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How Visiting Foreign Businesses Can Claim VAT Refund in UAE

Eligible foreign businesses visiting the United Arab Emirates can enjoy refunds on taxes paid while in the country. Read on to learn how a visiting unregistered foreign business can claim a VAT refund in UAE.

Steps to Reclaim VAT Refund for Visiting Foreign Businesses in UAE  

The steps on how to reclaim VAT under the Business Visitors Refund scheme are outlined below.   

Step 1: Make an E-service Account on the FTA Website

To get access to the Refund Form, you'll first need to open an e-Services account using the Federal Tax Authority's e-Services portal. On the website of the FTA, you will see that in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, there is the option to Register for the FTA e-Services account or Log in to your e-Services account. 

To make an account, all you need to do is click the "Sign up" button that is located on the homepage. In order to register, you are required to provide a valid email address, as well as a password that is between 6 and 20 characters long and contains at least one of the following:   

  • a single digit;
  • a letter; and
  • a special character (for example, $, #, %, @, or *).

You are required to demonstrate that you are a legitimate user by passing an alphanumeric verification test that is going to be presented. 

Lastly, you will be required to choose a security question, offer an answer, and a suggestion in case you forget the answer. Before you click the "Sign up" button, please make sure you have read and are willing to abide by the tax authority's Terms and Conditions in regard to utilizing the official website and e-Services.  

Step 2: Verify the E-services Account You’ve Created

You will be contacted through email at the address you provided during registration, requesting that you verify the email address. To do this, click on the text that says "Click here to validate your email" that is included in the main body of the verification email that you've received. If you do not verify the email address within twenty-four (24) hours of submitting the request to make an FTA e-Services account, the validation link will become invalid, and you will be required to register for the service once more. Your FTA e-Services account is created after you have successfully validated your email address, and you will then be invited to access your account for the very first time.  

Step 3: Make a “taxable Person” Account

In order to access the Business Visitors Refund Form after first creating an FTA e-Services account, you'll need to establish your taxable person account in the user dashboard of the e-Services portal. This registration is just to give you access to the services provided by the e-Services portal. After registering for e-Services, you or the account admin will have the opportunity to make one or more accounts for taxable persons, giving you the capacity to administer or access various accounts. To do this, navigate to "Online User Dashboard" and then look for the button labeled "Add a New Taxable Person."  

 Click on that button. After you have both the English and Arabic versions of the taxable person's legal name entered, you can proceed to click the button labeled "Create Taxable Person." A taxable person account is going to be added to the database automatically and there is no approval required. After that, you will be able to access your account. Simply click on the option that says, "Access Taxable Person's account."  

 Step 4: Access the Business Visitors Refund Form

To learn how to access the Business Visitors Refund Form from the FTA portal, click the ‘VAT’ section then the button for Business Visitors Refunds. This will lead you onto the dashboard for Refund Requests for Business Visitors. In the dashboard, you will be able to make a request via the Refund Form and manage the existing forms. You can also view your history for requests.  

 The various documents that you will be asked to submit are as follows:  

  • Tax Compliance Certificate (Original copy, can be a commercial activities certificate, business status certificate, or the equivalent either in English or Arabic issued by a relevant competent tax authority which reflects the tax registration number of the business and attested by the UAE Embassy within the country of VAT registration) 
  • Arabic or English declaration indicating percentage or level of input tax recoverable – this is if you are VAT registered in your respective jurisdiction and undertaking non-business or exempt activities in the country of establishment.  
  • Relevant tax invoices – invoices must come complete with the proof of payment and tax registration number in order to support the claim under the Business Visitors Refund scheme. The UAE Federal Tax Authority has the discretion to reject an invalid tax invoice e.g. when the tax invoice has an invalid or incorrect tax registration number.  
  • Proof of Authority of authorized signatory  
  • Passport copy of authorized signatory

Step 5: Review the Status of the Request

 Aside from knowing how to get a VAT refund in UAE for business visitors, you may also be wondering how to check the status of the request for a business visitor's VAT refund. You can review your request’s status by clicking on the button, “Business Visitors Refund,” which is found in the portal’s VAT section. The status or progress of the request may reflect any of the following:  

  • Drafted - The "Draft" state is established for a VAT refund request whenever the Form is launched for the first time. This indicates that the Form is waiting for completion and confirmation before it can be processed. 
  • Approved – this is following the Refund request that has been submitted to the FTA and it’s been approved by the officers.  
  • Completed – it is when the application for VAT refund has been approved by the FTA and the applicant has received the refund.  
  • Pending – it is for a refund application which still needs to go through validation checks.  
  • Resubmit – this status means the tax authority has received the application and reviewed the documents and information provided but requires additional documents and/or details. The requested information will be sent to the Online User or Authorized Signatory’s email address. It is also possible for the Federal Tax Authority to leave comments on the Refund Form. But, the ‘Resubmit’ status may also be a validation error that has been found. 
  • Reject – it is for an application that’s rejected for a VAT refund under the Business Visitors VAT reclaim arrangement.  

If you want to know how to get your money back using the UAE Business Visitors VAT Refund scheme and get expert assistance on the process, book an appointment with Farahat & Co's tax agent in UAE today! 

Read More : Procedure for VAT Refunds for Taxable Persons in UAE

Ervee is a CPA with international experience in Tax and Accounting. He has over 12 years of experience in accounting and bookkeeping and over a year in VAT implementation, registration, and accounting in UAE. He regularly drives out inefficiencies in company operations and loves the challenge of helping clients find additional ways for an easier and improved compliance and verification of transactions.