Self-Service Kiosks to Be Introduced Allowing Tourists to Recover VAT without Dealing with Employees

Tuesday 11 June 2019
Abu Dhabi - MENA Herald:

Self-service kiosks have been set up across all of the ports included in the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme in order to allow tourists to recover Value Added Tax (VAT) when leaving the UAE.

The kiosks are operated by Planet, the company enlisted by the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) to operate the system for the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme. Planet supplied the kiosks with the state-of-the-art technology needed to fully automate tax refund procedures. The system operator’s employees will be available near the self-service kiosks to offer assistance when needed.

FTA Director General His Excellency Khalid Ali Al Bustani asserted that the new service, launched in collaboration with the company hired to operate the system, provides greater ease and speed in processing VAT refund requests for tourists on purchases they made during their stay in the UAE. The streamlined procedure identifies the taxes eligible for refunds, verifies that the purchases are with the tourist, and then facilitates tax recovery.

“The self-service kiosks are a significant addition where tourists can recover VAT without needing to interact with employees,” said H.E. Al Bustani. “The kiosks were placed at all exit ports included in the Tax Refund Scheme for Tourists, where tourists can submit the tax invoices on their purchases, along with their passport and credit card, to recover VAT. No limit is placed on the maximum amount that can be recovered if said amount is transferred to the tourist’s credit card, however, in the event that the applicant requests a cash refund, then the maximum amount is set at AED10,000 per day.”

“The new service reflects our commitment to continuously upgrading our services,” H.E. added. “Our periodic follow-ups revealed a sustained increase in customer happiness with the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme, launched in November 2018 in collaboration with system operator Planet. This is part of the government’s plan to establish a legislative, executive, and technological ecosystem that would galvanise the tourism sector – one of the major contributors to national GDP, whereby the UAE has become a major destination for tourists and visitors, offering safety, hospitality, and world-class services.”

The electronic system of the Tax Refund Scheme for Tourists has registered significant success since its November launch, where the number of outlets connected to the system grew to 12 air, land and sea ports, including the Abu Dhabi International Airport; Al Ain International Airport; Dubai International Airport; Al Maktoum International Airport; Sharjah International Airport; and Ras Al Khaimah International Airport; as well as two sea ports: Zayed Port in Abu Dhabi and Port Rashid in Dubai; and four land ports: Al Ghuwaifat Border Post in Abu Dhabi, Hili Border Port and Al Madheef Border Crossing in Al Ain, and Dubai’s Hatta Border Exit.

Cabinet Decision No. (41) of 2018 on Introducing the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme; Federal Tax Authority Decision No. (1) of 2018 on the Requirements for Retailers to Participate in the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme; and FTA Decision No. (2) of 2018 on the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme outlined clear and transparent requirements and standards for processing refund requests for overseas tourists, and enhancing the UAE’s status as a leading destination on the global tourism map.

The Scheme’s electronic system consists of integrated mechanisms to connect retail stores registered with the Authority and wishing to register for the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme, linking them to the UAE’s ports of entry. This, in turn, allows tourists to apply for tax refunds on their purchases through the system, which operates on the latest technology, if they are eligible to recover VAT as per the terms and criteria specified in Cabinet Decision No. (41) and FTA Decisions No. (1) and (2) of 2018.

The Authority asserted that to be refundable, tax invoices need to have been issued by the retail stores included in the Scheme and registered in the system; these venues can be identified by visibly showcasing “Tax-Free” stickers on their storefronts.

The FTA had outlined several conditions for a tourist to be eligible for a tax refund, namely: The tourist in question is at least 18 years old; they must meet the criteria specified in Cabinet Decision No. (52) of 2018 regarding the Executive Regulations of Federal Decree-Law No. (8) of 2017 on VAT, whereby goods eligible for the Scheme are supplied to an overseas tourist who was on UAE soil when the purchase was made, and who intends to exit the UAE along with the purchased items within 90 days; Goods are also to be exported out of the UAE by the tourist within 3 months of the date of supply.

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