|Departing tourists may claim GST refunds on their goods purchased in Singapore, subject to the tourists' eligibility and conditions of the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS).
Currently, the GST TRS is only available to tourists departing Singapore via air from the Changi International Airport and Seletar Airport. GST TRS is not available to tourists leaving Singapore via land and sea exits.The GST TRS would be extended to international cruise passengers departing from the Singapore Cruise Centre at Harbourfront and the new International Cruise Terminal at Marina South.
A tourist departing Singapore on an international cruise must satisfy the existing GST TRS conditions to qualify for the GST refund. In addition, the tourist would be required to comply with the following:
- i. declare that Singapore is his final exit point using his cruise itinerary as documentary proof of his departure; and
- ii. commit that he would not return to Singapore within 48 hours.
Cruises-to-nowhere and round-trip cruise passengers are excluded because their goods brought out of Singapore would be brought back into Singapore at the end of the trip. The change is also not extended to ferry passengers or tourists leaving Singapore via land exits as it would be difficult to detect any round-tripping of GST refunded goods.January 2013This is a long awaited change for tourists departing Singapore via sea. The move would further boost international cruise tourism in Singapore.
However, what is unclear is the form of undertaking required from the tourist departing by international cruise by committing that he would not return to Singapore within 48 hours. It remains to be seen how stringent this requirement would be enforced and whether non-compliance with the requirement would be subject to punitive action.
Furthermore, the success of this extension would depend on the speed at which the GST refund is administered by the TRS counter at the cruise terminals.
It appears that it is not likely in the near term that the TRS would be extended to land exits in view of the high traffic flow at the two land checkpoints and enforcement difficulties in curbing round-tripping.
The IRAS, Singapore Customs and STB would release further details of the change by 1 September 2012.