You can charge GST at 0% for your supply of goods when you are certain that at the point of supply (based on the time of supply for exports) :
- The goods supplied will be exported or have been exported; and
- You have the required documents to support zero-rating.
Based on the export arrangement for the supply of goods, please review which scenario of Guide on Exports (Seventh Edition) (PDF, 717KB) the arrangement falls within to determine the relevant list of documents that suppliers must maintain in order to support any zero-rating of the supply.
Time of Supply for Exports
For the purpose of zero-rating, the time of supply occurs at the earlier of the following events:
- When an invoice is issued
- When payment is received
Direct and Indirect Exports
A. Direct Exports
- You have custody of the goods to be exported; and
- You control the export arrangement.
Direct exports may be zero-rated if the required documents to support zero-rating are maintained within 60 days.
Examples of Direct Exports
The scenarios listed below are some examples of direct exports:
- You export the goods via your freight forwarder/handling agent/postal or courier company and invoice your overseas customer.
- You export the goods via your freight forwarder/handling agent upon instruction of your local customer and invoice your local customer.
- Your goods are consolidated by your freight forwarder/handling agent before the goods are exported and you invoice your overseas customer.
Please refer to the GST: A Guide on Exports (PDF, 717KB) for other direct export scenarios and required documents to support zero-rating for each scenario.
B. Indirect Exports
Unlike direct exports, indirect exports occur when:
- You do not have custody of the goods to be exported; and
- You have no control over the export arrangement.
You must treat the sale as a local supply and charge GST accordingly.
Exceptions for Indirect Exports
You can only zero-rate the supply of goods if you are certain at the time of supply that all the goods will be exported and the required documents to support zero-rating can be maintained within 60 days.
Examples of Indirect Exports
The scenarios listed below provide examples of indirect exports:
- You invoice your overseas customer and deliver the goods to the freight forwarder/handling agent appointed by your overseas customer.
- You invoice the overseas customer and instruct your local supplier to deliver the goods to the overseas customer.
Please refer to GST: A Guide on Exports (PDF, 717KB) for other indirect export scenarios and required documents to support zero-rating for each scenario.
60-Day Rule for Exported Goods
When exporting goods, you have up to 60 days from the time of supply to export the goods and collate the required export documents.
If you are unable to export the goods or obtain all documents within the 60-day period, you will have to standard-rate the supply of goods and charge GST.There are some exceptions to the 60-day rule. You can refer to the GST: A Guide on Exports(PDF, 717KB) for more information.
Documents to Support Zero-Rating
To zero-rate your exports, you are required to maintain the relevant export evidence. Please maintain all transaction and transport documents as listed below.
- Delivery note/packing list endorsed by the freight forwarder/handling agent with:
- a statement stating that "goods delivered are for export"
- name, address and GST registration number. (if applicable) of the freight forwarder/handling agent
- date of collection of goods
- Evidence of payment received from your customer
- Insurance documents (if applicable) with details of the shipment
- Purchase order from your customer
- Sales invoice to your customer
- Written instructions from your customer to deliver the goods to his freight forwarder/handling agent (for indirect exports)
- Any other documents specified by the Comptroller in the GST: A Guide on Exports (PDF, 717KB)
For exports via sea or air
Bill of lading/airway bill/cargo manifest/mate's receipt or subsidiary export certificate/note of shipment issued by freight forwarder/handling agent
For exports via land
Export permit or subsidiary export certificate/note of shipment issued by freight forwarder/handling agent
Any other documents specified by the Comptroller in the GST: A Guide on Exports (PDF, 717KB)
Common errors on output tax
Learn about the qualifying conditions and the requisite documents to maintain in order for you to zero-rate your export of goods by watching the “Exports” chapter (at 1:04min) of this video! You may click here for more videos on commonly made output tax errors.
Other Export Scenarios
Hand-Carried Export Scheme (HCES)
The Hand-Carried Export Scheme or HCES is compulsory for all GST-registered persons who export their goods by hand-carrying them out of Singapore via Changi International Airport and want to zero-rate the goods being carried out.
For more information, please refer to Hand-Carried Exports Scheme .
Supplies to Aircrafts
You may zero-rate supplies of stores, fuel and merchandise (for sale by retail to persons on the aircraft) to an aircraft.
For more information, please refer to the GST Guide for the Aerospace Industry (PDF, 251KB).
Supplies to Ships
You may zero-rate the sale or lease of goods where the Comptroller is satisfied that the goods are:
- For use as stores or fuel on a ship
- For installation on a ship or a ship under construction
- For use in the maintenance or operation of a ship
- For sale by retail as merchandise to persons carried on a ship
For more information, please refer to the e-Tax guide on GST Guide for the Marine Industry (PDF, 297KB).
Do I need to issue tax invoices for my zero-rated supplies?
You may issue a tax invoice or other document to notify an obligation to pay (e.g. commercial invoice) for your zero-rated supplies. If you choose to issue a tax invoice, you are required to indicate that GST is charged at 0% on the tax invoice.
Must I apply for export permit before exporting the goods?
Yes. From 1 Apr 2013, Singapore Customs requires all declarations to be submitted before the goods are exported, including non-controlled and non-dutiable goods exported by sea and air.
Singapore Customs has termed this requirement as Advance Export Declaration.
For details on import and export documentation procedure, please refer to the Singapore Customs website .
What happens if I do not maintain the required export documents as specified in the e-Tax Guide on Export?
You must standard-rate the supply and account for GST based on the prevailing GST rate.
What if I have lost or misplaced my export documents?
You should obtain a duplicate copy from the issuer of the documents. The replacement document must be marked "COPY - For GST purposes" and be dated and authenticated by an official of the issuing company.
Can I zero-rate the supply if the details of the goods shown on the export documents (e.g. export permit) do not match with the details shown on other documents (e.g. the invoice issued to my customer)?
You are required to standard rate the supply as there is no proof that the goods you sold are those that were exported.
I deliver the goods to my customer locally (not to his appointed freight forwarder/handling agent) for subsequent export by my customer. Do I have to charge my customer GST for the sale of goods?
Yes, you are required to charge GST on the local sales made to your customer. This is because when goods are delivered to your local customer or collected by the customer himself, you cannot be certain that the goods supplied will be exported at the time of supply. Even though you might be able to obtain the required export evidence subsequently, you cannot zero-rate the supply of goods to your customer.
My overseas customer (Y) has appointed a local freight forwarder/handling agent (Z) to consolidate and export their goods. If I deliver my goods to Z for consolidation before exporting the goods to Y, can I zero-rate my supply when I invoice Y?
As you do not have custody of the goods nor control over the export arrangement, you should charge GST on the supply of goods. However, if you are certain that all the goods will be exported at the time of supply, you can zero-rate your supply to Y. You must also maintain all the export evidence required for your relevant scenario in GST: A Guide on Exports (PDF, 717KB).
I sell goods to an overseas person but the goods are delivered to a local person who is an employee of the overseas company. The goods will eventually be hand-carried out of Singapore. Do I have to charge GST on the sale of the goods?
To zero-rate, you must maintain the required export evidence listed in:
- GST: Guide on Hand-Carried Exports Scheme (Fourth Edition) (PDF, 332KB) for hand-carried exports via Changi International Airport with effect from 1 April 2009; or
- GST: A Guide on Exports (PDF, 717KB) for hand-carried exports via:
- Seletar Airport;
- Sea; or
- Seletar Airport;