I understand from the Australia government webpage, we are allow to bring in AUS$900 per adult. So example, if I brought a laptop from Singapore that cost AUD$1200+ and did not get a GST/Tax refund in Singapore, do I still need to pay for tax at Australia airport?

If I have to pay for tax but have either loss or throw the receipt away for the laptop, how will customs charge me for the tax? How is it able for custom to tell if the item is new? Or if the items has been brought for a year or not?

If I received gifts from my friends at the airport in Singapore and bring it back to Australia, do I need to pay tax? But what if the gifts were given a year ago, do I need to pay tax?

  • 1
    Customs authorities are very good at figuring out what goods are worth. If you destroy the receipt and they choose to make an issue of it, they can value the laptop themselves or make you produce documentation before they'll let you bring it in.
    – Zach Lipton
    Mar 2, 2016 at 4:42
  • PCWX, can you explain what you mean by "do I need to pay tax if item is owe more than a year but it not more than a year" - that part of the question is not clear.
    – DCTLib
    Mar 2, 2016 at 9:23
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    PCWX, the bit we don't understand is literally the phrase "the items is owe more than a year" - this makes no sense in english. The problem seems to be the word "owe". We need to know more about were you live and what you intend to do with the Laptop. It matters if you are planning on taking it out of the country again or not.
    – CMaster
    Mar 2, 2016 at 10:02
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    Just to be perfectly clear - you are brining items purchased outside of Australia to remain in Australia? And you are moving to Australia permenanatly at this point? (The first is (probably) relevant to if you have to pay import duties. The second question may entitle you to considerably greater allowances beyond the normal)
    – CMaster
    Mar 2, 2016 at 10:28
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    PCWX - 1. the taxes that you are being asked to pay are either import taxes (often called duty) or VAT. 2. No, I mean that people moving to a country from another one often get a large, one-off exemption from import taxes to allow them to bring their posessions without being unfairly taxed.
    – CMaster
    Mar 2, 2016 at 11:03

1 Answer 1


You're confusing two different things: tax and duty.

Singapore imposes 10% GST on all goods sold, and allows duty-free concessions for travelers taking them out of the country. Australia does not care whether you paid tax or not in Singapore, that's not their problem.

Australia does care about people buying expensive products overseas and bringing them to Australia, instead of buying them in Australia and paying Australian tax on them. For example, if you could buy cars overseas and bring them to Australia tax-free, it would be much cheaper for you, but the government would lost a whole lot of money and all Australian car dealers who pay taxes would lose their jobs. To enforce this, Australia imposes customs duties if the value of your purchases exceeds the limit of duty-free concessions, which is $900 for general goods. Note that the duty is on value: what matters is not the cost of the laptop ($0 for a gift), but its retail price (value).

The best way to demonstrate the actual origin and value of a product is to show a sales receipt for it. If you can't, Customs reserves the right to do both. Lying is a really bad idea, as it's usually fairly straightforward to tell where a product comes from: in addition to obvious giveaways like charger plugs, many serial numbers are country-specific.

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