The “VAT” in this case refers to “Value Added Tax” and is also known as GST (Goods & Services Tax) in Singapore. The Goods & Services Tax was introduced to Singapore as a form of value added tax levied on the import of goods (except for real estate) and the supply of services. Since July 2007, it is pegged at 7% of the price of the goods or services rendered.
I am a tourist visiting Singapore? Am I able to make any tourist tax refund claims?
The Tourist Refund Scheme entitles all tourists to Singapore a full refund of the GST for purchases made from any retailers participating in the Tourist Refund Scheme. There is a catch, however, that only purchases amounting to above Singapore dollars $100 from a single retailer are eligible for the GST refund. There is no limit as to how many participating retailers you can claim GST refund from.
How to claim GST refund in Singapore?
Upon making your purchases at a particular participating merchant, ask from the sales staff a copy of the GST refund form. Be sure to fill up the GST refund claim form and retain it throughout your trip in Singapore. Before you depart from Singapore, ensure that you pack the goods purchased in Singapore on the top layer of things in your luggage for easy inspection by the Singapore customs. On the day of your departure, bring your completed GST refund claim form together with your goods to the Singapore Customs officers to process your GST refund. Note that you can still check in to get your boarding pass prior to the GST refund process. After you have completed the application for GST refund, you may then proceed to drop off to get your luggage checked in at the check in counter.
The Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme was implemented in May 2011 to help ease the process of GST refund application more conveniently and faster for tourists. There are now a number of eTRS self-help kiosks in all Changi Airport Terminals 1, 2 and 3. When you purchase goods from any participating retailers, you may be issued with eTRS tickets by some. Otherwise you will be issued the paper GST refund claim form as explained above.
The eTRS is targeted to be fully implemented by September 2012, after which all paper based GST refund forms will be obsolete.