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Old 12-26-2016, 02:03 PM
Arcite Arcite is offline
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Whom are duty-free shops in airports for?

This is one of those "explain it to me like I'm ten years old" questions.

I'm an American and have never left the continental 48 states, so I'm extremely international-travel-ignorant and naive. I don't have a passport, and I've never dealt with customs. But over the past 2 years I've done a lot of domestic flying, and I began noticing something I've never noticed before, these "duty-free" shops in airports.

I tried Googling to find explanations of how they work, but as with so many things, the articles out there seem to assume a certain degree of background knowledge I don't have. Even articles with titles like "What's the deal with duty-free shopping?" and "How Does Duty Free Work?" leave me with questions. Near as I can tell, and please correct me if I'm wrong, these shops are intended for international travelers, and any goods purchased there are exempt from local taxes (the taxes in the jurisdiction where the duty-free shop is located,) though you still have to pay any import taxes levied by your destination country when you arrive there.

But these shops are right there in the airport, next to all the other shops, and anyone can walk right in. These articles make it sound like they exist to allow you to avoid taxes on the condition you're going to take the items out of the country. So do they check your boarding pass to verify that you're in fact leaving the country? Or can anyone shop there? Can I, while I'm flying domestically, stop in a duty-free shop to pick up some Scotch tax-free? None of the articles I've found even hint that this question might exist. They're written like they just assume that everyone is travelling internationally.
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Old 12-26-2016, 02:10 PM
Isosleepy Isosleepy is offline
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Duty-Free shopping at US airports requires a boarding pass to somewhere abroad. Goods are typically delivered to you right before boarding.
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Old 12-26-2016, 02:17 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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I can only tell you how it works in the airports I'm familiar with. Yes, duty-free shops are often (not always) on the outside of the international boarding area, but you can't just walk in and walk out with stuff. Your ticket and boarding information is simply used to determine what gate to send the stuff to. You pay for it, and it's delivered to you just before you board your flight.

The savings can be quite substantial, especially in countries that have high liquor taxes which can be more than than half of the total normal cost. You end up getting a great deal despite what I'm sure is a huge markup that these bandits charge to pay their concession fees and still rake in huge profits.

The quantities you buy have to be limited by the allowance you have in the country you are entering. A typical purchase might be a single 1.1 L bottle or the like.
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Old 12-26-2016, 02:21 PM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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IME duty free shops have a huge markup, same as everything at an airport, that much more than cancels out whatever the tax percent is supposed to be.
Friends assure me there are some cosmetics and such worth buying at duty free, but for me I've never seen an item that was cheaper than a non-airport shop, let alone the internet.

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  #5  
Old 12-26-2016, 02:25 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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Originally Posted by Arcite View Post
This is one of those "explain it to me like I'm ten years old" questions.

I'm an American and have never left the continental 48 states, so I'm extremely international-travel-ignorant and naive. I don't have a passport, and I've never dealt with customs. But over the past 2 years I've done a lot of domestic flying, and I began noticing something I've never noticed before, these "duty-free" shops in airports.

I tried Googling to find explanations of how they work, but as with so many things, the articles out there seem to assume a certain degree of background knowledge I don't have. Even articles with titles like "What's the deal with duty-free shopping?" and "How Does Duty Free Work?" leave me with questions. Near as I can tell, and please correct me if I'm wrong, these shops are intended for international travelers, and any goods purchased there are exempt from local taxes (the taxes in the jurisdiction where the duty-free shop is located,) though you still have to pay any import taxes levied by your destination country when you arrive there.

But these shops are right there in the airport, next to all the other shops, and anyone can walk right in. These articles make it sound like they exist to allow you to avoid taxes on the condition you're going to take the items out of the country. So do they check your boarding pass to verify that you're in fact leaving the country? Or can anyone shop there? Can I, while I'm flying domestically, stop in a duty-free shop to pick up some Scotch tax-free? None of the articles I've found even hint that this question might exist. They're written like they just assume that everyone is travelling internationally.
Yes, they check your boarding pass to ensure you are traveling internationally before selling you anything.

