tax

Dutyfreeaddict is a site dedicated to providing travellers with information on shopping abroad. If you find yourself asking "What are the duty free regimes available to international travellers?" then you have come to the right place!

we love travelling and we love shopping. We also love finding bargains and getting tax refunds from our purchases! Unfortunately, the duty free process can be confusing, so here is some key information which should make things easier for you.

the basics

What is duty free shopping?

Duty free shopping allows international travellers to purchase goods tax free or to claim a tax refund after a purchase.

Where is duty free shopping available?

Duty free shopping typically operates in airports, but may also be available for purchases made at retail stores outside airports. Whilst duty free shopping is predominantly available in international airports prior to departure, some countries also offer duty free purchases at airports on arrival (e.g. Australia, Singapore). There are also a number of tax refund schemes where travellers may claim a refund for taxes paid on purchases made at retail stores outside the airport.

How do I claim the duty free refund?

Typically travellers will be required to present a stamped tax refund form, the product, the receipt, their passport and their departing tickets at airport customs prior to departure. Sometimes large department stores will have a refund facility located within their premises, but we always recommend seeking help from the cashier at the time of purchase.

 

How much is the duty free refund?

Unfortunately this is not an easy question to answer with taxes varying by country and sometimes even by state or province within a country. Firstly you need to determine whether the quoted price (typically the RRP) includes or excludes tax. Then you need to determine what the applicable tax on the product is, whether the country offers a tax refund scheme and finally how to claim the refund.

How much is the minimum purchase I need to make to collect a refund?

This varies by country and can be as small as €25 (Germany) or as much as A$300 (Australia).

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Australia

Airport duty free

 

Retail duty free

Arrival

Departure

 

Available

Prices Generally Quoted

Estimated Refund (%)

Minimum Purchase

tax tax   tax

Inc 10% Tax

10% GST

300 AUD

airport duty free

Australia offers arrivals duty free and departures duty free. This means that you can purchase products at the airport on your entry into Australia (or during transit) and also at the airport prior to your departure. Having duty free shopping available when landing is a great for travellers as it allows you to pick up a few cheap items at the last minute.

Tourist Refund Scheme

Australia also has a duty free refund scheme, known as the Tourist Refund Scheme. This scheme allows travellers to claim a tax refund for purchases made outside the airport. The refund is usually about 10% (only exception is for wine which is 14.5%) and is available for:

  1. Purchases of A$300 (tax inclusive) or more made in one store on a singlereceipt,
  2. Purchases made within 30 days prior to departure, and
  3. Goods that are taken onto the plane or ship (worn or in hand luggage). There is an exception here for items that may not be taken onto the plane for security
    measures (e.g. liquids, aerosols etc).

The refund for purchases outside the airport is not available for items wholly or partially consumed prior to departure and alcoholic items (wine is ok).

Prices in Australia are typically quoted including tax and therefore you can usually calculate the tax refund by dividing the quoted price by 11 (e.g. $1,100 RRP / 11 = tax refund of $100).

To claim the refund for purchases outside of the airport, you must present the following to Customs and Border protection TRS facility when you depart Australia:

  1. The goods to show you are taking them out of the country (unless aviation security measures, in regard to liquids, aerosols and gels prevent you from doing so),
  2. The original tax invoice totalling A$300 (GST inclusive) or more from the retailer,
  3. Your passport and international boarding pass or other proof of travel.

Make sure you give yourself adequate time prior to departure to make your claim with customs.
For more information please refer to the Australian Customs and Border Protection website.

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Canada

Airport duty free

 

Retail duty free

Arrival

Departure

 

Available

Prices Generally Quoted

Estimated Refund (%)

Minimum Purchase

tax tax   tax

Exc 12-15% Tax

No Tax Refund

No Tax Refund

airport duty free

Canada cancelled its Visitor Rebate Program in 2007 and consequently travellers cannot make duty free purchases outside the airport.

Prices in Canada are typically quoted excluding tax and shoppers will need to add 12-15% (depending on which state) to the display price.

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Dubai

Airport duty free

 

Retail duty free

Arrival

Departure

 

Available

Prices Generally Quoted

Estimated Refund (%)

Minimum Purchase

tax tax   tax

Tax Free Location

Tax Free Location

Tax Free Location

Tax Free Location

Dubai is a tax free location therefore no refund is applicable.

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France

Airport duty free

 

Retail duty free

Arrival

Departure

 

Available

Prices Generally Quoted

Estimated Refund (%)

Minimum Purchase

tax tax   tax

Inc 19.6% Tax

19.6% VAT

175.01 EUR

airport duty free

France offers duty free shopping at the airport prior to departure and also a duty free refund scheme for purchases made outside the airport.

