The Money Saving Expert has exposed the truth behind why airport shops request your boarding pass when you purchase something.
Martin Lewis filmed himself at the airport to highlight the difference in regulation depending on which shop you visit.
If you’re visiting a duty-free shop, Martin said you do have to show your boarding pass.
HM Revenue and Customers (HMRC) explains: “Duty-free shops can sell goods where the excise, customs duty or VAT has been suspended, usually alcohol and tobacco.
“Sales in duty-free shops are tightly controlled and HMRC requires these outlets to know where the passenger is travelling to before completing a sale.”
Martin Lewis reveals the truth behind showing airport shops your boarding pass
But according to Martin, you shouldn’t have to supply your boarding pass in any other shops.
Tax-free stores might appear to be the same as duty-free, but they are exempt from the boarding pass rules.
HMRC said: “Other retailers are known as tax-free shops… There is nothing in VAT law that requires a traveller to produce a boarding pass to purchase goods.”
All other shops in the airport can’t legally demand to see your boarding pass either.
Martin Lewis explained that the only shops that need your boarding pass are duty-free stores
It’s up to you to decide whether you want to give them your boarding pass or not
As many travellers have experienced however, they often do ask you to hand over your pass. This is because they make a profit from doing so.
Martin explained: “The reason they’re asking you is if you show your boarding pass and you’re going outside of the European Union well, then they can claim the VAT back. Now I believe they should be sharing that with you and they’re not.”
After recent pressure to change these policies, WHSmith and Boots have introduced new rules which benefit some passengers.
Martin said: “Shop in either of those, in Boots buying something over £5 and in Smith’s over £6, they will give you the VAT back if you show your boarding pass and you’re travelling outside the EU, but only on items over £5 or £6, not the total basket.
Martin Lewis filmed himself inside an airport to point out the differences in airport shops
“So it’s up to you to decide whether you want to give them your boarding pass or not. They can’t stop you buying stuff, there’s no law requiring them to see it, with the exception of in duty-free.”
But Martin did warn about a possible consequence if you do decide to refuse handing over your pass.
He said: “Any shop can refuse your custom so there is a chance this will happen – or at least its procedures won’t allow it.”
Earlier this week the Money Saving Expert revealed how to snap up two tickets to the airport lounge for free.