Simon’s Online Duty-free Shopping Guide

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Simon’s duty-free guide shopping contains everything you need to know about duty-free and tax free shops, scams, duty free allowances and online shopping.

First of all, the difference between a tax free shop and a duty-free shop is: 

  • Duty-free shop: Selling goods, which are exempt of duties, on the requirement that the goods sold will be sold to travelers who will take them out of the country (often spelled as duty free, however duty-free is acceptable as well).

Duty-free shops are always located in international zones (see explanation below).

  • Tax-free shops: Within the EU (European Union), non EU citizens can claim back the VAT on their purchases if they shop at participating stores. These stores are called tax free shops (spelled as tax free or tax-free, both are correct).

Tax free shops within the EU can be found outside of international zones as well.

/Duty-free shops often label themselves as “tax free” as a marketing gimmick. You might not be able to claim back your VAT at a duty-free shop, which advertises itself as a tax free shop. Make sure to get informed and ask them before you make a purchase. This is just one of their many dubious claims, see below./

First of all, you need to know that duty-free stores at airports were ripping you off and lying to you for years! The products at most duty free shops are no longer cheaper than at local stores.

However, luckily not every duty-free shop is a scam (only most brick & mortar duty-free shops). You can save money by shopping duty-free online. Online shops, thanks to price comparison websites and global competition can not trick you like their land based counterparts.

You might be wandering:

How on earth is this possible? I thought you have to be physically present at the airport to be eligible to shop duty-free?

Actually, it turns out it is not true, and there are legally operating online duty-free shops. Many of them have been in operation for 8+ years. But not many people have heard of them yet.


UPDATE: New duty free coupon codes and bulk discount codes are now being added regularly. Check the coupon codes here.



Simon’s duty-free shop guide

In this guide you will find everything you need to know to become an expert of duty-free shopping, to find the best deals, and to protect yourself from scams.

By using this guide you can significantly save on your online purchases and you will learn how to differentiate between legitimate businesses and websites selling black market cigarettes and alcohol illegally.

We have created handy price comparisons in the most popular product categories, so you can compare prices with local retailers from the UK, US, EU and with duty free shops at the airports.


 Duty free products

This is a picture of a row of cigarettes on display over a white background. If you click on the image it will take you to a webpage about cheap duty free cigarette shopping.
Cheap cigarettes online

This is a picture of 5 premium cigars on top of a wooden table. If you click on the image it will take you to a webpage about online duty free cigar shopping.
Cheap cigars online

This is a picture of rolling tobacco being loaded into a cigarette on a white table. If you click on the image you will be taken to a page about purchasing cheap tobacco online.
Cheap tobacco online

This is a picture of various alcoholic drinks and different types of glasses with beer, wine, champagne and spirits. If you click on the image it will take you to a webpage about buying cheap duty free alcohol online.
Cheap alcohol online

This is a picture of 4 bottles of iconic brand name spirits from leading manufacturers. If you click on the picture you will be taken to a webpage about ordering cheap tax free spirits online.
Cheap spirits online

This is a picture of a premium chrome custom lighter over a white background. If you click on the image you will be taken to a webpage about buying cheap lighters online.
Cheap premium lighters

This is a picture of a bottle of perfume, Chanel No. 5. If you click on the image you will be taken to a webpage about buying cheap tax free perfume online.
Cheap perfume online

This is a picture of two bottles of natural fragrances with out of focus flower petals in the background. If you click on them you will be taken to a webpage about buying cheap tax free fragrances online.
Cheap fragrances online

This is a picture of 4 types of e-cigarettes side-by-side. If you click on the picture you will be taken to a webpage, where you can learn more about buying cheap e-cigarettes online.
Cheap e-cigarettes

This is a picture of a bottle of expensive liqueur. The image is a link if you click on it you will be taken to a price compariosn website that compares duty free liqueur with brand name liquor.
Cheap duty free liqueur

This is a picture of a bottle of BOSS cologne for men. By clicking on the picture you will be taken to a webpage about duty free cologne for men.
Cheap duty free colognes
Check out the latest
coupon codes and bulk discount codes here.


Summary – what is actually cheaper in an online duty free shop:

I have compared the price of products from the above categories in duty free airport shops,  local retailers and online duty free shops.

