The difficulties of ordering a Surface Pro in Australia



blog Want to buy one of Microsoft’s new Surface Pros in Australia? Well, as we covered a couple of weeks ago, you’re out of luck, as Microsoft isn’t shipping them locally yet. But you may not know quite how out of luck you truly are: It’s probably not even worth ordering one from overseas through the usual avenues, according to PCWorld Australia. The publication details the convoluted details of tax regulations for Surface Pro importing (we recommend you click here for the full details):

“It sounds good in theory, but a sticking point is the Government’s $1000 GST threshold. What this means is that if you’ve got a package being sent internationally, coming through Customs, it has to be under $1000 in overall value — otherwise Customs will impose a 10 per-cent GST charge on the item’s value plus postage and insurance”

The ongoing debacle around Surface availability in Australia really just have the feeling of a bad joke at this point. Microsoft really hasn’t gotten its act together with the Surface; and one has the feeling that this bodes badly for Windows 8 tablets in general, given that the Surface is pretty much the poster child for Windows 8 in a tablet form factor at this point.

Image credit: Microsoft


  1. get it shipped to a US friend, get-them to remove the invoice and repack/wrap it as a gift.
    Gifts are not susceptible to the same rules.

    Probably not entirely legal to do that though, at a guess.

  2. From
    Gifts sent to you

    There is no longer a concession for goods sent as a gift. Goods that are gifted, donated, loaned or supplied free of charge are still subject to assessment for duty and other taxes and charges if they have a value of more than A$1,000 or if the goods are tobacco and/or alcohol products.

    If you are unable to provide evidence of the value of the goods, the legislation provides other ways of determining value.

    The ‘gift concession’ (by-law number 9740019) was revoked on and from 1 October 2008, after the low value goods threshold was increased to A$1,000.

    • So, the question is this:

      Is a second-hand Surface Pro worth less than $1,000? It is technically second-hand now after all…

      • Customs doesn’t get bogged down in such minor details as ‘actual value’. I’ve sent a ten-year old piece of specialist hardware, worth probably a few hundred, to the US for repair. On the way back they pulled it up at customs and demanded GST based on the original purchase price.

        It took weeks of arguing before they agreed that it was neither a purchase nor had it kept 100% of it’s value.

  3. Pretty easy to declare the value of the goods at less than $1,000 though, particularly if you insure it for $999 or similar. Also remember the value is only the value of the goods themselves – it doesn’t include shipping or insurance (which the previous law adding tax to goods over the value of $250 didn’t exclude).

    Sorry Ren, I’m unsure how this warrants an item on its own – this is how importation of goods has worked for five years now. It affects all kinds of imports such as notebooks and ultrabooks that are significantly more expensive in Australia and GST and import duty aren’t easy to swallow there, either, but they’re usually small in comparison to local retail markups compared to international markets. Why would the surface be any different? If it was available locally it would also attract GST (although it may be able to avoid the 5% duty individual importers would have to pay).

  4. For someone who seams to hate windows 8 you look really upset you can’t get a Surface Pro

    • Probably because the OS (or the UI in any case) was written for that hardware in mind.

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