Whether it's worth it is another question.
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Old 12-26-2016, 02:27 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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I have no idea about cosmetics, jewelry, watches, etc. Never looked at that stuff. But liquor is definitely much, much cheaper at the duty-free than at regular stores anywhere in Canada and probably throughout the US. Haven't bought any in a while but I seem to recall it being about half the price.
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:25 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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Yes, they check your boarding pass to ensure you are traveling internationally before selling you anything.
FTR, that's what they used to do ages ago. Now, in my experience (at least, traveling from Canada) the purchase is transacted at the duty-free store but the actually delivery occurs before flight time on the other side of the security perimeter. This makes it difficult to buy duty-free liquor on behalf of a friend who will just take it home with him.
  #8  
Old 12-26-2016, 03:31 PM
Arkcon Arkcon is offline
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This is a common question here on the SDMB:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=517176

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=548979
  #9  
Old 12-26-2016, 03:32 PM
Mind's Eye, Watering Mind's Eye, Watering is offline
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
I have no idea about cosmetics, jewelry, watches, etc. Never looked at that stuff. But liquor is definitely much, much cheaper at the duty-free than at regular stores anywhere in Canada and probably throughout the US. Haven't bought any in a while but I seem to recall it being about half the price.
Liquor and tobacco.
  #10  
Old 12-26-2016, 03:50 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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Makes sense. Those are the things hit with the major "sin taxes".
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:53 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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I've glanced at liquor in DF shops and generally laughed. The prices are so high I can't imagine it being a bargain for anyone.

Exactly whose duties are free here, anyway? Who is not paying what in the deal?
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:53 PM
Arcite Arcite is offline
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Good thing I asked. I wonder how often people like me just wander in and attempt to buy something, are bewildered when they are asked for their boarding pass, and embarrassed when told what the deal is?

I did go into one once just to check the prices on whiskey. I recall them being about the same as the prices in my local state store, but the absence of tax would still constitute savings.
  #13  
Old 12-26-2016, 04:23 PM
Shinna Minna Ma Shinna Minna Ma is offline
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I don't know how it works elsewhere, but in Israel, one can make purchases at duty free, and leave them to pick up and take home upon returning.
  #14  
Old 12-26-2016, 04:25 PM
Giles Giles is online now
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In Australia, duty-free shops are available for both departing and arriving international passengers, so if you are coming to Australia you don't need to carry your liquor and cigarettes on the plane.
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Old 12-26-2016, 04:25 PM
Mijin Mijin is offline
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Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
I've glanced at liquor in DF shops and generally laughed. The prices are so high I can't imagine it being a bargain for anyone.
Yep. It might be because the two places I've lived are Britain (which has significant sin taxes on alcohol but extremely competitive supermarket pricing) and China (where alcohol is pretty cheap, except maybe wine), but IME the prices in airport duty free are more like double, not half, a regular shop's.
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Old 12-26-2016, 04:26 PM
wolfpup wolfpup is offline
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Originally Posted by Amateur Barbarian View Post
I've glanced at liquor in DF shops and generally laughed. The prices are so high I can't imagine it being a bargain for anyone.

Exactly whose duties are free here, anyway? Who is not paying what in the deal?
It may depend on where you are. I know that in Ontario the excise and sales taxes are huge. I've found no clear guideline for how much they are because they apparently vary so wildly with product and origin, but the Canadian Alcohol Duty Calculator might serve as an approximation based on what you would be charged bringing something in. If you had a 1.14 L bottle of cognac that you had purchased duty-free for $50, and it was not eligible for duty-free import when you brought it back, total duties owing on it would be $45.67. It would therefore not be unreasonable to expect that bottle to be selling in a regular retail store for $95.67. So the savings in that case are more or less as I said earlier -- close to 50%.

Last edited by wolfpup; 12-26-2016 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 12-26-2016, 04:43 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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I travel regularly between the US and Panama. I sometimes look at duty free prices on liquor and it is generally pretty close to the supermarket price in Panama, certainly not enough to make it worth the hassle of picking it up and taking it as carry on.

