Tips and Inspiration Tips Dubai Duty Free – what you should buy and how it all works

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Dubai Duty Free – what you should buy and how it all works

There’s more to tax-free shopping at duty-free shops than souvenir t-shirts and travel pillows. As Dubai Duty Free sales top Dh7 billion, we give you the lowdown on some of the most common Dubai Duty Free questions.

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What does duty-free mean?

The biggest difference between Dubai duty-free shopping and regular shopping is you won’t be charged import duties or sales taxes. Duty-free stores are only found in the international areas of airports and seaports, and at some overland border crossings. You can also make purchases from the duty-free trolley in the air as you’re still technically in international transit.

Is duty-free included in hand luggage?

It depends on the airline. The easyJet hand luggage rules say you can have one duty-free shopping bag as well as your hand luggage bag, so you don’t fill a shopping trolley with makeup, cigarettes and electronics. Unlike EasyJet, most other airlines don’t distinguish between the types of luggage you have and your duty-free swag is counted as hand luggage. The Emirates baggage allowance is strict so don’t take the risk without checking first.

Is duty-free cheaper?

It depends. Some things will be cheaper in duty-free but it depends what you’re comparing it to. You won’t always get a bargain, so don’t buy on impulse without doing your homework. You can pre-order online from Dubai Duty Free up to 30 days before you fly, so check out prices in advance.

The UAE is just as famous for its high-end designer stores as it is for its souk bargains, so do a price comparison before you fly internationally; there’s a chance that your favorite Chanel perfume or Dior sunglasses won’t be as cheap in duty-free as they would be at a local shop or online.

Depending on where you’re flying, cigarettes or alcohol might be a duty-free bargain because import duties or sales taxes aren’t added, making it a cheaper purchase.

Compare prices of things such as perfume before you buy
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What are the best things to buy in duty-free shops?

If you’re looking for a high-end product, it’s worth checking out the duty-free shop in the airport when you next fly. Keep in mind that while you might find big tax-free savings, you may also be left disappointed and spending more money than you would have done at home or online.

Here are some reasons why shopping in duty-free shops can be worth it:

– You can purchase local produce without leaving the terminal. If you’re flying long haul and you have a layover somewhere interesting, stock up on souvenirs from the airport. If you’re flying with Turkish Airlines, for example, but you’re not ending your journey in Istanbul, you could buy a delicious box of Turkish delight, tea or olives without going to a traditional Turkish bazaar.

– You can make big savings on cheaper cigarettes. Obviously, if you’re living in the UAE cigarettes are already very cheap. You won’t find them cheaper in duty-free, but for those visiting or passing through Dubai Duty Free, it’s worth stocking up. Certain states in the US impose very high taxes on cigarettes so many American travelers will benefit from buying cigarettes in duty-free.

– You can get rid of your leftover local currency coins. Dubai Duty Free accepts multiple currencies so it’s a good place to spend the last of your holiday money, especially the low-domination bills and coins. The rates are unlikely to be fantastic but if it’s a choice between spend it or waste it, it’s definitely better to spend it.

– You can pick up things you’ve forgotten to pack. Consider Dubai Duty Free as a very large mall where you can pretty much buy everything and anything. Forgotten your charging cable for your laptop? No problem. Need a new Tag Heuer watch strap? Sorted. Or if you wanted to buy someone a cuddly toy camel, duty-free has you covered.

– Save money on liquor. If your destination has high taxes on alcohol, stock up in duty-free (check your allowances first). Or if you wanted to buy someone a thank you gift for dog sitting while you were away on vacation, it’s easier to buy in duty-free than in a local shop. Just remember that if you’re traveling in the Middle East, you cannot take alcohol into some of the countries, only buy it on exiting.

Duty-free is a good place to get rid of your leftover currency

What is the limit on duty-free?

Your duty-free allowance depends on where you’re going. If you’re traveling to the US you’re allowed 200 cigarettes and one liter (33.8 fl. oz.) of spirits. When you return to the UAE you can bring in 400 cigarettes and four liters (135.26 fl. oz.) of spirits. You should always check the most recent duty-free allowances before you shop.

Do I have to declare my duty-free shopping?

Yes, you’re obliged to declare anything that you’re bringing into the country that you didn’t take away with you. While it might seem tempting to make a quick dash through the ‘nothing to declare’ archway, don’t do it. If in doubt, ask the airport staff what to do.

Winning with Dubai Duty Free raffles

If you’ve passed through Dubai International Airport in the last decade you’ll have seen the “Win this Luxury Car” stand. Tickets for the Dubai duty-free Finest Surprise Car raffle cost Dh500 and you have a one-in-1,300 chance of winning. Prizes include a Bentley, Aston Martin Jaguar, Porsche, Audi or BMW. If you have more to spend, buy a Dh1,000 ticket for the Millennium Millionaire draw. You’ll have a one-in-5,000 chance of winning US$1 million. You can buy as many Millennium Millionaire tickets as you like.

Prefer two-wheeled transport? Enter the Finest Surprise Motorbike Series. Tickets cost Dh100 and 1,000 are sold in total. Buy them from the airport and from the Dubai Duty Free desks at The Irish Village and Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

*Article updated in March 2019. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

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