Tourist Refund Scheme (for retailers)

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;
  8. Undertake to comply with all conditions imposed by IRAS.

You can refer to the GST Guide on the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) (406KB) 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

    globalblue (jpg)

    Retailers affiliated with this agency display "Global Blue" sign in their shops.

    Website: http://www.globalblue.com/

     

  2. Premier Tax Free & Fintrax Payments (Asia) Pte Ltd

    premiertaxfree (jpg)

    Retailers affiliated with this agency display "Premier Tax Free" sign in their shops.

    Website: http://www.premiertaxfree.com/

     


  3. 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/

     

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 (eTRS) " (e-Tax Guide, 406KB) and is capable of transmitting data to Central Clearing House.

Filing GST Returns

You are required to charge GST to the tourist like on any other 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 Tickets

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

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 print the eTRS Ticket.

Filing GST Returns

You are required to charge GST to the tourist like on any other 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 Tickets

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

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 the 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 Tickets 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.

    For student pass holders, ensure the purchases are made in the last 4 months before the expiry date of his student pass.
  2. Check Departure Method

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

    For tourists departing from Singapore on an international cruise (excluding cruise-to-nowhere, round-trip cruise and regional ferry) from the following cruise terminals:

    1. Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore (MBCCS); or
    2. International Passenger Terminal at Harbourfront Centre.

    Check with the tourists that they are departing on the qualifying ships before issuing eTRS Tickets to the tourists and ensure that the tickets are only issued for purchases made before 1 July 2017*.

    * For tourists who are departing by these cruise terminals, TRS will only be available for their purchases made before 1 July 2017. These tourists have up to 2 months from their date of purchase to apply for the GST refunds. The eTRS facilities at the cruise terminals will be removed after 31 August 2017. Retailers who continue to issue the tickets on or after 1 July 2017 will be committing an offence under the GST (General) Regulations and can be penalised.

    Qualifying Ships


    The tables below listing the qualifying ships will be updated monthly until 31 August 2017. 

    Qualifying Cruise Ships for March 2017

    Arrival DateDeparture DateCruise TerminalVessel/Departure TimeOperation Hour for GST Refund Counter (On Departure Date)
    03/03/2017 04/03/2017 Habour Front CentrePacific Dawn/2:00 08:30 - 22:30 (On 03/03/2017) 
    03/03/2017 03/03/2017 Harbour Front Centre  Legend of the Seas/17:00 08:30 - 16:30 
    04/03/2017 04/03/2017 Harbour Front Centre Seabourn Sojourn/23:55 14:30 - 22:30 
    05/03/2017 07/03/2017 MBCCS Albatros/23:00 15:30 - 22:30 
    06/03/2017 07/03/2017 Harbour Front Centre Europa 2/15:00 08:30 - 14:30 
    06/03/2017 08/03/2017 Harbour Front Centre Crystal Symphony/18:00 10:30 - 17:30 
    07/03/2017 08/03/2017 MBCCSPacific Princess/18:00 10:30 - 17:30 
    09/03/2017 09/03/2017 MBCCS Norwegian Star/17:00 09:30 - 16:30 
    09/03/2017 10/03/2017 MBCCS Amsterdam/19:00 10:30 - 18:30 
    10/03/2017 10/03/2017 Harbour Front Centre AIDAbella/23:55 14:30 - 22:30 
    16/03/2017 16/03/2017 Harbour Front Centre Seven Seas Naviagator/23:00 15:30 - 22:30
    18/03/2017 20/03/2017 Harbour Front Centre Black Watch/16:30 09:00 - 16:00 
    22/03/2017 23/03/2017 Harbour Front Centre  Silver Whisper/17:00 09:30 - 16:30 
    22/03/2017 23/03/2017 MBCCSMein Schiff 1/19:0011:30 – 18:30
    24/03/201725/03/2017MBCCSArcadia/20:0011:30 - 19:30 
    25/03/201725/03/2017Harbour Front Centre Taipan/19:0010:30 - 18:30 
    27/03/201727/03/2017 Harbour Front Centre  Dawn Princess/22:00 14:30 - 21:30 
    30/03/2017 30/03/2017 MBCCS Mariner of the Seas/17:00 09:30 - 16:30 
    31/03/2017 31/03/2017 MBCCS Queen Elizabeth/19:0011:30 - 19:30 
    31/03/2017 31/03/2017 MBCCS Nautica/20:00 11:30 - 19:30
     