Cheaper: cigarettes, e-cigarettes, fragrances, perfumes, cologne and lighters are the cheapest in online duty free stores.

Not cheaper: alcohol in general, spirits, liquor are not cheaper in online duty free stores.

Depends on the brand and product: when it comes to cigars and watches no general rule can be established, it depends on the brand and the product, it worths checking out their selection but I do recommend doing a manual price comparison as well.


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Tax free cigarettes, duty-free shop selling cheap cigarettes online

/credit cards accepted, free international shipping/



An exterior of a tax-free shop at an airport. This is the header image of my duty free shopping guide.
Tax Free Shopping Guide


The second part of the online duty free shopping guide contains: 


Legal status of online duty free shopping

First of all, not every duty free shop is located in an airport. They only have to be located in international zones. International zones include:

  • international airports
  • border towns
  • ports
  • cruise ships
  • on-board international flights
  • bonded warehouses
  • international waters
  • Antarctica
  • and in theory space stations, the Moon, Mars etc.

And this is the secret to why online duty free shopping is legal. All legit online duty free shops are shipping their products from bonded warehouses. There are no laws prohibiting them from doing so. However, we recommend to never exceed your country’s duty free allowance per one single order. The USA and the UK are notorious for seizing orders if they exceed the duty free allowance (,which they have every right to do so within the borders of the country). Therefore if you are ordering from the US or the UK you should never exceed the duty free allowance (you can still try to take advantage of bulk discounts, just make sure to ask them to deliver your order in parts). Other countries usually don’t have this problem, but still, just to be safe, stick to the duty free allowance or make sure the package is insured.

Insurance: The shop I recommend offers a form of insurance to protect buyers. If you decide to pay some extra, your order will be guaranteed to be delivered again if it happens to be seized by customs, free of charge. I strongly suggest using this insurance if you bulk order.


Brick and mortar duty-free shop are a SCAM


Brick & mortar duty-free shops deceive people, their products are  overpriced and you can get them cheaper in a regular store in the given country, and even with the added customs duty you are still better off (and you only have to pay that if your order exceeds the duty free allowance for your country, most people don’t).

The degree of tax-exemption and which products qualify to be sold as duty-free varies from jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction. However, if you checked out the price comparisons above you know that local stores offer better prices than duty free shops at airports. But this wasn’t always the case. To understand why this happened you have to understand two things: what they are selling, and where.

Products most often sold in duty free stores:

An infographic showing the market share of the main duty-free product categories of the overall duty-free market.
Market share of the main duty-free product categories

As you can see the most often bought items are alcoholic drinks, especially high-end, expensive, limited edition spirits.

  • 37% of all purchases in duty-free shops were alcohol related
  • 26% of all purchases in duty-free shops were that of clothing  items and accessories
  • 22% of all purchases in duty-free shops were of perfume
  • 15% of all purchases in duty-free shops were jewellry related

The survey did not measure tobacco sales!

According to Euromonitor International the duty-free tobacco market is twice as big as the duty-free alcohol market.

With duty-free tobacco products sales included, the figures are:

  • 43.5% tobacco products (including premium cigars)
  • 21.2% alcohol
  • 14.9% clothing
  • 12.6% perfume
  • 8.6% jewellry

These types of products are so called ‘inelastic goods’, which means lower price causes only a very small increase in demand. Not to mention that many of these products are status symbols and luxury products. In this case a higher price can actually increase their perceived value, and the marketers know this very well.


The second thing you should be aware is the location.

It turns out, that being located at an airport is crucial for duty-free stores for many unexpected reasons.

52% duty free shoppers surveyed seem to support the idea of the influence the airport atmosphere plays in the purchasing action. On the consumer side, the atmosphere emerges to be a significant factor affecting their behavior; companies try to create in the collaboration with the airports, walkthroughs and a good layout of pre-boarding areas. Customers state that relaxing and low load environment represent an appealing atmosphere inducing them to buy. It has emerged therefore that customers’ perception correspond to the purposes of companies. The high percentage of people purchasing (82%), which corresponds to the high percentage of people admitting to be influenced by a low load atmosphere (80%), confirm the previous statement.

Source: Uppsala University – Department of Business Studies – Consumer Behavior and Marketing Strategies in the Duty Free Market

So it turns out, that as much as 52% of duty free shoppers were aware and admitted, that the location influenced them to buy something at the duty-free shop.

