Here’s what you need to know about VAT refunds for tourists

shoppers, shopping in Dubai, VAT

Heads up if you have friends and family visiting over the winter –  VAT refunds for overseas tourists in the UAE come into effect really soon.

The country’s Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has confirmed details of the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme. Starting from Sunday (18th November), visitors travelling through Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah International Airports can claim taxes back on certain purchases.

The UAE introduced five per cent VAT on some goods and services in January to give the UAE a new source of income and reduce dependence on oil as a source of revenue.

To get a tax refund, visiting shoppers need to spend at least AED 250 and claim within 90 days of their purchase. For every claim, the FTA can collect a fixed fee of AED 4.80, plus an admin charge of 15 per cent of the VAT refunded. If you know some seriously high-spending shoppers, tell them the maximum amount that can be returned in a 24-hour period is AED 10,000.

VAT starts from 1st January and here’s what you need to know

Goods must be taken out of the UAE unused and cars, boats and aircraft are excluded.

On the retail side, businesses must take steps to make sure claims are valid – including checking that tourists made their purchases in store and that they aren’t resident in the UAE – so shoppers may be asked to show a passport to prove this and that they’re over 18.

More than 4,000 businesses in the UAE will display posters to show they’re electronically connected to the refund application system and by 16th December, the scheme will be rolled out to all air, land and sea ports in the UAE.


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