Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) for Businesses

GST-registered businesses may provide GST refunds to tourists as an independent retailer or by engaging the services of a Central Refund Agency. In either case, they need to do so under the electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS).

Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS)

Background on eTRS

eTRS, which connects multiple Central Refund Agencies and retailers on a single platform, offers tourists a seamless and hassle-free experience when they shop in Singapore and seek refunds for the GST paid before leaving Singapore.

Qualifying as Central Refund Agency or Retailer

To operate eTRS as a Central Refund Agency or Independent Retailer, businesses must:

  1. Be GST-registered;
  2. Have good tax compliance and payment records;
  3. Have good internal records and have proper accounting and record-keeping;
  4. Be processing at least 5,000 tourist refund claims per month on average over the last 12 months at the time of application;
  5. Have the necessary system that can operate in the eTRS environment;
  6. Engage the services of the Central Clearing House (CCH) and fulfil the related requirements;
  7. Engage the services of the Central Refund Counter (CRC) and fulfil the related requirements; and
  8. Undertake to comply with all conditions imposed by IRAS.

You can refer to the GST Guide on the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (Refund claims made on or after 4 Apr 2019) (1013KB) for more details, including the conditions that IRAS imposes.

Operating the Tourist Refund Scheme

Tourist Refund Scheme is a voluntary scheme. You may choose to operate the scheme under either of the two methods:

  1. Operate the scheme on your own as an Independent Retailer; or
  2. Engage the services of the Central Refund Agencies

Currently, there are 3 Central Refund Agencies in Singapore:

  1. Global Blue Singapore Pte Ltd

    Retailers affiliated with this agency display "Global Blue" sign in their shops. Website:  http://www.globalblue.com/

  2. Global Tax Free Pte Ltd
    globaltaxfree (jpg)
    Retailers affiliated with this agency display "Global Tax Free" sign in their shops. Website:  http://www.global-taxfree.com.sg/
  3. Tourego Pte Ltd

    Tourego logo compressed

    Retailers affiliated with this agency display "Tourego" sign in their shops.
    Website: http://www.tourego.com/

Technical System

When operating the electronic tourist refund system (eTRS) on your own as an independent retailer, you must ensure that the system setup for eTRS complies with the technical specifications as set out in  "GST Guide on the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (Refund claims made on or after 4 Apr 2019)" (1013KB) and is capable of transmitting data to Central Clearing House.

Filing GST Returns

You are required to charge GST to the tourist like any other local sales. The sales value and its corresponding GST have to be declared in Box 1 (total value of standard-rated supply) and Box 6 (Output tax due) of your GST return respectively.

Issuing eTRS transactions

You should follow the steps for Issuing eTRS transactions to Tourists (below) when issuing eTRS transactions.

Refunding to Customers

You must make a refund to your customer (including through an approved central refund counter operator) within 3 months after the date the application of the tourist for the refund is approved.

Claiming GST Refund from IRAS

After you have refunded the GST to your customer, you may claim the GST refund from IRAS by declaring the amount refunded in Box 7 (Input tax and refunds claimed) and Box 10 (Total value of tourist refund claimed) of your GST return for the accounting period in which the refund is made.

Technical System

The Central Refund Agency will provide you with the facility to issue the eTRS transaction.

Filing GST Returns

You are required to charge GST to the tourist like any other local sales. The sales value and its corresponding GST have to be declared in Box 1 (Total value of standard-rated supplies) and Box 6 (Output tax due) of your GST return respectively.

Issuing eTRS transactions

You should follow the steps for Issuing eTRS transactions to Tourists (below) when issuing eTRS transactions.

Refunding GST to Customers

The Central Refund Agency will refund the GST to customers.

Claiming GST Refund from IRAS

As the GST refund is made by the Central Refund Agency to your customer, you cannot claim any refund from IRAS.

You are not allowed to include the refund in Box 7 (Input tax and refunds claimed) and Box 10 (Total value of tourist refund claimed) of your GST return.

Issuing eTRS transactions to Tourists

  1. Verify that the Tourist is Eligible

    When tourist requests for a GST refund on his purchases, you must check the passport of the tourist to ensure that the tourist is eligible for GST refund under the Tourist Refund Scheme. A photocopy or an image of the passport is not acceptable.
  2. Check Departure Method
     

    You should also check with the tourist to ensure that he is departing from Singapore by air within 2 months from the date of purchase.

  3. Explain the Refund Claim Process

    If the tourist is eligible for the tourist refund, you should explain to the tourist the refund claim process under eTRS. 

    You should explain to the tourist the procedures of obtaining a refund and the handling fee for the refund service imposed by you (if any).
  4. You must issue an eTRS transaction to the tourist eligible for GST refund at the time of sale. The tourist can use his passport to apply for his refund claims at the self-help kiosk at the airport. 

