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UAE is one of the most sought out destinations in the World, with Dubai alone registering 15.79 Million visitors during 2018. (Source: Mastercard / Travellers.com survey).

With over 20 key source market visitors to Dubai during 2018 including India, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, China, and Oman being among the top performing, Dubai is fast becoming the primary destination of choice for Shopping / Dining and Relaxing. (Mastercard / Travellers.com ranked Dubai as number 4 among the Top destinations). This, coupled with the other six emirates and you have an excellent Tourist profile in UAE, making UAE one of the most sought out destinations.

It is no surprise then that one of the primary concerns for visitors to UAE has been VAT REFUND: Will the 5% VAT that is applicable on all purchases from January 01, 2018 mean that any goods purchased in UAE will be 5% more expensive for the Tourist?

Well, the answer is NO, not from 18 November 2018. UAE has now introduced a Tourist VAT refund scheme (UAE VAT refund), wherein each Tourist gets an immediate VAT refund when he or she leaves the UAE.

A Tourist, by definition, should not be a resident in the UAE and any of the implementing states and who is not a crew member on a flight or cruise leaving an Implementing state.


  1. The retailer from whom the goods are being purchased must be a participant in the Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme, (this can be checked directly before you make the purchase);
  2. Carry a passport for validation under the electronic system at the time of your purchase;
  3. The minimum spend needs to be Aed 250;
  4. The goods should not be under the excluded category for the refund, for example, Motor vehicles, boats, and aircraft are excluded;
  5. The shop assistant will capture the Tourist information and will provide a Tax-free tag on the back of the sales receipt and a digital Tax-free form is created on the electronic system after you make your purchases. Do this before you exit the store so that you do not forget about this;
  6. 90 days from the date of supply is available for the Tourist to claim the refund and he/she should exit with the purchased supplies. Remember: Goods that have been consumed fully or partly in the UAE or any implementing state or if the Tourist is not carrying the goods at the time of exit are not eligible for Tax-Free shopping.
  7. In case of export, again, 90 days from the date of supply is the period within which the export must be done;
  8. FTA regulations must be followed with regard to the purchase and export of goods.

How much UAE VAT Refund are you eligible for?

85% of the total VAT amount paid, not 100% and there is a nominal fee of Aed 4.80 per Tax-free tag as of present.

How to claim the UAE VAT refund for shopping?

  1. Carry the sales receipt and the goods to the point of exit;
  2. Go to a validation point (In the airport, this is prior / before checking in and going through security);
  3. Validate by providing the requested information (Item 1 above);
  4. Choose your refund mechanism: Cash or Card and accordingly, proceed to the refund point (if cash).

Note: Cash refund currently, is up to a maximum of Aed 10,000.


  1. Tourist as defined;
  2. Valid passport for validation;
  3. Should carry the goods at the exit point;
  4. Claim / validation should be done within 90 days of supply, with Sales receipt, Tax free tag and the goods; and
  5. 85% refund along with a Aed 4.80 fee for each Tax free tag.

To know more, write to us at consultancy@zabeelinstitute.ae  and we will be happy to guide you for the UAE VAT REFUND process.

Happy shopping!!

Disclaimer: The above is intended to be a general guide/advisory only. The prevailing general law relating to Tourist VAT refund under the UAE VAT REFUND law will apply. Zabeel International in no way assumes any liability of any nature in this regard.

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Email: mail@zabeelinstitute.ae

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