Saturday 13 August 2016

The original online Duty Free shopping portal upgrades messages and affiliates.

The original online portal for Duty Free shopping, Duty Free on arrival ®, was first conceived in 2008. Before then, there was no independent shopping guide that provided a one-stop-shop for global stores. The database of airline and airport stores was later upgraded to include land and sea based outlets in 2009 and launched online in the current format giving travelers access to stores by land, sea or air.

Original Duty Free on arrival journey plan 2009
The concept was devised because global shoppers were moving online, forced on them by airline online check-in and reservation, they were starting to plan all their travel in advance and so wanted the additional convenience to search before they traveled and to check before they fly. 

So when all the destinations and travel modes were included, a journey could be joined up and Duty Free shops could be found for every eventuality, whether it was travel on a cruise, ferry, airline through an airport or just crossing the border by bus.

Duty Free shopping has always been a huge business, but since the introduction of many security rules, travelers were confused as to what they could buy, where and what they were allowed to carry with them on their trip. Duty Free on arrival match the Customs allowances to the journey giving consumers an instant opportunity to understand the (often) confusing rules related to their shopping plans.

2008 Design: Duty Free Allowances by Territory with
graphics showing the rules
The original test site in 2008 was pretty unsophisticated, but the visual concept remains the same to this day, with the use of clear graphics to highlight the various rules and regulations that inhibit shopping. 

Countries like Singapore were refusing to accept the import of items like duty free cigarettes and other countries were refusing or confiscating alcohol, due to new security rules.

Some people had found themselves buying cigarettes or liquors in one airport, but then finding their purchases confiscated at their airport of arrival. Travel forums like Trip Advisor were full of comments about confiscation and the confusion related to the many duty free rules and regulations.

Duty Free on arrival was designed to try and assist shoppers, in advance of their journey, so that such difficulties could be avoided wherever possible. The concept is valid, because not only is the pre-travel search for airport, airline or cruise shopping increasing, but numerous "copycat" websites have since appeared online, claiming originality and first-use.

The Founder of Duty Free on Arrival Ivor Smith said "there is nothing wrong with fair competition, but on the internet there is a distinct lack of it because many sites claim originality, copy concepts or content and search engines rarely police these claims. The browsing public are not stupid and if they have a genuine interest in a niche, they will work out who was the instigator and make up their own mind as to what is useful for them, or not. That said, such claims of originality just demean those who are me-too products, but pretending to be leaders in the market".

Some have tried to join-up the journey, others tried to scrape prices and offer a duty free price comparison facility. In reality, we believe that both options are complex and unworkable, due to the many rules which complicate the issue.

Simply, travelers want to know what they can buy at their destination or en-route and what they can save, or not, making their own research and comparison in the process. And this is what we do!

Each destination, airport or airline page, now includes many direct affiliate retailers, placed by google personalised ads.

airport arrival shopping
2016 Duty Free Retailers now affiliate through Google Adsense

Now, in 2016, the Travel Retailers who operate the stores around the world have also started to move online with their offer. (As per the image above). Aelia* are one of the world's largest Duty Free retailers, operating airport duty free in France, The United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand and are now heavily investing in online advertising, primarily through google ads. Other's like Dubai Duty Free have launched a bold online duty free pre-order site, for use on arrival or departure at the airport. DFS, better known as Duty Free Shoppers "T Galleria" are heavily promoting their Downtown Stores in Asia and WDF (World Duty Free) have also added pre-order for Britain, but not yet for their core market of the Spanish airports. No doubt this will arrive soon.

Whilst all these developments are advancing, DFOA had the small issue of updating the advice for all British airports, because the United Kingdom through their "Brexit" process, will soon leave the European Union. This adds still more confusion, because when and if Britain actually leaves the EU, all the duty free shopping allowances, Customs limits and exemptions could change overnight.

So, the online e-commerce market is moving apace for those on the move and if you want to search the world for those potential tax free bargains... 

Check before you fly at The world's first online portal for travelling shoppers.

* Interesting to note how one Aelia promotional ad offers 10% discount, whilst the other offers 20%

The dutyfreeonarrival ® airline and airport shopping guide was founded in 2009 and launched to help travellers understand the complex rules related to Duty Free or Tax Free shopping. The site can also be used to check world airport or airline IATA or ICAO codes. The airlines are listed by the country where their headquarters are located, but your Duty Free Allowances will apply to your point of arrival, not to your point of departure. This is the original Duty Free website for airports, it is independent of all retailers and does not feature any preferred retailers. Our service is impartial.

The original joined-up search for Duty Free. established 2008.

