Duty Free Shopping Question

Feb 10th, 2004, 07:02 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 374
Duty Free Shopping Question

DH and I are departing San Francisco (first Duty Free shop we encounter), changing planes and airlines in Frankfurt (3 hour layover approx.) and flying into Rome.

Coming home, we fly OUT of Milan, change planes again in Frankfurt and fly home to our San Francisco version of reality.

We love duty free shopping... and have been known to (probably illegally) buy things when leaving the US that we bring back with us. shhhhh.

My question specifically relates to the Milan Airport Duty Free Shop. Will we be able to splurge with our last few euros on things there, or, because we are flying first to another euro country (Germany) before flying to the US, will we not get the benefit of the Italian Duty Free shopping?

I don't expect to have nearly the time in Frankfurt to shop that I will make sure we have in Milan... and I much prefer Italian goods, except for technology thingies.

So, how exactly does it work? We've always flown directly home in the past.

Thanks for any info! Koshka
Koshka is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 12:49 PM
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How soon is too soon to top this?
Koshka is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 02:15 AM
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I'm bringing this up again in case someone who knows the answer might be able to help (European airports differ in their treatment of tax-free sales for travellers on intra-Schengen flights). And to ask whether you're worrying about the wrong thing.

"Duty-free" is really a misnomer. These shops are tax-free. Europe charges very little import duty on manufactured goods by comparison with the US, and most of the stuff you'd want to buy (like Gucci clothes), if imported from outside the EU, comes from countries we don't impose import duty on anyway. So what you might save is VAT and any special taxes that might be imposed on, say, booze or tobacco.

Italy doesn't really tax booze or cigarettes that much. So what you're really coming down to is VAT. Which, in theory, you can get reimbursed if you buy from a normal shop.

And that takes us back to the "Ah, but can I really get VAT back if I'm flying to another EU country first?" discussion. The upshot of that, as I recall, was that you might be able to if the Italian bureaucrats were working that day and you get to the airport with lots of time. Or possibly not.

Either way, search this board on VAT reimbursements.

For more about Milan's duty-free shops, go to http://www.sea-aeroportimilano.it/sh...ef_new_brw.htm and select your airport and terminal. To be honest, it's not an exciting selection. Tax-free shopping just isn't a big thing in Italy, compared to what happens in the serious sin-taxing regimes of Scandinavia.

Or in the shopping malls that, in our quirky way, we Brits use instead of airports to fly out of.
flanneruk is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 03:55 AM
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Provided that you don't sell an item you purchased in Italy while in Germany (i.e., don't sell that bottle of Italian wine to someone in Germany), you generally will not pay duty on goods you purchased in Italy but are bringing into Germany as part of your holiday. According to the EU website (http://www.europa.eu.int/abc/travel/shop/index_en.htm) there are no limits on what you can buy and take with you when you travel between EU countries, as long as it is for personal use and not for resale.

For guidance, goods are considered to be for your own use if you have no more than:
? 800 cigarettes
? 400 cigarillos
? 200 cigars
? 1 kg of tobacco
? 10 litres of spirits
? 20 litres of fortified wine (such as port or sherry)
? 90 litres of wine (of which maximum 60 l of sparkling wine)
? 110 litres of beer

My assumption is that you will pay duty on anything above those amounts according to the duty rates of the country in which you are arriving, i.e. Germany.

A few comments on duty-free, customs regulations and VAT:

1. "Duty-free" only means you won't pay tax in the country in which you PURCHASED the item. This applies regardless of where you are travelling after you have purchased the items. However, it does not mean you won't pay tax if you BRING the item into another country. The EU has decided to waive any duty on items carried by people travelling within the EU, as long as they are for personal use (see the guidelines above). The US however has not waived its right to impose duty on items brought into the US (see below).

2. I live in Europe. To the best of my knowledge and in my experience, as long as you are leaving a country, you can get the VAT back on items purchased. It does not matter if you are going to another EU country. The VAT officer does not look at what country you are departing for, they only want to make sure you are leaving their country. My understanding of the Schengen Agreement is that it only applies to the free passage of individuals resident in countries which are signatories to the Schengen Agreement without undue immigration formalities (i.e. no visas are required), it has no application to VAT, tax or other customs regulations regarding importation of goods.

3. If you live in the US, you will also be subject to paying duty on all items you purchased abroad. Generally you get an exemption for 1 liter of liquor, 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars and up to $800 in other purchases ($1600 if married.) Take a look at the guide put together by the US Customs Services at customs.ustreas.gov. Click on "Travel" on the main page and then "Know Before you Go"

3. In my experience, duty-free items are generally not much of a bargain.

Cicerone is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 07:27 AM
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Thank you both for the responses. I guess it just FEELS like more of a bargain.

OTOH, DH and I have seldom been able to get our VATs back. In Ireland, we turned in two different sets of receipts at two different desks. IIRC only one came through.

In Paris, the line was toooo long and my husband toooo impatient to wait around for what was probably going to be $100 we might or might not get back.

Thanks again!
Koshka is offline  

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