UAE VAT: Tourists Can Now Get Refunds at Shopping Malls, Hotels

The UAE’s Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has announced that the Value Added Tax (VAT) Recovery Self-Service Kiosks for Tourists scheme has been expanded to be available at major shopping malls and hotels, in addition to the existing ones at air, land and maritime entry and exit ports across the UAE.

The initiative is geared towards providing additional services to tourists, enhancing the UAE’s status as a leading destination on the international tourism map. 

Credits: Neekohfi/Flickr

VAT in UAE: Tourists Can Now Get Their Refunds at Hotels, Shopping Malls 

Planet – the company authorized by the FTA to operate the electronic system for the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme – launched nine self-service kiosks in stage one of implementing the plan, setting them up at multiple shopping malls and hotels. The kiosks are equipped with state-of-the-art technology allowing them to fully process VAT refund requests for tourists, as shared in a report by the Khaleej Times.

In a statement released by the FTA on Monday (February 10), it explained that the kiosks allow tourists to process their requests to recover VAT from the convenience of their hotel or at major malls in only a matter of minutes.

How it is Done 

To avail of this service, applicants will first have to scan their boarding pass to prove they will be leaving the UAE in the next 24 hours, as well as their original passport (or identity card for GCC nationals), and then follow the simple instructions displayed at the self-service kiosks. 

In line with this, the FTA announced that up to 55 new self-service kiosks will be deployed by the end of 2020 – 25 of which would be stationed in malls and 30 in hotels.

According to the director-general of the FTA, Khalid Ali Al Bustani, “Our objective from expanding the self-service kiosk is to provide further facilities and additional options for tourists looking to recover taxes. Eligible tourists who meet the necessary criteria for reclaiming the VAT they incurred on their purchases in the UAE can process the refund applications from the convenience of their hotels or a list of major shopping malls around the country.”

Since the UAE is now considered a major shopping destination globally, the government has set a tourist refund scheme, under which the value-added tax (VAT) paid by tourists on purchases in UAE will be refunded to them. 

It is worth noting, as well, that the number of digital transactions under the Tourists Refunds Scheme grew to 3.2 million in the period between its launch in November 2018 and the end of 2019.

Under this scheme, tourists can submit their requests to recover the taxes they incurred on purchases in the UAE when they are about to depart from the country. 

Applicants must submit the tax invoices on their purchases, marked with ‘Tax-Free’ stickers issued by retail outlets registered in the system, along with their passport and credit card. 

There is no limit placed on the maximum amount that can be recovered if the said amount is transferred to the tourist’s credit card, however, if the applicant requests a cash refund, then the maximum amount is set at AED 7,000 per day. 

Until this announcement, this process can only be carried out at self-service kiosks, as well as in tax refund offices located at ports of exit across the UAE.

ALSO READ: How to Claim UAE Tourist VAT Tax Refund