The Value Added Tax (VAT) Recovery Self-Service Kiosks for Tourists will be set up at major shopping malls and hotels, in addition to the existing ones at air, land, and maritime entry and exit ports across the UAE, the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) announced.
The expansion aims to provide additional services to tourists, enhancing the UAE’s status as a leading destination on the international tourism map. Planet – the company authorised by the FTA to operate the electronic system for the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme – debuted nine self-service kiosks in stage one of implementing the plan, setting them up at multiple shopping malls and hotels. The kiosks are equipped with state-of-the-art technology allowing them to fully process VAT refund requests for tourists.
The kiosks allow tourists to process their requests to recover VAT from the convenience of their hotel or at major malls in a matter of minutes. Applicants can scan their boarding pass to prove they will be leaving the UAE in the next 24 hours, as well as their original passport (or identity card for GCC nationals), and then follow the simple instructions displayed at the self-service kiosks. The Federal Tax Authority revealed that Planet intends to deploy up to 55 new self-service kiosks by the end of 2020 – 25 of which would be stationed in malls and 30 in hotels.
FTA Director General Khalid Ali Al Bustani asserted that expanding the scope of self-service kiosk for the Tourists Refunds to include malls and hotels is part of the Authority’s strategy to continuously develop its services, enhance efficiency and performance, facilitate procedures, and ensure customer happiness, in line with the vision of the UAE’s wise leadership to make the UAE one of the most advanced countries in the world by 2021.
The FTA Director General noted that task forces from the Federal Tax Authority are conducting ongoing field inspections to ensure the system is operating in accordance with stringent quality standards and conditions.
The number of digital transactions under the Tourists Refunds Scheme grew to 3.2 million in the period between its launch in November 2018 and the end of 2019. By end of June 2019, the total stood at 1.52 million transactions; the number leaped by 1.68 million applications in the second half of 2019, marking a staggering 110.53% growth during that period. Meanwhile, the daily average number of tax refund transactions for tourists grew 2.64 times from 3,720 in the scheme’s first month to 9,830 daily transactions in December 2019.
Moreover, the number of retail outlets linked with the system increased to 12,310 stores across the UAE, while the network of self-service kiosks allowing tourists to recover VAT at exit ports around the country grew to 52 – up by 79.3% from the total of 29 kiosks deployed as of July 2019. Planet operates all of these devices, which automate the entire tax recovery procedure.
Tourists can submit their requests to recover the taxes they incurred on purchases in the UAE when they are about to depart from the country. Applicants must submit the tax invoices on their purchases, marked with ‘Tax-Free’ stickers issued by retail outlets registered in the system, along with their passport and credit card. 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 AED7,000 per day. This process can be carried out at self-service kiosks, as well as at tax refund offices located at ports of exit across the UAE.
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.
Also published on Medium.