Five things you need to know before shopping at the airport this summer

For many travellers, duty-free shopping can be the highlight of a trip away, with luxuries including high-end fragrances, makeup and alcohol all available at discounted prices.

As the name implies, duty-free is the term used for products that are exempt of excise duty and tax and are available to international passengers travelling outside of the EU. The items available are commonly marked as ‘only available to passengers flying outside the European Union’ making it clear who is and who isn’t entitled to the discounted rates.

Though there are restrictions for those travelling within the EU, don’t let it put you off having an airport splurge this summer as there are still many great deals to be had.

Here’s what you need to know before you embark on an airport shopping spree:

  1. Where is duty free available?

Duty-free is not available in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including the Balearic Islands – Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca), Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK.

However, there are a number of EU countries that are not within the tax territory of the EU which means when you fly to those areas, you’re eligible to purchase duty-free goods. These destinations include: The Canary Islands – Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, the Channel Islands (including Jersey & Guernsey) and Gibraltar1.

  1. Are there any limitations on what I can bring back to the UK from an EU country?

You don’t pay duty or tax on goods you bring into the UK from an EU country as long as you have:

  • Transported them yourself
  • Will use them yourself or give them away as a gift
  • Have paid duty and tax in the country where you bought them from

The amount of goods you can bring back into the UK are as follows:

  • Cigarettes – 800
  • Cigars – 200
  • Tobacco – 1kg
  • Beer – 110 litres
  • Wine – 90 litres
  • Spirits – 10 litres
  • Fortified wine e.g. sherry, port – 20 litres
  • Other items e.g. fragrances – you can bring in other goods worth up to £390. If a single item is worth more than your allowance, you will have to pay duty or tax on its full value
  1. What if I’m travelling outside of the EU?

 If you’re taking a holiday outside the EU then you’re in luck! Here are just some of the countries where you can take full advantage of duty-free:

  • Canada
  • Canary Islands
  • Dominican Republic
  • Cuba
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States of America
  1. What are the limitations when flying back to the UK from a country outside of the EU?

As you are entitled to duty-free, you can bring in a certain amount of goods for your own use without paying duty or tax. When bringing back goods you must:

  • Transport them yourself
  • Use them yourself or give them away as a gift
  • Not combine your personal allowance with other people

The amount of goods you can bring back into the UK are as follows:

  • Beer – 16 litres
  • Wine – 4 litres
  • Fortified wine e.g. sherry, sparkling wine and port – 2 litres
  • Cigarettes – 200
  • Cigars – 50
  • Tobacco – 250g
  • Others goods e.g. fragrances

You can bring in other goods worth up to £390, however if a single item is worth more than your total allowance, you will have to pay duty or tax on its full value

  1. Will the UK leaving the EU affect my duty free allowance?

Once Brexit is finalised, duty-free shopping is likely be reintroduced, however travelling Brits will have to adhere to the rules that currently apply to all non-EU countries 2. This means that you might save more money when purchasing goods on the way home from holiday, but restrictions on the amount you can bring back will apply. These could be similar to rules currently in place for passengers travelling from non-EU countries, which allow travellers to bring in four bottles of wine, 16 litres of beer and one litre of spirits.

If you’re looking to buy extra currency for some airport shopping, go to https://www.iceplc.com/ for great rates on our currency with our Click & Collect or delivery service.