Duty-Free In Brisbane: Tips And Tricks For Getting The Best Deals

Score a bargain next time you travel.

What is duty-free?

While seemingly straightforward, it can be a little tricky to grasp the ins and outs of duty-free shopping at airports. To understand how duty-free works, it helps to know its origins. In the 1940s, an Irish businessman noticed wealthy travellers sitting around waiting for their flights and saw an opportunity: he realised that airports were the perfect place to sell local goods.

After remembering that travellers on cruise ships didn’t have to pay local taxes (due to being on international waters), he decided to pitch that shoppers at airports and on planes should receive the same sweet tax-free deals.

So, “duty-free” is a term for products that are exempt from import and export tax. Depending on what you’re buying, you can often get items cheaper than their usual retail price.

In this article, we’re going to give you a short guide on how to make the most out of Brisbane’s duty-free shopping.

What are the limits and allowances?

Your allowance and limits depend on where you’re travelling to and from. On return to Australia, if you are aged 18 or older, you can bring in up to AUD 900-worth of general duty-free goods (so, things like electronics, gifts, perfumes, jewellery, watches and souvenirs). There are some rules to be mindful of. You’re only allowed to bring in 2.25 litres of alcohol – if you exceed the limit, you’ll be paying tax.

(Credit: Getty)

You’ll have to declare your purchases once you arrive at your Australian destination, and pay duties on them if they go over the $900 limit.

If you’re purchasing duty-free items at Brisbane airport while on your way to travel overseas, you’ll need to check with your destination’s duty-free laws. Doing your research is especially crucial if you’re bringing tobacco or alcohol with you.

If you’re carrying duty-free products in your on-board luggage, it’s worth checking the restrictions in your stopover city. According to Flight Centre, “if you are travelling from Australia to London via Dubai, you run the risk of losing any duty-free alcohol purchases in Dubai if they’re not packed in your checked luggage.”

What should I expect and how does duty-free shopping in Brisbane compare to other cities?

Over the past few decades, Brisbane Airport has transformed into a shopper’s paradise. The former JR Duty-Free was bought out by the Korean retail giant Lotte Duty-Free this year. You’ll find top-of-the-range, new products in duty-free stores with hundreds of brands to browse. 

Lotte Duty-Free also offers a ‘best price guarantee’, meaning you can compare your purchase with other duty-free, domestic retail or online stores. If Lotte’s product costs more, they’ll beat the competitor’s price by five per cent. You can also avoid the rush of queuing before your flight by pre-ordering online

Where Should You Go For Duty-Free Bargains?

Outside the airport, you have some options to choose from when buying duty-free products:

Some of the best places you can shop at in the airport include:

  • Gucci
  • Apple
  • MAC
  • Burberry
  • Bose
  • GoPro

How do I claim duty-free?

Claiming duty-free in Australia is thankfully reasonably easy. Thanks to the Tourist Refund Scheme, you can claim a refund on GST or WET (Wine Equalisation Tax) at Brisbane Airport when you purchase more than AUD 300.00 worth of goods at a single Australian business (up to 60 days before you travel) when you’re taking those goods out of the country. 

You can apply online. Allow extra time at the airport to process the refund (the TRS office advises arriving at least 90 minutes before your scheduled departure), and make sure to have any original tax invoices. Any international traveller, including Australian residents, can claim a refund under the TRS.

What should I buy duty-free?

You can buy everything from alcohol and tobacco to electronics and perfume. Before you head to the counter, it’s worth making a quick price comparison to ensure you’re getting a better deal. Since the introduction of GST in 2000, savings have dropped. A simple Google search is easy enough to figure out whether you’re getting a bargain or spending more than you have to.

At Brisbane Airport, Absolut Vodka 1L will set you back $35, whereas in stores it typically sells at around $60. A packet of TimTams will break the bank at $7.30, compared to usual prices of about $3 at Woolworths.

For perfumes, it seems to be worth buying these from Chemist Warehouse, as they tend to be more pricey at airports. Otherwise, see if you can compare the price under Lotte’s ‘best price guarantee’ policy. GoPro’s Hero 7 camera go for around $530 on the brand’s website but cost $478.00 at the airport’s store. Duty-free wines seem to offer minimal savings, with just a few dollars shaved off the price.

So, there you have it. Enjoy your travels and some discounted treats!

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