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3 Essential Tips Every Singaporean Must Know Before Arriving In Singapore


Faruq Senin •  Jan 19, 2018


You might have heard the news that a 25-year-old Singaporean woman was arrested at Changi Airport last week after arriving from Paris. Her crime? Failing to declare the branded items she purchased overseas for Goods and Services Tax (GST) payment? Credit: giphy We know you WILL probably spend a lot on luxury items overseas as they are cheaper (and we don’t blame you for that?) But while you’ve set your sights on that Prada handbag or Fendy purse you’ve been eyeing, here are some handy tips to help you avoid getting into trouble with the law! Credit: giphy
1. Be familiar with Singapore’s tax guidelines
You might be wondering how much of what you buy needs to be declared for GST? Well, travellers are granted GST relief on goods imported for their personal use (that includes souvenirs and gifts too!) but that depends on the time they’ve spent away from Singapore.
If you’ve been out of the country for less than 48 hours, you can only get GST relief for goods valued below $150. However, if you’ve been away for more than 48 hours, better news for you! GST is exempt for goods valued up to $600☺️ Remember, it is your responsibility to know how much tax relief you’re eligible for! Note: You still have to pay GST if you did not claim tax rebate in the country you bought the items in.
2. Don’t forget to declare your items at airport Customs
NEVER, never forget to declare your luxury goods at Customs! The woman was arrested simply because she had tried to exit through the Customs Green Channel without declaring her handbags and accessories. Her purchase of several handbags, wallets and a belt was worth more than $11,000.
Credit: Singapore Customs on Facebook If you’re found guilty of evading GST, you might be fined up to 20 times the amount of tax evaded and/or be jailed for up to 2 years! And that’s on top of the GST that you have to pay? #HHWT Tip: You can download the [email protected] app which allows you to make an advanced declaration before landing in Singapore.
3. Don’t cheat the system
You might think that you can avoid paying GST if you remove the labels and packaging from your goods, but that’s not true! Your items can still be deemed as “new” and will be subject to taxes if you exceed the GST relief amount. Even if you had received the item as a gift and there are no receipts, the value of your luxury items will still be assessed based on the value of other similar goods. Even if you’d bought your item at Changi Airport’s duty-free shop, it is STILL subject to tax if it exceeds the GST relief amount.
Credit: shankar s. on Flickr So, it seems like there isn’t any way you can avoid getting taxed if your purchases exceed the GST relief amount. We strongly recommend that you declare all your purchases. That way, you can avoid paying more, or even worse, getting jailed for a foolish mistake!