The Singapore Tourist Refund Scheme: 6 Things to Remember


The dynamic city-state of Singapore offers visitors an array of experiences, including unparalleled shopping opportunities. The moment you arrive in the country, you immediately find yourself with a plethora of retail options. In the Changi Airport shopping mall alone, there are luxury boutiques, duty-free outlets, electronics stores, fashion boutiques, and souvenir shops. Once you explore the rest of the Lion City, you’ll discover world-class shopping malls, bustling markets, and vibrant street shopping districts. These places also boast a diverse selection of goods, from designer labels to local crafts.

Apart from the multiple retail choices, you can enhance your shopping experience while in Singapore by leveraging the Singapore Tourist Refund Scheme (STRS). Through this, you can claim a refund on the 9% Goods and Services Tax (GST) you paid for your purchases.

If you want to maximise your visit to Singapore shopping-wise, it’s best to understand the STRS. Here’s everything you need to know about the Singapore Tourist Refund Scheme, from eligibility criteria to refund options.

You Must Be Eligible

Before you can take advantage of the STRS refund, you must meet several criteria. One of them is that you must be a tourist holding a foreign passport. You must also be 16 at the time you’ve made the purchase and have been in Singapore for less than 365 days.

Additionally, you need to leave Singapore from Changi Airport or Seletar Airport. You won’t be eligible for a GST refund if you are leaving through the Causeway or sea.

Purchase from Participating Merchants

If you want to get a GST refund, you need to purchase from retailers participating in the STRS. You can identify them by the “Tax Free” logo or sign. Don’t worry because these retailers usually have the sign displayed prominently for tourists’ convenience. In case you don’t see any signs indicating tax-free shopping, you can check with the staff if your purchases are eligible for a GST refund.

Shop the Minimum Purchase Requirement

Whether or not you can claim a refund will depend on the amount you spent. For reference, only purchases of more than SGD 100 (including GST) at participating shops can be refunded. This doesn’t have to be a single purchase, though, because you can collate up to three receipts or invoices to meet the minimum purchase amount. However, keep in mind that (1) the purchases must be made the same day and (2) from shops bearing the same GST registration number and shop name.

Know the Goods Eligible for the Tourist Refund Scheme

There are many goods eligible for the Singapore Tourist Refund Scheme, provided that you will bring them out of Singapore within two months from the date of purchase. That said, keep in mind that some goods are excluded from the scheme.

In the case of goods consumed or used within Singapore, like food, beverages, and tobacco products, they’re ineligible for a refund. It’s the same for services such as hotel accommodation, transportation (e.g., taxi and bus fares), tour charges, and entertainment expenses.

Goods that are not intended for personal use or consumption are also excluded from the STRS. These can be purchases made for commercial purposes, resale, or as gifts for citizens or permanent residents of Singapore.

Claim Refunds at the Airport

You can claim your refunds at the airport before departing Singapore. To do so, you must first obtain a refund endorsement for your purchases at the electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS) self-help kiosks. These are conveniently located at the departure check-in hall and departure transit lounge of Changi Airport. At Seletar Airport, you can find eTRS kiosks at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority duty office.

At the kiosk, you’ll need to scan your passport and follow the instructions to apply for your GST refund. Depending on the outcome of your refund request, you may need to go to the Customs Inspection counter to have your purchases verified. Otherwise, you’re done with the process.

Choose from Different Refund Options 

After obtaining the refund endorsement, you can choose from three refund methods: cash, credit card, or cheque. With a cash refund, you can receive it in Singapore dollars and claim it at the central refund counter in the departure transit lounge of Changi Airport. If you are departing from Seletar Airport, the cash refund method is not available.

Alternatively, you can opt for a credit card refund. With this, the refunded amount is credited back to the same credit card used for the purchases within 10 days of the completion of your claims at the eTRS kiosk. This is quite convenient since you can proceed with boarding and won’t need to carry additional cash.

Compared to cash or credit card refunds, a cheque refund takes a bit longer to process, as you need to wait 14 days before a cheque with the refunded amount is mailed to you. You can complete the process of submitting your name and mailing address at the eTRS kiosk. That said, a cheque refund is available in both airports if this is the method you prefer.

The Singapore Tourist Refund Scheme offers a unique opportunity for travellers to enjoy substantial savings while indulging in Singapore’s vibrant shopping scene. So if you’ll be visiting Singapore anytime soon, keep in mind these details. Maximise the benefits of the GST refunds and elevate your Singapore shopping experience.



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1 Comment

  1. Teknik Telekomunikasi on

    How can tourists visiting Singapore enhance their shopping experience using the Singapore Tourist Refund Scheme (STRS) to claim a refund on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) paid for their purchases?
    Greeting : Telkom University

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