However after careful analysis of the data, it turns out as much as 80% of people were actually affected by the airport atmosphere (80% were affected but they were not consciously aware of it, 52% were aware of it and were affected), which influenced their purchasing decisions. Most of them would not have shopped, if it wasn’t located at an airport.

Summary: This is why brick & mortar duty free shops are actually more expensive than local stores. They are located in an environment that promotes shopping, and they are selling price inelastic luxury items mostly.


Only 46% of the people shop for the better prices and as much as 33% of people are already aware, that duty-free shops are not cheaper and in many cases much more expensive than regular shops. (- from the same study)

Here are some opinions of the duty-free shoppers surveyed in the Upsala quantitative market research study:

I found out lately that many products are more expensive in the duty free areas than in the “normal shops”. For instance, 10 dollars for a big Milka bar in Santa Cruz airport Bolivia whereas in Europe in groceries stores they should cost 6 or 7 euro. Same price more or less. Not free of tax at all. For a watch in Cancun airport, the difference between the price in duty free area and the price on internet was 50 euro!!!

The perception on price is due to the price tags which clearly state how much you are saving in comparison to outside shops. The problem is, I’ve never checked this claim as the things I buy at duty free shops are generally items I seldom purchase. Lacking the knowledge on how much a product actually costs outside (and not trusting the price tags) I cannot really compare. The same goes for the range of products.

And there is more!

People are willing to spend much more during a holiday. Not to mention, purchasing power and travelling by plane shows a correlation. This is why you mostly find expensive, high-end items and luxury fashion apparel at duty-free stores.

It’s a marketing scheme, designed by shrewd professionals and nothing else. Millions fell for it daily. At one point these duty-free shops were indeed cheaper but that’s certainly not the case for many-many years.

Duty-free shops are ripping you off! Stop buying at brick & mortar duty-free shops. They are overpriced.

You can actually get the same products cheaper (sometimes significantly cheaper) in a regular store in the given country. Don’t fall for the duty-free marketing scam!

There is only one way to take advantage of duty free shopping: online duty free shopping.


How to identify scams and dangerous, illegal sites selling black market, counterfeit products online

Of course, the online world is not without its scams too. Let me show you how to identify and avoid these scam sites posing as online duty free shops. It’s actually very easy.

There are two types of online shops you need to avoid:

  • shops, which are scam sites looking for victims and stealing their money, credit card information and personal information,
  • sites posing as duty-free shops, selling stolen black market cigarettes and other products (low quality counterfeit or stolen cigarettes) illegally online.

There are fours things to keep in mind when you are trying to determine the legitimacy of an e-commerce site:

Common sense: Look at the webpage. Is the website cared for ? Or is it looking abandoned and haven’t been updated for a while? Does the website look good? Does it look like how a public face of a company supposed to look like? Does it look like a legitimate, operating e-commerce store? 

Accepting credit cards: If an online duty-free shop does not accept credit cards you are dealing with a scam. Or it’s a website selling black market goods illegally.

Credit card payment processors have very strict requirements. They are really thorough and if they as much as suspect anything remotely illegal they shut down credit card processing on the website instantly (and also fine the website and alert authorities).

Therefore, websites selling illegal products don’t take credit/debit cards. They prefer anonymous, less regulated payment methods e.g.:

  • Moneygram
  • Western union
  • Geopay
  • pre-paid virtual cards
  • cash in an envelope.

Contact the webshop before you make a purchase:  First of all, make sure you can actually contact them. Contact them and don’t buy anything till they respond.

Scam sites are usually not given much attention. Scammers create hundreds of low quality fake sites and wait till someone falls for one them and gives them sensitive information. They don’t bother replying to customer emails.

Websites selling black market cigarettes do not have contact information listed on the website. They know they are doing something illegal and they will try to remain as anonymous as possible.

If you follow the simple step-by-step tutorial above, you will be able to tell the difference between legitimate online businesses and scams.

/Actually, you can apply this for every type of e-commerce store, not just duty-free shops./

Additional tricks:

Check the social media profiles of the store (if they have any of course). Are they abandoned, or are they active?

Check the website for dates (e.g.: “Copyright 2010” in the footer, that would be a warning sign).

