If you have made purchases during your stay in Australia, it is possible to be reimbursed for the taxes you paid on some of those goods. The Tourist Refund Scheme allows for a full rebate of the 10% GST (goods and services tax). You will have to leave Australia with these goods and have them in your carry-on luggage when checking in for your flight, unless they are oversized goods or liquids, aerosols and gels restricted to hold luggage for security reasons. You can request your refund at Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide, Darwin, Gold Coast, Canberra and Hobart international airports.
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What is the Goods and Services Tax (GST) ?
In the UK, VAT (Value Added Tax) applies to all products and services purchased. The rate of VAT is variable, but 20% is the most common rate for purchases in the country.
The Australian GST is its equivalent. The rate is 10% of the price of the product or service. It applies to all goods and services purchased in Australia. For example, if you buy a $1,000 camera, you will pay $100 in tax.
If you are a tourist and therefore do not live in Australia permanently, you can request a refund of this tax when you leave the country.
Read also : GST in Australia – How it works
Conditions to get your GST back
To be able to claim your GST back, a few conditions apply:
You will need to have bought the goods in person in a period of 60 days before your departure date.
The total cost of the goods has to be at least $300. Your purchases must be from a single business. They can be more than one item, but only if they have been bought in the same shop. If you bought items from one business, even on separate invoices, that together total $300, these items could be eligible for a tax refund.
You must have an original paper tax invoice for the goods, not a copy. If you have an electronic invoice, remember to print it out before you go to the TRS counter. The invoice must include the shop’s Australian Business Number (ABN), the date of purchase, the description of the goods and the amount of GST paid. If you do not have an eligible tax invoice, you cannot make a claim.
You need to have the goods with you in your carry-on luggage when flying out of Australia. For oversized and restricted goods, they must be seen by ABF Client services before checking in and you will have to take the stamped invoices to the TRS Facility on your day of departure.
You cannot claim a refund on these goods:
- Tobacco products
- Alcohol except wine with alcohol content less than 22%
- Goods purchased over the internet and imported into Australia
- Services (hotel rooms, car rentals, tours, etc)
- GST-free goods where no GST was paid
- Goods prohibited on aircraft for safety reasons (gas cylinders, fireworks, aerosol etc)
- Products which have already been partially consumed, such as food and drinks or an open bottle of perfume. (However, you can claim GST on devices such as a laptop, camera or iPhone which have been used during your stay.)
Good to know
You can remove your goods from the packaging and use them. You do not need to bring the packaging to make your TRS claim.
How to claim your GST
The refund is made at the airport, after you go through customs. Look for signs indicating the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS). To find the TRS facility, check the website of the airport from which you will be departing. Expect at least a 90 minute wait, so make sure you arrive in plenty of time to make sure you don’t miss out.
The refund can be paid into an Australian bank account, to a credit card, or by cheque. The refund will be made within 60 days of the claim being lodged.
You will need to present:
– The goods
– Your passport
– The invoices
– Your boarding pass
Good to know
Although the TRS counters at airports don’t have fixed opening hours, they are open when an international flight is scheduled to depart.
Use the TRS apps to prepare your application
To facilitate and accelerate the process of getting your GST refund, you can use The Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) app. It allows you to get a head start by registering your personal details and uploading your receipts in advance. Then all you have to do is go to the TRS desk, which is located in the Duty Free area of the airport (where you find the shops). The Tourist Refund Scheme has a website and a free app available for iOS and Android. The only downside of the app is that it does not work in all airports! You can only use the app if you are travelling from the following airports: Sydney (NSW), Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns (QLD), Darwin (NT), Melbourne (VIC), Adelaide (SA) or Perth (WA).
How does the app work?
After downloading the app, type in the following:
- Details of your trip
- Details of the goods and invoices
- Preferred way to receive your refund
After saving the information, you will receive a Quick Response (QR) code that you can find in the “Present My Claim” section of the app. Once at the airport, you will need to present at the TRS counter. You will still need to attend a TRS facility with your tax invoice. This does not submit your claim.
Online statements are available at the following international airports: Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney.
Coming back to Australia with de-taxed goods
If you are bringing goods back into Australia for which you have claimed a TRS refund, know that you can bring up to AUD900 worth of goods without having to pay customs duties or GST. If you are a minor (under the age of 18), the amount you can bring in is $450. This is called your passenger concession.
Families travelling together can pool this allowance.
For example, a couple can bring in a total of AUD900 x 2 = AUD1800 worth of goods into Australia without paying duty.
If the total value of the goods you are bringing back into Australia after claiming a refund is greater than your passenger concession (AUD$900):
- you must declare the goods
- you will need to repay the GST refund back on the goods you claimed under the TRS.
- customs duties and GST will apply to all items purchased, not just goods over your passenger concession limit ($900).
If you need to contact the Tourist Refund Office (TRO) for a specific question, you can call them:
From within Australia: 1300 555 043
From outside Australia: +61 2 6245 5499.
Yes, it must be the same as the name on your passport. You can’t claim a refund if the invoice has a name other than your own as the buyer.
Yes, you should be able to, as long as you respect the conditions mentioned above. Note that if you are bringing goods back into Australia for which you have claimed a TRS refund, you can only bring up to AUD900 worth of goods without having to pay customs duties or GST.
No, you can make several purchases over several days. If you have bought items from the same retailer but at different stores, check that each invoice has the same Australian Business Number (ABN). The same business might have different ABNs for each store.
No, you must do it at the TRS desk at your airport of departure at least 30 minutes before your flight.
You cannot get a cash refund for your GST. You can only get refunds paid to you or another person by credit card (Amex, Diners, JCB, MasterCard, Union Pay, Visa), Australian bank account or mailed cheque (not recommended).