Shopping Tips

Before hitting the stores, it's best to equip yourself with some information on local practices and conditions. A detailed listing of shops for specific items can be found in the Buying Guide (Yellow Pages) directory placed in most hotel rooms. Check out the local newspapers for current sales and promotions. Complimentary city maps are available from your hotel concierge and will help you get around the island. The following information should make your shopping sprees hassle-free and even more pleasant.

Shopping Hours
You needn't keep a sharp eye on your watch when you're shopping in Singapore. A good many stores and some smaller shops are open daily from 10am to about 9pm, or even 10pm. Our island also enjoys the reputation of being one of the safest places to be in, so provided basic precautions are taken, you can have peace of mind to shop and walk around well into the night.

Shop Tax Free
A 4% Goods and Services Tax (GST) is levied in Singapore. The minimum purchase amount to qualify for a refund ranges between SGD 300 and SGD 500. Under the Global Refund GST refund scheme, when you spend a minimum of SGD 100 at any single store displaying the "TAX FREE SHOPPING" logo, you will receive a Global Refund Cheque.

A minimum of SGD 300 in total value of Global Refund Cheques is needed to qualify for a GST refund. The cheques can be accumulated from different shops, for e.g. three Global Refund Cheques of SGD 100 each issued by three different participating shops.

To apply for a tax refund under the Global Refund scheme, you must follow the following four simple steps:-


Spend a minimum of SGD 300 at a single participating shop or SGD 100 at different participating shops to accumulate a total purchase of SGD 300

2. Present your passport to the retailer to obtain a completed Global Refund Cheque

Get the cheques validated by Customs at Changi Airport Terminal 1 or 2 as proof of export. The goods purchased along with the receipts must be presented to the Customs for verification.


Claim the GST refunds in cash at the Global Refund counters at the airport. Credit card or bank cheque refunds are also available. A small handling fee will be deducted from the GST amount. More details may be obtained from the Global Refund counters located at both terminals of the Changi Airport.

Brochures on the Global Refund services are available at the airport, selected hotels and shopping centres.

Global Refund may be contacted at:
Robinson Road Post Office
P.O. Box 639
Singapore 901239
Tel: (65) 6225 6238
Fax: (65) 6225 5773

Retailers that are not affiliates of the Global Refund scheme administer their own GST refund. You are advised to check with these retailers on the minimum purchase amount required to qualify for a refund, as it varies from retailer to retailer.

Price and Bargains
The local newspapers will give you a fair idea of prices to expect. The next best thing to do would be a quick price comparison within the shopping mall. You're bound to find the same item sold in several outlets within the complex. There's no need to worry about whether you're getting the best bargain in department stores. All items come with price tags and fixed prices are the rule. Many small retailers also practise price tagging but are often flexible when approached for a discount on the goods. Ask the retailer for his "best price" and then counter-offer with realistic prices until both of you reach a mutual agreement.

Case Trust
CaseTrust is an accreditation programme, developed by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), which recognises good business practices among store-based and web-based business establishments. Establishments belonging to the CaseTrust programme have been assessed on their business policies, service personnel, communication system, and other criteria prescribed by the CaseTrust Management Committee. Upon satisfying the criteria, members can display the CaseTrust certificate and logo on their premises or website.

Consumers can shop with confidence at the CaseTrust-ed shops/websites. Visit for a list of CaseTrust members. Consumers who are in any way dissatisfied with any CaseTrust members can lodge their cases with the CaseTrust Management Committee, which will be able to mediate disputes involving CaseTrust members.

The CaseTrust Management Committee can be contacted at:

Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE)
Tel: (65) 6875 1311
Fax: (65) 6463 7048

Credit /Charge Card
Almost all stores accept major international credit and charge cards. Should you come across a shop insisting on adding a surcharge, do contact the local office of the card company so that corrective action can be taken.

Money Matters
Banks throughout Singapore generally open at 9.30am and close at 3.30pm Mondays to Fridays, and 9.30am to 11.30am on Saturdays for transactions of travellers' cheques and other financial matters. For convenience, ATM machines are open round-the-clock. Keep a look-out for these machines displaying Plus and Cirrus signs at all banks and most shopping centres.

Money Chargers
Apart from the convenience of exchanging money at all banks and hotels, money can also be exchanged wherever the sign "Licensed Money Changer" is displayed. You can't miss them as there are usually a few in almost every shopping complex.

