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What Is Duty-Free? How Does Duty-Free Work?
Duty-free shops are retail outlets that are exempt from any import or export taxes. Because of this, some of the products on sale at these stores may be cheaper than what you find outside.
As duty-free laws apply to goods you are bringing into a country, the limits and allowances will apply whether you’re flying into Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, or any other Australian city. If you are trying to bring goods from Australia to another country, you will need to check the duty-free laws of the country you’re visiting.
What Are The Duty-Free Allowances And Limits?
Compared to other nations, Australia has a very generous duty-free allowance. Generally, most of the items you bring into Australia are exempt from taxation. This includes personal items, clothing, and other goods that are either temporarily imported or have been owned and used by you for the last 12+ months.
For goods that don’t fall under this definition, or for ‘exempted categories’, check out our guide below.
General goods include most items such as cameras, sunglasses, perfumes, watches, electronics, souvenirs, etc. You can bring up to AUD 900-worth of items duty-free if you are over 18. If you are under 18, that limit is AUD 450.
The duty-free alcohol limit in Australia is 2.25 litres of any alcoholic beverage, subject to liquids, aerosols, and gels restrictions. Only passengers 18 years old and above can bring in alcohol duty-free.
For passengers 18 or older, the tobacco limit is as follows:
- ONE unopened pack of up to 25 cigarettes OR 25g of smoking tobacco; and
- ONE open pack of cigarettes
For smokeless (e.g. chewing, sniffing, etc.) tobacco, you can bring up to 1.5kg duty-free.
If you exceed the duty-free limits, you will have to pay tax on all of the goods of that category (general, alcohol, or tobacco) you brought – not just on the excess goods.
Where Can You Find Duty-Free Stores?
The most common place you will find duty-frees are at airports, seaports, and other points of entry/departure. However, you can also find duty-free stores in special tax zones and around the city.
Brisbane Airport Arrivals/Departures
At the Brisbane Airport, duty-frees are plentiful. While you’ll find most of them at the departures area, you can also buy products when you arrive. This saves you the trouble of lugging the goods around on your travels.
One benefit of shopping duty-free at the Brisbane airport is that staff are usually quite helpful when it comes to what and how much you’re allowed to bring in; when in doubt, you can double-check with them to make sure you’re not going over the limit.
Here’s a list of some of the brands you can find at the Brisbane airport at the Lotte Duty-Free (formerly known as the JR Duty-Free):
- Jack Daniels
Outside The Airport
Yes, you can find duty-free shops even outside of the airport! Here are some stores you can check out:
- Brisbane Duty-Free
- Ted’s Cameras
- Watches of Switzerland
- City Hall Duty-Free
- Chinatown Duty-Free
To save time, you can pre-order from a duty-free online and simply pick it up at the store/airport. Lotte Duty-Free even offers discounts only for online shoppers!
Tourist Refund Scheme: Claiming Duty-Free In Australia
Thanks to the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS), you can claim a tax refund on products you buy outside of a duty-free IF you plan on bringing them out of the country. Travellers can file for a claim on goods and services tax (GST) and wine equalisation tax (WET), as long as you meet the following conditions:
- You bought the goods no more than 60 days before your departure from Australia.
- The goods were purchased from a single business and total AUD 300 or more.
- You, the traveller, paid for the goods yourself.
- You have the original physical copy of the tax invoice at the time of claiming.
As with anything, there are exceptions, such as:
- The purchased goods are alcohol or tobacco.
- Unaccompanied goods
- Prohibited goods
- GST-free goods
Worry-Free, Discounted Shopping
Whether you’re bringing goods into Australia or flying them out of the country, duty-frees can save you a whole lot of money. Next time you travel, make sure to check out the airport duty-free – you never know what amazing deals you’ll score.