Having a holiday overseas usually translates to relaxing and shopping time. However, beware of lugging back too much shopping from your jaunts as your spoils could be subject to Goods and Service Tax (GST) once you get home.
Singapore Customs has issued an advisory to remind travellers that GST is exempt only for certain values. If you travel out of Singapore for less than 48 hours, then you will not have to pay GST for goods valued up to $150. If you are away for more than 48 hours, you are exempt from GST for goods valued up to $600.
Travellers will have to pay GST only on the value of the goods that exceeds the GST relief. For example, if you buy $800 worth of goods on a four-day trip to Hong Kong, you will need to pay GST for the $200 worth of goods. At 7 per cent, that comes up to $14.
You will have to produce invoices or receipts of these purchases to help calculate the tax payable. You can pay taxes at the Singapore Customs’ Tax Payment Office or at the self-service Tax Payment Kiosk at the checkpoints.
Here are some frequently-asked questions that you need to know before going all out with your shopping!
GST is a tax on local consumption. All goods brought into Singapore are subject to 7 per cent GST regardless of whether they are imported through commercial shipments or hand-carried by travellers for their own personal use.
Such goods include new articles, souvenirs, gifts and food preparations purchased overseas and meant for the traveller’s personal use. The policy of GST imposed on goods brought into Singapore has been in force since April 1, 1994, when GST was first implemented in Singapore.
Failure to declare the value of your purchases is an offence under the Customs Act and the GST Act. Offenders may be prosecuted in court, fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to three years.
There is no GST relief for liquor, tobacco products, petroleum and goods imported for commercial purposes.
Prohibited items include chewing gum (except dental and medicated gum), chewing tobacco and imitation tobacco products (such as, electronic cigarettes), cigarette lighters in the shape of a pistol or revolver, firecrackers, pirated publication and CDs, among others.
Yes, each person is allowed a maximum of 5kg of meat products directly from approved sources. These include all forms of meat products, including cooked food containing meat.
However, beef, mutton, pork and poultry can only be from a list of approved countries. For instance, travellers are barred from taking in bak kwa, or barbecued sweet meat, into Singapore.
Bak kwa is considered a pork product and can be imported only from approved regions, including Australia, Japan, United States and a number of European countries. Eggs from Malaysia or other countries are prohibited, except those from Australia, New Zealand and Sweden. Each person is limited to 30 eggs from allowed countries.
Each person is allowed a maximum of 5kg of seafood products, out of which a maximum of only 2kg of frozen cooked crabmeat and frozen cooked prawn meat is allowed.
Yes. Under AVA rules, fresh fruit and vegetables from all countries can be brought into Singapore if they are in “small, reasonable quantities” and “hand-carried for personal consumption”.
However, there is an exception for local produce from the American tropics, which includes Brazil, Mexico and Ecuador. A phytosanitary certificate to certify that the produce is pest-free is required for these countries.
Travellers need not leave their favourite goodies, such as pineapple tarts, behind. But such processed food products are limited to 5kg, or $100 per person, according to food import guidelines.
These exclude meat products, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, and eggs. For cleaned dried bird’s nest, a maximum of 1kg is allowed and there is no restriction in terms of its total value.
For more information on customs rules, go to www.customs.gov.sg.
This story first appeared on The Straits Times. / Updated by Mizah Salik, December 2018
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