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Claiming your GST refund as you leave Australia

by on December 1, 2014
 

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 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.

The process

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.

Claiming your GST refund Australia

TRS/GST verification counter

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.

IMAG3267

TRS/GST receipt collection

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.

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  • Sesilia
    November 15, 2016 at 9:12 AM

    Q: I brought all my stuff to send overseas but its all in a shipping container but I have all my receipts so Can I still claim Gst please?

    Reply

    • November 15, 2016 at 11:34 AM

      Hi, I think your best option would be to quickly check with your shipping agent as the authorities need to confirm that you are actually taking the goods out of Australia. They would be able to advise you on the procedures for goods that are shipped rather than carried with you on a flight out.

      Reply

  • steve
    April 10, 2017 at 2:53 PM

    I bought a new surfboard. How do I get them to see it?

    Reply

    • April 10, 2017 at 3:25 PM

      Hi Steve, It will be hard to squeeze that in your hand luggage!
      First, use the app as mentioned in our story, to complete the forms. When you get to check-in, speak to the counter staff (or go to the airport information counter, that might be quicker) and they’ll direct you to the counter or call the officers, who will come out to verify the item. After that you can check in your surfboard and go inside to complete the process.

      Reply

  • Puan Mariah
    July 31, 2017 at 2:00 PM

    I got my GST refund from Perth 2 week after my trip to Perth. I think it is the fastest refund that I got so far.

    Just fill in the form at the airport . No inspection needed as i just bought souvenirs , shirts and boomerang

    Kudos to the Custom PErth

    Reply

  • Shehab
    August 8, 2017 at 10:48 AM

    My flight is at 22:30 from Brisbane airport
    Do you think the GST office will be open at that time to claim the refund of tax.

    Reply

    • August 8, 2017 at 10:12 PM

      Hi, It’s our understanding from the information provided by the authorities, that the counter will be open during the airport opening hours. If aircraft are arriving or departing, they will need to be on duty for the normal checks anyway. It would be safest to arrive a bit earlier at the airport to ensure you have enough time for the formalities. Don’t forget to download and use the app – the link is in the article.

      Reply

  • Glenn Arundell
    September 2, 2017 at 10:13 AM

    I wish to claim back the GST component on an ipad recently purchased.
    I have lost the original receipt into the ocean along with my entire wallet with all cards etc.
    I have a duplicate receipt from the purchasing store.
    Can I claim the GST back or not with this duplicate receipt?

    Reply

    • September 2, 2017 at 12:07 PM

      I would suggest that if you have a police report or anything else that supports your reason for the loss, you could give a copy/show it during submission, along with the duplicate receipt. Otherwise, just give the duplicate and explain if they ask. If it contains all the same information as the original it should be accepted. All the best!

      Reply

  • Jeonghwan Kim
    September 7, 2017 at 3:18 PM

    Hi, I claimed tex refund at Sydney airport before leaving at 4/9. The officer checked my reciept and item and slashed my card to back my tax i think. And I recieved some paper. But I don’t any tax refund on my account by now. Was there any problem or is it usually delayed a couple of days?

    Reply

    • September 7, 2017 at 9:52 PM

      Hi, Refunds usually take up to two or three weeks, so you should hear something from them or see the refund in your account soon. If you have not received it after two weeks, I suggest you contact them directly with your claim details.

      Reply

  • Nicole
    September 16, 2017 at 2:35 PM

    I’m going overseas in a couple of weeks. I’m looking at buying a compact Digital camera to take with me. How is duty free calculated? The camera is approximately $570.

    Reply

    • September 16, 2017 at 6:17 PM

      Hi Nicole, I’m assuming you intend to buy your camera before you go to the airport. If you buy from a duty free shop (e.g. Duty-free Downtown) which has no duty included in the price, you probably won’t be able to use it before you go and you’ll need to show it (and receipt) to the inspection officer after you pass through Immigration and security controls as you go to board your flight. If you’ve bought it at a regular shop, the duty will be included. Make sure you take your Tax invoice with you as you need to show it to the officers at the claim counter. If you use the app (as mentioned in the story) this process is very quick. They will return you 10/11 of the price you paid, which is the included duty. Please note that if you have an early morning flight, not all counters may be manned.

      Reply

  • Jade
    September 17, 2017 at 10:53 PM

    I have dual citizenship. Can I use a passport that is different for the GST claim from the one that I use to depart from Australia?

    Reply

    • September 17, 2017 at 11:54 PM

      Unless your passport number is stated in your Tax Invoice, it shouldn’t matter which one you present for verification. An Australian passport can be used to make a claim.

      Reply

      • Henry
        December 8, 2017 at 8:07 PM

        So what you are saying, if i’m not mistaken, is Australian can also make the claim if they go oversea and bringing goods with them without intending to bring them back?
        Example: Paul is an aussie, he knows A girl name as Lan in Thailand and decide to buy an iphone x as a gift for her when he goes to Thai. He can claim that GST on the phone at the airport, right?

        Reply

  • Frank
    September 30, 2017 at 1:22 PM

    Hi,
    I’m thinking of shipping a IKEA kitchen and bathroom in my household items overseas in a shipping container. Can I claim the gst on these purchases back?

    Reply

    • September 30, 2017 at 11:31 PM

      Hi Frank, I think for this one, it would probably be unlikely given that there is a time limit between purchase of the item and your departure. However, you should contact the Customs people directly. Have you checked if there’s an IKEA in the country you are moving to?

