Duty Free Shop airport | DFH | Boarding Pass

Duty Free Products

Duty Free Products

DFH | Boarding Pass

In the summer of 2015 a global furore erupted in the United Kingdom when media reports accused British airport retailers of “ripping-off” their customers by not passing on the sales tax (VAT) refunds they can recover from the revenue service when travellers depart the UK for non-EU destinations.

Many of the press reports referred to Duty Free shopping, which is technically incorrect, because only Tax Free products solely attract Value Added Sales Tax in Great Britain and this caused even greater confusion.

Every departing purchaser in a UK airport store has, until now, been asked to show their boarding pass to the store at check-out and it was a widely accepted urban myth that this was required for security reasons.

It transpired, after media investigations that the presentation of the boarding pass to an airport “airside” shop was actually to enable the retailer to recover the 20% UK sales tax levied on many of the goods sold. UK Law, which is similar in most EU Territories, states that if the goods are exported outside the European Union, the VAT sales tax can be recovered, but only for those leaving the EU area, not those travelling within the EU.

So in fact, the boarding passes were allegedly used for tax recovery by some retailers, (as alleged by much of the British Press), but not apparently to pass on some of these tax savings to the customer.

These allegations lead to a media firestorm and public outcry, which went around the world and severely dented confidence in airport shopping, known as Travel Retail. The simple fact is, that in Great Britain and many other countries, only tobaccos and alcohol products are actually “Duty” free, everything else sold is free of only the local sales tax.

But, tax rules, Customs regulations and other local issues vary around the world and contrary some of the advice now given for the UK, matters could be much different elsewhere and we do not recommend that you withhold your boarding pass when asked to show it in an airport.

The most important issue is to know the rules for your destination beforehand, check them in advance and also check them again with the airline or airport store when buying. This policy will give you the most up to date knowledge and at least forewarn you to any potential problems.

In terms of the discounts given, this is a matter of what you buy, where you live, the currency exchange rate and whether it is a bargain, or not and only each individual traveller can decide upon these criteria.