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.

Para buscar tiendas libres de impuestos, catálogos y precios, ingresa tu ciudad, aeropuerto o país de destino y haga clic "Go". Cuando encuentre la información de su destino haga clic en el icono rojo de Aduanas para la búsqueda restricciones aduaneros. 

Para encontrar lojas duty free e os preços, inserir aeroporto ou destino, click e Go! A cota de isenção alfandegária refere-se ao seu país de chegada e não ao país de partida. Os regulamentos alfandegários podem ser encontrados clicando no botão aduaneiro para a esquerda ou procurando seu país de destino.

Pay £5 extra on arrival at the airport to skip the Passport Control lines?

We have all been there after a long haul flight and arriving at the airport, the long lines at immigration to clear the Border Controls, or even after a short distance, when the wait in line is potentially longer than the flight you have just taken.

Just announced in the British Media, Scotland’s Edinburgh airport have come up with a novel solution… “pay a £5 premium to jump the queues and line up in the fast-track Passport lane“, thus beating the wait for a price.

airport arrivals
Pay for fast airport arrival?

Airports around the world are big into what they call “non-aeronautical revenues”, this means any money they can raise from outside the normal landing fees. Business operations such as airport duty free shops, catering, car parking, transport all fall under this category and now, so do new streams such as fast-track for security or for the airline check-in facilities. Other schemes include paid for wifi or the use of airport lounges if not a frequent flyer.

arrivals duty free
arriving at the airport* on time then finding long lines at Passport Control?

But, this is the most creative airport ancillary revenue concept to date and one that has already created uproar on social media. Oddly, there are thoughts that this new option will fly, especially with business travellers, but the idea leads to all kinds of complications.

What happens, for example, if you are a non British or EU Citizen arriving passenger? Will you be able to remove that long wait to be cleared into Great Britain? Will your fast-track entry be a person or an e-gate? What happens if you pay but the wait time is no different to the non-payers, will you get a refund and how?

There is enough to do at the airport on arrival already, that long walk to the gate, immigration procedures, collect baggage, collect duty free perhaps, clear Customs, change money, meet friends and family, transport to your destination.

What next, a fast track line for a car park exit ticket? Like a sort of “reverse drop off charge”?

One thing is for sure, this debate will run and run and if introduced, every airport will copy it, because they will not be able to resist the new revenue stream.

To find out more about global airport shopping facilities at arrivals around the world, check with us at duty free on arrival ….

*Ryanair are one of the world’s greatest initiators of ancillary revenue streams and we are not suggesting that this new Passport fast-track initiative is their idea. It’s just that Ryanair are one of the world’s best on-time airlines and there is a great photo of them arriving at Barcelona airport early….. already saving their passengers time and money! So the airline gets you there early or on time and the airport then charges you not to lose what you have gained?