Duty Free and Travel Retail

Travel Retail is a global industry addressing the sale of goods to international travellers. Accordingly, Travel Retail primarily includes retail at airports and on board aircraft, in ports, on board ferries and cruise ships, as well as increasingly in international rail travel.

Shopping while travelling, browsing for exciting products, suitable souvenirs for those left at home and bargains are part of travelling for many passengers. Travel Retail therefore offers a wide range of international brand products.

On the other hand, commercial revenues in international travel are an increasingly important source of income for the operation, expansion and sustainable transformation of the travel infrastructure.

What does Duty Free mean?

Depending on the destination, these purchases may be exempt from value-added tax, excise duty and customs duties (‘Duty Free’). Determined by the destination, retailers pay the duties due on the sale to the tax authorities. Unfortunately, this possibility has no longer existed within the EU since 1999. Since then, the industry has successfully developed a concept under the brand ‘Travel Value’ to be able to offer travellers within the EU exclusive products at attractive prices.

Irrespective of the duties paid, there are limits to the quantities that travellers can import Duty Free when entering their destination. Which quantities and values may be imported free of customs duties, import VAT and excise duties is regulated individually by the respective country of entry (in the EU, harmonised requirements apply).

In addition to tax-free purchases at ports and airports, Duty Free is available in border shops at land crossings, in international traffic on cruise ships and ferries, on international flights on board aircraft, at several international railway stations and for equipment on ocean-going vessels. International institutions, diplomats and military personnel stationed outside their home countries are also often able to make tax-free purchases.

In addition, a few places have Duty Free status due to their geographical location, which is usually quite remote (e.g. Helgoland or the Faroe Islands). These are usually also – precisely because of their location – popular travel destinations.

In many countries outside the EU, in Asia and Australia as well as in the Middle East and Latin America, travellers also have the option of purchasing Duty Free goods on arrival at the destination airport of the country concerned (Arrivals Duty Free).

What are the benefits of Duty Free and Travel Retail?

Shopping is an important travel experience for many passengers and the Duty Free and Travel Retail offer is therefore a significant service. Travellers appreciate the exclusive range, outstanding service and attractive prices in Duty Free and Travel Retail shops around the world.

For the operators of airports, ports, etc., sales from Duty Free and Travel Retail are an increasingly important source of revenue – especially while the travel industry is recovering from the catastrophic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The travel market has always been THE international showcase for industry and trade, and provides an important test function for regional products and innovations.