About the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS)
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 (can now be in multiple transactions within 60 days)
- Buy goods no more than 60 days before departure
- 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 OR if your goods are oversized, present them at the Customs Service Counter at the airport prior to checking in your bags for verification before visiting the TRS office once you pass through customs.
- 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.
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).
Goods that cannot be taken on board as hand luggage due to liquid, aerosol and gel restrictions should be packed in your hold luggage. However, if those goods are oversized, for example a pair of skis, they must be sighted prior to check-in at the Customs and Border Protection Client Services counter.
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 Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS).
The way TRS works
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
Customs and Border Protection will aim to post cheque refunds within 15 business days. Bank and credit card refunds will be issued by Customs and Border Protection within 5 business days, however, payment will be subject to processing by your bank or card issuer.
What you need to do when buying goods
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.
How you make a claim
You will need to present the following at the Customs and Border Protection TRS facility when you depart Australia:
- your goods (unless aviation security measures, in regard to liquids, aerosols and gels prevent you from doing so) to prove you are taking them out of the country
- the original tax invoice totalling $300 (GST inclusive) or more from the retailer (to provide information for Customs and Border Protection officers)
- your passport
- your international boarding pass or other proof of travel
Goods that cannot be taken on board as hand luggage due to liquid, aerosol and gel restrictions should be packed in your hold luggage. However, if those goods are oversized, for example a case of wine, they must be sighted prior to check-in at the Customs and Border Protection Client Services counter.
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.
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.