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Is VAT refund available in the UAE?

April 3, 2022by Kate Williams0

VAT is a tax that is present on most goods and services. The UAE government has a VAT refund scheme that allows expats who do not own or rent property in the country to get back the tax they have paid.

In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about VAT refunds. Today, a VAT refund in the UAE is available. However, it is not present on all goods and services.

1. What is VAT?


The VAT refund scheme is available to expats who are not considered residents of the UAE. This includes students, people working on an assignment, foreign workers, and tourists.

A value-added tax is a consumption tax on goods and services levied at each stage of the supply chain. This tax can go from production to the point of sale. Likewise, the VAT payment depends on the cost of the product minus any costs of materials in the product.

1.1 How does VAT work?

The tax is imposed on both the seller and the product buyer. The seller collects VAT from their customers and then pays it to their local government. However, the buyer does not reimburse the VAT directly but instead pays it when they complete their purchase.

VAT refunds can vary from country to country, with some countries having a single rate or two rates: one for domestic products and one for imported goods. Besides, some countries also have different rates based on the type of product. For example, agricultural products or alcoholic beverages.

1.2 Value-added tax (VAT) vs. Sales tax

VAT is collected by the government in most countries and then distributed to various local and regional governments. To put an example, the local authorities in the UAE collect the value-added tax refund to generate benefits for the country. However, it may be collected by private companies or organizations such as schools and hospitals in some countries.

Sales taxes are levied on retail sales made in a jurisdiction where they are not imposed at a national level. Besides, sales taxes typically apply to purchases of specific goods such as food, clothing, fuel, and automotive vehicles.


1.3 Pros and cons of value-added tax (VAT)

The VAT is very beneficial for businesses and individuals, but it does have some drawbacks as well:

1.3.1. Pros

  • It is easier to calculate the VAT refund than sales tax.
  • VAT is less complicated than other taxes because it only taxes consumption, not income or wealth.
  • It helps fund government spending programs by raising revenue without increasing labor and capital income taxation.
  • It creates an incentive for firms to innovate and reduce prices to avoid paying taxes.

1.3.2. Cons

  • VAT can be regressive if it falls more heavily on low incomes. This is because individuals spend a higher proportion of their income on consumption goods.
  • A value-added tax can be unintended.

1.4 Who benefits from VAT in the UAE?

The VAT refund in the UAE benefits consumers and businesses because it reduces prices for both. However, many people state that it is not fair because some of those consumers do not generate enough income. Many citizens cannot afford to buy certain products or services at the reduced prices that VAT provides.

1.5 Why is VAT an efficient tax?

VAT can be an efficient tax because it taxes companies based on their sales, not the number of employees they have. This means that larger companies pay more VAT than smaller ones. The VAT system also allows countries to collect large amounts of money from consumers. Consequently, they do not have to increase their income taxes.

2. What are the advantages of VAT refunds in the UAE?

The VAT refund in the UAE has many positive aspects, including:

  • Reduced administrative cost for businesses
  • Reduced cash flow burden on consumers
  • Greater transparency
  • Greater predictability of business operations

2.1 How does VAT refund work in the UAE?

The process of VAT refund can be complex, but the UAE government has simplified it by introducing the VAT Refund Portal. This website provides all the essential details about applying for a VAT refund in Dubai or other cities.

The new system for VAT refund in the UAE has a design with simplicity for an easy comprehension. This makes it easier for both businesses and individuals to apply for refunds.

2.2 How to claim a VAT refund in the UAE for a business?

The owner must register the business with the government to claim a VAT refund in the UAE.

The process of submitting a VAT refund is straightforward. The following is the step-by-step guide on how to claim your VAT refund:

  • Register your business with the government.
  • Apply for a VAT Refund online.
  • Wait for approval from the government.
  • Wait for approval from your bank or financial institution before you can receive payment from the government.

However, if you still have doubts about how to claim a VAT refund in the UAE for a business, you can always ask for our legal help.

3. How to calculate your tax liability for a product in the UAE?

Is VAT refund available in the UAE?

The first step is to calculate the selling price of the product. You can do this by using the cost of production or the cost of materials and labor involved in producing it. You can also calculate the tax liability by using a percentage markup on the selling price in some cases.

This goes along with calculating the profit margin based on your company’s budget, margins, and expenses. It would help if you were constantly reminded that the profit margin is always higher than the cost of production. This means that your taxable income will not be as high as it would have been if you had used the cost of production instead of the profit margin.

4. What are the types of VAT in the UAE?

There are two types of VAT in the UAE, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Value-added Tax (VAT). The VAT is levied on all goods and services in the UAE. This includes food, transportation, clothing, furniture, etc. The GST is set on a narrower range of interests, but is often imposed on business activities rather than just products.