Ensuring Customers Qualify as Tourists

To be eligible for GST refund, customers must be tourists. Tourists are those who meet the following criteria:

  1. He is 16 years of age or above on the date of the purchase;
  2. He is not a citizen or a permanent resident of Singapore;
  3. He is not a member of the crew of an aircraft on which he is departing Singapore; and
  4. He is not Specified Person -
    i.   on the date of the purchase;
    ii.  at any time within the period of 3 months immediately before the date of purchase; or
    iii. on the date he submits his claim for a refund of the GST charged on his purchases at the airport;

Specified Person refers to

A. an individual who has in force -  

(i) any work pass issued by the Ministry of Manpower (i.e. Work Permit, Training Work Permit, S Pass, Employment Pass, Training Employment Pass, Personalised Employment Pass, EntrePass, Work Holiday Pass, Miscellaneous Work Pass and Letter of Consent);
(ii) a Dependent's Pass;
(iii) a Long Term Visit Pass or Long Term Visit Pass Plus; or 
(iv) a Student's PAss; or

B. any of the following individual who has in force an Identification Card issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore and who is -

(i) a diplomat, consular officer, an administration, technical or service staff or other staff appointed to or employed in any foreign Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in Singapore;
(ii) a staff appointed to or employed in an International Organisation, Representative Office or Trade Office in Singapore; or 
(iii) a spouse or dependent child of any individual mentioned in B(i) and B(ii) above. 


IRAS takes a serious view of foreigners who wilfully make false declarations to seek GST refunds under the Tourist Refund Scheme or abuse the scheme.

Ensuring Tourists are Eligible for GST Refund

Only tourists that satisfy all the following conditions are eligible:

  1. Purchase the goods and request for an eTRS transaction from the retailer;
  2. Spend at least SGD100 (including GST). Tourists may accumulate up to 3 same-day invoices/receipts from retailers bearing the same GST registration number and shop name to meet this minimum purchase amount;
  3. Apply for GST refund using his passport at the eTRS self-help kiosk at the airports;
  4. Depart with the goods within 2 months from the date of purchase via Changi International Airport Departure Hall or Seletar Airport Passenger Terminal; 
    1. Depart with the goods within 12 hours after obtaining approval of the GST refund; and
    2. Claim the refund from the approved central refund counter operator within 2 months from the date of approval of the application.

    Ensuring Goods Qualify for GST Refund

    All goods on which GST is charged ("standard-rated goods") are eligible for refund except :

    1. Goods wholly or partly consumed in Singapore;
    2. Goods exported for business or commercial purposes;
    3. Goods that will be exported by freight; and
    4. Accommodation in a hotel, hostel, boarding house, or similar establishments

    Services are not eligible for GST refund under the Tourist Refund Scheme.

    Availability of TRS at Points of Departure

    TRS is available to tourists bringing purchases out of Singapore within two months from the date of purchase via:

    1. Changi International Airport; and/or
    2. Seletar Airport.  

    Claiming GST Refunds under TRS

    To claim, tourists should use the eTRS self-help kiosks at the airports. At the kiosk, they will be asked to:  

    1. Scan Their Passport
      1. Make Declarations
        1. Declare their eligibility for TRS; and
        2. Indicate if the accept TRS conditions.
      2. Verify Their Puchases

        Confirm the purchases which they are bringing out of Singapore, and are therefore eligible for claim.
        1. Choose Their Refund Method

          Changi International Airport:

          1. credit card refund; 
          2. Alipay refund; or
          3. cash refund.

          Seletar Airport: 

          1. credit card refund; 
          2. Alipay refund; or
          3. bank cheque.
        2. Check Outcome Of Their Refund Request 

          They will need to read carefully the outcome of their refund request shown on the kiosk. 

          If physical inspection of their goods is required, they are to present to the Customs Inspection counter:

          1. their purchases/goods;
          2. original invoices/receipts; and
          3. boarding pass/confirmed air ticket.
        3. Receive the Refund
          1. For credit card refund, the approved refund amount will be credited to the specified credit card within 10 days.
          2. For refund via Alipay, the refund will be paid immediately into the specified Alipay account. 
          3. For cash refund at Changi International Airport, they are to proceed to the GST Cash Refund counter in the Departure Transit Lounge (after Departure Immigration) with their passport. 
          4. For bank cheques at Seletar Airport, they will be required to complete their particulars such as payee name and mailing address on the slip printed out from the kiosk. Once the slip is dropped into the designated cheque refund box provided, the bank cheque will be mailed to them 14 days from the date of deposit of the slip.

        Enforcement on Fraudulent TRS Claims

        The eTRS system allows IRAS to detect any unusual claim promptly.

        IRAS takes a serious view of foreigners who wilfully make false declarations to seek GST refunds under the tourist refund scheme or abuse the scheme.

        Physical Inspection of Goods

        As a control measure, physical inspection of the goods may be carried out by Singapore Customs officers before a GST refund claim is approved.

        Enforcement Powers

        IRAS may exercise its enforcement powers to seize the goods and arrest the foreigners who attempt to fraudulently claim GST refunds.

        IRAS works closely with Singapore Customs to uncover such criminal syndicates that attempt to defraud GST.

        Strong enforcement measures, including prosecution, will be taken against such offenders. When convicted, offenders:

        1. May be liable to pay a penalty of up to three times the amount of tax refunded; and
        2. May be fined of up to $10,000 and/or jailed up to seven years.

        See past prosecution cases where offenders were convicted for their offence.

        The Tourist Refund Scheme is a separate scheme from Hand-Carried Export Scheme. For more information on zero-rating your supply under the Hand-Carried Export Scheme, please refer to Hand-Carried Exports 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.

        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 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 or 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 export permit (stamped 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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