The first Duty Free shopping search 2008/9

Saturday 30 July 2016

Buying Duty Free on arrival in Brazil helpful facts

For those travelling to Brazil for the Olympics, these are some helpful facts if you are thinking of shopping en route.

Iguaçu Falls Border Brazil-Argentina-Paraguay

  • All major Brazilian gateway airports have arrivals duty free shopping facilities in the baggage area.
  • The duty free cigarette allowance into Brazil is 200 or 10 packs of 20.
  • You are allowed to buy up to 12 litre bottles of spirits on arrival as part of your enhanced duty free allowance.
  • The import of watches, mobile phones and computers is restricted.
  • Food products cannot generally be imported into Brazil.
  • You can go online and find the prices and products at the duty free pre-order websites for Brazilian airport stores.
  • All prices in Brazilian airport duty free shops are based on US$ Dollars, not local currencies.
  • You can pay in other currencies, but the exchange rate is US Dollar based.
  • If you are travelling on to other countries by road from Brazil, there are many Duty Free border stores located in Argentina, Uruguay or Paraguay.

Shopping for booze at the border with Brazil

For any other information, just check before you fly at our site duty free on arrival.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Even if Brazilian airports can’t cope with the arrivals, the Duty Free shops can!

With the world about to descend on Brazil for the World Cup, there is good news and bad news for the travelling duty-free shopper. Brazil is the world’s most sophisticated country when it comes to “arrivals duty free shopping” with an inbound store located in the baggage hall of every major international gateway airport.

GRU Airport Baggage Hall Shops
Travelling Brazilians are more accustomed to picking up their tax-free goods on arrival than people in the Northern Hemisphere. Up to 40% of duty free sales can be conducted on arrival in Brazil, a concept virtually unknown in Europe or North America, where all such sales are made on departure. Even better, in Brazil you get an additional duty free allowance of USD$500 for goods purchased in their arrival airport stores. This extra limit can include up to 12 bottles of whisky, gin or other spirits and with the price of brands, such as Johnnie Walker Black, sky high in local supermarkets, groups, family and friends will appreciate the opportunity for a discount dram during The Copa.

That’s where the good news ends, because for smokers, health & beauty conscious Brazil is getting tough on smoking and the cigarette allowance has come down to a carton of 10 packs (200 cigarettes) and although you can buy tobaccos on arrival, you’ll probably only find Marlboro and some local Brands for sale. The British certainly won’t find many Virginia blends like Benson & Hedges or Lambert & Butler and pipe or tobacco smokers might also struggle to find their desired products.*

Anyway, local cigarette prices are as cheap as the airport, but a word of advice if you like Dunhill, make sure you ask for Carlton, otherwise you won’t be understood! These brands were “merged” not too long ago and the new product is still known as Carlton in the kiosks, a marketing peculiarity.

So, on your arrival at the major airports you will at least have a last minute opportunity to pick up some gifts or necessities and unless the Brazilian airports have upgraded their back-offices as well as their frontages, you might have plenty of time on your hands.

There has been much chatter and negative allegation in the media as to how the airports will perform and although São Paulo Guarulhos Cumbica, (now known as GRU Airport) has just opened its international Terminal 3, nobody seems to have explained how all these innovations will work for Customs, Immigration, baggage, security and connecting to domestic flights with the likes of Azul, TAM, GOL or Avianca Brasil. 

Airport construction December 2013 Sao Paulo
If this photo is anything to go by, (taken in December 2013) the opening of T3 GRU is nothing short of a miracle, but perhaps because the piers and connection points are not quite as ready as the front end?

Which brings us on to the perennial subject of “Liquids in Transit”, LAGS as they are known in the trade. Here, that extra case of whisky or bottle of perfume might cause you a problem if you try to connect to another domestic flight, en route to see your team play.

All passenger baggage now clears customs in Brazil at the first arrival airport, be it hold or carry-on baggage. So, if you are moving on to another city, most likely via Rio, Sao Paulo or Brasilia, you are going to have to take those “duty frees” through security. This is where you may have problems, because the EU and US concept of “STEB” sealed security bags being accepted for transit passengers, has not been fully integrated in Brazil. And, if the massive queues (seen in December 2013) for security transfers to domestic flights, is any guide, you are in for a long wait, if not confiscation of your goods.

So, there is some clear and simple advice evolving here.

Only bring liquids if you are going downtown from your original arrival airport. i.e. if you are coming in via Salvador, Natal, Recife or another gateway and just staying there, you’ll be fine. But, if you are moving on to another (domestic) flight, beware of potential problems.