It could be worth it on other products, or between other destinations.

Last edited by Colibri; 12-26-2016 at 04:45 PM.
  #18  
Old 12-26-2016, 05:40 PM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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In Australia, duty-free shops are available for both departing and arriving international passengers, so if you are coming to Australia you don't need to carry your liquor and cigarettes on the plane.
In New Delhi as well, they had a duty-free shop in the arrivals area, so rather than buying the stuff in the US, it was easier to buy it just after clearing the security checkpoint at the New Delhi airport.

I think in many countries, luxury goods are taxed so heavily that it might make sense to purchase them, even at inflated prices, at the duty-free shop before you leave the US and bring them into the foreign country. But in the US, most goods, including liquor, are discounted at retail so the duty-free prices aren't worth it. I had relatives in the UK who would travel to France or even just get on the ferry just to buy the duty-free goods to bring back to the UK.
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Old 12-26-2016, 05:50 PM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Yep. It might be because the two places I've lived are Britain (which has significant sin taxes on alcohol but extremely competitive supermarket pricing) and China (where alcohol is pretty cheap, except maybe wine), but IME the prices in airport duty free are more like double, not half, a regular shop's.
My observation in Australia is you generally get a 1L bottle of mid-range spirits for the same price you'd pay for a standard 700ml bottle outside a duty-free store - so it's a worthwhile saving.

There can be some pretty good savings on "Top Shelf" spirits, too - Duty Free is definitely worth it for booze, IME, but a complete WOFTAM for electronics, confectionery, and all the other stuff that isn't liquor or smokes.

FWIW The Australian Duty-Free allowance is 2.2L of spirits per adult traveller - usually two x 1L bottles and a 200ml mini-bottle, or two x 1.1L bottles.

Last edited by Martini Enfield; 12-26-2016 at 05:51 PM.
  #20  
Old 12-26-2016, 05:55 PM
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The quantities you buy have to be limited by the allowance you have in the country you are entering. A typical purchase might be a single 1.1 L bottle or the like.
The problem here is that you can't carry a 1 litre bottle of anything through security. You can buy it in duty free once you are airside, but as said by many people above, there is little or no saving usually.

<nitpick>
"Whom are duty-free shops in airports for?" Good try, but you should have asked - For whom are duty free shops in airports.
  #21  
Old 12-26-2016, 05:59 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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...
I think in many countries, luxury goods are taxed so heavily that it might make sense to purchase them, even at inflated prices, at the duty-free shop before you leave the US and bring them into the foreign country. But in the US, most goods, including liquor, are discounted at retail so the duty-free prices aren't worth it. I had relatives in the UK who would travel to France or even just get on the ferry just to buy the duty-free goods to bring back to the UK.
A browser glitch ate my post, but this is really the point.

Nowadays it only makes sense to buy in a DF shop if you're a resident of an unusually high-taxed area for those goods.

As a US-based person I've never seen duty free shops anywhere that had better prices than Costco. In many places prices are higher than my local ordinary corner liquor store.

Another factor: back in the Darke Tymes of the 1960s & such there was lots less international trade. As an example, rum.

An American in NYC might have been able to buy Jamaican rum at a specialty shop. Anybody else would have been buying US or Puerto Rican rum as the Jamaican just wasn't imported to the US in any quantity. You simply could not buy it, period.

So the DF shop provided a way for travelers leaving Jamaica to import small quantities of de facto gray market goods for their own use. The attraction wasn't the price so much as the fact you could buy it at all.

Nowadays every decent liquor store in the US has 3 kinds on the shelf.


Bottom line: IMO, at least for Americans returning from overseas, DF stores are a curious anachronism.


Tobacco stores on US Indian reservations are similar. Decades ago if a pack of taxed smokes in a regular store was a dollar, of which 50 cents was tax the Indians would A) be able to avoid the tax and B) would sell them retail for 30 cents. The customer would save 80 cents.

