Duty Free what does that mean?

May 30th, 2008, 05:51 PM
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Duty Free what does that mean?

Please explain what this means exactly. I couldn't figure out why they were selling or attempting to sell on the airplane. I looked in the duty free shops but did not understand the advantage of shopping there unless you had shopped tons while out of the country.
joebear is offline  
May 30th, 2008, 07:31 PM
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I personally think that dutyfree is NOT a deal at any airport or on the plane but thats my opinion. Supposedly, you are getting an item without the tax added onto it but most of these items can always be found elsewhere at a WAY cheaper price.
Recent example last week in Athens at the dutyfree airport shop-Jack Daniels for USD$34...I think not!
dutyfree is offline  
May 30th, 2008, 07:35 PM
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Cigarettes are the only thing I ever saw at a duty free shop that really is a good deal. But I don't smoke.
P_M is offline  
May 30th, 2008, 08:27 PM
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I agree, you don't pay 'tax/duty' on the item but they can charge a base price what they like, it varies a great deal where you are but on many items you can get cheaper from discount shops etc.
A downtown shop might charge $100 and add say 15% tax, so $115
An airport duty free shop may charge $125 with no tax !
JamesA is offline  
May 30th, 2008, 10:02 PM
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Most countries impose some kind of tax on some products when they're imported, some kind of sales tax and often sin taxes on products like alcohol, cigarettes and petrol. They vary immensely from country to country. The traditional term in Britain for these was 'excise duty' or 'import duty'

By and large, it's theoretically possible for vendors not to charge sales or sin taxes on products sold to passengers travelling between different countries, and under some circumstances for import duty to be avoided or reclaimed - though, apart from the United States' immoral levels of tax on clothes from very poor countries like Bangladesh, import taxes on consumer goods in most western countries are non-existent or trivial.

Vendors' policies on this vary widely. They're aggressively policed at Amsterdam airport and at those operated by BAA. At these airports, prices in duty free shops MUST be the normal price the vendor charges outside the airport, minus all sales taxes. The widespread belief among naive cynics that there's some kind of ripoff going on at Heathrow or Schiphol is just uninformed claptrap.

Airports in more poorly organised countries offer less protection to the easily gulled. And airlines generally charge flagrant ripoff prices on everything.

If you live somewhere (like the British Isles or Scandinavia) with high sin taxes, it's almost always wise to buy as many cigarettes and as much hard liquor as you can in duty free shops. There's rarely any significant saving on anything other than things that attract sin taxes, and the quirks of international pricing can often make even these savings irrelevant for some shoppers. If you live siomewhere with low sin taxes, duty free rarely makes any sense.

Nonetheless, airports (as distinct from planes) can often be useful places to shop if you've got better things to do in the country concerned than hang round bleeding shops all day. There's lots of odd varieties of Dutch cheese, for example, Mrs F and I always pick up at Schiphol that you can't find in our local supermarket.
flanneruk is offline  
May 31st, 2008, 03:56 AM
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I assume everything in the UK is considered sin then, judging by the prices even without the poor exchange rate.
Carrybean is offline  
May 31st, 2008, 10:52 AM
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Cigarettes and occasionally some cosmetics are much cheaper at duty free. Cigarettes are not really a bargain at LHR however.
cherrybomb is offline  
May 31st, 2008, 12:02 PM
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Booze is always cheaper from the plane Duty Free catalog when compared to the ground Duty Free shop's prices.

But the airline duty free catalogs have very limited selection and it's pretty much the most popular brands.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 02:04 AM
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When looking at the prices for booze, bear in mind the size of the bottle. Most duty free bottles are 1 liter. In the US, most retail bottles are 750 ml, and in Europe, most clock in at 700 ml.

I find that, in Europe, the airport prices are usually very competitive on a volume basis. And, I find the selection at some of the airports to be very good, particularly for Scotch. I find this the case even when the items are not really duty free - usually advertised as "tax free for everyone".

In the US, I find that the selection is usually pretty poor, and the bargains harder to find, when compared to normal US retail prices.
travelgourmet is online now  
Jun 1st, 2008, 05:37 PM
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Yesterday I saw a bottle of Chilean wine marked $20 at our local store. I had paid $10 (based on the black market exchange rate) for the same wine at the Caracas duty free shop in March. When we drank the wine we thought it would be a $20 bottle in our high sin tax market.
Gavin is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:18 PM
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Author: P_M
Date: 05/30/2008, 11:35 pm
Cigarettes are the only thing I ever saw at a duty free shop that really is a good deal. But I don't smoke.

It's time to start
FainaAgain is offline  
Jun 5th, 2008, 11:37 AM
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A duty free store is essentially a foreign trade zone or a customs bonded facility within an airport or even at a border crossing. FTZs are not considered part of the customs territory of a country. Bonded facilities are part of the customs territory but that doesn't make a difference to this question.

Merchandise can be brought to an FTZ without the payment of import duty and taxes. Upon removal from the FTZ, duties and taxes must be paid unless that removal is an export to another country. So when you buy something at a duty free store, the seller has not paid import duties and taxes on those goods and presumably can sell them to you at a lower price. The goods must be exported so that is why duty free stores are generally found beyond security points or the goods are delivered to you at the gate or on board the plane and only international flyers can purchase them. Customs of the country always regulates these stores to ensure that the goods in fact are exported.

You often see liquor and perfume in duty free shops as the import taxes and duties on those goods tend to be very high.

Keep in mind that goods purchased at a duty free store in one country are not duty free in the country to which they are imported. So the duty free you buy at Shannon may have been exempt from Irish duties and taxes but still could be dutiable in the US. It will definitely count toward your US exemption.

bennnie is offline  
Jun 5th, 2008, 12:30 PM
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An exemption to the strict exemption rules would be when you travel from the US to a final destination in the EU (with high sin taxes) but have to connect in another EU member state (with lower sin taxes), i.e. NYC-FRA-DUB.
In that case you can shop at Frankfurt's "duty free" shop as much as regulations allow for "personal use" for intra-EU travel, which would be up to 10 liters of liquor per person 18 or older. Duty free shops carry the tax burden for intra-EU travelers (except for cigarettes) - that's why your merchandise is in fact not duty/tax free, but you don't pay for it.
Exemptions exist for Scandinavia and Finland.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
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