Firstly, it is important to highlight that duty free shopping and duty free refunds are only available to non EU passengers departing the European Union. Therefore, anyone travelling within the EU (e.g. a Parisian travelling to Italy), will not be entitled to the duty free regime. Further, anyone seeking to take advantage of the duty free regime in the EU can only claim their refund at the final point of departure from the EU. For example – I made a number of purchases in Greece and Germany prior to ultimately leaving the EU from London. I was unable to claim the duty refund in Greece or Germany (even though that is where I made the purchases) and had to complete the refund forms in London immediately prior to my departure from the EU.

The refund is usually about 19.6% and is available for:

  1. Purchases of EUR€175.01 (tax inclusive) or more made in one store on a single receipt (Global-blue requirement),
  2. Purchases made within 3 months prior to departure,
  3. Goods that are taken onto the plane or ship (worn or in hand luggage). To avoid any security complications you may wish to purchase any liquids, gels, aerosols etc at the airport, and
  4. International departures outside of the European Union.

Tourist Refund Scheme

The refund for purchases outside the airport is not available for items wholly or partially consumed prior to departure.

Prices in France are typically quoted including tax and therefore you can usually calculate the tax refund by taking the quoted price less the quoted price divided by 1.196 (e.g. €239.20 RRP less €239.20/1.196 = tax refund of €39.20).

To claim the refund for purchases outside of the airport, you must complete the following:

  1. Collect a completed Tax Free Form and from the sales assistant,
  2. Show the goods, the tax invoice and your passport to the Customs at the airport prior to your departure from the EU and get your Tax Free Form stamped,
  3. Ensure you are wearing or have the goods in your hand luggage (be wary of aviation security measures with respect to liquids, aerosols and gels), and
  4. Present the stamped and completed tax refund form to the refund counter at the airport to claim your refund.

Make sure you give yourself adequate time prior to departure to make your claim with customs. Some department stores will have refund facilities available within their operations. We recommend that you ask the cashier upon purchasing your goods for advice. Some department stores have a refund facility directly in the store which will remove the need to claim at the airport.

For more information please refer to the Global Blue Website.

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Germany

Airport duty free

 

Retail duty free

Arrival

Departure

 

Available

Prices Generally Quoted

Estimated Refund (%)

Minimum Purchase

tax tax   tax

Inc 19% Tax

19% VAT

25 EUR

airport duty free

Germany offers duty free shopping at the airport prior to departure and also a duty free refund scheme for purchases made outside the airport.

Firstly, it is important to highlight that duty free shopping and duty free refunds are only available to non EU passengers departing the European Union. Therefore, anyone travelling within the EU (e.g. a Parisian travelling to Italy), will not be entitled to the duty free regime. Further, anyone seeking to take advantage of the duty free regime in the EU can only claim their refund at the final point of departure from the EU. For example – I made a number of purchases in Greece and Germany prior to ultimately leaving the EU from London. I was unable to claim the duty refund in Greece or Germany (even though that is where I made the purchases) and had to complete the refund forms in London immediately prior to my departure from the EU.

The refund is usually about 19.0% and is available for:

  1. Purchases of EUR€25 (tax inclusive) or more made in one store on a single receipt (Global-blue requirement),
  2. Purchases made within 3 months prior to departure,
  3. Goods that are taken onto the plane or ship (worn or in hand luggage). To avoid any security complications you may wish to purchase any liquids, gels, aerosols etc at the airport, and
  4. International departures outside of the European Union.

Tourist Refund Scheme

The refund for purchases outside the airport is not available for items wholly or partially consumed prior to departure.

Prices in Germany are typically quoted including tax and therefore you can usually calculate the tax refund by taking the quoted price less the quoted price divided by 1.19 (e.g. €119 RRP less €119/1.19 = tax refund of €19).

To claim the refund for purchases outside of the airport, you must complete the following:

  1. Collect a completed Tax Free Form and from the sales assistant,
  2. Show the goods, the tax invoice and your passport to the Customs at the airport prior to your departure from the EU and get your Tax Free Form stamped,
  3. Ensure you are wearing or have the goods in your hand luggage (be wary of aviation security measures with respect to liquids, aerosols and gels), and
  4. Present the stamped and completed tax refund form to the refund counter at the airport to claim your refund.

Make sure you give yourself adequate time prior to departure to make your claim with customs. Some department stores will have refund facilities available within their operations. We recommend that you ask the cashier upon purchasing your goods for advice. Some department stores have a refund facility directly in the store which will remove the need to claim at the airport.