      Reply

  • Olga
    October 2, 2017 at 8:45 AM

    Hi Lesley!
    I’m an Australian resident and leaving Australia for 1 week holiday overseas, can I still claim GST back? (buying and bringing with me new laptop)
    Thank you

    Reply

    • October 2, 2017 at 10:38 AM

      Hi Olga,
      The rules are pretty clear on this one. If you’re intending to bring the item back to Australia, you can’t claim GST. Have a good holiday.

      Reply

    • Rod
      October 26, 2017 at 10:37 PM

      You can, however if you bring it back into the country, and if the total value of the laptop is greater than the duty free allowance ($900 per person – you can pool the total if you are travelling with family etc). Then you are supposed to declare it and pay GST on your return.

      If the total value of the laptop is less than $900 and you’re not bringing back any other duty free you’re ok.

      If the laptops is $180.01 or more and you’re travelling alone or with just one other person, you would have to pay ALL the GST back on your return, in theory.

      Reply

  • DK
    October 12, 2017 at 3:20 PM

    Hi, my flight (international) departs very early in the morning. Will the TRS verification counter (office) be open before 6am (Adelaide) so I have enough time to get the verification, check-in and send luggages, go through the security screen, out-going custom and then get refund?

    You can also check out this link: http://www.adelaideairport.com.au/travellers-guide/tourist-refund-scheme/

    Reply

    • October 12, 2017 at 5:48 PM

      They may not be open that early, given that Adelaide Airport is quite small. I suggest you contact the Border Force office to check, they should be able to advise you. You can contact them using the links on the FAQ page, click on the link in the article. As suggested in the article, download the app and complete your details.

      Reply

  • Paul Macfarlane
    October 24, 2017 at 2:00 PM

    Hi I am from NZ and would like to know can I claim back the GST on an Item ( new BBQ) I want to take back hm. The problem is I want to put it inside our motor home which will be returning by ship with out us. We will be flying home?

    Reply

    • October 24, 2017 at 4:09 PM

      Hi Paul, unfortunately, it looks like you won’t be able top make a claim according to the information on the border force website under “What can’t be claimed?”: “unaccompanied goods (including goods sent by cargo or international mail).”
      You could confirm this (in case they’ve made any changes, but not updated the website) by calling them: Telephone: 1300 555 043 or by Email: [email protected].

      Reply

  • Ray
    October 28, 2017 at 6:45 AM

    My wife and I are going on a cruise to Hawaii in April next year. I want to replace my camera before then to prepare. Can I claim the tax for it on the way out of Australia and if so is there any time constrictions or other conditions I need to worry about? Many thanks.

    Reply

    • October 29, 2017 at 7:26 PM

      Hi Ray, Looks like the points to consider are “leaving for an extended period” and “may be eligible.”(emphasis added)
      However, as the facility “is also available at cruise liner terminals at Circular Quay and Darling Harbour in Sydney, Cairns, Darwin, Fremantle, Brisbane and Hobart.”, the provision is there for you to submit your claim. Perhaps it would help to read Rod’s comment to the story.
      Enjoy your cruise and please feel free to give us feedback on your claim when you return.

      Reply

  • George
    December 13, 2017 at 7:08 PM

    Hi there, i bought a ring but I purchased it on payment plan. The jeweller/merchant didnt give me a tax invoice (maybe they forgot to give me or they cant give one because it is not fully paid, im not sure). What i have is the payment plan and the receipt of deposit payment. Can i able to claim the gst on the goods that i purchased?

    Reply

    • December 13, 2017 at 9:22 PM

      Hi George,
      You need to go back and collect a tax invoice showing the full payment, to ensure you have proof of full payment. That would save you trouble explaining at the airport and likely disappointment.

      Reply

  • Naidu
    January 2, 2018 at 9:26 PM

    Hi There,
    I bought a television in Adelaide going overseas in 2 weeks time. How can i claim the GST refund which cannot be in carry on luggage.

    could you please suggest how can i do that in Adelaide airport.

    Many thanks,
    Naidu

    Reply

    • January 3, 2018 at 1:14 PM

      Hi Naidu, I suggest you contact the Customs people direct as per the link in the article. They would be able to give you the most up to date and official, advice.

      Reply

  • Jay
    January 6, 2018 at 10:17 PM

    Hi Lesley,

    if i purchase a phone x as a gift to my brother, would i be able to send it overseas with my cousin and claim GST?

    Thank you.
    Jay

    Reply

  • Kathy Ferguson
    January 15, 2018 at 9:26 AM

    Hi Lesley. I have bought two expensive clothing items from the same store. The total comes to $400. I bought the items in early January … full price and leave to return to NZ on 28 January. I have been on holiday here. The clothing store does not have any branches in NZ. Would these items be eligible for a claim if I download QR app etc? What is the time frame between purchase and departure? Thanks. Kathy

    Reply

    • January 15, 2018 at 12:06 PM

      Hi Kathy, It looks like you fulfill all the requirements regarding time frame of purchase/departure, amount of purchase etc. Using the app will definitely save you time filling in forms etc, but you still need to allow plenty of time at check-in (if they need to check the items if they’re in your checked bags), and at least half an hour at the counter after security. Make sure you have your tax invoice showing the details, including tax paid, when you are at the airport. All the best!

      Reply

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