An area within a country (a seaport, airport, warehouse or any designated area) regarded as being outside its customs territory.
Importers may therefore bring goods of foreign origin into such areas without paying customs duties and taxes. This is always pending eventual processing, trans-shipment or re-exportation.
Free zones were once numerous and prosperous when tariffs were higher many years ago. Some still exist in capital cities, transport junctions and major seaports, but their number and prominence have declined as tariffs have fallen in recent years.
Free zones may also be known as "free ports," "free warehouses," "free trade zones" and "foreign trade zones."