The Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) is part of the Australian Government's tax system.
The TRS allows Australians and overseas visitors to claim a refund, (subject to certain conditions), of the goods and services tax (GST) and wine equalisation tax paid on goods bought in Australia and then taken out of Australia in checked luggage or carry-on bags. Operating air and sea crew are not eligible to claim a refund.
When making a claim you need to take your goods, original tax invoice(s), passport and boarding pass to the TRS facility. Different conditions apply for claiming a tax refund on liquids, aerosols, gels (LAGs) and oversized items. Oversized or LAGs goods must be verified at the Australian Border Force (ABF) client service office and then checked in with your baggage before you present the notated invoices to the TRS facility.
What can be claimed?
You can claim a refund if:
- you purchased the goods in the 60 days before you leave Australia
- your purchases are from a single business with the same Australian business number (ABN) and total AUD 300 (GST inclusive) or more. For example, if you bought items from one business, even on separate invoices, that together total AUD 300, these items could be eligible for a tax refund under the TRS
- you, as the travelling passenger, paid for the goods
- you have an original tax invoice for the goods. Refer to 'What is an eligible tax invoice’.
- If the shop has issued you with an electronic tax invoice you will need to provide this on your device when making a claim. Refer to ‘Do I need the original tax invoices or can I use photocopies?’.
- you wear or carry the goods as hand luggage aboard the aircraft or ship as you leave Australia
- if the goods are liquids, aerosols or gels (LAGs), or oversized or bulky goods that the airline requires to be checked in as hold luggage you need to have these good verified at the ABF Client Service office before checking the goods in with your luggage. More information is available in the section ‘Claiming TRS on liquids, aerosols or gels, or oversized goods’.
Tax invoices of AUD 1000 or more in value must contain your identity (name, address, email or passport number). Contact the retailer and request a new tax invoice if this information is missing, as the tax invoice will be rejected at the TRS facility without this information.
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 (travellers can claim wine under the TRS) and tobacco products (these goods can be purchased from duty-free shops)
- GST-free goods where no GST was paid
- consumables wholly or partially consumed in Australia for example, food
- goods that are prohibited on aircraft or ships for safety reasons, including gas cylinders, fireworks and aerosol sprays (check with your airlines for prohibited items)
- unaccompanied goods (including goods sent by cargo or international mail). Residents of external territories should refer to ‘How do I make a TRS claim if I am travelling to an External Territory?’.
- services such as accommodation, tours, car rental and labour charges
- goods purchased over the Internet and imported into Australia
- gift cards/vouchers (although goods purchased with gift cards/vouchers are eligible for a refund subject to all TRS requirements being met).
If you are unable to present a valid tax invoice for or present some or all of your goods to an officer on request, or cannot provide evidence that an ABF officer has sighted your goods, some or all of your claim could be rejected.
Making a claim
You can make a claim for a tax refund by visiting the TRS facility in an international airport or at the cruise liner terminal at your final port of departure from Australia. The refund will be paid into an Australian bank account, to a credit card, or by cheque (in limited currencies), within 60 days of the claim being lodged.
The TRS application (app)
The mobile or web TRS app allows you to enter the information required to lodge a TRS claim. Currently the app is only available for passengers travelling on international flights departing Australia and international cruises.
Information entered into the TRS application will be stored in a QR code. This QR code is your TRS claim code, which you must present to an officer at the TRS facility when making your claim.
If you successfully enter your claim details using the app, you might be able to use a dedicated queue at the TRS facility and you should spend less time queuing. Dedicated queues do not operate in all international airports.
The mobile phone app can only store a maximum of 10 tax invoices and multiple claim codes cannot be generated. Use the web app if you have 11 or more tax invoices and enter your invoices in batches up to 10 and print the QR code for each batch. You will need to present the multiple claim codes at the TRS facility when making your claim.
- Access the web app at My TRS Claim.
- Download the Android version of the mobile app from Google Play.
- Download the IOS version of the mobile app from the Apple App Store.
- Download the Windows version of the mobile app from the Windows Phone Store.
When to go to the TRS facility
At international airports you should arrive at the TRS facility at least 90 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of your flight to ensure you have sufficient time to successfully lodge your TRS claim.
To find the location of the TRS facility, 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 check in your luggage.
If you want to check-in your goods you will need to ensure your luggage is not checked through to your final destination from an earlier domestic flight as your goods must be sighted prior to check-in at the airport where you clear immigration.
If you are catching a domestic flight before catching an international flight and want to make a TRS claim on oversized goods, you must:
- advise the check-in agent at the domestic airport that you want your bags tagged only to the port from where you will be departing Australia
- collect your luggage at the domestic terminal
- transfer to the international terminal and then have your goods sighted at the AB client services office
- proceed to the departures area and complete check-in procedures for your international flight
- make your TRS claim after you have completed immigration clearance
You can make a claim between one and four hours before your ship’s scheduled departure time. You should make the claim at the last Australian port before departure for overseas. This could be a different port to where you originally boarded the ship. If you attempt to make a TRS claim other than at your last port of departure, ABF officers will be unable to process it.
See the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s website for more information about the limits to the quantity of liquids, aerosols or gels that you can take into the cabin on flights from Australia.
If you want to make a TRS claim for liquids, aerosols or gels that you are not able to take on board because of these limits, take your goods to the ABF client services office before you check in your luggage.
You should also take oversized items such as skis, snowboards and golf clubs and other goods that you will check in to the ABF client services officer for verification before you check them in with the airline.
If you want to check your goods in with your luggage you will need to ensure your luggage is not checked in to your final destination from an earlier domestic flight as your goods must be sighted prior to check-in at the airport where you clear immigration.
To find the location of the ABF client services office, check the website of the airport where you will depart from Australia.
Bringing goods back into Australia for which you have already received a TRS refund
If you are aged 18 years or over, you can bring up to AUD 900 worth of goods into Australia duty-free, or AUD 450 if you are younger than 18. Families travelling together can pool this allowance (a couple with one child can bring in a total of AUD 900 + AUD 900 + AUD 450 = AUD 2250 worth of goods into Australia without paying duty or GST). This is called your passenger concession.
If the total value of the goods you are bringing into Australia is greater than your passenger concession, including goods for which you have previously claimed a tax refund under TRS and any purchased overseas:
- you must declare all of these goods
- you will need 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 goods over the limit of your passenger concession.
Penalties can apply if you don’t declare that you have goods in excess of your passenger concession.
You will need to provide your personal information for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the Department) to assess your eligibility for the TRS and process your claim.
When making a claim for a GST refund under the TRS, the Department will collect and use your personal information to assess your eligibility for the TRS and to process your claim. The Department can share your personal information with:
- the Australian Taxation Office
- any of the retailers that gave you a tax invoice that you included as part of your TRS refund claim
- a contracted commercial agency who is facilitating your refund on behalf of the Department.
The Department will collect, use, store and disclose personal information in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles in Schedule 1 of the Privacy Act 1988.