Online Duty Free Information – is it worth the bother?

Online Duty Free Information – is it worth the bother and where’s the best place to find it? What do you need to know?

Most travelers in Europe and North America are completely unaware that you can buy your duty free on arrival in 70+ countries as well as from the more conventional departure shops. If you are visiting London, Lagos or Luanda, the dutyfreeonarrival shopping guide will take you to the outlets, giving you links to the stores and also to the Customs Exemptions, Allowances or Limits that you are permitted.

Some stores are now doing Duty Free online with home delivery too.

Duty free on arrival® Duty free a la llegada® Duty Free na chegada® Fundada em 2008.

More info coming soon ……………………… meantime check before you fly online at the Original & free information and shopping guide to global duty free stores.

Can I buy Duty Free at the Border, possible and where?

Shopping for Duty Free at the Border is growing, at the frontier crossings between Brazil and Uruguay and also with Argentina, huge emporiums are now opening.

Border Duty Free store
Duty Free at the Border

On the US Border with Mexico there are also huge Outlet Malls, all containing a Duty Free Shop. Russians can drive to Finland or Norway to buy and in Asia, even some of the trains stations have Duty Free shops.

Shopping at the Border is big business, especially for those who live in a high tax country. But what you are allowed to buy and where, can get confusing, especially if you are a foreign visitor.

The Duty Free on Arrival global shopping guide also covers land travel information of where to find Duty Free at the border.  This section details the rules and some of the key stores at each destination. (There are too many for a complete list of stores).

So, if you are travelling soon by road and crossing a border, check our land based Duty Free section.

Mexico Duty Free
Duty Free shopping going north from Tijuana Mexico, shop whilst you wait.

The world is a big place to cover in one article, so let us concentrate on The Americas just now. Did you know that at almost every land border crossing from Canada in the North down to Argentina in the south, almost certainly has a Duty Free Border store at the frontier point?

Here are the key points to look out for, if you want specifics go to our directory of travel points. You can then find the relevant Allowances and Exemptions for your journey.

Paraguay Duty Free
Cross into Paraguay from Brazil for Duty Free at the Border

– Anyone crossing a border internationally can buy Duty Free goods on their way out of a country.

– Usually, you buy on departure in the country you are leaving, not at the one you are arriving into. But there are exceptions.

– If you are a Resident in one country, sometimes you cannot buy in the shops located where you live. Some shops serve foreigners only, not locals.

Sounds complicated, but this is done to stop the locals buying daily. Unfortunately, they want Tourist Dollars, not your local currency.

– In some countries, like the USA, the shop must deliver your goods right to your car, bus or van and you cannot take them direct from the store. This is due to Customs regulations.

– In many places your limits are restricted, depending on how much time your are out of one country, before you return. If you don’t plan to return, the allowances could be greater.

– Bear in mind that your Duty Free exemptions apply to your country of arrival, not to your country of departure. At least when you cross a border, Customs know exactly where you have arrived from!

– You can’t go backwards and forward in the same day and keep buying extra goods. Obviously this is to stop people “loading up” with discounted goods.

– Border stores are usually less expensive than airport stores, because the local competition is fierce. If you are flying off on a trip that takes in land borders, bear this in mind.

– The product range at the border is much more extensive, they have more space to work with and baggage weight is not an issue, especially if you are in your own car.

Duty Free at the border
Brazilian Duty Free Customs warning 30km from the border with Uruguay

– Don’t be greedy! In many countries Customs have Limit Control Units, anything up to 100km inland of the border.  So, just when you think that you have sneaked through that diamond-encrusted watch, you might be in for a shock.

– Many shops in Central and South America have US Dollar based prices, in some places you can only pay in Dollars. If you home currency is weak, the bargains will be less.

– Unlike airport stores, “big-ticket” electronic items, such as TVs, refrigerators and even aircon units can be purchased. So can speciality foods and sometimes not so speciality, like Ketchup being sold in giant packs!

– Keep all receipts for any inspection by Customs, don’t get your purchases gift-wrapped in case they are opened and Inspectors are very wise to receipts that reflect a ridiculously cheap buying price!

– Often you need to be prepared for a long line of cars and a long wait to cross, make it easy to show your purchases to Officials. The easier it is, the quicker you cross.

All the specifics can be found in our directory, just enter your Country or City and the details are there for you to check before you travel.

So what is duty free on arrival?

If you live in the USA, Canada or Europe, you’ve probably never heard of duty free on arrival, nor being able to pick up your goods inbound at the duty free arrivals store when collecting your luggage.

Baggage claim areas in airports around the world are sprouting arrivals duty free stores next to the carousel.

Arrivals Duty Free yes
DFOA – Yes!

The world market for duty free shopping is still dominated by airports in Europe, the USA and Canada, these were the countries that first expanded this business more than 30 years ago.

