Unlimited VAT refunds for tourists visiting UAE

Tourists visiting the UAE have a reason for joy as the government has set no minimum limit for tourists' VAT refund, which will come into effect from Sunday, November 18.

Gary Byrne, director of new markets and group strategic partnership at Planet, said the daily maximum VAT refund for tourists has been capped at Dh10,000 in cash. But if the refund claim exceeds that amount, then the funds will be transferred electronically to the tourist.

"If it is a cash refund, then the limit is Dh10,000 and if it is unlimited, then the tourist will be refunded by transferring the amount electronically to his/her account, debit or credit cards," Byrne told 

Planet will manage the entire process for tourist VAT refunds on behalf of the UAE's Federal Tax Authority (FTA).

Byrne revealed that the number of companies registering for the tourist VAT refund scheme are expected to more than double from currently 4,500-plus to 6,000 by the end of 2018 and 10,000 by early next year.

The registered companies come from all sectors, mainly electronics, gold traders, general traders, souks and others, he added.

"Most of the malls and retail groups have been engaged with us and are ready for VAT refund. We are engaging on a multi-level to have everyone on board. Yes, 100 per cent of major malls and retail groups are ready," he said.

Byrne expects most of the VAT refund from tourists will be from purchases of gold jewellery, electronics and luxury goods.