Is duty free shopping really the amazing bargain it’s supposed to be? What is best to buy in duty free, and how much money can you save?
Shopping for a bargain
Duty-free shopping was first introduced in Ireland in 1947. It was designed as a tax loophole that would sell locally produced goods, mostly liquor and cigarettes. Since then, it’s evolved. While it still maintains the tax-free aspect, a huge range of food, cosmetics, fragrances, electronics and alcohol is sold. The best-selling items are spirits and cosmetics.
Who can buy duty free goods?
If you are travelling internationally, you can buy goods duty-free. This includes both international flights and cruises- if you’ve been overseas, simply present your passport or air travel ticket to be able to spend up large.
Where can you buy duty free in NZ?
Typically, most people think you can only buy duty free in International airports. This is true, and you can find duty free stores in Dunedin, Queenstown, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland airports. You can also purchase on board during international flights and cruises. There is also a duty free store in Auckland CDB, DFS Galleria. Even though this store is located far from an airport, the same rules apply- you must present flight details and shop in a certain time-frame of your travel dates.
You can also order and pay for your goods in advance and simply pick up when you arrive at your destination – after all, no-one likes to spend extra time at airports.
Tip: It’s worth checking with a travel insurance company to make sure your purchases you pick up along the way are covered.
What can you buy from duty free
While alcohol and Toblerone are almost ritual purchases, there is so much more to buy. There is an excellent range of luxury fragrance brands, although many can be purchased cheaper online (although in NZ we now have to pay tax on internet shopping, so check the value carefully as you will pay customs extra when your goods arrive). There are also makeup and skincare products from a huge variety of big-name brands. Elizabeth Arden, Loreal, MAC, Benefit, Clarins, O.P.I. and so much more.
So if you’ve run out of your favourite eye cream or left your eyeliner at home, it’s easy to buy your products at discounted prices.
If you’ve been eyeing up electronics, it might be worth doing your research before leaving the country and seeing if you can buy it cheaper duty free. GoPro, Apple products, photography equipment, drones and Fitbits may be cheaper in duty free.
You may also find a range of food items to buy – powdered milk, Manuka honey products, a wide variety of chocolates and of course- Toblerone.
Many duty free stores offer jewellery and watches at discounted prices. Dubai in particular has a great jewellery selection.
How much duty free can you buy?
Duty free is there for you to save money on your personal purchases. It’s not designed to bulk buy so you can re-sell, and there are limits to avoid this behaviour. Every country has different limits, so check before you travel. If you buy more than the allowed amount, you may have to pay extra duty on arrival, be detained at screening counters, or risk your goods being confiscated altogether.
New Zealand duty free allowances per adult as at 1 October 2018:
- No more than three bottles of spirits (up to 1.125L each)
- 4.5 litres of wine, sherry, port, champagne or beer
- 50 cigarettes or 50g of tobacco
- Up to NZ$700 worth of other good purchased duty free
- See the NZ Customs website for more information about duty free limits
Duty free allowances for other countries which you are not a resident of as at 1 October 2018:
- Australia – 2.25 litres alcohol, 50 cigarettes or 50 grams tobacco
- Canada – 1.14L litre spirits, 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars 200g of tobacco
- China – 1.5 litres of beverages with more than 12% alcohol, 400 cigarettes, 500g tobacco and 50 cigars
- EU – 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco. 4 litres of wine, 16 litres of beer and 1L of spirits over 22%, or 2L of beverages with less than 22% alcohol content.
- Fiji – 4.5 litres wine or beer or 2.25 litres spirits or liqueur, 250 cigarettes or 250 grams tobacco or 250 grams cigars
- Hong Kong – 1 litre of alcohol over 30%, 19 cigarettes or 25 grams of tobacco or 1 cigar.
- Japan – 3x 750ml of alcohol, 200 cigarettes or 250 grams tobacco
- Korea – 1 litre of alcohol, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 250g of tobacco
- Malaysia – 1 litre of alcohol, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 225 grams tobacco
- New Caledonia – 2 litres of spirits except Aniseed or Absinthe and 2 litres of wine, 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 400 grams tobacco
- Norfolk Island – 1 litre alcoholic beverage, 200 cigarettes or 250 grams tobacco/cigars
- Samoa – 2.25 litres of alcohol, 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco/cigars
- Singapore – 1 litre spirits and 1 litre wine or beer, No cigarettes, all tobacco goods must be declared.
- South Africa – 2 litres wine or 1 litre spirits, 200 cigarettes and 250 grams tobacco and 20 cigars
- Taiwan – 1 litre of alcohol, 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 454 grams of tobacco
- Thailand – 1 litre of alcohol, 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco
- Tonga – 2.25 litres of spirits or 4.5 litres of wine, 400 cigarettes or 500 grams of tobacco/cigars
- UK – 4 litres wine, 16L of beer, and 1 litre spirits over 22%. 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams tobacco
- USA – 1 litre alcohol, 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 2kg tobacco or combination. *Cuban cigars are not permitted to be imported
- Vanuatu – 2 litres wine and 1.5 litres spirits, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams tobacco