Receipts and Return Policies
All department stores and smaller retail shops provide either cash slips or receipts upon purchase. Feel free to ask should they omit giving you one and be sure that details shown on the receipt are accurate. Most larger shops and department stores will exchange goods if they are returned undamaged, or returned in the same condition as when sold. However, returns are accepted only within a specified number of days (usually three) from the purchase date, and upon presentation of a receipt. Smaller shops may not be so accommodating, so always check goods carefully before purchasing. You may also want to check out the shop's return policy before making a purchase. If you're undecided about a purchase in a department store and would like a bit of time to consider, just ask the sales assistant to put it aside for you. The item can usually be reserved for a maximum of three days.

Check that the guarantee card for your purchase bears the correct brand name and model number and is endorsed with the shop's stamp. International guarantees can be obtained for many goods, usually for a 12-month period. However, you may have to ask for them and the price may be raised slightly. Some guarantees have limitations, and though international, may not always be applicable world-wide. Most shops will comply with your requests for guarantee statements, but if one is not forthcoming, it may be best to simply shop elsewhere.

Many larger stores will oblige by shipping purchases to your home. To ensure that there is no miscommunication, do ask individual retailers for details and get written confirmation of your instructions. It would be to your advantage for your purchase to be covered for damage in transit and loss by buying an All Risk insurance which the shop can arrange for you. Also, contact your national diplomatic representative to check the latest customs regulations of your country. If you are sending purchases home by post, check with the Singapore Post for information on requirements and regulations for air and sea delivery. Post offices are generally open from 8.30am to 5pm on weekdays, and 8.30am to 1pm on Saturdays while certain branches have extended opening hours. Some hotels provide a parcel wrapping service.

All weapons (even swords and kris bought as souvenirs) must be accompanied by export permits issued by the Singapore Arms and Explosives Branch at 391, New Bridge Road, #02-701, Police Cantonment Complex, Singapore 088762, Tel: (65) 6557 5822. Singapore and many other countries place restrictions on items from endangered species such as ivory and skins. If in doubt, check with your national diplomatic representative whether a permit is required before you bring an item into your home country.

Errant Retailers
As in other countries, be wary of touts with offers of free shopping tours, special discounts or pirated goods. Visitors who encounter less than satisfactory retailer practices can contact the Singapore Tourism Board (Customer Information & Service Dept) located at Tourism Court, 1 Orchard Spring Lane, Singapore 247729, Tel: 1800 736 3366, Fax: (65) 6734 7226, or email . Should visitors need to seek redress from the errant retailer, they can also contact the Small Claims Tribunals. Singapore takes a firm stand on touts and errant retailers. Cases involving tourists are usually heard within just two or three days and the administration fee is only SGD 10. Information on procedures can be obtained from their telephone hotline number (65) 6435 5937.

Branches of the Small Claims Tribunals are located at:
Apollo Centre #05-00, 2 Havelock Road, Singapore 059763.
Tel: (65) 6435 5946 / (65) 6435 5938, Fax: (65) 6435 5994.
Opening hours:
8.30am to 1pm and 2pm to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday
8.30am to 1pm, Saturday
Block 342 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 #03-1461/1561A, Singapore 560342
Tel: (65) 6553 5385.
Opening hours:
2pm to 5pm and 6pm to 9pm, Monday to Friday
9am to 1pm, Saturday

Alternatively, you may lodge a claim against the retailer with the E@DR Centre of the Subordinate courts. The E@DR Centre offers a free on-line dispute resolution service. The mediation of the dispute will be conducted via email, which allows visitors to proceed with their visit without any or minimum interference to their schedule, as their physical presence is not required. Visitors can also file a claim with the Centre using email anytime during their travels or after they have returned home. All claims filed with the Centre are confidential. Both parties to the dispute must have an email account and must consent to the matter being e-mediated by the Centre. For more information on the services of the Centre, please visit their website at:

Convenient Underpasses
Our tropical weather might catch you unprepared for sudden thunder showers. However, Singapore is well-equipped with a number of underpasses which link one shopping complex to another. In Orchard Road alone, one can move underground to and from at least three main shopping malls without surfacing onto the main road.

More Tips
For electronic and electrical goods, always check the voltage and cycle. Some equipment can be used in all countries, while for others, special adapters may be required. Singapore's voltage is 220 to 240 volts AC, 50 cycles per second.  If you are having clothes tailor-made, establish a clear understanding about payment. It is wise to just leave a deposit when ordering, with full payment following only after you have inspected the completed garment for workmanship and fit.

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  Information provided by Singapore Tourism Board.


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