Tax free Shopping – VAT refunds for tourists in UAE

Dubai is a world-famous destination for tourism and many people visit Dubai for the sole purpose of Shopping. Were you aware that you could claim refund on Vat paid for purchases you made in UAE? Yes, you heard it right. If you are planning to go to Dubai for shopping, here is good news for you.

From 18 November 2018, eligible tourists in the UAE were able to request refunds on the Value Added Tax (VAT) incurred on their purchases while there are in the UAE. This is an electronic scheme called Planet which is the exclusive operator of the tax refund system for tourists. In other words, it’s a 100% digital service for Tax free shopping.

Let’s have a look on how this electronic scheme called Planet operates.

What is tax free shopping?

Tax Free shopping is the purchasing of certain taxable goods in the UAE which will be exported (subject to terms and conditions) whereby shoppers can obtain a refund of the VAT charged on these goods, providing that they validate their purchases at the point of exit.

Conditions for tourists to claim their VAT refunds

For a tourist to claim VAT refund on purchases he made in the UAE, he must fulfill certain conditions:

  • Goods must be purchased from a retailer who is participating in the ‘Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme’
  • Goods are not excluded from the Refund Scheme of the Federal Tax Authority
  • He must have the explicit intention to leave the UAE in 90 days from the date of supply, along with the purchased supplies
  • He must export the purchased goods out of the UAE within three months from the date of supply
  • The process of purchase and export of goods must be carried out according to the requirements and procedures determined by Federal Tax Authority.
  • The minimum spend should be 250 dirhams.

What goods are eligible for Tax Free Shopping?

Certain taxable goods except for:

  • Goods that have been consumed, fully or partly, in the UAE
  • Motor vehicles, boats and aircrafts
  • Goods that are not accompanied by the overseas tourist at the time of leaving the UAE

Who is eligible?

  • You should be 18 or over and not resident in the UAE.
  • Crew members on flights leaving the UAE are not eligible to claim.
  • Under current rules, GCC Nationals are eligible.

How to shop Tax free in UAE?

  • Request a VAT refund claim and present the travel document used to enter the UAE
  • The retailer will enter your information into our digital Tax-Free system to issue a VAT refund claim
  • The retailer will place a Tax-Free tag on the back of the original sales receipt. Make sure that the name on the sales receipt matches the name on your travel document used to enter the UAE

Where and how can tourists claim VAT refund for their shopping?

Federal Tax Authority has allocated spaces where tourists can reclaim taxes. Tourists will receive their refunds through a special device placed at the departure port – airport, seaport, or border port – by submitting the tax invoices for their purchases from the outlets registered in the Scheme, along with copies of their passport and credit card.

Once these documents are submitted, tourists can either recover the VAT in cash in UAE dirhams, or have it transferred to their credit card. You will receive 85% of the total VAT amount paid, minus a fee of 4.80 dirhams per Tax Free tag

You must leave the UAE within 6 hours of completing the validation process. Failure to do so will result in your refund being cancelled, and you will be required to restart the validation process.

So, if you are planning on shopping, Dubai would be the best place for you. There are 14000 partners and 150000 retailers registered in this scheme where you could have your tax-free shopping.


Read more: UAE reduces penalties for violating tax laws


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