This refund needs to be claimed at the time of leaving the UAE and you need to follow certain steps even as you shop, to make sure you are eligible for the VAT refund. Image Credit: COURTESY Twitter@DXB

Dubai: Are you visiting the UAE for a quick shopping trip? If so, you are eligible for a refund on the Value Added Tax (VAT) of five per cent, which can make your shopping experience even better.

However, this refund needs to be claimed at the time of leaving the UAE and you need to follow certain steps even as you shop, to make sure you are eligible for the VAT refund.

Here are five things you should keep in mind when shopping in the UAE as a tourist, to claim a refund on VAT.

In January 2018, the UAE’s Federal Tax Authority (FTA) introduced VAT of five per cent in January 2018 and announced digital tax-free shopping service for tourists later that year.
This means that eligible tourists in the UAE can enjoy tax-free shopping by requesting a refund on the VAT incurred on their purchases.
The company Planet is the exclusive operator of the tax refund system for tourists, which FTA executes in the UAE and most popular stores are registered with the scheme, it means that when you shop there, you can apply for a tax-free purchase and secure the VAT refund when leaving the UAE. The refunds are processed at various land, sea, or airports in the UAE.
Source: UAE’s official government portal -

1. Are you eligible for a VAT refund?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

You need to fulfil the following conditions to be able to claim a VAT refund:

• You are not a resident in the UAE.
• You are not a crew member working on a flight or aircraft departing from the UAE.
• You have a minimum spend of Dh250 at a store in the UAE.
• You must be at least 18 years old.
• Your goods are purchased from a retailer, who is registered under the ‘Tax Refund for Tourists’ scheme. You should ask your shop regarding this before you purchase anything from there.
• You obtain customs verification approval on the VAT refund within 90 days from your purchase date. You will not be able to get customs verification after 90 days.
• You export your goods from the UAE within 90 days from the date of purchase.
• You have not consumed your goods, either fully or partly.
• Your purchased goods don’t include motor vehicles, boats, and aircrafts.
• You have the goods with you when you claim your refund.
• You have the required documents, including receipts of the purchase, at the time of claiming the refund.

2. Things to remember when shopping

When you are shopping in the UAE, firstly, you will need to make sure that you have your passport with you. At the store, you can request for a ‘tax-free purchase’, which is valid on a minimum expenditure of Dh250.

Secondly, when making the payment for the item, present your passport, which the shop assistance will scan to create a tax-free purchase in the system.

Merchants may either provide you with a physical receipt, with a Planet tax-free tag affixed to the back of the receipt, or have a paperless system in place, where you will receive the digital invoice with a tax-free tag via email.

You will see a QR code on this tax-free label, which you can scan to go to the ‘Planet Shopper portal’. This portal will contain details of all your tax-free transactions. The portal will also guide you on the steps you need to complete to claim the VAT refund.

Another thing to remember is that you must validate this transaction at the airport within 90 days of the purchase date.

3. Where can I get apply for the refund?

You can access Planet refund points at these locations:

Airport locations

• Abu Dhabi International Airport (at the common area between all terminals)
• Dubai International Airport (validation points are located at Terminal 1, 2 and 3)
• Sharjah International Airport
• Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC)
• Al Ain International Airport
• Ras Al Khaimah International Airport


• Port Zayed - Abu Dhabi
• Port Rashid - Dubai
• Port Khalid – Sharjah

Land borders

• Al Ghuwaifat - At the border with Saudi Arabia
• Al Hili, Al Ain - At the border with Oman
• Al Madeef, Al Ain - At the border with Oman
• Hatta - At the border with Oman
• Khatmat Malaha - At the border with Oman

What to do at the airport to collect the VAT refund

At the airport, you can ask for the Planet kiosk or validation point, to apply for a VAT refund before checking in your luggage.

At the kiosk, you will need to have all the goods you have purchased under the tax-free purchase ready for inspection and present the following documents:

• the tax invoices,
• passport copy and,
• a copy of your credit card.

Next, choose your refund method – cash (in UAE dirhams), refund to your credit card, or refund to a digital wallet.

It takes up to nine days for the refund request to be processed and the amount to be reflected in your account.

How much refund will I receive?

You will receive 85 per cent of the total VAT amount paid, after the deduction of a fee of Dh4.80 per tax-free tag.