Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme

SINGAPORE, Nov 9 (Bernama) — Singapore is offering tourists a hassle-free Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds on their purchases via the Electronic Tourist Refund Scheme, or eTRS, when they exit the country.

Minister of State for Finance and Transport, Josephine Teo, said with the eTRS, the time taken to complete the refund claim process would be reduced by at least 80 per cent.

“It used to take about 20 minutes with the manual form-filling system, and an unknown period of time for queuing, depending on how many people are claiming refunds … but will now take only about three minutes with the electronic system,” she said at the launch of eTRS here today.

Teo said tourists may also choose to claim their refunds in cash at the Central Refund Counter at the departure transit lounge after scanning their receipts, which would only take an additional two minutes.

“The receipts are simply scanned, the purchase details at the point-of-sale are captured electronically, and tagged to the credit card of the tourist,” she said.

The eTRS has been made possible through the strategic partnership between Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) and Global Blue, a financial service company, that introduced the concept of Tax Free Shopping, she said.

Teo said the scheme was a major milestone in IRAS’ continual drive to foster a competitive tax environment that encouraged enterprise and supported economic growth.

She said Singapore has already started implementing eTRS for some time now.

“Between May and October this year, over 147,000 claims totalling S$11.2 million in GST refunds have already been made by tourists via the eTRS, even before its official launch today,” she said.


GST refund machines at Changi Airport enable tourists to have their GST refunds credited directly to their credit card accounts. Photo by ERNEST CHUA

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