VAT Refund for Exhibitions and Conferences in UAE

The VAT Refund for Exhibitions and Conferences in UAE scheme is considered an effective initiative by the FTA authorities, and it proves to be helpful to hotels and event planners in luring visitors to conferences and events in the UAE. Contact our HLB HAMT experts for more information and service-related queries about the VAT Refund for Exhibitions and Conferences.

Exhibition: Any event held, for no longer than 7 days, to display, show or present Goods or Services, in accordance with a permit issued from the competent government entity.

Conference: Any formal meeting held, for no longer than 7 days, attended by people with a shared interest, in accordance with a permit issued from the competent government entity.

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    The Supplier providing the Exhibition and Conference Services will charge VAT at 5% in respect of the Services. However, in certain situations, the Supplier will be able to refund the VAT amount that it charges on the Services as long as the Supplier does not collect the VAT amount from the International Customer – therefore, in effect, passing the benefit of the refund to the International Customer by ensuring that UAE VAT is not a cost to the Customer.

    The VAT refund for exhibitions and conferences is beneficial for the organizers as well as the business visitors attending such events in the UAE.

    Providing VAT refund on Services supplied to International Customers

    Before being able to supply Services to International Customers under the refund scheme without collecting VAT, the Supplier must obtain a number of documents from the customers.

    Documents to be collected from International Customers

    The Supplier should collect from the International Customer a declaration which states that the International Customer:

    • Does not have a Place of Establishment or a Fixed Establishment in the UAE; and
    • Is not registrant or required to register for VAT in the UAE.

    To ensure that there is no uncertainty regarding the usage of any declaration, the declaration should also provide the details of the parties and Services to which it relates.

    Material requirements for template declaration

    Declaration Template Format

    Registration requirements in the UAE for International customers

    The VAT refund scheme only applies where the relevant Services are provided to customers who are not residents in the UAE and are not registered or required to register for VAT in the UAE. Therefore, the ability to receive the refund will be lost if the customer is required to register for VAT in the UAE – which could happen, for example, if the non-resident customer started making supplies in the UAE.

    Thus, the International Customer may be selling goods/services during the Exhibition or Conference. This triggers an obligation for the Customer to register for VAT and account for VAT on the supplies, therefore making it ineligible to obtain Exhibition and Conference Services under the VAT refund scheme.


    Where the non-resident event organiser is selling tickets to resident and non-resident customers, the international event organiser must register with the FTA and collect VAT from the UAE residents. A licence will still be provided to the non-resident event organiser to be able to provide VAT refund to the non-resident customers. However, due to the VAT registration, the non-resident event organiser will not be able to receive a VAT refund themselves in respect of any space provided to them by a licensed hotel, but such VAT may then be deducted on their VAT return.

    Note: there is no minimum threshold for non-resident suppliers of goods and services in the UAE – that is, such suppliers may be required to register for VAT if they make any taxable supplies in the UAE.

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