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