Of course, if you re-pack your duty-free liquids in your checked baggage when you clear Customs, the problem goes away. But after the average 10/12 hour flight into the country from the North, who wants the hassle of this??

But, if you are an avid buyer, you can find all the Brazilian duty free products and prices online before you get there by searching your airport on our sister site Duty Free on Arrival. At this time, pre-order doesn’t appear to be available for foreigners and the sites are normally only in Portuguese.

Either way, let’s all assume that Brazil is up for the Cup and just to be sure you are, check before you fly!

*since our last visit to Brazil, the stores may have increased their selection to cater for the influx of foreign visitors. Check the Duty Free Dufry online catalogue for more details.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Gibraltar, a Duty Free Shop around The Rock

The Rock of Gibraltar sits on the narrow entry to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic and it is also the seat of a long running dispute between Britain and Spain as to who owns the right to the Territory. At present it is a British Overseas Territory and has been for over three hundred years.

Over the runway to shop around The Rock
But, although the Territory is regarded as an integral member of The European Union as a Special Member State, it is not in the Customs Union. This means that Duty Free shopping is available throughout the territory and for those returning to another EU country, such as Britain or Spain, the Gibraltar Customs Allowances are the same as for those returning home from outside the EU. This often causes much confusion for tourists who make a day trip across the border from Spain, especially for those who load up with cigarettes and alcohol.

Tax Refund and Duty Free across the border
The exemption limit into Spain is 200 cigarettes and a litre of spirits, just as it would be when arriving from the Americas or Asia and not the greater amount as it would be for travellers moving within the EU area.

The Port of Gibraltar receives many cruise ship passengers due to its strategic position and they often spend a couple of days shopping in port before moving on around the Mediterranean or further afield to the Africas or Latin America.  The new airport really only caters for visitors from England, although there are flights to neighbouring Morocco.

The good news for tax free travelling shoppers is that prices are cheaper than most of Europe, especially when buying liquor or tobaccos. And, you don’t have to just buy in the airport or the port to get these tax-free prices, because all the stores reflect low-duty or low-tax on goods. That said, the real bargain is for smokers or drinkers, due to the reduced duties. Other products, like perfumes and cosmetics, are imported and prices are probably not much cheaper to those found in your departure airport back home.

Electronics and gadgets used to be a major source of revenue for the local stores, because many people crossed the border from Spain to buy at lower prices, but these days the prices have levelled.

Duty Free iPhone?
But, the mobile phone market is an interesting modern development and there are numerous stores in Main Street selling unlocked smartphones. Most of the products on sale seem to be Samsung; there was little evidence of an unlocked iPhone being sold, or an Apple Store selling phones, although there is an official reseller registered in the Territory.

Online enquiries for a Duty Free iPhone or other cell phones are increasing and if there is a bargain to be had, it would be found in this type of special tax-free territory.

Tax Free bargain booze
Overall, shopping in Gibraltar is just the same as duty free shopping anywhere else, much depends on where you live, what you want to buy and the relative comparison of prices for the products you want. 

The reality of shopping round The Rock is that it is a great place to visit for the day to pick up a good deal for your return to Spain, but it could not now be regarded as a major shopping tourism destination offering wide discounts.

If you are a cruise passenger, it is unlikely you can take your duty free booze back on board. To check all the relevant rules and regulations, go to Duty Free on for details.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Jakarta, Asia’s downtown shopping and smoking lottery

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country with 30+ million of the country’s total living in Jakarta. As in many developing countries, especially in Asia, the first thing that hits you is the traffic and the fumes created by the mass of vehicles and motor cycles that seem to outnumber the people.

But, on arrival in the centre of the city and taking a refreshing drink from the oppressive afternoon heat and humidity, one notices that smokers are not banished to the streets, like they are in many other countries. 

Smoking seems to be widely tolerated and in most locations you can sense the pungent smell of Kretek tobacco, a distinctive cigarette blend which includes cloves, a product almost unique to Indonesia and very acceptable to the 63% of the male population who smoke. It seems that more people smoke in Indonesia, than almost any other place on earth.

Another first for the international smoker is that Indonesia must be one of the few countries where cigarettes are substantially cheaper in the domestic market than they are in the “tax-free” duty-free shops. Take a walk down the street and the kiosks are merchandised with display units for international brands like Dunhill and Marlboro selling at prices around US$1.20 per pack of 20 or the equivalent of $12 per carton of 200. If you take a similar walk through the airport duty free stores or the impressive Downtown Lotte Avenue Mall, you will find the same brands for sale in US Dollars $25 per carton (200 cigarettes) virtually double the price. 

