Tourists at Palm Island in Dubai. Image Credit: Sankha Kar/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Tourists will be able to claim back Value Added Tax (VAT) on any purchases they make in the UAE from November 18, it was announced yesterday.

The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) said that the Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme would go into effect next month, allowing eligible tourists to request refunds of the five per cent VAT incurred on their purchases.

The first phase will see the digital system of the Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme implemented at Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah International Airports, a statement from the FTA said.

As of mid-December, the system will be fully operational to include all airports and land and seaports in the UAE as stipulated in the Cabinet decision. The government says the move aims to strengthen the UAE’s position as a major global tourism destination.

The FTA explained that tax invoices issued starting from November 18, 2018, will qualify tourists who are eligible for a tax refund to reclaim taxes incurred on their purchases.

FTA Director-General Khalid Ali Al Bustani said in the statement that more than 4,000 retail outlets across the UAE will be connected electronically to the system, clarifying that only the invoices issued by retail outlets registered in the scheme and connected to the system are eligible for a refund.

These eligible outlets can be identified with posters displayed on their storefronts and visible to visitors, he said.