If you’ve been in Australia on holiday or are a resident leaving for an extended period, you may be able to claim back the Australian GST you have paid on your large purchases. That laptop or camera, electronics goods, surfboard or expensive shoes which cost you over AUD300, or a combination of less expensive items purchased from the same store totalling AUD300 may be eligible.
Make sure you get a proper tax invoice which details the goods, purchase date and the amount paid. You can even combine purchases made from the same store within a certain period to make up the amount.
Until recently it was necessary to show the item to the customs officer at the TRS facilities in the departure lounges at international airports at Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Cairns, Adelaide, Darwin and the Gold Coast. The facility is also available at cruise liner terminals at Circular Quay and Darling Harbour in Sydney, Cairns, Darwin, Fremantle, Brisbane and Hobart.
As the TRS Facility counter is located after Customs and Border Protection and Immigration controls, it meant passengers would be restricted to only items they could hand carry, which cuts out ‘big things’.
Recognising this, the Customs Department has recently made available an app you can use on a desktop, or download to your Android or iPhone to complete all your details before you go to the airport or port. The information is stored as a QR code which is your TRS claim code for the officers to scan.
When you check in, you need to tell the counter staff that you want to make a GST claim and they will call the TRS facility and an officer will come out to sight the goods in your check-in baggage so you can then send it in the hold.
You will need to leave plenty of time for this as the officers may be quite busy if there are lots of flights leaving at the same time.
You must also have the QR code and your original Tax invoice (receipt) ready for them to sight. They will stamp the invoice to acknowledge they have seen it and you then present yourself with your phone/QR code and stamped invoice at the TRS counter when you’ve gone through the Immigration and Border controls.
They will also ask for your passport and boarding pass. As these can also take quite a while, say your goodbyes early and go in so you don’t have to wait in a queue inside.
If you have made a purchase at a Duty-Free store during your travels, you’ll need to look for a counter like the one in photo, to verify that the item is with you and produce your receipt.
For more information, the Australian Customs website has the answers in their FAQ page.
To download the app for your desktop or other devices, this page has all the links for various devices and also answers questions on how to use them.