Hassle-free GST refund for tourists is coming in 2011

airport shopping

Tourists can look forward to a hassle-free tourist refund experience in Singapore from mid-2011.

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) is partnering Global Blue to develop a new electronic tourist refund system that will remove form filling by tourists at the point of purchase, and make it easy for them to claim GST refunds at Changi Airport.

Currently, the tourist refund scheme is either operated by the retailers themselves or through the central refund agencies (CRAs), Global Blue and Premier Tax Free. The paper-based tourist refund system is burdensome and inconvenient for both tourists and retailers at the point of purchase because of the need to fill refund claim forms. At the airport, tourists have to queue at different counters at the airport, which include Singapore Customs’ counters and refund counters operated by the respective CRAs, to make their refund claims.

The new electronic Tourist Refund Scheme (eTRS), when fully implemented, will be a major improvement over the current paper-based system. Tourists can enjoy a consistent experience when they make purchases from different retailers in Singapore, and expect faster clearance process at the airport checkpoints. The purchase details at the point-of-sale will be captured into an electronic system and tagged into a token (e.g. credit card) carried by the tourist.

GST Refund at retail store

At the airport, all that a tourist needs to do is to use his passport and token to retrieve records of his purchase details at the validation kiosk and choose to either get his GST refund in cash or paid to his credit card account.

Singapore GST Refund

The eTRS will be implemented in phases from mid-2011. IRAS is targeting 500 retailers to participate in the pilot phase. The current paper-based tourist refund system will continue to operate until the new electronic tourist refund system is fully implemented in third quarter of 2012. 

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