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.

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!