People have various reasons for wanting to be anonymous online. They don’t necessarily have a malicious motive. However, it is an entirely different issue if an e-commerce website goes to great lengths to hide the business entity (if any) behind it. It is definitely a warning sign.

See whether you can find out who, which company is behind the website.


Tax free cigarettes, duty-free shop selling cheap cigarettes online

/credit cards accepted, free international shipping/


Duty-free allowances by country and tax free shopping in the EU


Tax-free shopping in  the European Union

Tax free shopping (tax-free shops in the EU are not the same as duty free shops! – explained at the very beginning) is not restricted to international zones. Tourists from outside of the EU VAT area are entitled to shop tax-free at participating shops.

/You can – in theory – find the list of participating stores online for each EU country. However, I could not find such a list for many Eastern European countries in English. A central, well maintained list would be nice./

You have to pay VAT on the spot but you can request a refund when exporting the goods. To qualify for a VAT refund you must:

  • have residency in a non-EU country
  • have a maximum stay of six months within the EU
  • make purchases no more than three months prior to export
  • obtain a form from the shop where you make the purchase
  • present the filled out form, and in certain cases the goods, to a customs officer when leaving the EU, where they will be stamped

Only goods meant for personal use are eligible for the refund. You must not exceed duty-free allowances (see below).


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You can check the duty-free allowances of the USA (applies to US territories as well), Canada, UK, Ireland, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand.

US, duty-free allowances

The following goods may be imported by visitors over 21 years of age into the USA without incurring customs duty:

  • 200 cigarettes and 100 cigars.
  • 1 liter of alcoholic beverage.
  • Other goods up to a value of US $800 (US residents).
  • Goods up to a value of US $100 (non-residents living in the USA, or visitors).

Travellers arriving from certain Caribbean and Latin American countries may import up to 2L of alcoholic beverages, as long as at least 1L was produced in one of the applicable countries.

US residents returning from a US insular possession (American Samoa, Guam or US Virgin Islands) have a duty-free allowance of US$1,600, including up to 1,000 cigarettes (at least 800 of which must have been bought in the insular possession) and 5L of alcoholic beverages, 1L of which must be a product of the insular possession.

Important – For some reason diamonds from Ukraine have a 100% customs duty, and it is very easy to exceed the duty free allowance with diamonds.

Prohibited Imports:

The following are either banned or may only be imported under licence.

  • Narcotics and dangerous drugs, unless for medical purposes (doctor’s certificate required).
  • Absinthe.
  • Biological materials, some seeds, fruits and plants (including endangered species of plants and vegetables and their products).
  • Firearms and ammunition (with some exceptions – consult the customs website).
  • Meat and poultry products – fresh, dried or canned (FDA ban).
  • Certain fish (unless certified as disease free).
  • Dairy products and eggs.
  • Wildlife and endangered species, including crustaceans, molluscs, eggs, game and hunting trophies and crafted articles of any part thereof.
  • Dog and cat fur.
  • Some art and artefacts.
  • Haitian animal hide drums.
  • Some automobiles.
  • More than one article (limited to once every 30 days) displaying a counterfeit or confusingly similar logo to trademarked and copyrighted articles.
  • Merchandise from embargoed countries: Iran, Myanmar and most of Sudan; information materials (pamphlets, books, tapes, films and recordings) are permitted. Items of archaeological, historical religious or scientific importance that are illegally removed from specific locations in Iraq.

Canada, duty-free allowances

Personal exemptions allow you to bring goods of a certain value into Canada from the United States without having to pay the regular duties that apply to those goods (except for minimum duties that may apply to certain tobacco products).

Less than 24 Hours – $0 CAD

There is no duty free allowance for absences of less than than 24 hours.

24+ Hour Exemption – $200 CAD

If you are absent from Canada for more than 24 hours, you may claim up to $200 CAD worth of goods duty free as your personal exemption and all goods must be with you when you arrive. If the goods you bring in are worth more than $200 CAD in total, you cannot claim this exemption and you will have to pay duties and taxes on all goods you bring in to Canada. You can NOT include tobacco or alcoholic under this exemption.

48 Hour Exemption – $800 CAD

If you are absent from Canada for more than 48 hours, you may claim up to $800 CAD worth of goods duty free, and must have the goods with you when you arrive at the border. You can include tobacco or alcoholic under this exemption.

