Our guide to shopping duty free

Posted on Sep 16 2015 - 2:30pm by Samantha Clark

Duty Free is an extra perk to travelling abroad. It allows us to secure our perfume, make-up, alcohol and designer goodies tax-free.

It’s come to light recently though, and been reported heavily, that a number of the retailers (Boots and WH Smith namely) are claiming the tax exemption from HM Revenue and Customs but not actually passing on the savings. So it’s up to us, as consumers, once again, to ensure we’re getting the best deals.

Here’s our guide, and top tips for shopping tax-free:

  • Be prepared! Get an idea of what it is you want in advance and shop around to get an idea on the general RRP. It’s this price you’ll want to base your decision on when at the airport.
  • A note to the above: consider looking at online only retailers such as allbeauty.com which source they’re products at discounted prices and cover the VAT/taxes for you ensuring you get the best price. Home outlet stores such as The Cosmetics Company often negotiate with huge beauty brands such as Estee Lauder, Bobby Brown and Mac to offer you luxury beauty products at a fraction of High Street retailers- stores like these are often unbeatable!
  • Travelling internally? If you’re travelling within the EU there will be a number of products your exempt from purchasing tax-free (mostly certain alcohol and tobacco products). There is still an extensive range available though, just be sure to check the labels (blue means for everyone, green for those travelling internationally) or with a store representative before you buy. Don’t just assume that because you’re at the airport you’re getting a good discount!
  • Concerned about your baggage allowance? Most airports now offer a Shop & Collect service meaning you can secure all your favourite items and collect it on your return home!

On a final note:

Consider your end destination! If you’re visiting to the USA for example, most states have outlet retail parks offering THE best discounts on some of the biggest brands in beauty and fashion: Michael Korrs, Coach, Burberry, Sketchers, Nike, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, etc..

Be cautious though. When travelling internationally, you are restricted on the value of goods you can bring back into the country. If you exceed the limit, you’ll have to declare your purchases to Customs and pay VAT on your return. What’s more, if your looking to make a purchase on a home brand like Burberry, you’ll not necessarily be getting it cheaper as the stores will have to pay to import the goods in the first place!

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