Duty-Free In Perth: Tips For The Best Bargains

How to get the most out of duty free at the airport.

While last week we told you everything you need to know about duty-free shopping at Brisbane’s airport, this time we’re jumping across the country to Perth to unpack everything you need to know about finding a bargain. 

What is duty-free?

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.

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.

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), and you should familiarise yourself with the recently updated tobacco guidelines and restrictions. 

You’ll have to declare your purchases once you arrive at your Australian destination, and pay duties on them if they exceed the $900 limit. If you’re purchasing duty-free items at Perth airport while on your way to travel overseas, you’ll need to check with your destination’s duty-free laws.

Doing your research is crucial. 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 Perth compare to other cities?

There are four terminals at Perth airport, and two different companies own their duty-free stores. Last year, Swiss travel retailer Dufry acquired Perth airport’s duty-free shopping at T1 (which covers most international flights and most Virgin Australia’s domestic flights) on Level 2 and Level 1. Since the company took the reins, there’s been some complaints about a drop in customer service. 

That said, you’ll find discounted products in duty-free stores with plenty of brands to browse. Their website offers a list of special offers. For example, today you can purchase two one-litre bottles of Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin for $65, which would usually set you back $178 at Liquorland. You can also avoid the rush of queuing by placing orders online up to 30 days before your flight (but not in the 24 hours before you board).

At T3 (Qantas international, interstate and regional services and Jetstar interstate and regional services), you’ll be able to purchase duty-free goods online and in-store from French retailer Aelia Duty-Free

Where Should You Go For Duty-Free Bargains?

Unlike Brisbane and Sydney, there aren’t options outside of Perth airport to shop duty-free anymore. Some of the best duty-free shops and brands you can browse in the airport include:

  • Perth Street Market
  • Collection
  • Johnnie Walker
  • Apple

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 Perth 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, duty-free savings at airports 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 Perth airport’s Dufry retailers, one-litre of Johnnie Walker’s Black Label whisky will set you back $60, whereas at Dan Murphy’s it typically sells at around $66. For perfumes, it seems to be worth buying these from Chemist Warehouse, as they tend to be more pricey at airports. Chloé Signature 75ml perfume is $144 at the airport and $89 at Chemist Warehouse.

Mac Lipsticks at Perth airport are currently $2 more expensive than in Mac Stores around the country. Duty-free wines seem to offer minimal savings, with just a few dollars shaved off the price. GoPro’s Hero 7 camera go for around $530 on the brand’s website but cost $489.00 at the airport’s store.

So, there you have it. With a bit of research, you can enjoy some discounted treats!

Note, prices mentioned are subject to change.

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