7 Day Exemption – $800 CAD

If you are absent from Canada for more than 7 days, you may claim up to $800 CAD worth of goods duty free. You can include tobacco or alcoholic under this exemption.


Alcohol and Tobacco (24+ hours)

You can include limited quantities of alcoholic beverages in your personal exemption.

The provincial or territorial minimum ages for the importation of alcohol are:

  • 18 years for Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec; and
  • 19 years for Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.



You are allowed to import only one of the following amounts of alcohol free of duty and taxes:

  • 1.5 litres (53 imperial ounces) of wine;
  • 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of liquor;
  • a total of 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of wine and liquor; or 24 x 355 millilitre (12 ounces) cans or bottles (maximum of 8.5 litres) of beer or ale.



You are allowed to bring in all of the following amounts of tobacco into Canada without paying duty:

  • 200 cigarettes;
  • 50 cigars or cigarillos;
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco; and
  • 200 tobacco sticks.


UK, duty-free allowances

Duty tax is not charged for buying and importing up to 200 cigarettes every 21 days (for all countries except Ireland, France and Canada), and 1,200 cigarettes every 21 days (for US).

So make sure your order does not exceed 200 cigarettes or otherwise you will have to pay duty tax.

UK alcohol allowances

You can bring in either, but not both, of the following:

  • 1 litre of spirits or strong liqueurs over 22% ABV
  • 2 litres of fortified wine (such as port or sherry), sparkling wine or any other alcoholic drink that’s less than 22% ABV

Or you can combine these allowances. For example, if you bring in one litre of fortified wine (half your full allowance) you can also bring in half a litre of spirits (half your full allowance). This would make up your full allowance. You can’t go over your total alcohol allowance.

In addition you may also bring back both of the following:

  • 16 litres of beer
  • 4 litres of still wine

UK tobacco allowances

You can bring in one from the following list:

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 100 cigarillos
  • 50 cigars
  • 250g of tobacco

Or you can combine these allowances. For example, if you bring in 100 cigarettes (half your full allowance) you can also bring in 25 cigars (half your full allowance). This would make up your full tobacco allowance. You can’t go over your total tobacco allowance.

Other goods, including perfume and souvenirs

You can bring in other goods worth up to £390 without having to pay tax and/or duty.
If you arrive by private plane or private boat for pleasure purposes, you can only bring in other goods worth up to £270 tax and duty free.

Ireland, duty-free allowances

You are allowed to bring in goods (including gifts, souvenirs, perfume and clothing) free of duty, the combined value of which does not exceed:

  • €430 in the case of an individual aged 15 years or over
  • €215 in the case of an individual aged under 15 years

If the total amount you bring in exceeds €430 or €215, you must pay import charges on the full value.

If you are bringing back any duty-free goods you bought when you travelled out from Ireland, these count as part of your allowance.

In addition, you are allowed to bring in tobacco products and alcohol free of duty in the following amounts:

Tobacco Products

  • 200 Cigarettes, or
  • 100 Cigarillos, or
  • 50 Cigars, or
  • 250 grammes Tobacco

You can combine the different types of tobacco products e.g. 100 cigarettes plus 50 cigarillos.

Strong alcohol

  • 1 litre spirits (whiskey, gin, vodka etc.), or
  • 2 litres of alcoholic drinks not exceeding 22% vol. (e.g. port, sherry, sparkling wine, some liqueurs, etc.)

You can combine the different types of alcoholic drinks e.g. ½ litre of spirits plus 1 litre of port. In addition to this amount you are allowed to bring in wine and beer.

Wine and Beer

  • 4 litres still Wine, and
  • 16 litres beer

Customs Duty, Excise Duty and VAT, where applicable, are charged on tobacco products, alcohol, beer and wine in excess of the duty free allowances.

EU, duty-free allowances

Entering from an EU country

If you are travelling to the EU from the European Union, you can bring in an unlimited amount of most goods for your own use without paying tax or duty for personal use.

