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What is airport duty free?

If you’ve ever been to an international airport before, you’ll likely be familiar with the duty free shopping experiences you can access once you’ve passed through security. However, you might not know what sets duty free shops apart from regular shops on the high street or in a shopping centre. Duty free is a term many of us have heard of time and time again, but what does it actually mean?

What is duty free?

Duty Free is the term commonly used to describe products that are free of excise duty. Excise duty only applies to alcohol and tobacco. However, from the 1st of January 2021, all passengers travelling outside the UK can purchase duty free alcohol and tobacco in an airport duty free store.

Why are airports duty free?

A duty free shop is a retail outlet whose goods are exempt from the payment of certain local or national taxes and duties, on the requirement that the goods sold will be sold to passengers who will take them out of the country. The passenger will then pay duties and taxes in their destination country (depending on personal exemption limits and the tariff regime).

Duty free shops don’t technically exist in any country. From the point of view of the tax enforcers, you leave a country the moment you go through international airport security - even if you opt for fast track security. So, if you buy a bottle of wine duty free at a French airport, you don’t pay French taxes. In fact, you don’t pay any taxes, because no governing body oversees the grey area between international borders. You may have to pay UK taxes for importing it, unless it’s part of your duty free allowance, because the item still physically enters UK jurisdiction when you leave the arrivals area at a UK airport.

International airports aren’t the only place where you can buy things duty free. For the same reason as in airports, you can also buy duty free on cruise ships, on some flights, and even at border crossings.

Are airport duty free shops cheaper?

Generally speaking, items which are sold without excise duty in duty free shops are cheaper than they would be in regular shops. World Duty Free offer a minimum saving of a tax equivalent discount vs the average UK High Street Price or RRP on the majority of products they sell. So generally speaking, airport duty free shops are cheaper, however, this isn’t always the case, so it pays to be aware of how exchange rates affect the price you’re paying and how much you can buy the item for where you live.

In many cases, you can browse duty free shops online before your flight to get an idea of what’s available and what the prices are like. You may even be able to reserve items for purchase and collection when you reach the airport, meaning you can spend as much time as you like browsing the shop while still getting the benefit of those tax and duty free prices.

Liverpool Airport duty free shops

At Liverpool Airport, the World Duty Free shop offers a wide range of products and brands, covering everything from travel essentials and souvenirs to alcohol and perfume. With click and collect services available at World Duty Free, you can order items ahead and collect them once you’ve passed through security. Need more time to explore the range of shops available at Liverpool Airport? Take advantage of fast track parking so you have more time to browse.

Please note you must show your boarding pass at the till point when purchasing items in duty free shops.

Duty free allowances

There are certain limitations on duty free shopping, however, they are set individually by the governments of each country or economic region. Note, that in case of exceeding these limits, you may be asked to pay the duty and tax difference on them. Find out more about shopping allowances

When shopping duty free, you can take one regular sized airport shopping bag of items with you onto your flight. This means that you can pick up toiletries, baby food, perfumes, alcohol, and any other security-restricted items at a duty free shop and take them onto the plane with you when you travel.

Please note, some flights with connections require you to go through security again. If this applies to your travel plans, speak to a member of staff in the duty free shop and they will be able to put your items in a STEB (Security tamper-evident bag) so you can take it through security at the airport you are connecting from.