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Singapore Shopping Guide

Duty Free Bargaining Shop Policies Shipping

Opening Hours

Most Singapore shopping centres and the shops in them are open daily from 10.00am to 9.00pm with a few shops staying open until 10.00 pm on weekends and during major sale events. Some smaller independent shops close at 8.00 pm. For a list of Singapore's major shopping centres and best areas to shop - click here.

Tax Free Shopping
Singapore currently assesses a Goods and Service Tax (GST) of 5% of the value of the merchandise (or service) purchased. This scheduled to increase to 7% sometime in the year 2007. Therefore, if you are thinking about buying a computer, camera, expensive watch or other high value product you should take time to learn about GST and GST refund procedure. Detailed information is available in the arrival hall at Changi Airport.

Briefly put, visitors purchasing merchandise totaling SGD100.00 or more are entitled to a refund of most of the GST paid when they leave Singapore. Below we have briefly outlined the program.

The Premier Tax Free or Global Refund scheme (two competing companies that process the refund for tourists and retailers who participate sign on with one or the other) allows tourists whose purchases are at least SGD100.00, be eligible for the tax refund. Important: Not all retailers participate in the Premier Tax Free or Global Refund scheme so be sure to look for a 'Tax Free Shopping' sticker on the front window and always ask for a Shopping Cheque to be completed.

At Changi Airport, after you have checked in and cleared immigration, take your purchases together with the Shopping Cheques to the designated customs kiosk for verification and endorsement. On the spot you can cash the Shopping Cheques at the Premier Tax Free or Global Refund Counter (both adjacent to the customs desk) or request that the amount be credited to your credit card or request a bank cheque and be mailed to your home. Note: Do not pack your purchase in your checked luggage, you need to show the item purchased together with the store receipt at the GST Refund Counter.

That said, you will receive approximately 80% of the total GST tax paid. The remainder seems to go to the company processing the refund.

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Prices and Bargaining
Bargaining in the markets and suburban shops is considered as part of the Singapore experience. Quite a few stores selling electronic goods will allow you to haggle a little (mostly though any discounts are given when you offer to pay cash...). However in the name brand boutiques and department stores throughout Singapore prices are fixed and clearly marked. Retail competition in this vibrant city is very stiff, so for you bargain hunters a quick browse through the local paper will alert you to any current sales and promotions.

Credit cards are widely accepted in Singapore. Cards that are accept by the merchants are usually posted on the front door. Be alert should a shop insist on adding a surcharge (to cover the bank transaction fee). You do not have to accept this. If the store insists on charging you a surcharge to use your credit card, make sure that the charge is separate and clearly marked. Contact the local office of the card company - click here.

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Exchange Policy
Most reputable shops and department stores in Singapore will exchange or even refund the goods that are returned undamaged within a specified number of days (usually three to seven) as long as you have the receipt or cash slip. The smaller suburban shops may refuse to make and exchanges or refunds. Always check the store's exchange or refund policies BEFORE you buy. Items on sale are generally not exchangeable

Visitors making a sizable purchase should insist on a sales receipt (same goes for any purchase of electronic goods or computers) and always get the original warranty card. As well, the manufacturer's international guarantee card should be available with all brand name items. Always check to make sure that the serial number on the product matches the serial number listed on the warranty card.

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If your purchase is too bulky to carry or you are not going home directly, you may want to ship your purchases. There are many reliable freight forwarders in Singapore. But, as a reminder, always get a written confirmation of your shipping details (i.e. merchandise and the delivery details). If you don't use a credit card that includes purchase insurance to pay for the shipping it may be a good idea buy all-risk insurance. Before shipping your goods, always check on the latest customs regulations of your country.

Additional Smart Shopping Tips
  • Have a good idea of what you want to buy and the manufacturer's recommended retail price (check the internet) before you set out.
  • Check on the voltage and cycle of all electronic and electrical products - this is especially true if you will be using the product in America.
  • Check prices at several stores before buying.
  • Test the good(s) before purchasing - make sure it works as advertised.
  • Make sure what you buy is what is in the box before you leave the store.
  • Keep your sales receipt in case you need to return the merchandise.
  • Make sure that what you buy is allowed to be imported into your home country.
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    Singapore Hotels - The famous Bugis Market
    Shopping Singapore

    Shopping is the only activity that can rival eating as a national pastime in Singapore. Singaporeans take shopping seriously and so too does the government.

    To aid and protect visitors the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board (STB) now publishes a shopping guide with a list of 'Good Retailers', those preferred retailers chosen for their service and reliability (such retailers display a red-and-white merlion on their front doors). As well you can get a list of retailers to avoid.

    That said people still sometimes feel they have been cheated. As such, visitors who believe that they have been treated unfairly by a merchant can contact the STB Hotline at 1-800-736 3366 (toll-free in Singapore) and lodge a complaint. Complaints are heard and an answer is usually given within within 24 hours (depending on the complexity of the case).

    Should you wish to seek redress from a retailer, you can go to the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT). The nearest branch for most visitors will be at No 1 Havelock Square, 1st level Subordinate Courts, Singapore 059724. An administrative fee of S$10 is payable to the SCT for cases involving sums under S$5,000. For more information on fees and filing visit the SCT website (click here).

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