Although there are no limits on the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring in from EU countries, customs officials are more likely to declare it not for personal use if you have more than the following:

Cigarettes – 800
Cigars – 200
Cigarillos – 400
Tobacco -1 kilogram
Beer -110 litres
Wine -90 litres
Spirits -10 litres
Fortified wine (for example port or sherry) – 20 litres

You should not exceed this amount in any of these categories, but you can combine the different categories. Just keep in mind, that “for personal use” is not very well defined, so use common sense. Don’t try to abuse the system.

Entering from a non EU country

If you enter the EU from a non-EU country, goods having no commercial character in your personal luggage can be imported free of customs duties, VAT and excise duties within the following limits:

Tobacco products

  • 200 cigarettes or 40 cigarettes;*
  • 100 cigarillos or 20 cigarillos; *
  • 50 cigars or 10 cigars; *
  • 250 grams of tobacco or 50 g smoking tobacco*

* Each amount represents 100% of the total allowance for tobacco products and any combination of those products must not exceed the total limit.

Example: 100 cigarettes + 50 cigarillos = total allowance

Alcoholic beverages

  • A total of 1 litre of alcohol and alcoholic beverages of an alcoholic strength exceeding 22% ABV, or
  • undenatured ethyl alcohol of 80% ABV and over, or
  • a total of 2 litres of alcoholic beverages of an alcoholic strength not exceeding 22%  ABV
  • a total of 4 litres of still wine, and 16 litres of beer (only for VAT and excise duty)


In any means of motor transport, the fuel contained in the standard tank; and
a quantity of fuel not exceeding 10 litres contained in a portable container.
Other goods (including perfume, coffee, tea, electronic devices etc.)

  • Up to a value of €430 for air and sea travellers.
  • Up to value of €300 for other travellers.

The value on an individual item may not be split up.
The value of personal luggage (i.e. suitcases) and medicinal products for personal needs of the traveller do not count.
Member States may reduce the above limits to € 150 for travellers under 15 years (e.g.: Ireland).
Allowances concerning tobacco and alcohol do not apply in the case of travellers under 17 years of age.
Cigarillos are cigars of a maximum weight of 3 grams each are allowed only.

Australia, duty-free allowances

Personal items such as new clothing, footwear, and articles for personal hygiene and grooming (excluding fur, and perfume concentrates) may be brought into Australia in your accompanied baggage, free from duty and tax.


If you are aged 18 years or over you can bring 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of cigars or tobacco products duty-free into Australia with you. All tobacco products in accompanied baggage are included in this category, regardless of how or where they were purchased.

General goods

If you are aged 18 years or over, you can bring up to A$900 worth of general goods into Australia duty-free.

If you are under 18 years of age there is a A$450 limit.

General goods include gifts, souvenirs, cameras, electronic equipment, leather goods, perfume concentrates, jewellery, watches and sporting equipment.

Alcoholic beverages

If you are aged 18 years or over, you can bring 2.25 litres of alcoholic beverages duty-free into Australia with you. All alcoholic beverages in accompanied baggage are included in this category, regardless of where or how they were purchased.

Families travelling together can pool their duty-free concessions.

New Zealand, duty-free allowances

Personal items such as new clothing, footwear, and articles for personal hygiene and grooming may be brought into New Zealand in your personal luggage, free from duty and tax. Except the for the following categories.


On entering New Zealand you are entitled to bring in the following quantities of alcohol products free of Customs duty, provided that you are aged 17 years* or older and that the goods:

  • accompany you through the Customs arrival process
  • are for your own personal use, or intended as gifts
  • are not carried on behalf of another person.
  • are not intended for sale or exchange

If the above is applicable the following amounts are allowed duty free:

  • 4.5 litres of wine or 4.5 litres of beer, or a combination, and
  • three bottles (or other containers) each containing not more than 1,125ml of spirits, liqueur, or other spirituous beverages.

Any amounts over the above will be liable for Customs duty and goods and services tax (GST). This includes bottles which are of greater volumes than the one described.


On entering New Zealand you are entitled to bring in the following quantities of tobacco products free of customs duty, provided that you are over 17 years of age and that the goods:

  • Accompany you through the Customs arrival process.
  • Are for your own personal use, or are intended as gifts.
  • Are not carried on behalf of another person.
  • Are not intended for sale or exchange.

If the above is applicable the following amounts are allowed duty free:

  • 200 cigarettes or
  • 250 grams of tobacco or
  • 50 cigars or
  • a mixture of all three weighing not more than 250 grams, e.g.: 25 cigars and 100 cigarettes



Legal disclaimer: You must be 18+ to order tobacco online. You must be 18+ to order alcoholic drinks online.