For more information please refer to the Global Blue Website.

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Hong Kong

Airport duty free

 

Retail duty free

Arrival

Departure

 

Available

Prices Generally Quoted

Estimated Refund (%)

Minimum Purchase

tax tax   tax

Tax Free Location

Tax Free Location

Tax Free Location

airport duty free

Hong Kong is a tax free location therefore no refund is applicable.

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Japan

Airport duty free

 

Retail duty free

Arrival

Departure

 

Available

Prices Generally Quoted

Estimated Refund (%)

Minimum Purchase

tax tax   tax

Inc 5% Tax

5% CT

10,000 JPY

airport duty free

Japan offers duty free shopping at the airport prior to departure and also provides a duty free refund scheme for purchases made outside the airport.

Tourist Refund Scheme

The refund is usually about 5% and is available for purchases of JPY¥10,000 (tax inclusive) or more made in one store on a single receipt (Global-blue requirement). The refund is not available for consumables such as cigarettes, cosmetics, film, batteries, food and beverage (including alcohol).

Prices in Japan are typically quoted including tax and therefore you can usually calculate the tax refund by dividing the quoted price by 21 (e.g. ¥105 RRP / 21 = tax refund of £5).

To claim the refund for purchases outside of the airport, you must complete the following:

  1. Collect a completed Tax Free Form from the sales assistant at the time of purchase,
  2. Show the goods, the tax invoice and your passport to the Customs at the airport prior to your departure from Japan and get them to stamp your Tax Free Form,
  3. Ensure you are wearing or have the goods in your hand luggage (be wary of aviation security measures with respect to liquids, aerosols and gels), and
  4. Present the stamped and completed tax refund form to the refund counter at the airport to claim your refund.

Make sure you give yourself adequate time prior to departure to make your claim with customs. Some department stores will have refund facilities available within their operations. We recommend that you ask the cashier upon purchasing your goods for advice. Some department stores have a refund facility directly in the store which will remove the need to claim at the airport.

For more information please refer to the Japanese National Tourism Website.

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Singapore

Airport duty free

 

Retail duty free

Arrival

Departure

 

Available

Prices Generally Quoted

Estimated Refund (%)

Minimum Purchase

tax tax   tax

Inc 7% Tax

7% GST

100 SGD

airport duty free

Singapore offers arrivals duty free and departures duty free. This means that you can purchase products at the airport on your entry into Singapore (or during transit) and also at airport prior to your departure. Having duty free shopping available when landing is a great for travellers as it allows you to pick up a few cheap items at the last minute.

Singapore also has a duty free refund scheme, known as the Tourist Refund Scheme. This scheme is available at Changi Airport, Seletar Airport, Singapore Cruise Centre and Marina Bay Cruise Centre. This scheme allows travellers to claim a tax refund for purchases made outside the airport. The refund is usually about 7% and is available for tourists:

  1. Purchases of S$100 (tax inclusive) (in up to 3 receipts from the same retailer),
  2. The purchase is made from a retailer who operates within the tourist refund scheme who issues you an eTRS ticket upon purchase,
  3. Purchases made within 2 months prior to departure,
  4. Depart Singapore within 12 hours after obtaining your refund, and
  5. Goods that are taken onto the plane or ship (worn or in hand luggage). There is an exception here for items that may not be taken onto the plane for security measures (e.g. liquids, aerosols etc).

Tourist Refund Scheme

The refund for purchases outside the airport is not available for items wholly or partially consumed prior to departure and alcoholic items (wine is ok).

Prices in Singapore are typically quoted including tax and therefore you can usually calculate the tax refund by taking the quoted price less the quoted price divided by 1.07 (e.g. $107 RRP less $107/1.07 = tax refund of $7).

To claim your tax refund, take your eTRS ticket to the eTRS self-help kiosk and follow the steps to complete the process and apply for your GST refund. If the eTRS self-help kiosk states that physical inspection of the goods is required, you will need to present the goods, the original invoice/receipt and your boarding pass/ itinerary in person to the Customs Inspection Counter before your refund claims can be processed. Make sure you do not proceed to the Customs Inspection Counter before you use the eTRS self-help kiosk.

Make sure you give yourself adequate time prior to departure to make your claim with customs. Some department stores will have refund facilities available within their operations. We recommend that you ask the cashier upon purchasing your goods for advice. Some department stores have a refund facility directly in the store which will remove the need to claim at the airport.

For more information please refer to the Singapore Tourist Refund Scheme Website.

