Self-service VAT refund system for tourists launched across UAE

Kiosks are now in place at airports and ports across the country as part of efforts to streamline the refund process

By the end of 2020, there will be 25 self-service kiosks stationed in malls and 30 in hotels. Courtesy Federal Tax Authority
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Tourists now have an easy way to claim back VAT before departing the UAE thanks to the launch of self-service kiosks across the country.

Planet, the company tasked with overseeing tax refunds on goods purchased while visiting the country by the Federal Tax Authority, is turning to technology to make the process simpler.

Rather than visit an office to complete refund procedures, people can do it themselves by taking advantage of the new fully-automated service, which has been rolled out at airports and ports.

Travellers still requiring the human touch can ask for the assistance of Planet employees, who will be stationed nearby ready to help.

The streamlined procedure identifies the taxes eligible for refunds, verifies that the purchases are with the tourist, and then facilitates tax recovery.

Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director general of the FTA, said money requested is transferred to the person's credit card after the transaction is verified.

“The self-service kiosks are a significant addition where tourists can recover VAT without needing to interact with employees,” said Mr Al Bustani.

“The kiosks were placed at all exit ports included in the Tax Refund Scheme for Tourists, where tourists can submit the tax invoices on their purchases, along with their passport and credit card, to recover VAT.

“No limit is placed on the maximum amount that can be recovered if said amount is transferred to the tourist’s credit card, however, in the event that the applicant requests a cash refund, then the maximum amount is set at AED10,000 per day.”

The kiosks can be accessed at 12 locations, including Dubai's two airports, Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport, airports in Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah and ports across the Emirates.

Tourists have been able to claim back 85 per cent their VAT on goods purchased in the UAE since November.

The remaining 15 per cent will be charged in administration fees to Planet, the global operator of the refund system.

The UAE introduced a VAT charge of five per cent in January of last year.