Ordering duty-free items online is a personal decision. I can not be held liable for your actions. Make sure to fully understand local laws governing the import of alcohol, tobacco products, duty free products and the duty-free allowances of your country.

Make sure you get informed before making a purchase online and comply with the laws and regulations of your country.


Save money, get informed

Last updated: 2016-08-06

Simon's Guide to Duty-free, Tax free Shopping
Article Name
Simon's Guide to Duty-free, Tax free Shopping
A comprehensive guide about everything duty-, and tax-free. Step-by-step tutorial showing you how to avoid scams and illegal sites selling counterfeit, black market goods included.
Simon's Online Marketing Kft.

35 thoughts on “Simon’s Online Duty-free Shopping Guide”

  1. Thanks for doing this website I really appreciate it. My wife is a smoker and is killing me with her pack a day habit (sometimes more), since I’m the only one working right now. I’ve thought about buying online in the past but didn’t know who to trust. Could you recommend a trustworthy site to buy Marlboro Ultra Light 100’s from? I couldn’t find that brand at Duty Free Depot and I would really appreciate your help if you are able to. We live in Arizona USA… Smokes are 7 bucks a pack here! I would probably buy 2 or 3 cartons to start.

    Thanks – James

    1. I’m sorry. I have never seen Marlboro Ultra Light 100′s at any of the online stores I have purchased from.

      I can’t recommend anything in this case.

      I wish I could help.

  2. Simon,

    Thank you for your very informative website. I reside in London. Can you please inform me of a legitimate online seller of cigarettes, where i can place my orders and have them delivered to me.

    Kind Regards,


  3. Hi!

    I can’t really see the link you’ve posted about reliable cigarette online shops. Which one do you mean?


  4. The cartons of Marlboro lights were .70 more than they are in my state with tax, Absolute slightly higher as well.

  5. Could you tell me why on your site it says:

    “Duty tax is not charged for buying and importing up to 200 cigarettes every 21 days (for all countries >>>> except Ireland, France and Canada <<<>>> U.K., Ireland, France and Canada <<<<)"

    (Note that UK is included there)

    It cut out some of what I wrote. On your site it doesn’t include the UK in the list of countries that dont have the allowance, but on another site they say the UK doesn’t allow it.

      1. Hi

        Could you tell me if you can get duty free cigarettes sent to Ireland.
        Great blog by the way

  6. Thanks for this great Blog Simon.

    I placed my first order for 2 cartons of Rothmans one week ago & they arrived today. Cheap, hassle free & just as advertised. I couldn’t be happier

  7. I don’t see the connection between duty free allowance carried physically in person and what you order online. It has nothing to do with each other.

    In the UK, the HMRC makes it crystal clear that all cigarettes import from EU and non-EU counties is subject to UK VAT and excise duty. You can never get seized cigarettes released without paying that.

    Now, how much get caught by customs is an empirical question – would be interesting to hear from others what their experience is. It doesn’t look like that the vendors reimburse seized orders. Again, helpful to hear concrete experience from UK buyers.


  8. donnadixon says:

    Hello simon I linked on to your site while doing a search for duty free tobacco etc. I have purchased one from an organisation that I linked from your site..hopefully the company will be aware of this…if this works and everything is legitimate I will let you know…I am using a tablet and cannot find the Google plus thingy that you are talking about to give you a positive tick !.

    1. Hi Donna,

      Thanks. Glad I could help. I’m sure everything will work out fine.

      The Google + button is sometimes at the very bottom of the page if you are using a mobile device.

      Have a great day,

  9. Hi Simon.

    I’ve sent you a comment wrt buying Courtleigh Gold, none of your recommended sites stock them but I did find 3 other sites. All I need to know whether or not youe are familiar with them and are they legitimate. They are Sun Cigarettes, VIP Cigarettes and AfriTrade. Your advice will be appreciated.


    1. Hi,

      Please write the URLs of the webpages down in the comments section and I will definitely take a look at them for you today, ASAP.

      I’m happy to help,

  10. is duty free depot legal and safe to use?