Since then they've gotten smarter. If the pack of taxed smokes in a regular store was a dollar, of which 50 cents was tax the Indians would A) be able to avoid the tax and B) would sell them retail for 95 cents.

Now the customer saves just a nickel and the Indians take in 65 cents more than they used to. Very clever.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 12-26-2016 at 06:04 PM.
  #22  
Old 12-26-2016, 10:30 PM
doreen doreen is offline
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Bottom line: IMO, at least for Americans returning from overseas, DF stores are a curious anachronism.
Depends on the details - I was on a cruise that left from NYC in October, and cigarettes were about $3.50/pack in the duty-free shop while in NYC they are around $13. My savings would have been less if I lived anywhere else in the country- but even in Virginia the price is over $3.50. According to my husband, some not all) of the liquor was cheaper than we could get it at home, so that might depend on exactly what you are buying.
  #23  
Old 12-26-2016, 11:01 PM
Ruken Ruken is online now
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"Whom are duty-free shops in airports for?" Good try, but you should have asked - For whom are duty free shops in airports.
What's wrong with what the OP wrote?
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Old 12-26-2016, 11:07 PM
Ruken Ruken is online now
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I wonder if these shops have reference material for checking how much booze you can bring into country X. I recall states having restrictions. Had to pay a Texas tax or duty bringing in beverages from Cd. Ju嫫ez.
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Old 12-26-2016, 11:54 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
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Duty free stores are popular, partly since there is time to kill and little to do in many airports. Travellers save on tax, as you say, and markup is pretty high. If you are in Mexico (say), you could go to Costco and buy tequila and get it cheaper than at the duty free. But if you need a gift and did not go to Costco, it is sometimes slightly cheaper than an average shop. And since tequila in Canada is expensive with no selection, it is not a terrible deal. Once in a while, sales at duty free result in a genuine deal but this is surprisingly rare.

They tend to be better if buying items specific to the visiting country, things hard to find in your country (Brand X cigarettes) or last minute gifts. The more you travel, the more you avoid duty free.
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Old 12-27-2016, 12:17 AM
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What's wrong with what the OP wrote?
I suspect it was the sort of English up with which bob++ would not put.
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Old 12-27-2016, 12:43 AM
Arcite Arcite is offline
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I suspect it was the sort of English up with which bob++ would not put.
Yes, I knew I missed something! Thanks, bob++. Would a mod please fix the title?
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Old 12-27-2016, 01:37 AM
Shalmanese Shalmanese is offline
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Good thing I asked. I wonder how often people like me just wander in and attempt to buy something, are bewildered when they are asked for their boarding pass, and embarrassed when told what the deal is?
You can generally still be allowed to purchase it sans international boarding pass except you would have the tax applied like any normal store.

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I wonder if these shops have reference material for checking how much booze you can bring into country X. I recall states having restrictions. Had to pay a Texas tax or duty bringing in beverages from Cd. Ju嫫ez.
Technically, you need to declare everything over the limit when you enter a country but you can always gamble with not declaring and hope you'll be let through customs without an inspection. Generally, some small amount over the limit isn't punished, customs is mainly looking for professional importers who are bringing large quantities of goods over.
  #29  
Old 12-27-2016, 04:03 AM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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I wonder if these shops have reference material for checking how much booze you can bring into country X.
I've certainly seen signs in duty free stores in larger international airports listing the duty free allowances for the major countries served by direct flights from there (or where they get a lot of travellers from).

One time, many years ago, my wife and I were travelling back from somewhere and I went to the duty free to get some alcohol while she went to get lunch sorted out for us.

Because the Australian duty free allowance is 2.2L per adult, I bought four bottles of spirits - two I wanted and two my wife had asked me to get.

The people in the Duty Free store (I want to say it was Singapore, but I can't 100% recall) said "You are aware the allowance for Australia is only two of these bottles per person, right?" and I said "Oh yes, two of them are for my wife who is travelling with me" and they basically said "Oh, OK then" and put the sale through.