    Qualifying Cruise Ships for April 2017

    Arrival DateDeparture DateCruise TerminalVessel/Departure TimeOperation Hour for GST Refund Counter (On Departure Date)
    31/03/201701/04/2017International Passenger Terminal at Harbourfront Centre (Harbour Front Centre)Magellan/18:0009:30 - 17:30 
    01/04/201701/04/2017 Harbour Front Centre  Seabourn Encore/17:0009:30 - 17:30 
    01/04/2017 01/04/2017 Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore (MBCCS)Star Clipper/19:0010:30 - 18:30 
    01/04/201702/04/2017MBCCS Celebrity Constellation/20:0011:30 - 19:30 
    02/04/2017 03/04/2017 Harbour Front Centre Europa 2/18:0010:30 - 17:30 
    02/04/2017 02/04/2017MBCCS Costa neoRomantica/17:0011:30 - 19:30 
    04/04/201705/04/2017Harbour Front CentreArtania/18:0010:30 - 17:30 
    05/04/2017 06/04/2017MBCCS Diamond Princess/18:0010:30 - 17:30 
    07/04/201708/04/2017MBCCS Queen Mary 2/20:0011:30 - 19:30 
    09/04/201709/04/2017 Harbour Front Centre Azamara Journey/18:0009:30 - 17:30 
    11/04/201711/04/2017 Harbour Front Centre Seven Seas Naviagator/18:00 10:30 - 17:30
    13/04/201714/04/2017 Harbour Front Centre Insignia/18:00 09:30 - 17:30 
    14/04/201714/04/2017MBCCS Ovation of the Seas/18:00 09:30 - 17:30 
    18/04/2017 20/04/2017 Harbour Front CentreAIDAbella/17:0009:30 – 16:30
    21/04/201721/04/2017Harbour Front CentreOcean Dream/21:0012:30 - 20:30 
    22/04/201722/04/2017Harbour Front Centre Taipan/19:0010:30 - 18:30 
      1. 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 your customer the procedures of obtaining a refund and the handling fee for the refund service imposed by you (if any).
      2. Advise Tourist to Use One Credit/Debit Card as eTRS Token

        You should also advise the tourist to choose one credit/debit card to be used as an eTRS Token for the purpose of linking up the purchases made at the different retail shops participating in eTRS. 

        With a single credit/debit card as an eTRS Token, the tourist will be able to retrieve all his purchases at one go when applying for his GST refund via the eTRS self-help kiosk at the airport or cruise terminal. Payment can be made with any credit/debit card or cash.

      3. Issue the eTRS Ticket

        eTRS tickets should not be issued to tourists departing by international cruise for purchases made on or after 1 July 2017.

        Retailers who continue to issue the tickets will be committing an offence under the GST (General) Regulations and can be penalised.   
      4. You must issue an eTRS Ticket to the tourist eligible for GST refund at the point of sale. If the tourist does not use a credit/debit card as an eTRS Token, he can use the Ticket to apply for his refund claims at the self-help kiosk at the airport or cruise terminal. In the case of the cruise terminals, all claims must be made by 31 August 2017.

      Ensuring Customers Qualify as Tourists

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

      1. Not a Singapore citizen or permanent resident;
      2. Spend 365 days or less in Singapore in the last 24 months before the date of purchase;
      3. Have not been, at any time, employed in Singapore in the past 6 months before the date of purchase;
      4. Are not a member of the crew of the aircraft or ship on which you are departing from Singapore;
      5. Are 16 years of age or above at the time of purchase; and
      6. For student pass holders, they are purchasing the goods in the last 4 months before the expiry of their student passes.

