Duty-free allowances: This information may be useful for travellers.

Published by The Duty Free Advisor: Editor on 2010-03-07 23:21:02

Duty-free or tax-free Customs allowances (tax and duty free reliefs) refer to the quantity of goods that each adult person can carry into a country on their arrival, whether arriving by ship, on an aircraft or through a land border. You must be arriving from an international destination and not on a domestic (national) flight. Allowances do not apply to your country of departure.


Duty-free allowances refer to your first point of international arrival where you enter that country and pass through inbound Customs and Immigration. The allowances do not refer to your purchases when you depart a country.

 All duty-free allowances refer to what you can import into a country, regardless of where these goods were purchased.  It is a legal requirement to declare your duty –free purchases on arrival if you have purchased over the permitted allowance and you will pay any taxes and duties applied to these additional purchases.

The allowances generally apply to each adult traveller. Minors under 18 years do not qualify for duty free allowances, and minors (children) are not allowed to purchase liquors and tobaccos.

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When shopping for duty-free and tax-free the retailers should know the restrictions at your arrival destination and if you have any questions ask them to contact their customer service for specific details. Customs allowances are posted in most baggage halls when you arrive in a country and in many in-flight magazines.

There is a difference between what is known as duty-free and tax-free shopping. Duty free really means goods free of ‘excise duties’; these are special taxes imposed by governments on alcoholic products such as liquors, wines, beers and spirits or on tobacco goods, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco.

Tax-free shopping normally means the reduction of the sales tax as it is known in many countries or GST in Asia and Value Added Tax (VAT/BTW/TVA) in Europe.  You pay these taxes on cosmetics, fragrances and gifts in a domestic market, so in most countries duty-free and tax-free shops are allowed to deduct this tax when selling to international travellers.  Tax-free goods normally have a monetary or value allowance rather than a volume amount, but this is not always the case, particularly for perfumes. Your outbound retailer should be able to advise you of the limit allowed on arrival at your destination.

‘Duty free on arrival’ can make life simpler as of course you will already be at your arrival destination when you buy, and the retailer will know the exact customs allowances. This removes the need to carry the goods around the globe and with the risk of experiencing difficulties with security or airline baggage regulations. More countries are introducing this method of selling and DutyFreeonArrival.com will keep you updated with all the changes to these shops and new rules as they apply.

The worldwide duty-free and tax-free allowances can shortly be found at:

 www.dutyfreeonarrival.com   www.thedutyfreeadvisor.co.uk   www.asiandutyfreeadvisor.co.uk   www.dutyfreeonarrival.ru

* The European Union has different regulations for people travelling between EU member states and since 1999 the region is treated as one country for the purpose of duty-free allowances. You cannot usually buy duty-free when arriving in an EU country from another EU member state, although each country maintains its own rules for passengers arriving from outside the EU.