Hand-Carried Exports Scheme (HCES)

The Hand-Carried Exports Scheme (HCES) is applicable if you wish to zero-rate your supplies to overseas customers for goods hand-carried out of Singapore via Changi International Airport.

Scope of HCES

HCES does not apply to goods hand-carried out of Singapore by:

  1. Sea;
  2. Land; or
  3. Seletar Airport.

To zero-rate the supply of goods hand-carried out of Singapore via the above routes, you must maintain all the export evidence as required in GST: Guide on Exports (665KB).

Using HCES

  1. Obtain an export permit
  2.  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 register for a TradeNet account or appoint a declaring agent (e.g. your freight forwarder) to declare for the export permit.

  3. Present the goods for inspection at the airport
  4. The person bringing the goods out of Singapore (the carrier) must present the goods to Singapore Customs at the airport for inspection with:

    1. valid export permit
    2. supporting invoice; and
    3. proof of intention to leave Singapore (e.g. boarding pass or confirmed air-ticket).

    Singapore Customs will endorse the export permit if the above are in order.

  5. Bring the goods out of Singapore
  6.  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 from Singapore Customs.

  7. Maintain required documents
  8. You must maintain the following documents within 60 days from time of supply to support your zero-rating of the hand-carried export under HCES:

    1. Copy of the invoice/ tax invoice issued to the overseas customer for the goods sold;
    2. Endorsed export permit(s)/ export permit(s) with digital clearance;
    3. Evidence of payment received from the overseas customer; and
    4. Evidence of payment made to overseas customer for the refund of GST that was previously charged and collected from the customer at the time of sale, where applicable1

    For more information, please refer to GST: Guide on Hand-Carried Exports Scheme (342KB). 

    1This is relevant for instances where the supplier has previously standard-rated the supply and subsequently made a refund of GST to the customer upon receiving the export permit that contains the original endorsement of Singapore Customs/ digital clearance.

     

New Digital Service for Endorsing HCES Permits

In October 2018, Singapore Customs launched a new HCES digital service, which allows businesses to receive an electronic copy of the clearance status of the goods inspected through the Networked Trade Platform (NTP). The electronic copy of the clearance status of the goods (hereinafter referred to as "digital clearance") serves as the endorsement of the HCES permit and replaces the physical endorsement of the export permit.

Businesses are encouraged to subscribe to the HCES digital service, which is the default processing method for endorsing HCES permits from 1 August 2019. In the interim, businesses that have yet to subscribe for the HCES digital service will continue to have their export permits physically endorsed by Singapore Customs. For more information on the HCES digital service, please refer to Singapore Customs' Notice 06/2019 at https://www.customs.gov.sg.

Charging of GST at the Time of the Sale

You should issue an invoice/ tax invoice. Upon receipt of the endorsed export permit/ digital clearance within 60 days from the time of supply, you should refund the GST charged (less any administrative fee imposed by you) to your overseas customer.

  1. You have received the endorsed export permit/ digital clearance

    Reporting of Sale in GST Return:

    You should report the sale as a zero-rated supply (Box 2).

    Conditions:

    1.  You have refunded the GST to your overseas customer; and
    2. You maintain all required documents within 60 days from time of supply to support the zero-rating under the scheme.
  2. You have not received the endorsed export permit/ digital clearance

    Reporting of Sale in GST Return:

    1. Report the sale as a standard-rated supply (Box 1); and
    2. Account for the output tax (Box 6).

    When you receive the endorsed export permit/ digital clearance subsequently:

    You can claim back the output tax previously accounted to IRAS. In the GST return for the period in which you wish to claim back the output tax, you should:

    1. Report the sale as a zero-rated supply (Box 2);
    2. Reduce the value of sale from "Total value of standard-rated supplies" (Box 1); and
    3. Reduce the GST refund amount from "Output tax due" (Box 6).

    Conditions:

    1. You have refunded the GST to your overseas customer; and
    2. You maintain all required documents within 60 days from time of supply to support the zero-rating under the scheme.

Not Charging GST at the Time of the Sale

  1. You have received the endorsed export permit/ digital clearance

    Reporting of Sale in GST Return:

    You should report the sale as a zero-rated supply (Box 2).

    Condition:

    1. You maintain all required documents within 60 days from time of supply to support the zero-rating under the scheme.
  2. You have not received the endorsed export permit/ digital clearance 

    Reporting of Sale in GST Return:

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

    When you do not receive the required export documents within 60 days from the time of supply, you should:
    1. Report the sale as a standard-rate supply (Box 1); and
    2. Account for output tax using the tax fraction of 7/107 (Box 6); and
    3. Reduce the amount reported provisionally as "Total value of zero-rated supplies" (Box 2).

    If you had included the transaction as zero-rated supply in your GST return, you may need to make an adjustment by filing a GST F7.

    If you received the endorsed export permit after 60 days from the time of supply due to unforeseen circumstances and wishes to zero-rate your supply of goods, please write to the Comptroller of GST for prior approval, which may be granted on a case-by-case basis.

     

Applying for Exemption from HCES

If you are unable to present the goods to Singapore Customs for inspection due to certain commercial reasons, you may apply to be exempted from the HCES.

To apply for exemption, you should submit the application form GST F17: Application for Exemption from Hand-Carried Exports Scheme (406KB) to the Comptroller of GST.

For details, please refer to GST: Guide on Hand-Carried Exports Scheme (342KB).

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 SchemeHand-Carried Exports Scheme

This scheme is for tourists to obtain GST refund on goods that they have purchased in Singapore and brought out of Singapore via the airports.

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.

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

The person bringing the goods out of Singapore can either be you, your overseas customer, or someone either of you have authorised (e.g. your customer's employee).

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

After the tourist has completed the refund request at the self-help kiosk at Singapore Customs Inspection counter, he will be notified if his refund is approved.

Tourists can receive refunds by credit card, cash, Alipay or bank cheques. All refunds are processed by the Central Refund Counter (CRC).

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 endorsed export permit/ digital clearance and all other required documents within 60 days from the time of supply 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 an export permit for the goods that will be hand-carried out of Singapore.

  • Who can hand-carry the goods out of Singapore under the Hand-Carried Export Scheme?

    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).

  • If I sell goods to a local customer who says that he will be hand-carrying the goods out of Singapore via Changi International Airport, can I zero-rate my supply to him under the Hand-Carried Exports Scheme?

    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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