For many holidaymakers, the duty-free shop is the first point of contact after the security check at the airport. But how exactly does a duty-free shop work and can you really save yourself money as a result?

What is a duty-free shop?

“Duty-free” translates as “duty-free” – so in a duty-free shop you can purchase products without customs duties and without VAT.

However, you can only shop really tax-free and duty-free at airports outside the EU . Since the European Union has had a regulation for several years that the customary taxes and duties apply when buying in the duty-free shop.

Prices in the duty-free shop

The shops are free to set their prices, which means that the prices depend on the shop and airport. Since you can no longer get tax-free prices within the EU, it is of course a good idea to shop in shops outside the EU.

Nevertheless, when returning to the EU, please note the quantity and value limits.

  • Tobacco products – persons aged 17 and over with 200 cigarettes each
  • Alcoholic beverages aged 17 and over:
    – 1 litre of spirits with an alcohol content of more than 22% by volume
    – or 2 litres of alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content not exceeding 22% by volume
  • Medicines for personal use in appropriate quantities
  • Other goods up to a total value of 300 euros, for air and sea travel up to a total value of 430 euros. Persons under 15 years of age only have a total value of 175€.

Are the products cheaper in duty-free – yes or no?

If you shop in a duty-free shop outside the EU, you can save a lot depending on the shop and the product. The duty-free shop is most likely to be worthwhile if you want to buy high-priced items. However, you should know the commercial prices of the products in your country in order to assess whether it is really worth buying duty-free.

In our opinion, what can be worthwhile in “duty-free shopping”:

  • Perfume
  • Jewellery
  • Watches
  • Accessories
  • Cigarettes (for EU international flights, as tobacco tax is also waived here)

Alternative to the duty-free shop?

If you are travelling within the EU and therefore it is not worth shopping in the duty-free shop, you can also use online comparisons to find cheap products.

Women’s perfume in comparison:

Men’s perfume in comparison:

Jewelry in comparison

Watches in comparison

Categories: Travel


Clara Schönlechner ist Bankerin, Versicherungsspezialistin und in Ihrer Freizeit Reisebloggerin.