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.
Travellers will soon see many more offers for Duty Free Home delivery on their purchases, this is is especially prevalent throughout European Union Countries, where there is the supposed “free movement of goods”.
Airports are starting to go online by launching what is known as their own “retail eco-systems or omni-channel”. Basically this means that they are selling online, just like the other big players, or any another other domestic online retailer.
This is a cautionary tale for consumers looking for bargains on their travels and it is wise to check before you fly as to the actual deal you are getting.
Starting with European Union countries, you might now be offered the convenience of Duty Free Home Delivery when you travel abroad, but Duty Free Shopping for those travelling within the EU hasn’t existed for more than 10 years now. It was abolished, for the preference of “free movement of goods”, but with the Tax and Excise Duty paid on all these free-moving goods.
What this means is that nothing you buy for travel between EU Member States is “duty free” at all and anyway, even if you fly to somewhere outside the EU, the goods you buy, must be exported by hand and removed from the country where you bought them, for you to get the full tax discount benefit.
This is why you need lug all those plastic bags full of bottles with you on your flights.
So, for anything you buy from an EU based airline or airport Duty Free Shop, for delivery to your home, it is not really “Duty Free” at all. (It is another convenient marketing way of saying discounted). Just the same, the Tax, (such as Value Added Tax VAT/IVA/MWst), has actually been paid for you by the retailers, so to allow them to deliver to you and circumvent the Customs rules.
They might make offers on alcohol and certainly Perfumes or Cosmetics, but you will not likely see any deals on tobaccos… because the (Excise) Duty taxation on these products is too high to be subsidised for domestic deliveries.
Fine, who cares? As long as you get the products and the prices you want, what’s the difference? Well, there isn’t any, because thank you very much a retailer just paid your Tax for you, so to get your business.
But, the trick here maybe is to make sure you “haggle the price” to get a better deal or to check that you cannot just get the same products as cheap in a normal store just round the corner. Why, because maybe airport or airline retailers have more margin to spare on goods sold online, because their rent might be lower. And also, the airport deal might encourage your local store to discount more on the price. Print out the offer and show it to them… nothing ventured!
The other trick is to check if you really need to travel at all to actually get these airport discounts? Maybe you can just buy and have the goods delivered to you? (Each site will have different rules though).
One pitfall to look out for is the mixing your products, because they will deliver some products to you, but not others, like cigarettes. And, it is almost certain that they will not wish to deliver to a non-EU Country, if that’s where you live.
It is all about understanding the Duty Free Shopping rules in advance, to make sure what you want is what you get and how you can take advantage of the best deals.
Your Product and the Price is King, if you can wade yourself through the different regulations, you are ahead of the game, but forewarned is always best policy!
Most of our travel point duty free information pages will give you the rules and regulations to help you make up your mind. But the rule of thumb is make sure that you check before you fly for all the rules, on our global shopping guide.