Today, airports look like shopping Malls with few planes in sight but a multitude of stores all there in the departure lounge, waiting for you to spend, spend spend.

You can see people amassing shopping bags in the Terminal and then bundling them in the aircraft overhead lockers. Of course, some airline carry-on baggage rules don’t like this idea because they want to restrict what you carry on board.

But, the whole process of shopping in the airport departure lounge has become a massive industry and very important for airport revenues.

Then came along strict security regulation, the restrictions on liquids and those low-cost airlines who want every penny off you, especially for all your bags. All this puts the passengers, the Terminals and the Retailers in potential conflict, especially when your airline wants your shopping to be checked into the hold*, or airport Security takes your expensive Cognac off you en-route to your destination.

Duty Free Arrivals
Arrivals Duty Free Store -Geneva Switzerland

But, if you are Argentinian, Brazilian, Thai, Australian, a Gulf Arab, Egyptian or one of over 70 Nationalities, often from The Southern Hemisphere – it would be second nature for you to plan your shopping at the duty free on arrival, not departure!

Why carry your goods all around the world when all you need to do is add them to your cart inbound at the airport?

And now, European airports are jumping on the bandwagon too.. but there’s a catch, or at least a potential catch… are these goods really Duty Free?

If you are arriving into any European Union Member State, like France or Italy, the answer is no. Arrivals Duty Free is not currently permitted in the EU, so the goods you buy inbound at these airports are all Tax-Paid goods. And it doesn’t matter where you are arriving from, everything will be tax paid.

Non-EU States like Iceland, Norway, Switzerland or Turkey bordering Europe, all have real Duty Free arrivals stores in their luggage areas. With proper tax-deducted prices.

Duty Free Arrivals
Bangkok airport baggage claim arrivals store

And they are booming, Oslo has just opened the world’s largest store on landing in airport around the world.

But go to Bangkok, Rio, Panama, Sydney, Dubai and many other airports and you will find these stores for you convenience.

Meanwhile Lufthansa and Frankfurt airport have just announced the e-commerce portal so incoming travelers can pre-order for delivery of their purchases on arrival too. But, these goods will not be Duty or Tax free for the reasons explained above.

The United Nations Climate Change people (UNEP) got the message some time ago with their Kick the CO2 habit presentation, which states:

* Pack lighter suitcases. World CO2 savings would be 2 million tonnes a year if every airline passenger cut the weight of baggage to below 20 kg and bought duty free goods on arrival.

Arrivals Duty Free shopping is expanding, one way or another, with or without tax, so it is best to search for the various rules that apply to your travel plan – and that is the service we provide.

Just go to our home page, choose your language flag and enter the airline, airport or destination city or country and check before you fly!

*Indian airlines have become very strict on what is known as "the one-bag rule" - what they allow you to carry on board - so be careful.

** You can now pre-order online and in advance for many airports and collect your goods inbound when you land.

Oslo airport reveals the world’s largest duty free arrivals store

Buying duty free on arrival is a little known concept to European or North American travellers who have always expected to buy their tax free goods on departure and carry them around the globe for export. But there are two countries in Europe where you can also buy on arrival, Switzerland and Norway.

At Osyeslo’s Gardermoen airport, inbound arrival duty free shopping has been available for over 10 years, breaking the traditional convention of outbound selling in the departure lounge. Yesterday the Norwegian airport authorities and their partners Travel Retail Norway, previewed their new store in the baggage claim area. With 4000sq metres it will eventually be the largest store in the world to shop for duty free on arrival, rather than on departure.

Around the globe, flyers can shop on arrival in most Asian airports, some in China, Australasia and across the Pacific in all of Central and Latin America.

Duty Free on arrival Thailand
Bangkok arrivals duty free store baggage claim

In Brazil and Argentina more than 30% of the trade is carried out in stores on arrival in the baggage claim area. In fact, the Brazilian duty free allowances allows for the purchase of up to 12 litres of whisky when purchased in the arrivals hall and you can see the cases stacked high, ready for the arriving passengers.

Overall, the world is starting to grasp the practicality of the concept of buying on arrival. Not only does this facilitate e-commerce for the stores, who have now introduced online duty free shopping, but this leads to easy collection of the goods too. Airlines are also waking up to the idea by introducing home delivery for some of the products they sell on board. Technically these delivered goods are neither tax or duty free, the airlines just pay the tax for you, so they can deliver to your home.

Next year, it is slated that Russia and their Eastern European neighbours will also introduce shopping on arrival in airports and Japan has also decided (again) to explore the idea.

Clearly the traveller is moving online and is pre-planning the journey in advance, whilst seeking quick and easy solutions to smooth this journey, including shopping. Consumers looking for duty free bargains are seeking the best prices by comparing in advance. These arrivals facilities add to that convenience and Oslo airport has seen the opportunity and grasped it with their giant new store.

To check where also you can buy on arrival and the duty free allowances for that country, check before you fly!