      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. Spend at least SGD100 (including GST). Tourists may accumulate up to 3 same-day invoices/receipts from retailers bearing the same GST registration number to meet this minimum purchase amount;
      2. Apply for GST refund using the Token or eTRS Tickets at the eTRS self-help kiosk at the airport or cruise terminal;
      3. Depart with the goods within 2 months from the date of purchase either via:
        1. Changi International Airport Departure Hall / Seletar Airport Passenger Terminal or 
        2. Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore/ International Passenger Terminal at Harbourfront Centre;

        If tourists are departing on an international cruise (excluding cruises-to-nowhere, round-trip cruise and regional ferry) from the cruise terminal, GST refunds can only be claimed for purchases made before 1 July 2017. Also, the tourists must:

        1. Declare that he/she is exiting Singapore and will not return via the same voyage on the same ship, using his/her cruise itinerary as documentary proof of your departure; and
        2. Commit that he/she will not be returning to Singapore within 48 hours.
      4. Depart with the goods within 12 hours after obtaining approval of the GST refund;
      5. Claim the refund from the approved central refund counter operator within 2 months from the date of approval of the application; and
      6. If he/she is a student pass holder, he/she must have fulfilled all the above criteria, purchased the goods in the last 4 months before student pass expiry date and intend to depart with the goods and remain outside Singapore for a minimum period of 12 months.

      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;
      2. Seletar Airport; and/or
      3. International cruises (excluding cruise-to-nowhere, round-trip cruise and regional ferry):
        1. that depart from the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore and the International Passenger Terminal at Harbourfront Centre;
        2. where the final destination of the ship's voyage must not be Singapore; and
        3. where the voyage involves the ship returning to Singapore on one or more occasions, tourists may only claim GST refund on the ship's last departure from Singapore in that voyage.

        Claims at the cruise terminals can only be for purchases made prior to 1 July 2017. The eTRS facilities at the cruise terminals will be removed after 31 August 2017.

      Claiming GST Refunds under TRS

      To claim, tourists should use the eTRS self-help kiosks at the airport and cruise terminals.

      1. Present Documents
        1. eTRS Token;
        2. Original invoices / receipts; and
        3. Passport and travel documents.
      2. Make Declarations
        1. Declare eligibility for TRS; and
        2. Accept TRS conditions.
      3. Verify Purchases
        1. Swipe eTRS Token credit/debit card; or
        2. Scan barcode of each eTRS ticket.
      4. Choose Refund Method

        Changi International Airport:

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

        Seletar Airport, Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore or International Passenger Terminal at Harbourfront Centre:

        1. credit card refund; or
        2. bank cheque.
      5. Collect Notification Slips

        Collect the Notification Slip issued by the kiosk. Please check the status of your refund and instructions printed on the notification slip.

        If physical inspection of the goods is required, please present to Customs Inspection counter:

        1. your purchases/goods;
        2. original invoices/receipts;
        3. eTRS Tickets; and
        4. boarding pass/confirmed air ticket/confirmation slip showing the cruise itinerary.
      6. 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 cash refund at Changi International Airport, you may proceed to the GST Cash Refund counter in the Departure Transit Lounge (after Departure Immigration) with the approved Notification Slip to collect your cash.
        3. For bank cheques , you have to complete your particulars such as payee name and mailing address on the approved Notification slip and drop the slip into the designated cheque refund box provided. The bank cheque will be mailed to you 14 days from the date of deposit of the approved notification slip into the designated box.

      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 for tourists to obtain GST refund on goods that they have purchased 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 the tourist (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 given a Notification Slip informing him of the refund status.

      Tourists receive refunds by credit card, cash 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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