Advice for travellers
As of 17 April 2013 changes to the requirements for making a claim under the Australian Government’s Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) will come into effect.
The key changes are:
- Travellers can claim through the tourist refund scheme on purchases made up to 60 days before leaving Australia (under old regulations they had 30 days). This will apply to sales made on or after 17 April 2013.
- Travellers can submit more than one tax invoice to make their claim, as long as each is a valid tax invoice from the one Australian Business Number retailer and the total value of goods purchased is $300 or more (including GST).
The TRS enables you to claim a refund, subject to certain conditions, of the goods and services tax (GST) and wine equalisation tax (WET) that you pay on goods you buy in Australia.
To claim a refund you must:
- Spend $300 (GST inclusive) or more in the one store and retain your invoices.
- Have purchased the goods no more than 60 days before your departure from Australia.
- Wear or carry the goods on board the aircraft or ship and present them along with your original tax invoice, passport and international boarding pass to a Customs and Border Protection Officer at a TRS facility.
The refund only applies to goods you take with you as hand luggage or wear(unless aviation security measures, in regard to liquids, aerosols and gels prevent you from doing so)onto the aircraft or ship when you leave Australia. It does not apply to services or goods consumed or partly consumed in Australia, such as wine, chocolate or perfume. However, unlike other tourist shopping schemes, most of the goods, such as clothing and cameras, can be used in Australia before departure.
The TRS is open to all overseas visitors and Australian residents, except operating air and sea crew.
The GST refund is calculated by dividing the total amount of the purchase by 11. The WET refund is 14.5 percent of the price paid for wine. For example, if you buy goods for a GST-inclusive price of $660 you will receive a refund of $60. If the $660 is made up of a camera ($460) and wine ($200), you will receive a total refund of $89 (total GST refund of $60 plus $29 WET refund on the wine).
The aviation security measures, introduced on 31 March 2007, affect the amount of liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) that can be taken as hand luggage on flights into and out of Australia. Further information in regard to the new measures is available from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.
In the case of air departures, goods that cannot be taken on board as hand luggage due to liquid, aerosol and gel restrictions, should be taken to the Customs and Border Protection Client Service Office for verification before they are packed in your hold luggage and subsequently checked in . Goods that are oversized, for example skis, snowboards and golf clubs must also be sighted prior to check-in at the Customs and Border Protection Client Services counter.
The refund will be paid on goods totalling $300 (GST inclusive) or more, bought from the same store, no more than 60 days before you leave Australia.
You may purchase several lower-priced items from the one store, either at the one time or over several occasions within the 60-day period, provided the total purchase amounts to $300 (GST inclusive) or more.
You may buy goods from several stores, provided each store's tax invoice totals at least $300 (GST inclusive).
You can collect your refund through one of the following methods:
- credit to an Australian bank account
- payment to a credit card (American Express, Diners, JCB, MasterCard, Union Pay, Visa)
Please note that refunds cannot be made to a debit card.
Customs and Border Protection will aim to refund your claim within 30 days however, payment will be subject to processing by your bank or card issuer. Please note that cheques can take up to 2 months.
If you wish to claim a refund, you must get an original tax invoice from the store where you buy the goods. All stores registered for GST will be able to give you a tax invoice. A refund cannot be given without it.
A tax invoice prominently states the words 'tax invoice' and the Australian Business Number (ABN) of the retailer, the purchase price including the GST paid, a description of the goods, the name of the retailer and the date the purchase was made.
Tax invoices for purchases of $1000 or more must contain additional information, such as the name and address of the purchaser.
More information on tax invoices is available by contacting the Australian Taxation Office.
You will need to present the following at the Customs and Border Protection TRS facility when you depart Australia:
- your goods to show you are taking them out of the country (unless aviation security measures, in regard to liquids, aerosols and gels prevent you from doing so);
- the original tax invoice totalling $300 (GST inclusive) or more from the retailer (to provide information for Customs and Border Protection officers);
- your passport; and
- your international boarding pass or other proof of travel.
You should note that it is a legal requirement that the person who purchases the goods must be the person who makes the claim for a refund of GST.
Claims at airports are available up to 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure of your flight. However, due to the popularity of the TRS scheme, passengers are advised to complete departure immigration clearance at least 90 minutes prior to the scheduled departure of their flight and allow sufficient time to make their claim.
