• Australian external territory residents – claiming GST refunds under the tourist refund scheme

    For GST, luxury car tax (LCT) and wine equalisation tax (WET) purposes, from 1 July 2015, where the term ‘Australia’ is used in this document, it is referring to the ‘indirect tax zone.’ This is defined in subsection 195-1 of the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (GST Act).

    You can claim a refund of GST under the tourist refund scheme (TRS) if you are a resident of the following Australian external territories:

    • Norfolk Island
    • Christmas Island
    • Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

    You can claim a refund of GST and, where applicable, WET under the TRS if you:

    • purchase goods in Australia
    • export the goods back to your home territory as unaccompanied baggage.

    You cannot claim under the TRS if you are registered or required to be registered for GST at the time you purchase the goods.

    Terms we use

    When we say:

    • sale – we mean the GST term 'supply'
    • purchase – we mean the GST term 'acquisition'.

    Find out about:

    See also:

    Who is a resident of an Australian external territory

    You are a resident of an Australian external territory if all of the follow apply:

    • You are an individual.
    • You reside in an external territory.
    • Your residence is an external territory or you have actually been in an external territory, continuously or intermittently, during more than half of the last 12 months.

    The export rules

    Australian external territory residents can claim a refund of GST on a taxable supply of goods, or a refund of GST and WET on any wine purchases that have wine equalisation tax included in the price. This is under the tourist refund scheme (TRS) for accompanied baggage.

    You can purchase taxable goods while you are in Australia and claim a refund of GST, and where applicable WET. This is when you export those goods back to your home territory as unaccompanied baggage.

    This means that if you purchase taxable goods in Australia and arrange for export of those goods from Australia to your home territory within 60 days from the date of purchase, you can make a claim with the TRS office for a refund of GST, and WET if applicable, as you depart Australia.

    To do this, you must present yourself at a TRS verification facility at an international airport or seaport (as you depart Australia) within 60 days of making a purchase of the goods. This is to claim and prove entitlement to a refund of any tax paid. When making your TRS claim, you must show evidence of export, or evidence that you have arranged that the goods will be exported from Australia to the external territory within 60 days of purchasing the goods.

    If you are making a claim under the TRS for goods you are taking out as accompanied baggage, the current TRS rules apply. You must be able to present these goods to a Customs and Border Protection officer on request. This is along with the tax invoice for the goods and any other documents that confirm that you are leaving Australia on an aircraft or ship. Tax invoices must be in English to fulfil the requirements of the TRS.

    Customs may refer a false or misleading tourist refund claim to the ATO. If this happens we may decide to review the claim. Even if the traveller did not receive a refund, they could be penalised.

    If you bring goods back into Australia that you have made a claim for a GST refund under TRS and the value of those goods (combined with any other overseas purchases) exceeds AUD $900, they must be declared to Australian Customs and Border Protection Services. The GST refund will have to be repaid. GST is payable on the entire value of the items, not just the amount that is over the AUD $900 limit. Penalties may apply to undeclared taxable goods.

    Documents you need to export goods as unaccompanied baggage

    If you are an Australian external territory resident, you will need to produce documents when exporting goods as unaccompanied baggage to claim a refund under the TRS.

    You must present the following documents to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the TRS verification facility:

    • the tax invoice for the purchase of the goods
    • documentary evidence that you are an individual who is a resident of an Australian external territory and you are not registered or required to be registered for GST
    • either documentary evidence that    
      • the goods have been exported to an external territory (such as a bill of lading, customs export declaration and other shipping documents)
      • arrangements have been made to export those goods to an external territory within 60 days after the day you purchased the goods.

    If you can only show evidence that arrangements have been put in place for export of the goods to the external territory, you must provide the documentary evidence of actual export to the Chief Executive Officer of Customs and Border Protection within 90 days after the day the goods were purchased. Customs and Border Protection will then pay the refund of GST (and WET if applicable) once the export documents are received.

    More information

    If you need more information about selling goods and services to residents of Australian external territories, you can phone us on:

    • 13 28 66 (inside Australia)
    • +61 26 216 1111 (outside Australia).
      Last modified: 21 Dec 2016QC 23533