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 Arrival.com for details.

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