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
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
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.
Refund may be contacted at:
Robinson Road Post Office
P.O. Box 639
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
email@example.com . Should visitors
need to seek redress from the errant retailer, they can also contact
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.
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.
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:
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.
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