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UAE tourist tax refunds rise 14% to 4.2m in 2023

Tax-free shopping for UAE tourists was introduced in the final quarter of 2018 Dubai Tourism
Tax-free shopping for UAE tourists was introduced in the final quarter of 2018

The UAE reported a 14.4 percent rise in tourist tax refund transactions, totalling 4.18 million in 2023.

The average transaction processed reached 11,460 per day, the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) said. No details were given on the total amount refunded.

Tourists and visitors can claim refund on VAT paid on purchases they made during their stay in the UAE.

Nearly 14 million electronic transactions for VAT refunds to tourists have been processed since the system’s inception in November 2018 until the end of 2023, state-run Wam news agency reported, quoting Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director-general of FTA.

The total annual number of electronic transactions executed for tax refunds to tourists has grown continuously in recent years thanks to the recovery in tourism to the UAE, he added.

The network of e-linked retail stores participating in the tourist VAT refund system reached 16,480 by the end of 2023, compared with 10,260 stores in 2020.

Tourist VAT refund procedures are fully automated and completed within two minutes, Al Bustani said.

The number of self-service VAT refund devices increased to 85 in 2023, up from 71 in 2020.

The FTA introduced a 5 percent VAT in January 2018 and launched a 100 percent digital tax-free shopping service for tourists in the final quarter of the same year.

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