  11. Just wanted all to know, that as of today, June 17th 2015, Dutyfreedepot is now charging shipping!!!!!! They say it is due to high gas prices?????????????? Gas prices here are lower than they have been in years, so not sure why they are using that as an excuse. Thought you would want to know.

    1. Well, that’s unfortunate. Last time I checked it (about two weeks ago) it was still free (and it was free for years!).
      I guess all good things must come to an end.

      Please calculate the cost of shipping in the price when determining whether to order or not. That’s the best I can say.
      It’s still cheaper to order online in all of Western Europe and (if the data I have found about cigarette prices is accurate, the table included in the blog post,prices with tax included) in most of the US and Canada.
      I will eventually update the site to reflect these changes and I will add a section with detailed information about shipping costs.

      Thanks for letting me know.

      1. See u , U r a bell-end, u little rat! How do u sleep!

        1. ??? No profanity on the website please! You have been warned before. Now you have been banned.

  12. Hi Simon
    I am wondering if you can help. I’m writing from Australia.
    I am interested in buying a packet or two of Marlboro Red Regulars 25s or 20s cigarettes (flip top box) online, preferably from the USA. (it would be great to collect an authentic packet or two of Marlboro Reds that come from the USA without having to fly there 🙂 )
    Searching on the Net has made it confusing where to look and what online companies to choose from – and whether they are even from the United States. Also some online stores don’t say where they’re from and seem to want you to order cartons which would attract large customs duties here in Australia if it is over 2 packets of cigarettes.
    So, I’m hoping with your experience you might be able to narrow the endless searching for me. It would be great to buy something that is not in a plain olive packet anymore..

    Also, do you know any online stores in New Zealand that would ship international orders of cigarettes to Australia?

    Thanks in advance for your help; and sorry for the trouble


  13. Hello Simon

    Thank you ever so much for these guides. I could really truly do with some of your help. I am in the UK and i am so frustrated at the moment with what is allowed and what is not allowed. On top of that, there are so many sites, i just cant tell what is a scam and what is not a scam!!

    All i want to do, is buy some cigars. Without the heft of the tax and import duties. Im looking at buying some Hupmann and JLP. Total cost will probably come to around $200 or Euro 200

    Can you kindly suggest the best/cheapest/safest possible way I can do this please?

    You can email me if you want : alert_me @

    In the subject line just put in capital letters SIMON THE SORCERER

  14. smokers paradise says:

    hi I have just ordered from duty free depot , i am in u.k and hope they arrive soon will keep you posted

  15. Hi Simon. I ordered around 80 cigars from the states Miami . A legitimate store.. when tracking my item on ups it states they have been held & the receiver ie myself will be written to as charges apply. Any idea what these charges will be. & would I be subject to charges if i were to order 50 cigars as that is what the uk quota is saying I am allowed. ? Any information is greatly appreciated. M.c.

    1. Hi, A registered store in Miami is not considered a duty free shop, as explained on the homepage of the blog, a duty free shop has to be located in an international zone. Therefore customs will apply in this case. What you did is not considered duty free shopping at all.

  16. Hi Simon, Help I live in New York City and cigarettes are very expensive can you give me a website to go to to buy Benson and hedges? I am not very computer smart but I do understand https and to look for it. I was fascinated by your knowledge.
    Can you please provide me with a link where to go to buy cheap cigarettes online, Benson and hedges light

  17. Hi,
    What if I order cigarettes from online store based in the European Union and get it delivered to me to my UK address? Could I get a quick reply from somebody.

  18. Having a registered company in Norway. Want to import cigarettes from some other countries (preferably EU counties) to sell. I believe that i could make some profit, even if we pay taxes.

    Kindly let me know the worldwide manufacturer or supplier (for companies) and they should have capable of delivering packs with Norwegian signs on cigarette packets. (as per Norwegian law).

  19. Hi Simon,
    I have been reading your blog and it has been very helpful. I ran across a website called Cigarettes Store ( It seems legit but was not impressed with the layout of their website. Doesn’t appear to be big on appearance. Have you hear of this website and if so any do you have any comments regarding its reliability? I am looking for Esse cigarettes that are not available on the website you have recommended.

    1. Looks okay. Personally I never used them. I have seen much worse than this and they accept credit cards too. Sure, go ahead, give it a try and let us know here in the comments section about your experience.

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