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Home » Africa, Asia, Europe, Expat Life, Middle East, Moving, Relocations, Rest of the World, Russia - CIS, headline

Duty Free Shopping

Duty free purchase is so convenient, but be aware of rules and restrictions

By Relocation Expert
December 6, 2011

Traveling home for the holidays? Duty free shopping is a great way for expats, frequent travelers, and tourists to to grab those last minute Christmas gifts at a discounted price as you can make your purchases without having to pay national taxes or duties. These kind of shops can usually be found in major airports, abroad ships and at sea ports. Buying various items without having to pay any duty or taxes is oh so tempting; still there are certain restrictions that buyers should be aware of.

Many countries impose restrictions on the number of items that a person is allowed to purchase at duty free shops. For items that exceed this limit, the buyer needs to pay duty fees.

Duty free shops will require you to show that you are traveling out of country (for example, by showing your boarding pass). Thus, if you intend to buy at duty free shops, always carry your passport, travel itinerary and boarding pass with you.

Before purchasing at duty free shops, make sure you do a research on products and prices. Investigate on how much an item normally costs in retail stores. This way you will be able to make better decisions on what to buy at duty free, and if the item is really worth the cost.

In general, you are only allowed to take an advantage of duty free purchase, if you are leaving a country for at least 48 hours. It means that, if you don’t intend to leave a country within 48 hours from purchase, you cannot re-enter the country you are shopping in with items you purchased at that country’s duty free shop.

In almost all the countries, there are restrictions on the amount of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products you may bring into that country. For instance, the limit for the USA is one liter of alcoholic beverages and one carton of cigarettes per person. Therefore, buyers should try to get familiar with the laws of the country they’re traveling to or from, before any duty free purchases of these products.

When shopping duty free, always keep the receipts for your purchases, as you may be required to show it at customs office or at security check.


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