Updated January 2024
Are you planning a trip to the UAE or Dubai? As a tourist, you may be eligible to receive a VAT (Value Added Tax) refund on your purchases made during your visit.
In this article, Wego will explore the VAT refund process in the UAE and Dubai, including eligibility requirements, documentation needed, and how to claim the refund. Read on to learn more about how you can save money on your next trip to the country.
Table of Contents
What is VAT refund for tourists in UAE?
The Value Added Tax (VAT) is a consumption tax that is added to the price of goods and services at each stage of the supply chain, from the initial production of the item to the final sale to the end consumer. VAT is a tax on the value added at each stage of production and distribution, hence the name “Value Added Tax”.
Dubai and UAE VAT refund is a mechanism that allows tourists and visitors to claim back the VAT paid on their purchases made in the UAE.
The UAE implemented VAT in 2018 at a standard rate of 5%, which is applied to most goods and services.
UAE VAT refund eligibility
To claim a VAT refund, visitors must meet certain criteria, such as being a non-resident of the UAE and making purchases from retailers registered for VAT. Visitors must also ensure that they have the necessary documentation, such as invoices, receipts, and boarding passes, to prove their eligibility for the refund.
Here are the requirements to be deemed eligible for refund:
- tourists must be 18 years of age or older
- tourists must not be a crew member on flights leaving the United Arab Emirates
- tourists must not be residents in any of the implementing States
- tourists must ensure that the retailer participates in the “Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme” before making a purchase
Refunds are not eligible for:
- Goods that have been consumed, fully or partially, in the UAE
- Motor vehicles, boats and aircrafts
- Goods that are not accompanied by the overseas tourist at the time of leaving the UAE
To be eligible for a VAT refund in Dubai and the UAE, tourists must have a minimum purchase of AED 250.
UAE VAT refund process
Making tax-free purchase
The FTA and Planet, the exclusive operator of the tax refund system for tourists, collaborated to develop the completely automated Planet VAT refund system. This system makes the VAT refund process quick and convenient for registered retailers and customers alike.
In order to make a tax-free purchase, visitors should:
- Ensure that the retailer participates in the Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme before making a purchase
- Make a minimum purchase of AED 250 and submit the required travel documents, such as a passport or GCC National ID card to the salesperson
- Receive invoice and tax-free tag that is attached to the back of the invoice. The name on the receipt should match the name on travel document.
- Keep these documents as they will need to be presented later to validate the claims. If the retailer offers only digital invoice that gets sent to the visitor’s email, they will not be required to present a physical invoice later.
Some registered retailers may issue digital tax-free tag with a QR code that you can scan to track your tax-free transactions on the Planet Shopper portal
Before departing from the UAE, you can initiate the validation of your tax-free transactions by scanning your passport or GCC national ID card at either Planet’s self-service kiosks or manned validation desks. Note that thee name on the receipt should match the name on travel document presented.
Self service kiosks
Planet’s self service kiosks are located at some shopping malls, hotels, or UAE exit points. If you opt to use kiosks at malls or hotels, please provide an online valid boarding pass where your flight is departing within 24 hours as it is required to initiate the validation process.
Planet’s self-service kiosks can be found at these exit points:
- Abu Dhabi Airport – Common area between all terminals
- Dubai Airport – Terminal 1, 2, 3, and 3 Business
- Sharjah Airport
- Al Maktoum Airport
- Al Ain Airport
- Ras Al Khaimah Airport
- Al Fujairah Airport
- Zayed — Abu Dhabi
- Port Rashid — Dubai
- Port Khalid — Sharjah
- Al Ghuwaifat — At the border with Saudi Arabia
- Al Hili al Ain — At the border with Oman
- Al Madeef al Ain — At the border with Oman
- Hatta — At the border with Oman
- Khatmat Malaha — At the border with Oman
The process of validating your purchase through self-service kiosks is simple:
- Scan your passport or enter your passport/national ID number manually, then follow the instructions on the screen
- If you get a green light, you’ve completed the validation process. You can then choose your preferred refund method (Credit Card, WeChat, or cash)
- If you get a red light, please seek assistance from a staff standing nearby
Manned validation desks
You can claim your UAE VAT refund at manned validation locations at the airports, seaports, and land borders in the UAE mentioned above if you are departing within 6 hours.
You simply need to provide your passport/national ID card to Planet staff, along with your invoice and tax-free tag. After successfully validating your transactions, choose your preferred refund method (Credit Card, WeChat, or cash). If you choose the cash refund, make sure to visit the cash partner (participating currency exchange offices in the Tourist Refund Scheme) after the immigration desk
Purchased goods inspection
Please note that your purchased goods may require inspection by Planet staff at validation desk located at UAE’s exit points. If an inspection is required, present the tax-free tag(s), original tax invoice(s), and purchased goods. Once inspection is done, you can choose your preferred refund method.
UAE VAT refund maximum amount
Visitors can receive 85% refund of the total VAT amount paid, minus a fee of AED 4.80 per tax-free tag.
Cash refunds are capped at AED 35,000 per person. Any VAT refund request that exceeds this amount will be paid through other means, such as credit cards or bank transfers.