Electronic Tax Refund System for Tourists: A Pioneering FTA Initiative Driving Progress in the Tourism Industry

31/08/2022 Visiting and exploring the UAE | Federal Tax Authority

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The United Arab Emirates has firmly established itself among the fastest growing economies in the world - and one of the most resilient. Guided by the directives of its wise leadership, the UAE has rolled out a series of economic diversification policies that strengthen various key sectors of the economy. This includes tourism, which has consistently ranked as one of the biggest contributors to national GDP over the years and remains an industry with vast untapped potential for the future.

With that in mind, the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) collaborated with its strategic partners in the public and private sectors to introduce an advanced electronic system for refunding Value Added Tax (VAT) for tourists - the first of its kind in the world. The system embodies the UAE's progress, where the Emirates has established itself as a magnet for tourists and visitors from around the world, offering a safe environment, hospitable people, attractive landmarks, and events, in addition to the advanced tourist facilities and services it provides.

The user-friendly and highly efficient system has received positive feedback from tourists who benefitted from the quick VAT refund procedures it offers them on their purchases during their stay in the UAE. The integrated system accurately identifies and calculates refundable taxes, in accordance with international best practices, with built-in verification procedures that allow for determining applicants' eligibility for tax refunds as per the UAE's tax legislation.

The Electronic Tax Refund System for Tourists seamlessly connects 13 air, sea, and land ports around the UAE directly with thousands of FTA-registered stores and points of sale.

The Federal Tax Authority is constantly working on upgrading the system, and to that end, self-service kiosks were introduced at all air, land, and sea exit points covered by the system all around the country. Furthermore, the scope of services has been expanded to include 90 kiosks set up around all ports of exit for tourists leaving the UAE, as well as in various hotels and major commercial centers.

The kiosks offer tourists a fully automated process to complete their tax refund procedures in around two minutes. Applicants need only submit the Tax Invoices for their purchases with their original passport and credit card. They can simply scan their boarding pass to confirm they will be travelling out of the UAE within 24 hours, and there is no cap on the amount that can be recovered through a direct refund into the credit card.

For its part, Planet - the company authorized by the FTA to operate the system - manages the devices and deploys employees to be available near the self-service kiosks and provide assistance to tourists when needed.

The Electronic VAT Refund System for Tourists is a key pillar of the Federal Tax Authority's strategy to meet customer expectations and enhance the quality of life in the UAE. It falls in line with the UAE Government's efforts to develop the country's tourism infrastructure and introduce an integrated system to support and invigorate the tourism sector.



Khalid Ali Al Bustani,

Director General of the Federal Tax Authority

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