I'm told by other travelling friends who spend a bit of time jetting around Asia that basically the attitude in many places is that if you buy more than the allowance and have problems with customs in your home country, that's your problem rather than theirs (the duty free store).
  #30  
Old 12-27-2016, 04:43 AM
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Yeah, there is definitely savings to be realized travelling into say Singapore, on booze anyway. Especially if you're buying stuff like XO. (Which will make a lovely gift for your Chinese friends!)
  #31  
Old 12-27-2016, 05:07 AM
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Canada is remarkably stingy on its duty-free allowances. A quick trip down to the US for liquor or cigarettes will result in taxes that about double the cost, negating the savings. Sadly, Canada does its best to discourage cross-border shopping, and taxes anything brought back after a trip of 24 hours or less to the hilt.

It would seem that duty-free shopping would help, but it doesn't. Yes, you can bring home 1.1 L of liquor duty free, but only after seven days away. Yes, you can bring home a carton of cigarettes, but CBSA can, at its option, hit you with a CAD $50 import tax, again after seven days away (they usually don't, but they can; and they certainly will hit you with the tax if you've been away less than seven days). And the prices at the duty-free in the US are hardly anything to go for--on a recent visit, and taking into account the currency difference, a good (not great) bottle of Scotch was roughly the same as I'd pay at home, at the local liquor store.

There was a time when duty-free-shopping made economic sense, but I think those years are over.

Last edited by Spoons; 12-27-2016 at 05:07 AM.
  #32  
Old 12-27-2016, 08:28 AM
AK84 AK84 is online now
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Dubai, Singapore, Istanbul, Heathrow Terminal 3 have pretty excellent duty free places. In those its like being in a mall or an upmarket department store.
NY, JFK at least sucks.

As for customs, always look up and follow the rules as stated, but they are'nt usually interested in the stuff brought by a single person, how much can you bring in in 60 kg of luggage? In the US the "free" limit for foreigners is (IIRC) $100. I have never brought in less than $1000 worth of stuff and always declared it honestly. They don't seem to mind.

Heathrow always seems to be a bit more alert wrt Customs.

Last edited by AK84; 12-27-2016 at 08:31 AM.
  #33  
Old 12-27-2016, 09:29 AM
Ruken Ruken is online now
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I suspect it was the sort of English up with which bob++ would not put.
I see. The mistake of listening to middle-school English teachers. Easily corrected with a search that includes the following terms: end sentence preposition myth.

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Yes, I knew I missed something! Thanks, bob++.
You missed nothing; bob++ may have.
  #34  
Old 12-27-2016, 09:34 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Yes, I knew I missed something! Thanks, bob++. Would a mod please fix the title?
As the others have said, you're fine with the subject line. It's some weird schoolteacher superstition that you can't make sentences like "What do you want that for" rather than "For what do you want that?"
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Old 12-27-2016, 09:52 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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It's not a superstition but instead an attempt to apply Latin grammar rules to the English language.

Either way, there's nothing wrong with ending a sentence with a preposition.
  #36  
Old 12-27-2016, 09:58 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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That I know. I consider that "superstition" that English grammar should follow Latin grammar. Just like splitting infinitives and all the other related grammatical garbage taught (although I have not encountered splitting infinitives being remarked upon in decades.)

Last edited by pulykamell; 12-27-2016 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 12-27-2016, 11:49 AM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
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Lots of good answers but I haven't seen the "ten-year-old" answer yet.

A duty free shop is a place intended for foreigners (or travelers to foreign countries) to buy things before they depart without having to pay the domestic taxes. Sometimes these items are cheaper than what you would pay at your destination, and sometimes they offer goods that are not otherwise exported.

Because they are intended for travelers to take abroad, you must prove you are leaving the country by showing a boarding pass (maybe a passport too, I can't remember). These shops are located inside the security perimeter to prevent people from simply buying goods and then leaving the airport with them (for many years now only ticketed passengers are allowed through security). They either give you the items in a sealed package, or they take them directly to your boarding gate so you can pick it up while boarding.