That said, the duty free prices are still cheaper than many western equivalent stores and the brands on sale are probably the internationally produced blend, rather than the locally made version. But all the same, it does seem to be somewhat of a lottery as to where one would choose to buy.

Buying alcohol is less of a lottery, because locally there appears to be a distinct absence of liquor stores, albeit for beer, which you can buy in convenience stores. A small can of Heineken retails around $2.50 or local beer at $1.50. However, if you go to a hotel bar or nightclub, alcohol prices can go through the roof. That was certainly the case at the open-air rooftop bar of a trendy new boutique hotel where a medium local beer cost around USD$9 per glass. But, if you consider that Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country, there seems to be a discreet, tolerant and well controlled attitude towards the sale of alcoholic drinks.

Lotte Avenue Mall Downtown Duty Free
For duty free shopping, Jakarta airport and the palatial city centre Lotte Shopping Avenue offers the traveller every conceivable international luxury brand. The Downtown complex, with the Tax Free section occupying the 4th and 5th floors, is clearly designed for the Korean, Japanese and Chinese visitors, because European and American travellers don’t understand the concept of Downtown Duty Free.

That said, all the prices are quoted in US Dollars, which is a strange paradox. As is such a huge investment in one of the most magnificent malls you will ever find in a city which is not best known for its mass shopping tourism.

The main airport, Soekano Hatta is going through a change with the new Terminal construction visible on the horizon, yet during the middle of the day it was a pleasure to travel through Terminal 2, which was virtually deserted on a Tuesday morning.

Duty Free Stores at Soekano Hatta International 

In fact, there were more duty free shops in the departure lounge than passengers at one point. Six different stores at the last count, all selling an array of goods from tobaccos to perfumes, (depending on their various rights to sell the different products), again all priced in US Dollars and all seemingly at similar or identical prices. The good news being that the traditional lines of liquor and tobacco were highly competitive compared to Europe or The USA. Other products just seem to cost the same where ever you travel to, probably because there is actually no duty on them, only sales and import tax, so perhaps it is not so easy to offer a big saving.

Overall, Jakarta is certainly a shopping lottery, with extremes of pricing for all goods and services. Use it as a transit point for Bali and the airport is one of the most tranquil and organised you will find. Venture downtown and one way or another, the smoke will certainly get in your eyes.

To check all duty free stores, rules and regulations for Indonesia go to our sister site

Monday 2 December 2013

Free Shop until you drop in Uruguay!

The town of Rivera is located at the Northern Border of Uruguay with the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul. Porto Alegre, a World Cup host city is another 500km further on across the Pampas of Latin America, where the Gauchos raise the cattle for the churrascos or parrilladas (beef barbeque), that make the region so famous.

But, most foreigners who visit Brazil next year will be unaware of a local obsession and will certainly not be joining the queue of traffic full of Brazilians heading south to the border, to shop until they drop.

The journey is the equivalent of driving from Nice to Paris or London to Glasgow, but mainly on single carriage roads and it is not for the faint-hearted at busy times. But, the rewards for Brazilians can be huge, when a bottle of whisky can be up to 40% cheaper than the local store in Porto Alegre.

Main Street Rivera Uruguay
Rivera is a sleepy Uruguayan border town that shares a park and a street with Livramento on the Brazilian side, the only reason you would know which country you are in, is the language on the storefronts. 

Rarely does one find a border crossing with no apparent Immigration post or Custom clearance area, you just walk across the street and you are shopping in Uruguay, often at half the price of Brazil. In fact, there are Customs controls when returning to Brazil, but these are random checkpoints on the highways. 

Nobody in their right mind would buy goods in Brazil to take to Uruguay, due to the price difference, so the Spanish speaking side is somewhat more relaxed.

In Latin America, the “Free Shop” is the equivalent name to Europe’s “Duty Free” and in Rivera many  Travel Retailers are present, but only Duty Free Americas (DFA) come from outside Latin America.

Within a 200 metre walk down the main street, you can find every global Perfume or Cosmetic Brand for sale, just the same for whisky, spirits or liqueurs. The wine business is huge, dominated by Uruguayan, Argentinian and Chilean reds sold at a 25% discount to Brazil.

Free Shop for Duty Free Shopping

Luxury brand sunglasses and most known watches were no cheaper than European airport stores, although probably still a bargain for most Brazilians.

But, the real market is in household and electrical goods, with most stores offering air conditioning units, kitchen appliances such as microwaves, or ventilation fans on offer at two for one. The traditional English electric kettle is available on every street corner, sold by the street vendors who can also provide a lifetime supply of socks, underpants or thermos flasks.