5. What are the methods of payment for VAT in the UAE?

In the United Arab Emirates, the VAT is collected by the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) and then paid to the government. In addition to this, the FTA has three methods of payment: cash, credit card, and invoices. The following are some different methods of payment for VAT in the UAE:

  • Cash: This method can help individuals make payments to government entities like banks or government offices.
  • Payment through credit card: This method can facilitate online transactions and ease online payments.
  • Payment through invoices: Individuals can make payments to their buyers using an invoice template. People can look for this template online.

6. How does VAT work for tourists?

The VAT refund in Dubai for tourists is at a standard rate for goods and services purchased by tourists. This includes hotel accommodation, food, restaurants, transport, shopping, entertainment, etc.

6.1 Hotel Accommodation

The UAE is home to many luxury hotels, making it a popular destination for business investment and leisure travelers. However, hotel guests staying in the country must pay VAT.

6.2 Food

The UAE has introduced a new food tax to increase the country’s revenue. The VAT on food is set at a medium range and applied to all foods and beverages sold. The introduction of this tax is likely to harm the UAE’s economy. As a result of this impact, it will likely increase prices for consumers.

6.3 Restaurants

The VAT refund in Dubai for tourists is applied to a wide range of goods and services, including restaurants where they consume. This is why restaurant owners in Dubai are opting for a VAT-registered company. This helps them to handle food-related expenses and paperwork.

6.4 Transport

The United Arab Emirates has launched a new VAT tax on transport. The country is trying to reduce the number of car drivers, which is a cause for concern for the government.

There are a lot of benefits to this move: reduced pollution and road congestion. However, the government also has concerns about its impact on consumers to reclaim their VAT refund in Dubai for tourists.

6.5 Shopping

The UAE has implemented a new law that allows shoppers to get a refund on items they bought online. This applies if they have paid VAT but then change their mind. The Dubai government has appointed a portal to make it easier for shoppers to reclaim their VAT refund in Dubai for tourists.

Customers can submit their receipts and request a refund in this portal online. The new law can encourage online business shopping. Besides, it will make shopping more convenient and less stressful for consumers.

6.6 Entertainment

The United Arab Emirates has introduced a new entertainment tax that applies to all forms of entertainment and sporting events. This tax will be levied on the revenue generated from these events and charged at a low rate of the total revenue.

The UAE also plans to extend this tax to other forms of entertainment such as concerts, festivals, movies, and family gatherings. This new law ensures that there will be significant changes in how people spend their time. However, it is unclear what impact this law will have on its economy.

6.7 Conditions for Tourists to claim their VAT Refunds in the UAE

The VAT refund in Dubai for tourists is one of the most generous. However, there are some conditions that they need to meet before they can claim their refunds.

  • They must purchase goods from a retailer who has signed up for the ‘Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme.
  • Goods are not apart from the Federal Tax Authority’s Refund Scheme.
  • The tourist must give clear notice before the expiry of 90 days from when he or she orders the goods.
  • They must export the purchased goods out of the UAE within three months.
  • The purchase and export of goods must occur according to the requirements and procedures determined by the Federal Tax Authority.

6.8 Where can tourists claim VAT refunds in the UAE?

The Federal Tax Authority has allocated spaces where people can reclaim their VAT refund. Likewise, tourists will receive their refunds through a port terminal where they can find a refund machine. Tourists can see these spaces at the departure port, airport, seaport, or border port.

They can submit the receipts of their purchases from the outlets registered in the scheme and copies of their passports and credit cards. Once these documents are approved, they can recover the VAT refund in cash or transfer it to their credit card.

7. What are the sanctions for not paying your tax liability on time?

If you are late in paying your taxes, you can have a sanction at a low rate of the amount due for every month that the payment is overdue. Likewise, if you fail to pay your taxes after a final warning, you will have a penalty with a higher rate. Besides, if you fail to pay your taxes after being sentenced, the court may add a fine on top of any other penalties imposed by law.

8. How can we help you learn more about your VAT refund?

In the Middle East, we are experts in a variety of sectors to help immigrants, small and big investors and employment seekers settle in the UAE. From opening a company in Dubai to obtaining a Family Visa, we are here to provide you with all the tools you need to secure the greatest outcomes.

By contacting us, you will discover all the ways in which we can make any legal procedure easy for you in the UAE. Thanks to our more than 20 years of expertise in the market, we are your best partners.

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Would you like to reach out to us to learn about our services? at Connect Middle East, we have an always active team that can answer all your questions. You can call us directly on our phone number +971 43 316 688 or write us an email at contact@c-uae.comWe are ready to assist you!

Kate Williams

Kate is the Global Strategy Director at Connect Group. She is specialized in business setup in dubai , international business expansion and employee relocation. She studied in Southampton (United Kingdom) and moved to the UAE in 2014.

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