Singapore Budget 2019: Smaller duty-free alcohol allowance and GST relief for overseas shopping

Under the new rules, returning travellers will be entitled to only two litres of wine, beer or a combination of the two, or a litre of spirits and a litre of either wine or beer duty-free.
Under the new rules, returning travellers will be entitled to only two litres of wine, beer or a combination of the two, or a litre of spirits and a litre of either wine or beer duty-free.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - From midnight on Tuesday (Feb 19), returning travellers will have a smaller allowance on tax-exempt overseas shopping.

Those who spend fewer than 48 hours outside Singapore will have to pay the 7 per cent goods and services tax (GST) on items bought abroad worth above $100, down from $150.

The threshold will be lowered from $600 to $500 for travellers who spend 48 hours or more outside the country, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on Monday (Feb 18), citing a rise in international travel.

The alcohol duty-free concession will also be reduced, from three litres to two litres, starting on April 1.

The cap on the allowance for spirits will remain at one litre. This means that, under the new rules, returning travellers will be entitled to only two litres of wine, beer or a combination of the two, or a litre of spirits and a litre of either wine or beer duty-free.

Currently, adults who spend two days or more outside the country, excluding those returning from Malaysia, are allowed to buy a litre of spirits, wine and beer each.

The GST is a broad-based tax that contributes significantly to Singapore's fiscal resources, said Mr Heng, and the moves will help recurrent revenues to meet recurrent spending needs in areas such as healthcare, pre-school education and security.

 
 
 
 

In a joint statement on Monday, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and Singapore Customs said the revision of GST import relief limits is aimed at keeping Singapore’s tax system resilient, amid rising international travel.

They also reminded travellers to declare their taxable goods upon arrival in Singapore, and advised them to keep and produce their purchase receipts to calculate the amount payable.

An advance declaration and payment of GST can also be made using the Customs @ SG mobile app or Web portal, the statement said.

Failure to declare, or making an incorrect declaration, is an offence that carries a fine of up to $10,000 or the equivalent of the amount of tax payable –  whichever is greater –  as well as up to 12 months in prison.