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Did you know you can claim a refund on VAT paid on purchases made in the UAE? Simply put, you can legally enjoy tax-free shopping when visiting the United Arab Emirates. Imagine buying luxury items and getting money back for your purchases. Sounds almost too good to be true, right?
Today you'll learn everything there is to know about tax-free shopping in the UAE and how easy it is.
Before we discuss the "How to " and "Where to ", let's familiarize ourselves with the tourist tax refund system.
In November 2018, the Federal Tax authority launched the "tax refund for tourist " scheme that enables visitors to enjoy tax refunds in Dubai and across the UAE.
With PlanetPayment as the exclusive operator, the VAT Refund Scheme for Tourists is a fully integrated electronic system connected with popular retail outlets (more than 13,800 stores) registered with the VAT Refund Scheme. Additionally, the scheme is directly linked between 13 air, land, and maritime entry and exit ports across the UAE, enabling eligible shoppers to claim tax refunds before departure.
The neat part is that tourists can use Self-Service Kiosks, which help complete the tax refund procedures automatically, making the process straightforward and reliable.
The VAT Refund Scheme for Tourists is quite a mouthful. Therefore, I'll be referring to "vat free shopping Dubai" and "tax refund Dubai." That said, the scheme is available across the entire UAE, not just in Dubai.
Before you can genuinely enjoy VAT-free shopping in Dubai, there are certain conditions you need to meet to be eligible for a tax refund in Dubai.
Next, I'll list the conditions set out by the Federal Tax Authorities that allow you to enjoy VAT Free shopping in Dubai:
Don't worry if these conditions sound confusing. VAT-free shopping in Dubai is relatively straightforward. Take a look...
Next, I'll outline the steps indicated by Planet that explain how you can enjoy tax refunds in Dubai.
Before starting, there are 2 things to know:
- The process is 100% digital
- You need to spend a minimum of 250 Dirhams
Step 1 – Request A VAT Refund From Eligible Merchants
There are around 13,800 Planet-registered retailers that provide tax refunds in Dubai and the UAE. After making a purchase, request a VAT refund claim from the merchant by providing your valid passport (or relevant travel document).
Step 2 – Retailer Will Issue a VAT Refund Claim
This is the process where the retailer submits a VAT refund claim. After providing your valid passport, the merchant will enter your information into Planet's 'Dubai Tax-Free System,' which prints out a QR code sticker.
Step 3 – Receive Your Dubai Tax-Free Tag
Once the QR code sticker (the Dubai Tax-Free Tag) has been printed, the retailer will place it on the back of the original purchase receipt. Before leaving the store, be sure that the name on your Dubai Tax-Free Tag is exactly the same as the name on your passport. If there are spelling mistakes, your tax refund in Dubai will be refused.
Step 4 – Validate Your Claim
The first 3 steps explain how you can enjoy Dubai VAT Free shopping in Dubai. After making your purchases and receiving your Dubai Tax-Free Tag, you need to validate your claim at a validation point before leaving the UAE.
Before departure, you need to validate the goods you just purchased. You can find a validation point located throughout the airport.
Only validate your VAT refund when you're ready to leave the UAE. You must leave the UAE 6 hours after validating your goods. If you don't depart within 6 hours, your refund will be canceled, and you'll need to restart the validation process.
The first step is to locate a validation point before checking luggage and approaching the Immigration counters. There you can scan the QR code or enter your passport number. Then, simply follow the instructions indicated on the screen.
If you get the green light, you successfully complete the validation process. Ask staff members close to the validation point for assistance if you get a red light.
Once the validation process is complete, you can choose your preferred VAT refund method. Currently, there are 4 VAT refund methods:
Note that the maximum refund amount is AED 7,000 per tourist. Therefore, you must choose a different VAT refund method if your purchase exceeds the maximum amount.
Even though the process may sound complicated, getting a tax refund in Dubai is pretty seamless. The process is efficient and easy to understand.
If you find online processes more convenient, you can use the Self-Refund online system to claim your tax refund.
After submitting a claim for your recent VAT-free shopping in Dubai, you have the option to track your tax refund. The process of tracking your status is simple.
Scan the Tax-Free Tag QR code and click on the provided URL. After clicking the URL, you'll see one of the following refund statuses.
In some cases, you might have to contact customer services for assistance. You can use one of the following methods:
You can find validation points around most entry and exit points surrounding the UAE. Also, keep an eye out for a green stand with a lit-up sign that reads "VAT Refund."
Port Zayed Abu Dhabi Port Rashid – Dubai
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 VAT Refund Scheme in Dubai and UAE allows you to claim 85% of the total VAT amount paid, minus a fee of AED 4.80 per Tax-Free Dubai Tag. The total amount will automatically be calculated throughout the VAT Refund Process.
You're eligible to receive a VAT Refund in Dubai and around the UAE if you are an overseas tourist (18 years and older) and purchased eligible goods from registered merchants. You're classified as an "oversea tourist" if you don't have residency in one of the Implementing States.
Crew members on a flight, aircraft, or ship are not eligible to receive VAT refunds.
You'll be able to get a VAT refund on all goods from registered retailers except for the following:
Perishable goods that have been consumed, fully or partly, in the UAE Motor vehicles, boats, and aircraft Goods that are not accompanied by the overseas tourist at the time of leaving the UAE Services Goods purchased online Goods that have been used, fully or partly, in the UAE and are not accompanied by the original packaging
You now know how to enjoy VAT-free shopping in Dubai and around the UAE. Remember, before traveling back to your home country, validate your goods and receive your tax-free Dubai refund.