Get A GST/VAT Refund When You Travel—Singapore

By | July 31, 2016

Get A GST/VAT Refund When You Travel—Singapore

Before catching a flight to your next dream destination, you need to plan a lot of things. Since it’s a dream come true, you’re already super excited and tend to forget a lot of stuff in the process. Most of us have a travel budget we try sticking to, each time we fly. But most of the time, while trying to get everything on our wish list and fulfilling the demands of our loved ones, we tend to cross the shopping limit. While we can’t help you stick to that budget, we can surely take some of your worries away by telling you everything about GST/VAT refunds in one of your favourite destinations—Singapore.

The Asia Pacific economy

When it comes to taxes like VAT and GST, although they have been an integral part of the European economy for over 50 years, they have only been around in the Asia Pacific region only from the past 10 to 20 years. The Asia Pacific region comprises of countries with extremely contrasting economical scenarios. While some of them are highly developed, like Australia, others are still running the race of becoming a developed nation, like Myanmar.

This contrast in terms of financial situation doesn’t at all change the fact that this region has an enormous growth potential.

Additional Reading: Get A VAT Refund When You Travel – Europe!

Singapore—A friendly city

Singapore is one of the seven most GST/VAT friendly cities in the world with a GST/VAT of 7 per cent. This implies that if you make a purchase of over S$100, you can claim a refund on the 7 per cent GST paid on your purchases.

Are you eligible for a refund?

As a tourist, you must fulfil the following criteria to be eligible for a GST/VAT refund:

  • In last 24 months before the date of purchase you spent 365 days or less in Singapore.
  • In the past 6 months, you’ve not been employed in Singapore.
  • The minimum age limit while making the purchase is 16 years.
  • The purchases must have been made within 2 months of applying for a refund.
  • The refund applies only on some products and not on everything you buy.
  • If you are a student, you need to claim the refund in the last 4 months before your student pass becomes invalid.
  • You need to spend at least 100 Singapore Dollars (SGD).

Things on which you can’t claim a VAT refund

  • Things that have been consumed in Singapore.
  • Things being exported for commercial purposes.
  • Hotel accommodation and car rental services.
  • Things to be exported by freight .
  • Any form of service.

Where can you apply for a refund?

You can approach the self-help Electronic Tourist Refund kiosks (eTRS) at Changi Airport. In case you’re applying before departure immigration, you can find the kiosk at the Departure Check-in Hall and in case it’s after departure immigration, you’ll get it at the Departure Transit Lounge.

What are the basic steps to follow while getting a refund?

The exact steps vary as per the refund rules of different countries, but here are some things that you need to get right before applying for a refund:

  • To initiate the refund process, you must always carry your passport along. It’s one of the most important documents you’ll need.
  • Before making a purchase, check if the store offers a GST-refund scheme or not. Most of the shops have a sign. But if you don’t see the sign, ask the shopkeeper.
  • With the eTRS, you don’t need to fill forms. You can just show your passport to the retailer so that they know you are eligible for the scheme.
  • Use one Credit or Debit Card as the eTRS token. This will help you gather all purchases in one go when you apply for a refund at the eTRS counter.
  • In case you are using another Credit or Debit card, ask the shopkeeper for an eTRS ticket. You can use this to claim the refund.
  • To get all your paperwork processed before leaving, you must carry all your purchases, receipts and eTRS token/ticket to the airport, without fail. If you forget to carry any of these along, you might be sabotaging your chance of getting a refund.
  • Don’t forget to get all your necessary documents reviewed and stamped at customs. In case you’re carrying your purchases in the check-in baggage, don’t forget to contact the customs officer prior to checking your baggage in.
  • After getting all the relevant documents duly stamped at the customs desk, present them at the refund service counters at the airport and collect your cash or request them to credit the same to your account.

How to file a claim?

Follow these extremely simple steps to file for your GST refund:

  1. If you’re at the airport terminal and the things you want to file a refund for are in your check-in baggage, you need to apply for the refund before checking your luggage in. Once you check those purchases in, you can’t file for a refund. But in case you’re carrying them in your cabin baggage, you need to approach the Departure Transit Area and apply for a refund using the eTRS kiosk.
  2. Once you’re at the kiosk, you need to swipe the Credit/Debit Card that you’ve chosen as the eTRS Token and the passport. You could also scan all your eTRS tickets individually to get all the purchase details.
  3. When it comes to receiving the refund, you could either choose to collect it as cash or get it credited to your account. If you choose to receive cash, you can get it from the Central Refund Counter in the Departure Transit Lounge using your notification slip. In case you’ve chosen to get it credited, it’ll take 10 days to get reflected in your account.

Next time you plan a visit to Singapore, don’t forget to follow all of the above listed steps to make your chances of getting a full GST/VAT refund possible.

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