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South Korea

Airport duty free

 

Retail duty free

Arrival

Departure

 

Available

Prices Generally Quoted

Estimated Refund (%)

Minimum Purchase

tax tax   tax

Inc 10% Tax

10% VAT

30,000 KRW

airport duty free

South Korea offers duty free shopping at the airport prior to departure and also provides a duty free refund scheme for purchases made outside the airport.

The refund is usually about 10% (higher for luxury items) and is available for:

  1. Tourists visiting / residing in Korea for less than 6 months,
  2. Purchases of KRW₩30,000 (tax inclusive) or more made in one store on a single receipt (Global-blue requirement) at a participating retail store, and
  3. Purchases made within 3 months prior to departure.

Tourist Refund Scheme

Prices in Korea are typically quoted including tax and therefore you can usually calculate the tax refund by dividing the quoted price by 11 (e.g. KRW₩33,000 RRP / 11 = tax refund of $3,000).

To claim the refund for purchases outside of the airport, you must complete the following:

  1. Collect a completed Refund Slip from the sales assistant at the time of purchase,
  2. Show the goods, the tax invoice and your passport to the Customs at the airport prior to your departure from Korea and get them to stamp your Refund Slip,
  3. Ensure you are wearing or have the goods in your hand luggage (be wary of aviation security measures with respect to liquids, aerosols and gels), and
  4. Present the stamped and completed tax refund form to the refund counter at the airport to claim your refund.

Make sure you give yourself adequate time prior to departure to make your claim with customs. Some department stores will have refund facilities available within their operations. We recommend that you ask the cashier upon purchasing your goods for advice. Some department stores have a refund facility directly in the store which will remove the need to claim at the airport.

For more information please refer to the Korean Tourism Website.

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The United Kingdom

Airport duty free

 

Retail duty free

Arrival

Departure

 

Available

Prices Generally Quoted

Estimated Refund (%)

Minimum Purchase

tax tax   tax

Inc 20% Tax

20% VAT

30 GBP

airport duty free

The UK offers duty free shopping at the airport prior to departure and also a duty free refund scheme for purchases made outside the airport.

Firstly, it is important to highlight that duty free shopping and duty free refunds are only available to non EU passengers departing the European Union. Therefore, anyone travelling within the EU (e.g. a Londoner travelling to France), will not be entitled to the duty free regime. Further, anyone seeking to take advantage of the duty free regime in the EU can only claim their refund at the final point of departure from the EU. For example – I made a number of purchases in Greece and Germany prior to ultimately leaving the EU from London. I was unable to claim the duty refund in Greece or Germany (even though that is where I made the purchases) and had to complete the refund forms in London immediately prior to my departure from the EU.

Tourist Refund Scheme

The refund is usually about 20% and is available for:

  1. Purchases of GBP£30 (tax inclusive) or more made in one store on a single receipt (Global-blue requirement),
  2. Purchases made within 3 months prior to departure,
  3. Goods that are taken onto the plane or ship (worn or in hand luggage). To avoid any security complications you may wish to purchase any liquids, gels, aerosols etc at the airport, and
  4. International departures outside of the European Union.

The refund for purchases outside the airport is not available for items wholly or partially consumed prior to departure.

Prices in the UK are typically quoted including tax and therefore you can usually calculate the tax refund by dividing the quoted price by 6 (e.g. £120 RRP / 6 = tax refund of £20).

To claim the refund for purchases outside of the airport, you must complete the following:

  1. Collect a completed VAT 407 Form from the sales assistant,
  2. Show the goods, the tax invoice and your passport to the UK Customs at the airport prior to your departure from the EU and get your VAT 407 Form stamped,
  3. Ensure you are wearing or have the goods in your hand luggage (be wary of aviation security measures with respect to liquids, aerosols and gels), and
  4. Present the stamped and completed tax refund form to the refund counter at the airport to claim your refund.]

Make sure you give yourself adequate time prior to departure to make your claim with customs. Some department stores will have refund facilities available within their operations. We recommend that you ask the cashier upon purchasing your goods for advice. Some department stores have a refund facility directly in the store which will remove the need to claim at the airport.

For more information please refer to the HM Revenue & Customs website.

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The United States

Airport duty free

 

Retail duty free

Arrival

Departure

 

Available

Prices Generally Quoted

Estimated Refund (%)

Minimum Purchase

tax tax   tax

Exc 5-11% Tax

No Tax Refund

No Tax Refund

airport duty free

The United States Government does not refund sales tax to foreign visitors. Sales tax charged in the USA is paid to individual states, not the Federal government. You may be able to contact the State taxation authority in the state where you will be making the purchase to determine whether you are eligible for a sales tax refund. However, in most States this is not available and therefore it is probably more conservative to assume that you will not be eligible to receive a tax refund.