Tourist Refund Scheme in UAE
Claiming VAT Refunds in UAE for Tourists: Who is Eligible?
Overseas Tourists are eligible for this type of refund. In the law, a tourist is defined as any natural person who is not resident in any of the Implementing States and who is not a crew member on a flight or aircraft leaving an Implementing State. Please note that currently, all GCC countries are considered as Non-Implementing States of the GCC VAT Treaty and therefore visitors from the other GCC states will be able to claim VAT refunds on their UAE shopping. Please note the tourist should be 18 years old or over to be eligible to claim a refund.
Procedures and Steps
- Purchase of goods eligible for a refund from retailers registered under the Tourist Tax Refund Scheme.
- Request tax-free tags from the registered retailers upon purchasing the goods.
- Provide identification documents such as a valid passport or national ID card (based on the requirements to enter the UAE).
- Collect the tax-free tags from the registered retailers.
- Present the tax-free tags and purchased goods at Planet’s validation desks in the exit points, if requested, or scan them at the kiosks available in the exit points, hotels, or shopping malls.
- Select the refund method (Credit Card or WeChat or Cash).
- Present the boarding pass for air or sea borders.
Frequently Asked Questions
What goods are eligible?
All taxable goods are eligible except for:
- Goods that have been consumed, in full or in part, in the UAE;
- Goods that are not accompanied by the overseas tourist at the time of leaving UAE
- Motor vehicles, boats and aircraft.
Do goods have to be exported in original packaging?
No, but goods and original packaging will have to be available for inspection to confirm that the goods are newly purchased.
How much does a tourist have to spend to qualify for Tax-Free shopping?
The minimum purchase amount is AED 250 per Tax-Free Tag. This can be made up of more than one purchase within the same store group on the same day.
Is there a maximum amount the tourist can spend?
How much is the refund?
The refund is 85% of the VAT minus 4.80 AED per Tax-Free Tag.
How much time does the tourist have to export the goods and have the Tax-Free Tag validated?
The tourist must export the goods and have the Tax-Free Tag validated within 3 months of purchase otherwise a tax-free refund is not possible.
Is a refund under the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme permissible on partially consumed goods? (Dates, chocolates, perfume)
Is a refund under the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme permissible on partially used goods? For example, I start using my iPhone while in UAE
Yes (e.g., smartphones) as long as they are accompanied by the original packaging when validating their export at the exit point.
What happens if 5 boxes are on the Tax-Free Tag, one box is consumed and 4 other boxes are exported?
The refund may only be claimed on the 4 boxes that are being exported.
What if the tourist purchases the goods and then asks for the purchase to be added to an existing Tax-Free Tag? What if he asks on the following day?
The tourist can consolidate up to 8 receipts on the same day of purchase from the same store group.
If the tourist does not have their passport details on them at the time of purchase, can the tax refund form be issued?
No, as a minimum, the original or copy of the passport or GCC ID details are needed.
If the tourist has purchased goods and lost the invoice, can they come back to the merchant to issue a new Tax-Free Tag?
No, as the purchase invoice is required (the Tax-Free Tag is attached to the purchase invoice).
Is it necessary to issue a Tax-Free Tag for a tourist to get a refund?
Yes, a Tax-Free Tag must be attached to each invoice to obtain a tax refund.
Does the tourist have to present Tax-Free Tags at the time of refund when leaving the UAE?
The invoice must be attached to the Tax-Free Tag and presented at the airport as part of the refund process. If not, the tourist will not receive their tax-free refund at the exit point. Invoice wallets will be handed to tourists at the stores to keep their Tax-Free Tag purchases organized.
Can I claim a refund if the payment is made by my friend or relative using cash or credit card?
Yes, as long as the tourist exporting the goods is present during the purchase, and it is the exporter’s information that is completed for the VAT refund.
How many days will it take for a credit card Refund?
Card refunds are typically processed by Planet within 10 days, excluding the banks or credit card company’s own processing times.
Is there any charge for a refund in cash?
There is no charge for a refund in cash. However, if a tourist wishes to exchange the refund from AED into another currency, the Cash Refund Agent’s advertised exchange rates would be applied.
Is a cash refund available on both the airside and landside at airports?
Where available, a cash refund will only be given at the airside.
Is there any additional cost to get a refund on a credit card by Planet or my bank?
There would be a standard currency exchange rate that would be applied to convert funds into the cardholder’s currency (where currency is not AED).
What happens if there is no cash refund counter at the border point?
The refund will be made by credit card, debit card or e-voucher where applicable.
What happens if some goods are too large to carry and have to be shipped?
Goods must be available for inspection at the validation point. The validation point will be before checking in, luggage drop-off and security. The goods must be accompanied by the tourist when leaving the UAE so if they are shipped via courier, they are not eligible goods under this scheme.
Who does the tourist need to contact if there is a delay in the refund?
Tourists are advised to track their refund by scanning the QR code on the Tax-Free Tag using a smartphone, and that will take them to a unique tracking page to see further details. If further assistance is required, the tourist can contact the Planet Customer Services team.
What happens if the refund cannot be collected at the point of departure because there is no time or there is a long queue?
The Tax-Free Tag must be validated at departure, or no refund can be made. However, a tourist can provide card details later to obtain the refund once goods have been validated if they didn’t have time to get a refund.
What happens if the tourist claims their VAT refund and a relative then tries to refund or exchange the goods?
The person requesting the refund must be the person whose name and passport number is recorded in the Tax-Free Tag transaction. The return of goods is allowed before the Tax-Free Tag has been validated at the point of exit (the merchant will have to void the Tax-Free Tag following Planet’s procedures). Returns are not allowed after the tourist has validated the Tax-Free Tag at the point of exit from the UAE.
What happens when a tourist buys goods in the UAE and returns the goods in participating stores in the UAE or abroad (if allowed by the merchant)?
Returns are allowed before the Tax-Free Tag has been validated at the point of exit (the merchant will have to void the Tax-Free Tag following Planet’s procedures). Returns are not allowed after the tourist has validated the Tax-Free Tag at the point of exit from the UAE.
What are the timings of the merchant support helpline?
The merchant support helpline will be available 7 days a week from 10 am to midnight (and 2 am for holidays when extended store hours are in place). Emails can be sent at any time.
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