Claims at seaports should be made no more than 4 hours and no less than 1 hour prior to the scheduled departure time of the vessel.
In the case of departures by sea, claims can only be made at the last Australian port prior to departure for overseas. Departure for overseas means departure at the ship's final port in Australia, which may not be the port at which you board the ship. You need to ensure that you have purchased the goods within 60 days of the final port of departure for overseas.
Claims can be made after you have passed through Customs and Immigration outward processing.
The TRS facilities are located past Customs and Immigration outwards processing at international airports at Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Cairns, Adelaide, Darwin and Gold Coast.
Maps provided are for the locations of the TRS booth after immigration control, where your claim is to be lodged. Special conditions apply for oversized goods such as surf boards and golf clubs. These items can be sighted by a Customs and Border Protection officer prior to your check in. Directions for Client Services are listed below.
Following are maps of International Terminals at each Airport:
Locations of Customs & Border Protection client service desks
Client Services desk is located on the Ground Floor, near the escalator.
Client services desk is located on the Ground Floor, in sight of the walkway of the main car park.
Cairns International Airport - no map available
Client services desk is located on the under the escalator, on the right hand side of the check in counters.
Client services desk is located on the Ground Floor, down the end on the right.
There is now a dedicated TRS desk located inside the airport terminal past the customs and immigration checkpoint.
Client services desk is located on the Ground Floor, on the right hand side near the escalator.
Perth International Airport - no map available
Client services desk is located on the Ground Floor behind escalators near the QANTAS customer service counter.
Client services desk is located on the Ground Floor, behind escalator.
TRS facilities will be available at cruise liner terminals in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Cairns, Darwin, Fremantle and Hobart.
If you are leaving Australia from any other seaport you should contact Customs and Border Protection to find out if and where you can make a claim.
The following goods are excluded from the TRS:
- alcohol such as beer and spirits (you can buy wine and wine products under the TRS) and tobacco products (these goods can be purchased from duty-free shops)
- GST-free goods-no refund can be claimed if no GST was paid
- consumables wholly or partially consumed in Australia
- goods which are prohibited on aircraft or ships for safety reasons. These include items such as gas cylinders, fireworks and aerosol sprays (all airlines provide information to passengers on prohibited items)
- goods which fail to meet airline cabin-size or ship hand luggage restrictions
- unaccompanied goods (including freighted or posted goods)
- services such as accommodation, tours and car rental and labour charges
- goods purchased over the Internet and imported into Australia
- gift cards/vouchers (although goods purchased with gift cards/vouchers are eligible for a refund subject to all TRS requirements being met)
Please note: You will not receive a refund unless Customs and Border Protection is able to verify that you are taking the goods with you. The goods must be taken on board the aircraft or ship on which you are travelling. You therefore need to include the goods in your hand luggage or wear them onto the aircraft or ship. There are aviation security restrictions on liquids, aerosols and gels.
For more information about the restrictions, visit http://travelsecure.infrastructure.gov.au/
Queues in the TRS can, at times be quite lengthy therefore you should allow time to complete check-in, security and outwards clearance formalities and be at TRS facility at least 90 minutes prior to the departure of your aircraft to ensure your claim is processed.
Claims at airports are available up to 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure of your flight.
Claims at seaports should be made no earlier than 4 hours and no later than 1 hour prior to the scheduled departure time of the vessel.
If the goods are to be brought back into Australia, please be aware that they may be subject to GST. Normal passenger concessions apply and include any items for which a TRS claim has been approved. If the value of those goods together with overseas purchases exceeds the passenger concession, the goods must be declared to Customs on your return to Australia. Penalties apply to undeclared taxable goods.
If in doubt you should declare the goods to Customs and Border Protection on your return.
More information is contained in the brochure 'Know Before You Go' which is available from Customs and Border Protection.
Further information can be obtained from Customs and Border Protection on:
Customs and Border Protection Complaints and Compliments
Phone: Within Australia - 1800 228 227 free call
Outside Australia - 61 2 6275 6666
If you do not speak English and need help, phone the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 13 14 50.
A TTY (teletypewriter) service is available by contacting 1300 804 061.