Cheese and wine specialities
Smartphones or “cellulares” as the Brazilians call them, were very conspicuous by their absence, apart from a few generic copies.

In this location, there is a grey area between what is really tax-free and what is just cheap. When asked, nobody really knew the answer, nor cared to clarify, they just wanted to sell and knew that prices had to be below Brazil.

One market sector, which is rare in the conventional duty-free market, is the sale of Food and Condiments. In Rivera there is a specific street, housing six or seven stores, who specialise in cheeses, herbs, sauces and other foods. Not often do you see a promotion for Heinz Ketchup in an airport duty free shop, but it demonstrates the excessive prices in Brazil when people are willing to drive 500km to buy ketchup!

The final product range that stood out was the sale of bicycles and mopeds. Again, with the ambiguous tax status of some stores, it was not clear as to whether these products were actually sold free of taxes or not. Nor was it clear how they were transported home or pass through Customs with only a US$300 limit per person, but they wouldn’t be so obviously on sale, if there was no market for them.

US Dollars $300 Duty Free Allowance for Brazil
What was obviously not on sale are cigarettes and other tobacco products, because the Uruguayan Government have now restricted smoking, even to the point that it is illegal to smoke in your own car. So, Rivera and the Uruguayan border is not the place for smokers to be.

The overall impression of shopping in Rivera is that it would be a wasted journey for tourists, except for those that reside in Brazil where prices are way above the neighbouring countries.

To find more information about Duty Free shops at the border, check before you cross at 

Thursday 4 July 2013

Buying your duty-free on arrival in Asia

This blog and our associate website receive numerous requests with regard to the inbound shopping facilities in airports, asking if and where travellers can buy their duty free after landing. We are also receiving an increasing number of enquiries related to Duty-Free Apple products.

Over the coming weeks we will provide a spot guide to the facilities available around the world, today we start with SE Asia, including some advice related to the purchase of  Tax-Free Electronics.

Thailand: Inbound duty-free shops can be found in all major international airports, including the two airports in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang. The latter mainly handles domestic traffic, particularly flights for Air Asia. Duty-Free is not available for domestic travellers on these routes.

BKK inbound duty-free store baggage hall
Cambodia: The main airport in Phnom Penh has two arrivals stores located near the baggage hall.

Singapore:  Singapore’s Changi is one of the world’s top airports with an attractive and efficient design. All international terminal areas have duty-free arrivals stores in the baggage claim area, or nearby. Tobacco products are restricted and even though you can buy them in these stores, you can only take in 19 cigarettes or the equivalent tobacco without paying tax. In effect, there is no point buying tobaccos to take into the Country.

Vietnam closed their arrivals duty free stores some years ago with an action in contradiction to the overall worldwide trend, which is to open duty-free shops on arrival in airports.

Malaysia: Both airports and the low cost airport terminal in KL have arrivals stores.

Myanmar: From what we understand there are arrivals stores in the two main airports.

Indonesia: Like Vietnam, this country banned the arrivals duty-free shopping procedure some years ago.

Laos: We are clarifying this information, but we believe that arrivals stores are available.

Ko Samui, lounge store
Some of these Asian countries, like Thailand and Singapore, also allow the Tax-Free Shopping refund facility, but this is not to be confused with duty-free shopping in airports. It is a completely different system, where you have to purchase the goods in the domestic market, pay the local tax on them, then through a banking service provider, re-claim this tax when you leave the country. Whereas, for those travelling internationally through airports, the tax has already been deducted on products sold in duty-free stores.

There are other websites and blogs out there offering duty-free and tax-free shopping information and comparisons, but some appear to have confused the two different Tax-Free systems when making their price comparison.

Some offer a global duty-free price comparison service for electronic goods such as iPads, iPods or iPhones, but appear to have assumed that stock purchased through the Tax-Refund service is available to everybody, when it is not. Each country and continent has different regulations and often certain Nationalities or Residents are actually excluded from this system and are not allowed to re-claim the Tax on goods. The European Union is a good example of this exclusion. 

Furthermore, Duty-Free electronic goods do not actually exist as there is no “Excise Duty” levied on such goods, only sales or import Taxes. In effect, such products should be described by these various sites as “Tax-Free” and not “Duty-Free”. Excise Duty, where the description “Duty-Free” came from, now only applies to liquors or tobaccos.

So, it is wise to check before you fly in relation to the varying rules for your trip and the best place to find this destination specific information is to search your duty-free shopping location at our associate site, duty free on arrival.