3. Where he is working overseas, his overseas assignment must not be related to his employment in Singapore. For example, an individual sent to work overseas by his local employer will not satisfy this condition and he will be treated as belonging in Singapore.
  4. If your customer meets all these conditions, he is treated as belonging overseas for the entire duration of his overseas stay.

Your customer will be treated as belonging in Singapore when:
  • It has a business establishment or some fixed establishment in Singapore and nowhere else.
  • It is legally constituted in Singapore (e.g. company incorporated in Singapore) and has no business or fixed establishment in any other country.
  • It has establishments both in Singapore and outside of Singapore but services are most directly used or to be used at the establishment in Singapore.

This is the place from which the business is run. If your customer runs a business through a branch in Singapore, he will be treated as having a business establishment in Singapore.

A fixed establishment is an establishment, other than the business establishment, that has both the technical and human resources necessary to provide or receive services on a permanent basis.

Example
Company A is incorporated in Japan. It has no branch in Singapore. However, it has an office and staff in Singapore to help provide support services to its Singapore customers. This office and staff are considered a fixed establishment in Singapore.
  • I provide medical services to a foreign individual in Singapore. Can I zero-rate my services since the individual is an overseas person?

    No. Under section 21(3)(j) , the services must be provided to an overseas person who is not in Singapore at the time the services are performed. Not all services provided to an overseas person can be zero-rated.
  • I am engaged by a local company to perform my consultancy services overseas. My services are performed completely outside Singapore. Can I zero-rate my services?

    Services performed completely outside Singapore may only be zero-rated if it falls within the list of services described in section 21(3)(i) . Consultancy services do not fall within the list of services . Hence, you should standard-rate your consultancy services.

    Exceptions:

    1. If your services are directly in connection with land or building located outside Singapore , you may zero-rate your services under section 21(3)(e) .
    2. If your services are directly in connection with goods located outside Singapore at the time services are performed, you may zero-rate your services under section 21(3)(f) .

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