Going overseas? You need to know about the Tourist Refund Scheme

The Tourist Refund Scheme essentially means you can get a refund on the GST component of anything you’ve purchased within Australia in the last two months, even if you’re an Australian going on holiday.

We took advantage of this when travelling to Phuket in 2014. I had bought a new Macbook Air for $1600. By lining up for around 45 minutes, we got close to $150 back.


There are a few conditions (paraphrased from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website):

  • Goods must have been purchased within 60 days of departure
  • Goods from each business must total $300 or more
  • You, the passenger must have paid for the goods and must be able to present the original tax invoice
  • The goods are in your hand luggage or being worn so they can be presented at the TRS counter. If the goods are too large, they must be verified by an officer at a Client Services counter before you check your bags.

The Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) lets you claim a refund of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) that you pay on certain goods you buy in Australia and then take out of Australia with you or in your checked luggage or carry-on bags.


You cannot claim items where there was no GST or WET paid- such as some foods and medicines. You also can’t claim beer, spirits or tobacco products.

To make your claim, just go to the TRS counter at the airport and present your goods, as well as your receipt. As I said it took us about 45 minutes, so make sure you allow enough time. I’ve also just noticed that you can complete much of the initial paperwork yourself on the TRS website, to effectively jump the queue at the airport.

Really, it’s just like a 10% off sale on anything you’re taking on holiday.

Need a new laptop, camera, sunglasses or mobile phone? Use the TRS and you’ve got yourself 10% off.

More information is at https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Ente/Tour/Are-you-a-traveller.

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