VAT Refund Dubai Guide

VAT Refund in Dubai – A Concise Guide

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Visited Dubai recently and did some shopping? Had some delicious meals at restaurants? Or spent on a comfortable hotel stay? If yes, you must have paid 5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on those expenses.

But here’s the good part – you can claim back this VAT amount by following a simple systematic process outlined in this article.

Whether you are a tourist or a business traveller, this comprehensive guide will explain exactly how to get VAT refunds in Dubai in 6 easy-to-follow steps:

Step 1: Check If You Are Eligible for VAT Refund

Before applying for a VAT refund, first see if you qualify for recovering the tax paid in Dubai:

For Tourists

As a short-term visitor to UAE, you can get back VAT paid only on goods purchased from retail stores worth at least AED 250.

To qualify, you must:

  • Exit Dubai within 90 days from the date of purchase
  • Carry the goods along with original purchase invoices while leaving

For example, if you purchased an Armani handbag worth AED 1,250 during your Dubai trip, you can recover VAT on that purchase.

For Business Travelers

If you traveled to Dubai for work like conferences, meetings, trade shows etc. you can also reclaim VAT paid on:

  • Business expenses – hotels, restaurants, transport, conferences
  • Goods and services purchased in the UAE

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Have a tax registration/license in your home country
  • Do not operate or reside in the UAE
  • Provide overseas business proofs and documents

In addition, certain professions like lawyers, engineers, doctors, accountants etc. can also claim VAT refunds under specific rules.

Key Tip: Carefully preserve all original invoices and receipts until exiting Dubai.

Step 2: Gather Supporting Documents

To submit the VAT refund claim, gather the following documents for proof:

For Tourists

  • Passport copy
  • Flight boarding pass
  • Original tax invoices and purchase receipts
  • Goods purchased from Dubai
  • Refund application form

For Business Travelers

  • Passport copy
  • Overseas business license
  • Original UAE tax invoices
  • Entry stamp on passport
  • Bank statements showing payments done
  • Refund application form

Recommendation: Take clear scanned soft copies or well-lit photos of all documents as a backup.

Step 3: Calculate Total Eligible VAT Amount

Now comes the number crunching part:

  • Carefully go through the tax invoices and receipts
  • Identify the VAT amount clearly listed – usually named “VAT 5%”
  • Add up all the 5% VAT values visible on the invoices
  • The total is what you can claim as refund

Note: VAT refund applies only on the actual amount you paid from your own pocket. It excludes:

  • Discounted amounts
  • Taxes paid by someone else (company, client) on your behalf

So factor this in while calculating total.

Step 4: Submit VAT Refund Application

You can submit the reclaim application through two channels:

Online Submission

The recommended approach is via the FTA e-Services portal:

  • Firstly, register yourself on the portal
  • Enter details like passport number, invoices etc
  • Upload scanned copies of all documents

This method is straightforward, fast and convenient.

Manual Submission

You can also manually submit hard copies of documents at the Customs VAT Refunds Desk:

  • Locate desks after the immigration counters at Dubai airports
  • Fill up required application form
  • Attach original invoices, goods purchased
  • Obtain the claim reference number receipt

But online method is simpler and faster.

Key Point:All claims must be filed within 6 months from the tax invoice purchase date, irrespective of submission method.

Step 5: Track Status and Receive Refund

It takes between 5 to 20 working days to process VAT refunds claims in Dubai.

You can track status over:

  • Text messages
  • Email notifications

Once approved, the refund amount gets directly credited to your:

  • Local UAE bank account (for companies)
  • International bank account via wire transfer
  • Credit card account

So keep your bank and card details updated in your VAT refund portal account.

Step 6: Reapply in Case of Rejection

If your VAT refund claim gets rejected, stay calm. Here is what you can do:

  • Wrong documents – Carefully check requirements and resubmit accurate documents
  • Incorrect details – Review details entered and correct wherever necessary
  • Missed deadline – Unfortunately you cannot reclaim VAT if past 6 months of purchase

In most cases, claims are processed without issues if all invoices and details are proper. Get a VAT consultant’s assistance for added convenience.

Additional Tips for Smooth VAT Refunds

  • Preserve all original tax invoices and receipts safely as they are mandatory for claims. Digital copies won’t suffice.
  • There is no minimum invoice value rule – you can aggregate VAT amounts across all big and small invoices.
  • Opt for direct bank transfer refund payment mode for faster disbursal.
  • Maintain a systematic record of all documents submitted to avoid back and forth.
  • Certain categories like hotel stays, healthcare, education expenses etc may not qualify for VAT refunds.


Recovering VAT paid on your Dubai trip is a simple systematic process– just file the claim early online, keep purchase invoices safely and provide accurate details. Maintaining documents properly ensures quick approvals and refunds directly to your bank account in 20 days!

So keep all Dubai shopping and dining receipts handy to get back the VAT amount! Seek a VAT consultant’s help if needed.


How long does it take to receive VAT refund in Dubai?

It takes around 5 to 20 working days to get VAT refunds via bank transfer after approval. For credit card refunds, allow up to 30 days processing time.

Can I claim VAT refund for hotel expenses?

No, VAT paid on hotel stays or accommodation is not eligible for refund claims in Dubai or UAE.

Is there any minimum purchase value for VAT refund eligibility?

There is no minimum amount limit for overall refund claims. However, each purchase invoice should have at least AED 250 VAT amount to qualify.

What documents do I need from hotels for VAT refund?

You cannot claim VAT refunds on hotel expenses. You need original tax invoices and receipts from retail stores, malls or other shops located in Dubai.



Ms. Vibha Modi, CA, is supported by 13+ Years of Corporate Tax, International Taxation and Accounting Expertise.

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