Obtaining a GST Refund

You may qualify to obtain a refund of the 7% GST which you pay on certain purchases while in Canada. If you wish to claim a refund, there are certain procedures that you must follow in order to claim the refund. At the beginning of the trip you should determine if you plan to claim a refund, and if so, make sure you get the appropriate receipts during your trip.

The following text is excerpted and, in some instances rephrased, from the Government of Canada's Visitor Tax Refund booklet.

If you wish, you can read a copy of the Government of Canada's Visitor Tax Refund booklet in either PDF format or HTML format.

A copy of the GST rebate form may be downloaded here. We plan to make copies available at the convention.

Do you qualify for a GST refund?

You qualify for a tax refund if you meet the following conditions: 

What does and does not qualify for a refund?

There is NO REFUND of the tax paid on such items as: entertainment; meals and alcohol; tobacco products; services such as dry cleaning and hairdressing; air, train and bus tickets; car rentals and automotive fuels; rentals of travel trailers and other recreational vehicles; or cruise ship cabins and train berths. This is not an all-inclusive list.

In addition, any goods that you consume or leave in Canada do not qualify for this refund.

You can claim a refund of the GST paid on most goods you take home with you. Goods qualify for a refund if you meet the following conditions: 

You can also claim a refund of the GST paid on short-term accommodation if the following conditions are met: 

If you stay at a campsite during your visit to Canada, the tax paid on campsite fees, including any charges for hook-ups, qualifies for a refund of GST.

How to Get Your Refund, Free of Charge

One way to get your refund is to complete the government's official refund form. Be sure to sign and date your refund application and to attach original receipts.

Alternatively, you can visit one of the participating duty-free shops at land borders to obtain a cash refund for eligible claims that do not exceed Cdn$500. See the pamphlet referred to above in PDF or HTML format for the list of participating duty-free shops.

A number of private companies may offer to complete the refund application for you. You will find their brochures many places, including in the stacks of entertainment flyers in hotel lobbies. And some of them have store front locations (in the Eaton Centre shopping mall, for example). These companies submit the application as your agent and may charge you a fee for their services. Although their advertising tries to make them look "official" these companies are not associated with the Government of Canada. Their fees may eat up pretty much all of your refund - and the paperwork you have to prepare to satisfy them is about the same as what you have to give the government if you do it yourself.

Proof of export and stamping your receipts

Proof of export is required if you wish to claim a refund of the tax paid on eligible goods which you take out of Canada. What is considered proof of export can vary depending on how you leave Canada. how the goods are exported, and the departure point. Proof of export is not required for accommodation receipts.

If you leave by plane from an international airport, Canadian customs officials will stamp receipts for proof of export at these nine Canadian international airports: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto (Pearson International), Ottawa, Montréal-Mirabel, Montréal-Dorval, and Halifax. When leaving Canada from any of these airports, you must have your eligible goods together with their original receipts available for inspection and a Canadian customs official must stamp the original receipts. Airport duty-free shops do not provide this service.

Follow the Canada Customs signs, or signs that read "Tax Refund for Visitors to Canada." Also, staff at Canadian customs information counters will be able to direct you to where you can have your receipts stamped. Remember to allow extra time at the airport to have your receipts stamped for proof of export, keeping in mind that other passengers will also be requesting this service. You should arrive at the airport even earlier than the time recommended by your airline to be at your boarding gate on time.

If you leave by private vehicle or charter bus tour, get your receipts for goods stamped by staff at participating land-border duty-free shops, or by Canadian customs officials as you leave Canada.

In addition to original receipts, which need to be stamped, you may be asked to show: 

If you leave by other modes of transportation such as ferry, train or non-charter bus, send your application and enclose your original boarding pass or carrier ticket, together with your original receipts to the address provided on the back of the application form.

If you personally ship your goods outside Canada, you likely paid tax on these goods. Follow one of these procedures to get your visitor tax refund:

At a participating land border duty-free shop, show the staff your shipping and other export documents, original receipts, and photo identification. If you do not go to a participating land border duty-free shop, mail your refund claim and include shipping and related export documents, along with the original receipts.

Additional information

Canadian customs officials will not determine which of your goods are eligible for the visitor tax refund.

Although most Canadian highway land-border customs offices provide the receipt stamping service, they themselves do not issue cash refunds.

Staff at participating land-border duty-free shops will only stamp receipts for goods that qualify for the tax refund. They can stamp your receipts even if you choose not to use their cash refund service.

If you have not purchased enough eligible goods and short-term accommodation to meet the $200 minimum requirement, you may ask to have your receipts for goods stamped so that you can use these receipts on a future claim as long as the claim is made within one year.

Also note that the government will not return your original receipts to you.

A suggestion....

When shopping around Toronto, or even in the Dealer's Room at the convention, if you are making a purchase on which you have to pay GST, try to purchase once from the retailer rather than making several smaller purchases - remember, your pre-tax purchase price on a receipt must be greater than $50.00 in order to get back the GST from that purchase.

So, if necessary, wait and combine your purchases into one larger purchase.

Obtaining a PST Refund

The Government of Ontario offers a refund on PST on large purchases. Each individual receipt submitted must show that PST paid was at least Cdn$50.00, meaning that the purchase price must have been at least Cdn$625.00. Keep this in mind if you are in the habit of making large dollar value purchases from the Art Show or the Dealers' Room or elsewhere in Ontario.

In order to claim the refund, you must remove the goods from Ontario within 30 days of purchase.

For Non-Canadians, there does not appear to be any requirement to get a customs stamp or similar proof that the goods were taken out of the Province.

In order for Canadians from other provinces to claim a refund of Ontario sales tax, they must provide proof that they have paid their own Province's sales tax on the goods.

A refund claim must be filed with the Province of Ontario within 4 years of buying the goods.

No refund is available on PST paid for hotel accommodations.

A copy of the PST refund form may be downloaded inn pdf format here. We plan to make copies available at the convention.

A suggestion....

Same as our GST suggestion above ... When shopping around Toronto, or even at the convention - especially from the Art Show - if you are making a purchase on which you have to pay PST, try to make one single purchase from the retailer or convention, rather than making several smaller purchases - remember, your PST paid on the receipt must be greater than $50.00 in order to get back the PST from that purchase.

So, if necessary, wait and combine your purchases into one larger purchase.


Last updated: 16 August 2003

Send comments or suggestions to treasurer@torcon3.on.ca .