UAE rolls out world’s first paperless tax refund scheme for tourists


The UAE‘s federal tax authority, in partnership with Planet Tax Free, has launched a paperless tax refund scheme for tourists.

It is the first country to introduce a comprehensive digital system to process tax-free invoices electronically.

The scheme enables tourists to claim VAT refunds without using paper receipts.

Retailers would be connected with FTA and Planet Tax systems, and tourists can access all the VAT refund details via the Planet Tax website.

Tourists can collect the refund upon arrival at the airports, as their VAT refund data would be generated in advance, the tax authorities said.

This service will cover 95 per cent of the country’s merchants in the first year.

Director-general of the Federal Tax Authority, Khalid Ali Al Bustani, said: “The launch of the new innovative system is part of the authority’s continuous development plans, by adopting best-in-class standards to enhance UAE’s competitiveness in all sectors, including tourism.

“This is in line with the framework of the government’s digital strategy towards the smart transformation of its services.

Furthermore, focusing on the virtual management of proactive services provides an innovative model that reflects the leadership and excellence of the government work system in the UAE by proactively providing services for customers, to complete their transactions easily, easily and quickly.”

He added that the process is very efficient, and tourists can always check their refund amounts on the Planet portal once the invoice is posted.

Eyad Al Kourdi, general manager of Planet Tax Free and the exclusive operator of the tax refund system for tourists in the UAE, said the pilot phase of the paperless refund system started last November.

The UAE introduced a VAT of 5 per cent in 2018, enabling tourists who spend $68 on purchases to claim VAT refunds upon departure.

Tourist VAT refund transactions reached 2.31 million during the first eight months of this year.