Liquids Security & Duty Free

If you’re planning to buy liquids like alcohol or perfumes at the airport and then transfer through another airport or return home within one or two days, you need to be aware of the security rules regarding Duty Free liquids in your hand luggage.

Generally speaking, these liquids have to be packed in a Security Tamper Evident Bag (STEB). The receipt must be clearly visible, and the bag has to remain sealed during the duration of your trip.  Duty Free shops now use these bags as a matter of routine.  Unfortunately, the acceptability of these bags isn’t consistent.  Not all airports accept them, sometimes the rules aren’t really clear, and occasionally the security screeners can be overzealous.

There is no comprehensive list of the rules in each country around the world. The closest thing to such a list is on the Singapore Airlines website. However, I still suggest you check with the Duty Free shop staff or your transit airport directly just to be sure.

In addition to the Singapore site, the following are some links to official websites to help you make your own decisions:

EU rules on Duty Free liquids in hand luggagetells you from which countries EU airports will accept STEBS. Note that the liquids purchased in the EU must have been bought on the same day. That means you can buy liquids on the way out and bring them home if you’re on a day trip.

The time limit is a bit longer for purchases made at some non-EU airports. It’s 36 hours for certain airports in Croatia, Malaysia, Singapore or for international airports in Canada or the U.S.

US rules on Duty Free liquids in hand luggage – this is what’s accepted by the US authorities.  The US time limit is 48 hours.

Japan (see the last sentence in Question 5) is pretty straightforward, but Australia and India seem to be stricter than most.