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Singapore may be a shopping haven for many tourists, but for Singaporeans, shopping overseas has its draws as well.

It doesn’t matter whether a country has a currency that is stronger or weaker than the Singapore dollar, because you could be finding designer goods for a fraction of the price even in high-brow shopping districts like Milan, Paris, New York, and London.

Read on to find out how to make the best out of your next holiday with our seven must-know tips for avid overseas shoppers!

1. Buy high-end makeup and skincare from duty-free stores


This one’s a given. Not only do you not have to pay tax at these stores, but you can also find brands that you will not be able to get anywhere else in Singapore. For example, mid-range to higher-end Korean brands like sum:37, Banila Co and Sulwahsoo are available at The Shilla Duty Free at Changi Airport.

2. GST still applies to overseas shopping!

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Yes, you heard that right. We still have to pay GST on top of the damage we have done to our wallets overseas. The good thing is that this only applies if the value of our goodies is above S$500, so if you’re just a moderate spender overseas, this doesn’t apply to you.

Just be careful of certain terms, though: if you were to buy more than S$500 worth of products in Singapore’s duty-free, say a S$3,000 designer bag, you will be taxed on that when you return, so buy it when you arrive back at the airport instead of before your trip! Visit the government website for more information.

3. Don’t spend impulsively, especially at markets

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Often when we see something we really like, we want to buy it immediately – especially if it’s at an irresistible price!

However, in many European and Asian marketplaces, the same item could be sold at multiple vendors and prices may vary between the stalls. Take your time to walk around the entire area first before coming back to make your purchase. You could be getting the same thing for a way better price at another stall.

4. Get products from their country of origin


Prices of products tend to be hiked up a lot in Singapore because of the cost of imports. Scout of these products in their home country because they may be way cheaper there.

If you’re into high-end American brands like Coach and Kate Spade, be sure to wait till you have an occasion to make a trip there to buy them. Even Sephora brands could be US$5 to 10 more affordable there!

A cashmere Burberry scarf costs about S$200 less in the UK than in Singapore, and coveted skincare brands like Kosei, Shu Uemura, and SK-II are a ton cheaper in Japan.

5. Research is key

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Unfortunately, shopping abroad requires some work in advance to get the biggest bang for your buck.

If you are unfamiliar with your shopping destination or are not sure what to get, a quick Google search will most likely pull up the relevant reviews and shopping guides you need. This is important to confirm that the beautiful roll of silk you were thinking of getting from that Chinese silk market is the real deal.

6. Make use of memberships and loyalty programs

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Check your various loyalty programs to see if they are valid overseas to rack up the points as you shop!

For example, Sephora Singapore’s Beauty Pass can be used even in Australia and China, as well as other Southeast Asian countries. When you’re making a trip there, pop by a Sephora store to check if they’re having a sale or if they sell brands that are not available in Singapore.

7. Your passport is your best shopping buddy

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At least 54 countries worldwide will allow you a refund of taxes when you shop, including Morocco, the UK, the US, as well as many European and Scandinavian countries!

Do some research on the country you plan on visiting, as each has its own jurisdictions pertaining to tax-free shopping. For example, Australia has a Tourist Refund Scheme that even allows you to claim refunds at certain seaports and cruise liner terminals. Imagine how much more money you’d be saving then.

Featured image from Hotels.com.