Is duty free shopping still a thing?

AdministratorGeelong Travel Blog

Duty free shopping used to be one of the best things about travelling overseas but with the advent of internet shopping is this still the case?  Duty free shopping was not only seen to save you money but it also had a certain cachet of cool about it. Well-lit shops filled with glittery products that you may not normally buy, like giant toblerones and litre bottles of spirits, and quintessentially Australian products like Tim Tams that seem like a great last minute gift for your overseas hosts, draw you in and get you spending before you’ve even made it to the plane.  

finder.com.au conducted some research and found that some of the deals turned out to be too good to be true while others did save you some dollars on retail prices.  In the spirit of this research we have put together some tips on how to make sure you are making the right choice when it comes to that giant toblerone.

Do your research

If you are looking for specific items do your research beforehand, what is the going retail price in Australian stores? Are you able to get it cheaper online? If it is electronics, are you able to find the exact model you are looking for?  You want to make sure you are comparing apples with apples. If you are buying electronics overseas, are you able to use it in Australia? In relation to alcohol and cigarettes, how much are you able to bring back into the country? Some regulations may have changed when it comes to tobacco products.  You don’t want to have to pay additional tax if you are over your designated limit.

Tourist Refund Scheme

You may not be aware that the government has a Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) that allows you to claim a GST or WET (wine equalisation tax) refund at the airport on certain purchases up to 60 days prior to travelling.  Most purchases are eligible for a GST/WET refund however the following exclusions apply

  • Alcohol and tobacco products (except wine)
  • Goods that don’t have GST
  • Gift cards and vouchers
  • Services (eg. accommodation, food, vehicle hire, tours, etc.)
  • Goods that don’t accompany you on your flight or ship out of Australia
  • Goods that have been used in part or full in Australia (eg. food, perfume, etc.)  Electronics and clothing are exempt from this exclusion.

To be eligible for the tourist refund you must

  • Spend $300 or more (gst inclusive) at any one business, you can also combine invoices from the one retailer
  • Have paid for the goods yourself and have the tax invoice, any invoices over $1000 must include your address
  • Wear or carry the goods as carry on baggage, unless they must be checked in due to airline regulations

For further information on the Tourist Refund Scheme and to find out how to apply go to the Department of Home Affairs website.  

The return journey

If you are serious about shopping duty free then you may want to leave your buying until on the return journey as you might find a better price overseas.  Electronic items will be cheaper in Asia and America while some perfumes and cosmetics may be more cost effective if you are returning from Europe. If you have done your research, you will know what is a true bargain and what just appears to be.

Need more travel tips or planning to travel soon?

Geelong Travel is an award-winning travel agent with access to the hottest packages and best locations.

We’re happy to give you travel advice and help plan your next adventure – big or small!

Drop in and see us at Geelong Travel, Cnr High and Regency St, Belmont, VIC 3216, or call 03 5244 3666