Once I bought items in a duty free shop and had a transit stop on the way home. At the intermediate stop, we had to exit the boarding area and clear security again (sometimes you stay in the secure area, but often you have to change terminals and go through security again). Normally you would not be allowed to take liquids through security, but they allowed these through because my liquids were in a sealed duty free package with the receipt visible to verify that the items were all purchased in a duty free shop.

The term "duty free" is confusing because it means local taxes, not Customs duty. If you are American, for example, and buy 10 liters of wine in France at a duty free shop, you are still liable to pay U.S. Customs duty on 9 liters (the Customs duty-free limit is 1 liter per person).
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  #38  
Old 12-27-2016, 12:39 PM
Arcite Arcite is offline
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It's not a superstition but instead an attempt to apply Latin grammar rules to the English language.

Either way, there's nothing wrong with ending a sentence with a preposition.
I was being facetious. But anyway, I think you meant "a preposition is a part of speech there's nothing wrong with ending a sentence with!"
  #39  
Old 12-28-2016, 10:47 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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... I think you meant "a preposition is a part of speech there's nothing wrong with ending a sentence with!"
Now that is something up with which we shall not put. You, Sir, are banished for the afternoon. Baad Arcite!

Last edited by LSLGuy; 12-28-2016 at 10:48 AM.
  #40  
Old 12-28-2016, 12:03 PM
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In Japan, foreign tourists can make purchases at many stores outside of airports without paying sales tax. The expectation is that you will be taking these goods out of the country with you, but it doesn't seem to be vigorously enforced. Last time I was there I bought a new laptop computer in downtown Osaka for my mother-in-law, whom I was visiting in Japan. I got out of paying about $80 in sales tax on it by presenting my US passport at the time of sale. When I left the country, the Nagoya airport customs area had a box you were supposed to throw your tax-free receipts into, which I did - but no one ever checked those receipts while I was there, and no one asked me if I was carrying that laptop out of the country with me.
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Old 12-28-2016, 01:47 PM
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In Europe a foreign passport holder can pay the VAT at the store in town ( which may offer discounts) but present your receipt and products at the airport to the refund centre and they return your tax in cash, (If my memory serves me well)

One of the benefits of holding dual nationality
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Old 12-28-2016, 02:52 PM
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In this day and age, duty-free is useful in that it lets you carry home a couple full bottles of the local liquor, packed separately in their own carry-on bag.
  #43  
Old 12-30-2016, 03:31 AM
Giles Giles is online now
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
In Japan, foreign tourists can make purchases at many stores outside of airports without paying sales tax. The expectation is that you will be taking these goods out of the country with you, but it doesn't seem to be vigorously enforced. Last time I was there I bought a new laptop computer in downtown Osaka for my mother-in-law, whom I was visiting in Japan. I got out of paying about $80 in sales tax on it by presenting my US passport at the time of sale. When I left the country, the Nagoya airport customs area had a box you were supposed to throw your tax-free receipts into, which I did - but no one ever checked those receipts while I was there, and no one asked me if I was carrying that laptop out of the country with me.
Yes, on my last visit to Japan I bought a camera lens duty-free in an ordinary store in Okayama, used it for about a week, packed it back in the box that it came in, and showed it and the documentation to the customs people at Kansai Airport as I was leaving. It went fine.
  #44  
Old 12-30-2016, 07:45 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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Originally Posted by Giles View Post
Yes, on my last visit to Japan I bought a camera lens duty-free in an ordinary store in Okayama, used it for about a week, packed it back in the box that it came in, and showed it and the documentation to the customs people at Kansai Airport as I was leaving. It went fine.
Were you required to show the physical item to the customs people? Given that your checked luggage is already checked (possibly even on the plane) when you pass through customs enroute to the gate, what happens if you tell them the item is in your checked luggage?
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:10 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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I bought a couple of watches in Thailand. I didn't have to present the watch at the tax reclamation office, only the form the department store gave me.

