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 4 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/
  4. Tourego Pte Ltd

    Tourego logo compressed

    Retailers affiliated with this agency display "Tourego" sign in their shops. This agency issues digital eTRS Tickets only. Visit its website for more information on its tourist refund solution. 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 (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/issue 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 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 your customer the procedures of obtaining a refund and the handling fee for the refund service imposed by you (if any).
  4. 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. Payment can be made with any credit/debit card or cash.

  5. You must issue an eTRS Ticket (paper or digital) 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 eTRS Ticket 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. Not Singapore citizens or permanent residents;
  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. Not members of the crew of the aircrafts on which they 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 (paper or digital) at the eTRS self-help kiosk at the airports;
  3. Depart with the goods within 2 months from the date of purchase via Changi International Airport or Seletar Airport; 
    1. Depart with the goods within 12 hours after obtaining approval of the GST refund;
    2. Claim the refund from the approved central refund counter operator within 2 months from the date of approval of the application; and
    3. 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; 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. Present Documents
      1. Passport and travel documents; 
      2. Original invoices / receipts; 
      3. Paper and/or digital eTRS Tickets; and 
      4. eTRS Token (where applicable).
    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: 

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

      They will collect the Notification Slip issued by the kiosk and check the status of their refund per the instructions printed on the Notification Slip.

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

      1. their purchases/goods;
      2. original invoices/receipts;
      3. eTRS Tickets; and
      4. boarding pass/confirmed air ticket.
    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, they may proceed to the GST Cash Refund counter in the Departure Transit Lounge (after Departure Immigration) with the approved Notification Slip to collect their cash.
      3. For bank cheques , they have to complete their 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 them 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 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.

    RATE THIS PAGE

    • Strongly Disagree
    • Strongly Agree

    Information is easy to understand.

    Information is useful.

    Information is easy to find.

     
    Please email us if you would like us to respond to your enquiries.