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Updated August 2023

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. Since the implementation of VAT in 2018, the UAE and Dubai have made it possible for tourists to claim back the VAT paid on their purchases.

In this article, we 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 UAE or Dubai.

Dubai & UAE VAT

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 & UAE VAT refund for tourists

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, including but not limited to:

  • food and drink
  • clothing and footwear
  • vehicles and their parts
  • electronics and appliances
  • housing and utilities
  • health and education services

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.

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Dubai & UAE VAT refund for tourists eligibility

To be eligible for a VAT refund in the United Arab Emirates, tourists must meet certain requirements listed below:

  • 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 ensure that the retailer participates in the “Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme” before making a purchase
  • the tourist must intend to exit the UAE within 90 days after the purchase date, and the purchased items must be taken out of the country with them

Dubai & UAE VAT refund for tourists minimum spending

To be eligible for a VAT refund in Dubai and the UAE, tourists must have a minimum purchase of AED 250 and can receive an 85% refund of the total VAT amount paid. The remaining 15% is charged as an administration fee by Planet, the refund service provider.

However, it is important to note that cash refunds are now capped at AED 7,000 per day, as per the new regulations imposed by the Federal Tax Authority. Therefore, any VAT refund request that exceeds this amount will be paid through other means, such as credit cards or bank transfers.

Dubai & UAE VAT refund for tourists process

The FTA and Planet, the exclusive operator of the tax refund system for tourists, collaborated to develop the completely automated Planet VAT refund system, which makes the VAT refund process quick and convenient for registered retailers and customers alike. Here’s how customers can request a VAT refund claim at registered retailers:

  1. Ensure that the retailer participates in the Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme before making a purchase.
  2. Make a minimum purchase of AED 250 and obtain a Tax-Free tag attached to the back of the original retail receipt.
  3. Submit the required travel documents, such as a passport or GCC National ID card, along with the original retail receipt and the Tax-Free tag to the retailer.
  4. The retailer inputs the relevant information on Planet’s computer system to submit the claim.
  5. The Tax-Free tag will be scanned during the claim to connect the purchase to the customer’s GCC National ID card or trip passport.

Dubai & UAE VAT refund for tourists required documents and where to claim

To claim your VAT refund in Dubai and the UAE, you need to present certain documents. Registered retailers can issue three different kinds of tax invoices, and you must bring these receipts to claim your VAT refund. Here are the documents required:

  • if the retailer issued a paper tax invoice and tax-free tag, you must keep the tax invoice and tax-free tag and present it if required
  • if the retailer issued a paper tax invoice with a digital tax-free tag (QR code), you must keep the tax invoice and present it if required
  • if the retailer had a paperless method by issuing a digital tax invoice, you can track your tax-free transactions by using Planet Shopper portal. After completing your purchase, you will receive a link via SMS that directs you to the shopper portal

When departing from the UAE, you can initiate the validation of your tax-free transactions by scanning your passport or GCC national ID card at the following locations:

  • Planet’s self-service kiosks at exit points
  • Planet’s self-service kiosks at leading shopping malls or hotels (please prepare your online valid boarding pass where your flight departs within 24 hours to initiate the validation process)
  • Planet’s tax-free manned validation desks are located at UAE’s exit points, such as airports, land borders, and sea ports if you are departing within 6 hours

Purchased goods inspection

Please note that if your purchased goods require inspection by Planet staff, this can only be done at Planet’s Validation desk located at UAE’s exit points. Here’s what you need to do:

  • if an inspection is required, present the tax-free tag(s), original tax invoice(s), and purchased goods at Planet’s validation desks located at UAE’s exit points when you are leaving the country
  • after successfully validating your transactions, choose your preferred refund method (Credit Card, WeChat, or Cash)
  • if you choose the cash refund, be sure to visit the cash partner (participating currency exchange offices in the Tourist Refund Scheme) after the immigration desk

Dubai & UAE VAT refund for tourists at airports, seaports, and land borders

You can claim your UAE VAT refund at designated locations at the airports, seaports, and land borders in the UAE. Planet’s self-service kiosks are available at these locations:


  • 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


  • Zayed — Abu Dhabi
  • Port Rashid – Dubai

Land Borders

  • Al Ghuwaifat — At the border with Saudi Arabia
  • Al Ain — At the border with Oman
  • Hatta — At the border with Oman

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