How to get 10% instantly back on items over $300 incl. GST when you fly out of Australia. How the tourist refund works to save you money.
Whether you are a temporary tourist or permanent Australian resident, here is how to get a refund.
The ‘Tourist Refund Scheme’ allows you to receive a refund of the GST component of a purchase over $300 when leaving Australia. This refund is open to tourists visiting Australia along with residents of Australia about to travel.
It is vital you understand how this refund works in order to maximise your returns and avoid complications with customs. GST is a 10% tax on the sale of goods and services – although a refund of 10% to some doesn’t sound like an awful lot, it can quickly add up when purchasing big ticket items such as engagement rings or multiple items from the same store.
For instance, if you purchase an engagement ring for $10,000 inclusive of GST – you would get a refund of $909. The reason for this is that the ring cost $9,091 and included $909 GST.
You could also buy a digital camera for $1000 and get $100 back. The list goes on and if a family is traveling, the savings can be huge.
Here is a guide to using the Tourist Refund Scheme to your advantage.
The rules you must know about the Tourist Refund Scheme
The rules around claiming a tourist refund vary depending on whether you are an Australian resident or a tourist.
Both are eligible though here is what you need to know.
The top level rules of the TRS are:
- You must pay/buy the items with your own money
- Buy the goods no more than 60 days prior to travel
- Keep an original tax invoice to prove the purchase was over $300
- You must take the goods with you as hand luggage/carry on
Australian residents who are departing on a holiday or trip overseas
How to claim the tourist refund scheme (TRS) as an Australian resident departing Australia for a trip
You must purchase your items within 60 days of travelling. You must request a tax invoice from the business. Your purchase must exceed $300 on the one invoice – consider pooling multiple items from the same store on the one invoice for greater refunds.
As an Australian resident you can claim the GST component back on your invoices, however the assumption by customs is that you won’t be re-entering Australia with that item on your person.
Hot tip: Customs will be able to see what items you claimed a refund on when arriving back in Australia. They may spot check you to see if the goods are with you, if they do find them, they may charge you the GST again; though sometimes they will let you through.
This means that if you claim a refund, and then bring the item back to Australia – you may have your refund taken back off you. Be sure to alert customs as to your situation and the best way to handle this upon re-entering. Remember that duty will only need to be repaid on items that are re-entering Australia.
Tourist of Australia; If you are a tourist permanently leaving Australia
How to claim a GST refund as a tourist leaving Australia
Similar to an Australian travelling – you must have purchased your items within 60 days of travelling and have a tax invoice from the store stating your purchase exceeds $300.
Unlike Australian residents, you will not have to worry about re-entering Australia with the goods you received a refund for. Remember that in all scenarios the items you are claiming the tourist refund scheme on must travel with you in your luggage.
Purchases that are not eligible or the Tourist Refund Scheme
- Alcohol products
- Goods that don’t have GST included
- Services or experience costs (hotels, car hire, sight-seeing and more)
- Gift cards
- Purchases that are not with you when leaving Australia
How to claim the tourist refund scheme money back
You should allow as much time as possible to claim your refund at the airport. Australian Customs have a TRS facility in most major airports. Simply present them with the goods, invoices and your outbound travel documents. This will include your passport and boarding pass.
You can opt to have the refund deposited into an Australian bank account (ideally for Australian residents), personal cheque or refunded directly onto a credit card of your choice.