Spend more than $100 and you will need to pay GST

Many of us love shopping overseas, especially at outlet stores when you can get bang for your buck!. While it is easy to get carried away with the cheaper retail therapy, it is important to take note of the total value of your goods brought back to Singapore.

Recently, a couple had quite a scare when they were asked to have their bags checked at customs after shopping in Johor Bahru and almost got fined under the new GST relief tax revision. This is not just applicable for Johor Bahru but all countries.

Read on to find out how you can have a smooth journey back clearing customs.

What is the new GST relief revision?

gst relief revision singapore
Source: IRAS

Starting from 19 Feb 2019, the GST import relief was revised and implemented and here are the new rules :

  • Travellers who are out of Singapore for less than 48 hours will have GST relief for the 1st $100 of the value of their items, per traveller. This is down from $150 previously.
  • Travellers who spend more than 48 hours outside Singapore will receive GST import relief for the first $500 of the value of their items , per traveller, down from the previous $600.

Goods granted GST import relief include new articles, souvenirs, gifts and food preparations intended for the traveller’s personal use or consumption.

If you are travelling in a group of 4, you can enjoy a combined total of $400 worth of goods-tax-free if you spend less than 48 hours abroad. For those of us who love crossing the causeway to Johor Bahru for a quick retail therapy day trip, be sure to grab your shopping buddies to enjoy a bigger tax-free-goods allowance!

How do I declare my goods?

If you’ve purchased more than $500 worth of products overseas, you will be required to declare your goods and make payment for the GST at the red lane at customs. Be sure to keep all receipts of your purchases to aid in the calculation and verification of the tax payable.

You can also declare your goods in advance and make payment using the Customs@SG mobile app or website.


Those who fail to declare at the Red Channel can be fined and prosecuted in court. Upon conviction, the offender will be liable to a fine up to S$10,000 or the equivalent of the amount of tax payable, whichever is greater, and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months. Any person found guilty of fraudulent evasion of GST will be liable to a fine up to 20 times the amount of tax evaded and/or imprisonment for up to 2 years.

Tips for shopping overseas

While we all love buying things we can’t find in Singapore, here are some tips to make sure we don’t get carried away:

  • Always keep all receipts of purchases as proof of payment in case you get checked
  • Have a mental track of the total amount spent on purchases

Some essentials for your trip overseas

If you’re travelling overseas, you’ll definitely need a 4G WiFi or SIM Card to stay connected on the go! Don’t forget to pre-book some activities on Klook to fill your itineraries!