Confused about duty-free shopping in Portugal?
We have all the answers you are looking for right here. We’ll explain what it is and how it can save you money when you are travelling to Portugal.
What is duty-free in Portugal?
Duty-free means that stores are exempt from paying taxes (or duties) on goods if they are sold to travellers who will take them out of the country. It only applies to some products and the savings are usually passed onto the customer.
Duty-free versus tax-free
Are these concepts the same?
Well, not exactly and we would like to tell you why.
Duty-free products are deducted from the value of the sale of both VAT and excise duties (a special Government tax applied on tobacco and alcoholic beverages).
On the other hand, in tax-free stores, you do not pay the local taxes for certain products (known as VAT).
In Portugal, that percentage can vary between 5% to 25%.
Which countries have duty-free stores?
Even though you find huge white letters announcing a duty-free store in Portuguese airports (or in another European country), the truth is that the European Union (EU) has abolished them some years ago, which is why you can only get these deals in countries outside of the EU now. You can, however, find some countries in which you do not pay the VAT associated with certain products.
That being said, all other countries around the globe (and outside of the EU) can have stores in places such as airports, ferry stations, cruise ship terminals and at the borders.
Can you buy duty-free going into Portugal?
You can buy duty-free going into Portugal only if you come from an international airport, located in countries such as:
- Brazil; and
- some others.
Real duty-free stores can only be found in countries outside of the EU, and since Portugal is part of it, you can’t buy those products here, but you can bring them along.
Can I bring products from Portugal to the UK?
We get a lot of visitors from the UK, so you must be wondering if you can bring duty-free products from Portugal to the UK?
The answer is “absolutely yes”.
You need to, however, follow some rules in order to not pay additional taxes on the items bought:
- You need to transport them yourself and not in any baggage;
- You have to use them yourself or give them away (as a gift, for example);
- You can show that you have paid the required taxes in the country where you bought them (Portugal, in this case).
What about Brexit?
Well, that is a true headache, isn’t it?
We have no certainties on what will happen after Brexit, but we can guess that, if the UK is leaving the EU, some additional taxes will be applied.
Therefore, if you bring goodies from the UK to Portugal and you are not paying for the associated taxes there, it is most likely that when you arrive here, you may have to pay extra money on your previous shopping.
What is Portugal’s duty-free allowance?
There is a limit on the number of goods you can bring along with you since you cannot buy the whole store and expect that you can carry everything on the plane.
Duty-free allowance in the European Union
If you are travelling within the EU, you do not have a limit of the products you can buy in duty-free stores in Portugal – as long as they are for your own consumption.
The same does not apply for items bought with commercial intention. In that case, you have a limit on the number of things you can buy.
The maximum quantities are:
- 800 cigarettes;
- 400 cigarillos;
- 200 cigars;
- 1kg of tobacco;
- 10L of spirits over 22% volume;
- 20L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume;
- 90L of wine (no more than 60L of sparkling wine); and
- 110L of beer.
Outside of the European Union
If you are travelling from a country outside of the EU, the same law does not apply. Things change a bit and you can bring along the following products to Portugal if you are over 17 years old (without having to pay extra taxes):
- 200 cigarettes;
- 100 cigarillos;
- 50 cigars;
- 250g of tobacco;
- 4L of wine;
- 16L of beer;
- 1L of spirits over 22% volume; and
- 2L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume;
Or other products up to the value of €430 for air and sea travellers and up to €300 for other travellers (reduced to €150 for children under 15 years old).
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Where are the duty-free stores in Portugal?
Duty-free stores can be found in international airports, ferry stations, cruise stations and shops on the borders. Be aware that these stores in the airports in Portugal are not “that” duty-free as you may think.
You can, however, enjoy reduced prices while you are on board your flight. During each flight, regardless of the airline, hostesses offer you the possibility to buy products for a lower price.
What can you buy duty–free?
In duty-free stores (remember, that are not “that” duty-free”) you can find almost anything. From perfumes to cigarettes and chocolates, everything is available to buy.
Other items to be found in duty-free stores in Portugal include:
- Alcoholic drinks;
- Power adapters;
- Chargers; and
- other gadgets.
Once bought, there really isn’t a way back, unless you have not opened the product and you keep the original receipt as well as your boarding ticket.
In some cases, exceptions are made and you can either exchange what you have bought or ask for your money back, but that depends on the store.
Can you get miles from buying duty-free in Portugal?
Yes, you can!
A really good example is from TAP Air Portugal’s Miles&Go Programme, the most popular Portuguese airline.
If you travel a lot, you know that you can accumulate miles and get tickets for a reduced price (since you are also paying with the miles collected). A similar logic applies to get miles from buying in duty-free stores. If you buy these products in any Portuguese airport (Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Madeira and the Azores), you can get miles on your TAP card. For every euro spent you get one mile, which is a pretty good deal.
Did you have any questions about duty-free in Portugal? Ask me in the comments below.