On the other hand when I bought my MacBook Pro in Hong Kong, I kindly asked the Apple Store clerk if he'd throw the box away for me, as I didn't want to be randomly selected to pay 20% duty and/or a large bribe/fine when re螚tering the mainland.
  #46  
Old 12-30-2016, 12:51 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Yes, another benefit of duty-free in this day and age is that you can purchase items that would not normally be allowed through security.

The duty-free also is a throw-back to the days before a much more open free-trade regime, when there was a painful import tax on everything, and even worse on "sin tax" items and small luxury goods like perfume and makeup - which still seem to constitute the majority of duty-free shop merchandise.

The idea was that because they were being taken out of the country, these goods were sold without the typical burden of local taxes; and since most countries had a moderate duty-free allowance for travelers returning (i.e. Canada's 1.14L of alcohol, or 40oz.) if you bought a small amount, you would not pay duty at the arrival end either. As mentioned above, the classic example nowadays is cigarettes, which may have up to a 200% sales tax for health reasons.

I should point out that there are also some duty-free shops along the Canada-US border, both sides, with the same concept. You buy your duty-free items and then pick them up as you drive across the border (i.e. can't turn around and drive back to source country). These are more of a bargain for Canadians than Americans. Our high taxes on liquor and cigarettes go to help pay for our free health care. Did I mention we have free health care in Canada? The duty-free shops' prices are about the same on the American side as the regular stores, it seems. A funny thing I noticed in stores near the border- the price for a 40-ounce bottle of liquor (vodka, rum, etc.) is only a few dollars less than the much bigger size (65oz?). So the price on a border-legal bottles is elevated a bit because they know you have no choice.

Or you could be like the Russian tourists we saw at Sharm el Sheik, and drink your bottle(s) of duty-free vodka before boarding the flight.
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Old 12-31-2016, 03:30 PM
Giles Giles is online now
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
Were you required to show the physical item to the customs people? Given that your checked luggage is already checked (possibly even on the plane) when you pass through customs enroute to the gate, what happens if you tell them the item is in your checked luggage?
I don't remember if they actually looked at it, but I did carry it onto the plane. I'm not sue what happens if you put it in your checked baggage.

But you don't go through customs leaving Japan: I had to find the customs office at Kansai Airport to show them my paperwork. Again, I'm not sure what happens if you don't: maybe they catch up with you next time you enter Japan.
  #48  
Old 12-31-2016, 07:30 PM
Spiderman Spiderman is online now
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Originally Posted by Ruken View Post
I see. The mistake of listening to middle-school English teachers. Easily corrected with a search that includes the following terms: end sentence preposition myth.
Where's it at?
Don't end a sentence with a preposition.
Okay, where's it at, asshole?


I've also not had my bag of duty free booze counted against my carryon, IOW, I had my carryon & an extra bag of bottle of booze.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
As a US-based person I've never seen duty free shops anywhere that had better prices than Costco. In many places prices are higher than my local ordinary corner liquor store.
Try PA sometime; where they're just now coming into the late 20th century in terms of alcohol sales.
Scotch was much cheaper in Germany than in the US, - ⅓ less.
  #49  
Old 12-31-2016, 08:04 PM
Mangosteen Mangosteen is offline
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Years ago I was on my way to Burma from Thailand.

I stopped at the Duty-Free Shop at the airport in Bangkok and bought one bottle of Black Label Johnny Walker Whiskey and 2 cartons of 555 cigarettes. One bottle of liquor and 2 cartons of cigarettes were the limit to bring into Burma duty-free. The total price came to about $20 US.

After arriving in Rangoon, the taxi driver bought the 3 items from me for the equivalent of $70 US with Burmese Kyats.

It was important to bring in exactly what the demand was as far as the brands of liquor and cigarettes were concerned. I was told not to bring in red label Johnny Walker and only 555 cartons of cigarettes.

I was rich in Kyats. Seventy dollars worth of Kyats went a long way during a week in Burma. I had enough left over for a nice lobster dinner at the old British built Strand Hotel on my last night in Rangoon.
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