This post covers everything about duty-free shopping in Korea.
It has tips on:
- Where to shop
- How to save money
- How duty-free works
- And more!
Let’s check it out!
*** Disclaimer ***
The information here is valid as of October 2021. Duty-free rules change regularly. Make sure to check the Korean Customs Service website before traveling to South Korea.
Korean duty free shopping is on another level.
Incheon Airport consistently wins awards for their duty free stores. You can find almost everything at a decent price.
Many K-beauty brands even create exclusive items for duty-free.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for in duty-free, you can always try to get a tax refund at participating stores all around Korea.
But there are a few things you should know before taking out your wallet.
How does duty free work in Korea?
Korea’s Tax Free System can be divided into two categories, duty-free and tax refund.
Duty-free means the taxes are excluded when you shop at a duty-free store.
Tax refund means you can get the Value Added Tax (VAT) and Individual Consumption Tax on certain items refunded at the airport before leaving Korea.
Duty-free is arguably the easier of the two, but you will have less variety when shopping.
What’s the limit on duty free when I enter Korea?
The total duty-free allowance when entering Korea is $600 per person.
This excludes 1 bottle or 1 L of alcohol (should be valued at less than $400), 60 mL of perfume, and one carton of cigarettes. This is to prevent people from selling goods and undercutting local businesses.
For those traveling with family, one Customs Form may be used instead of one for each person.
$600 is still allowed per person, but the total limit cannot be combined among family members.
This also excludes 1 bottle or 1 L of alcohol (should be valued at less than $400), 60 mL of perfume, and one carton of cigarettes.
For married couples, the limit would be $1,200 total. But, they cannot bring an item that costs over $600 without paying tax.
For example, according to Korea Customs Service, when a family of two brings one purse that costs $1,000, the additional $400 will be taxed.
3 family members including a child can bring duty-free items worth $1,800 as long as each item is less than $600. (Cigarette and liquor are only allowed per adult.)
Remember, if one single item exceeds $600 USD, you must report it.
What’s the limit on Korean duty free when I leave Korea?
There doesn’t seem to be a limit on what non-Korean visitors can buy at Korean duty free. So go nuts.
For Koreans, the limit is $3,000, which is calculated before any discounts are applied. So if a Korean bought a $3,000 watch for $2,000, they would still exceed the purchase limit and be unable to leave Korea with the item.
What are the best duty-free stores in Korea?
The top three duty-free stores in Korea are:
They may look the same at first glance, but they carry different brands.
These stores also have new promotions and discounts regularly, so it’s worth shopping around before buying something.
How to save money on Korean duty free
Most Koreans use online duty free shopping a couple days before even entering the airport. They then pick up the item at the airport after checking in. This is the cheapest way to shop duty free in Korea.
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Did We Miss Anything?
Korea is always stepping up their duty-free game to increase tourist spending.
Make sure to take advantage of their stores to save a ton of money on your trip.
Let us know your experience with Korea duty free in the comments.
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