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Federal Tax Authority: Tourists Will Now Be Able to Reclaim VAT Using Self-Service Kiosks at Malls and Hotels
The scheme’s expansion will kick off with 9 kiosks as a first step, gradually increasing to 55 kiosks by end of 2020. Applicants can scan their boarding pass at kiosks to prove they will be leaving the UAE in the next 24 hours. The service is already available at air, land, and maritime entry and exit ports across the UAE. H.E. Khalid Al Bustani: Ongoing development efforts have been successful in facilitating better services that enhance the UAE’s reputation as a leading tourism hub.

The Value Added Tax (VAT) Recovery Self-Service Kiosks for Tourists scheme has been extended to be available at main shopping malls and hotels, in addition to the existing ones at air, land, and maritime entry and exit ports throughout the UAE, announced the Federal Tax Authority (FTA).

The expansion targets to provide extra services to tourists, enhancing the UAEs status as a leading destination on the global tourism map. Planet the corporation authorized by the FTA to operate the electronic system for the Tax Refunds for Tourists Scheme debuted 9 self-service kiosks in stage one of enforcing the plan, setting them up at multiple shopping malls and hotels. The kiosks are outfitted with latest technology allowing them to completely process VAT refund requests for tourists.

In a press statement issued on February 10, 2020, the Authority explained that the kiosks enable travelers to process their requests to recover VAT from the comfort of their resort or at main 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 easy 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 His Excellency Khalid Ali Al Bustani asserted that expanding the scope of self-service kiosk for the Tourists Refunds to encompass malls and hotels in addition to exit ports is part of the Authoritys strategy to constantly boost its services, enhance efficiency and performance, facilitate procedures, and make sure customer happiness, in line with the vision of the UAEs wise leadership to make the UAE one of the most advanced countries in the world by 2021.

Our aim from expanding the self-service kiosk is to grant further amenities and more alternatives for vacationers searching to recover taxes, H.E. added. Eligible tourists who meet the necessary standards for reclaiming the VAT they incurred on their purchases in the UAE can process their refund applications from the comfort of their own hotels or from a list of main shopping malls across the country.

This modern day improvement further upgrades the services we offer through the electronic system of the Tourists Refund Scheme, which has seen increasing success and a growing number of users taking benefit of its speed and ease of use, H.E. Al Bustani explained. This establishes the system as one of our most advantageous equipment to promote tourism, and cement the countrys status as a leading tourist destination with world-class infrastructure, sites, and events.

The FTA Director General mentioned that taskforces from the Federal Tax Authority are conducting ongoing field inspections to make sure the system is operating in accordance with stringent quality requirements 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 every day average number of tax refund transactions for travelers grew 2.64 times from 3,720 in the schemes first month to 9,830 every day transactions in December 2019.

Moreover, the number of retail shops linked with the system elevated to 12,310 stores throughout the UAE, while the network of self-service kiosks allowing vacationers to recover VAT at exit ports across 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 publish their requests to recover the taxes they incurred on purchases in the UAE when they are about to depart from the country. Applicants have to 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 restriction is placed on the maximum amount that can be recovered if stated amount is transferred to the vacationers credit card, however, in the event that the applicant requests a money refund, then the most 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 throughout the UAE.

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 obvious requirements and standards for processing refund requests for overseas tourists, and improving the UAEs status as a leading destination on the international tourism map.

The Schemes electronic system consists of integrated mechanisms to connect retail stores registered with the Authority and wishing to register for the Tourists Refunds Scheme, linking them to the UAEs ports of entry. This, in turn, allows vacationers to apply for tax refunds on their purchases via the system, which operates on the modern 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 want to have been issued by the retail stores included in the Scheme and registered in the system; these venues can be recognized by visibly showcasing Tax-Free stickers on their storefronts.

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