Consider this a community announcement. :-)
The Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) has been overhauled to allow travellers to claim a GST rebate on purchases under $300, along with doubling the buy-before-you-fly period.
The new rules come into effect as of 17 April 2013. Here’s what you need to know.
Refund on goods under $300
Travellers can now claim a TRS rebate on individual purchases costing under $300 – a welcome relaxation of the previous ‘$300 and over’ rule.
But there’s a catch: you’ll need to be claiming for goods worth over $300 in total and they must all be accompanied by a tax invoice from the one retailer with the same Australian Business Number, although they don't have to have been bought on the same day.
Under the old system, the only way to claim a rebate on an item costing less than $300 was to buy them at the same time as other goods which could boost the total price past the $300 mark.
From now on you’ll be able to submit several lower-cost purchases for your refund, as long as they’ve all been bought from the same retailer and have a combined total of $300 or more.
Buy within 60 days before you claim
Travellers can now claim the tourist refund on purchases made up to 60 days before leaving Australia, compared to a 30 day window under the old regulations.
For more information, visit the Tourist Refund Scheme website or download the TRS fact sheet [100KB PDF].
Three tips for claiming your TRS rebate
1. Any items on which you want to claim the TRS refund must be included in your carry-on luggage, not bundled into your checked baggage. "However, if those goods are oversized, for example a case of wine, they must be sighted prior to check-in at the Customs and Border Protection Client Services counter" according to the TRS website.
2. Any single invoice over $1,000 will need to list your address as well as your name. This isn't normal practice at many stores, so don't be caught out.
3. Queues at the airport's TRS office can be very long, especially for morning flights, and you have to be at the counter (not standing in line) 30 minutes before your flight departs. So allow plenty of time: consider making the TRS rebate office your first stop once you're through security, even before you hit the lounge.