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It’s not a secret that when travelling overseas you can claim GST from Australian Government for any items or invoices over $300 dollars. However, there are a few things misunderstood about who it applies to and how it works.

In this post, I will hopefully clarify this for you with some examples from my life and help you maximise your GST refund when you travel overseas.

The Myth

People often think that this Scheme is for Tourists only!!

As a resident and a citizen of Australia you can also claim GST on items you have purchased 60 days prior to your departure.

My work requires me at times to travel Overseas at least 3 to 4 times a year, sometimes even more. So as a photographer when I’m on the lookout for sales and bargains, I plan to buy before my departure out of Australia.

But the myth that people often believe, which is why they think:

“As a resident/citizen I’m not a Tourist”. Can I bring the Item back into Australia? Because I have claimed GST?

The answer is yes you can!!!

How it works?

If you look carefully on the Arrival Card questions there is one which asks you if you are bringing any tax free items of value $900 or more into Australia. So technically if you bought something that was within this $900 limit then you are not breaking any rules.

But you might say that often camera related items may be more than $900. True but this is where you have another advantage.

Travel with your family, in mine there are 3 of us so now our combined allowance as a family is $2700 (3x $900). Do you start to see the picture?

How I have Maximised my Refund?

Here are some real examples from my life that I can share with you.

In January 2013, I bought a new MacBook Pro for $2650 dollars. I was travelling overseas with my family to the United States so I claimed GST for this purchase. I got almost $250 refund, that’s a lot of money.

On the way back I didn’t declare the item as GST free as this was within the combined allowance of my family limit.

Late 2014, I switched from Canon cameras to Fujifilm and total transition cost me $3500. That December I had planned to travel to India with my family but his time the allowance was above the limit. The TRS officer advised me if I bring it back I must declare and I may be subject to GST. I said yep, no worries I understand.

On my return I declared the items on my form that I (only me) was over limit of this allowance. And Customs officer asked, “what is the item?” I relied, “its this camera in my bag.” He said, “no worries, welcome home!!”

Some Tips

So if you are planning a trip overseas, here are some tips that may be useful.

  • Buy your item within 60 days of your departure date.
  • But the item Invoiced in your Name (as it is on your passport).
  • Make sure the Invoice amount is $300 or above even though item itself may be lower in value, add on accessories that you may need to get the invoice to be over $300
  • Pack the item in your carry on, never in your checked bags.
  • Use the TRS app to fill your details and obtain the QR code. So you can queue up in the faster lane.
  • Have a Credit Card with you for the refund.
  • You can also open an use the item so it doesn’t need to be in its original packaging. As long as it’s easily matchable with the receipt you’ll be fine.


To be very honest, in my opinion the customs are more focused on people bringing drugs, plants and animal products into the country and claiming GST is not a priority for them. It is the opinion I have established based on my trips.

I don’t think that’s because of my charming looks. Lol!! If you found this post useful, you can thank me by please share with your friends or leaving a comment below.

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