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|
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!