Your complete guide to the Tourist Refund Scheme, score back the GST paid on your recent purchases.

Tourist Refund Scheme
Date Posted: 26/11/2018

Each year the Black Friday sales come around in late November just after thanksgiving in America. It’s been a tradition in America for many years and it’s similar to our Boxing Day sales we have after Christmas. Black Friday is the term given to the day after the Thanksgiving holiday and is referred to in the US as the first day of Christmas shopping. Retailers put on some amazing deals and specials to encourage some pre-Christmas spending, this year we have been lucky with some of Australia’s top retailers offering discounts of up to 80% off.

Black Friday Sales (Image: Unknown)

The good news for us frequent travellers is that if you are due to depart Australia and travel overseas you are eligible to claim back the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from the purchases that you made. It’s perfect at this time of year when everyone is travelling to meet with family and friends to celebrate the festive season, so if you are travelling within the next 60 days, keep your receipts handy and claim that GST back.

The Tourist Refund Scheme is the name given to the department which will look at your claim and if eligible, they will refund you the GST from your purchases. Not too sure if your purchase(s) are eligible to claim or not to sure how to lodge a claim then we have all the information you need to know.

The Tourist Refund Scheme is part of the Australian Governments taxation system, the TRS allows Australian and overseas visitors to claim back the GST and Wine Equalization Tax (WET) paid on goods purchased in Australia and then taken out of the country.

Prior to leaving Australia you must have the items you want to claim on your person, that means wearing the items or have them packed securely in your carry-on luggage. Claimable items don’t need to be in their original packaging, and you don’t need to bring the packaging along with you to the TRS facility. An Australian Border Force (ABF) official will need inspect these items, and must be able to successfully match them to the corresponding tax invoice.

If your item is unable to be taken on-board the aircraft with you, such as liquids, aerosols and gels as they would exceed the security limits, or if it’s an oversized item you will need to mention it to the ABF officer at the TRS desk. With all of the goods that you’re claiming the GST for, you must provide the original tax invoice for inspection by an official.

Airline crew are unable to make a claim.

So what goods can be claimed?

A claim will be processed along as all the following conditions are met:

  • Goods purchased in the last 60 days, prior to departure; and
  • The items you are claiming are from a single business, with the same Australian Business Number (ABN), totalling up to and in excess of AUD $300; and
  • You as the travelling passenger has purchased the goods; and
  • You must have the original tax invoice for the goods, photocopies will not be accepted.

If you are unable to present a valid tax invoice, or present some or all of your goods to an officer on request, or you can’t provide evidence that an ABF officer has sighted your goods, some or all of your claim could be rejected.

Here’s what can’t be claimed.

A refund will not be paid on the following goods and services:

  • Alcohol, such as beer, brandy, fortified wines and spirits as well as tobacco products, as these goods will need to be purchased at the duty free shops within the airport.
  • GST exempt goods, in which no GST was paid.
  • Partly consumed items, such as food products.
  • Goods which are prohibited for travel on an aircraft, such as gas cylinders, flammable goods and fireworks. Please check with your airline for a full list of restricted items.
  • Unaccompanied goods, including those sent by a courier.
  • Services such as accommodation, tours, car hire and extras.
  • Goods purchased via the internet which are imported in from overseas.
  • Gift cards and gift vouchers.

Claims can be made by visiting the dedicated TRS facility, just look for the TRS signage once you have passed through the security checkpoint in the international terminal. The GST refund will be paid into an Australian bank account, credit card or cheque within 60 days of being processed.

What counts as a valid tax invoice?
A tax invoice must be surrendered over to the TRS claim facility, where it will then be checked by an ABF personnel. All tax invoices must be produced in English, and also contain the sellers information, a valid ABN number, date issued, description of goods including the quantity, total GST paid, breakdown of GST exempt items (if applicable) and the document(s) were intended to be a tax invoice.

A tax invoice must be surrendered over to the TRS claim facility, where it will then be checked by an ABF personnel. All tax invoices must be produced in English, and also contain the sellers information, a valid ABN number, date issued, description of goods including the quantity, total GST paid, breakdown of GST exempt items (if applicable) and the document(s) were intended to be a tax invoice.

Example of Tax Invoices

Original invoices are needed for your claim, as photocopies will not be accepted in any circumstances. If you are claiming goods in excess of AUD $1000 the tax invoice must include the buyer’s identity with either a name or passport number attached.

TRS facilities are located in most of Australia’s international airports, and it’s recommended by the TRS that you allow 90 minutes to ensure you have enough time to lodge your claim. Please note that you will not be able to make a TRS claim 30 minutes or less before your scheduled departure time.

Can you bring goods back into Australia in which you have already claimed the TRS for?
If you are aged 18 years or over, you are able to bring up to AUD $900 worth of goods into Australia duty free, or if you are younger than 18 years, you are able to bring in up to AUD $450. This value is referred to as your passenger concession.

If the total value of the goods you are bringing into Australia, that were purchased overseas in which you have already claimed a refund for under the TRS is greater than your passenger concession limit, you will need to declare these goods on your incoming passenger card. You will be required to repay the GST refund back on the goods you claimed under the TRS. Duty and GST will apply to all items purchased, not just those goods over your passenger concession limit. Penalties can apply if you don’t declare these goods in excess of your passenger concession.

When you make your TRS claim you will need to present the tax invoice(s), your passport, boarding pass and your goods if requested to by the ABF official who will process your claim.

A word of advice…
As we all know airports can get busy at times, especially during peak periods. I do recommend that you pre-submit your claim prior to arriving at the airport. Claims can be easily processed via the TRS app on your phone or online and takes only a few minutes*.

Make a claim online by clicking here, you will be redirected to the TRS website.

Mobile Application

Download the TRS App on your device by clicking here.
Download for Android Devices
Download for Apple iOS Devices

Once you have followed all the steps online or via the app you are presented with a QR code. Keep this QR code handy as you will need it to present it to the ABF official. Once you arrive at the TRS facility you are welcome to use the priority queue and trust me it saves you a lot of time!

To find the location of the TRS facility, please check the website of the airport where you will depart Australia from. This is the airport where you will clear outwards immigration formalities and not necessarily the airport where you checked in your bags.

* Currently, TRS claims made via the app with a QR code can only be processed at the following international airports: Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

The information on this site is correct at the time of publishing, please only use this information as a guide, rules and procedures may change and not be reflect on here. For up to date information please click here.

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