Luxury And Tax-Free: How Does Duty Free Work?

Duty-Free Work:


                                                         AT THE AIRPORT

For many travelers, the purchase of tax-free goods is one of the essential pleasures when passing through the airport. But how does duty free work in practice, and especially how to avoid traps? Allianz Travel tells you everything!

What Is Duty Free?

The expression ” duty free “, or literally “tax free”, means that the products offered by the store are exempt from value added tax (VAT). In practice, this therefore corresponds to a very attractive discount, between 15 and 20% depending on the type of product and the country! The transit zones of international airports are indeed subject to a special statute, and do not fall under the tax law of the host country: a particularism in which many brands rush to offer travelers products at defiant prices all competition. Once in the international zone, you will have access to a wide choice of flavors, alcohols, cigarettes and other chocolate bars, to name only the most popular. Note that duty free is available not only in the international areas of airports, but also in those of certain seaports and on the ships themselves, if for example you are going on a cruise.

Pay attention to the prices!

Attention, the “duty free” label should not make you forget any caution! Some brands take advantage of this attractive label to increase their commercial margin, or are subject to very high rent from the airport and which obliges them to increase prices. In the end, some things are therefore not that good.

A Tax Refund Reserved For Trips Outside The European Union.

All travelers who circulate in the international zone of the airport are not automatically entitled to buy duty free ! In particular, you will continue to pay VAT if you leave from a European Union country (including France) to go to another EU country. Only a few exceptions exist for destinations with specific tax regimes, such as a planned landing at Andorra airport, in the Canaries or in the Channel Islands and Gibraltar. To benefit from the tax refund, you must therefore embark for a country located outside the European Union, or for a French overseas territory such as French Polynesia, for example. In order to sort through customers, the cashiers will systematically ask you for your boarding pass: no need to try to cheat!


There are limits regarding the maximum quantity, the value or the nature of certain duty free products: it all depends on what is provided by law in your destination country (i.e. France if you buy before the return trip, i.e. the country you are going to). So make sure you ask carefully beforehand so that you don’t have to give up some of your loot at customs! For France, the limit for tobacco is one carton of cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 100 cigarillos, or even 250 grams of roll-your-own tobacco. Concerning alcohol, you will have to stick to one liter for a drink of more than 22 °, or two liters for a drink less alcoholic… Unless of course to opt for 4 liters of wine or 16 liters of beer! No limit, however, with perfumes, tea or coffee.


What is the point of lightening your wallet in duty free shops if you have the misfortune of losing your luggage or being stolen? Taking out good international insurance with the Allianz Travel network is the best way to benefit from correct compensation if such a mishap were to happen to you. You will also benefit from solid reimbursements for your health care and cover for your civil liability abroad.

Commercial argument or real opportunity? A bit of both ! Take advantage of the wait before boarding to shop, and learn to spot good deals in duty free. Without going overboard, of course!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: