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What is VAT?

Value Added Tax (or VAT) is an indirect tax. Occasionally you might also see it referred to as a type of general consumption tax. In a country which has a VAT, it is imposed on most supplies of goods and services that are bought and sold.


VAT is one of the most common types of consumption tax found around the world. Over 150 countries have implemented VAT (or its equivalent, Goods and Services Tax), including all 29 European Union members, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia.


VAT is charged at each step of the ‘supply chain’. Ultimate consumers generally bear the VAT cost while businesses collect and account for the tax, in a way acting as a tax collector on behalf of the government.

What is the difference between VAT and Sales Tax?

A sales tax is also a consumption tax, just like VAT. For the general public there may be no observable difference between how the two types of taxes work, but there are some key differences. In many countries, sales taxes are only imposed on transactions involving goods. In addition, sales tax is only imposed on the final sale to the consumer. This contrasts with VAT which is imposed on goods and services and is charged throughout the supply chain, including on the final sale. VAT is also imposed on imports of goods and services so as to ensure that a level playing field is maintained for domestic providers of those same goods and services.

Why is the UAE implementing VAT?

The UAE Federal and Emirate governments provide citizens and residents with many different public services – including hospitals, roads, public schools, parks, waste control, and police services. These services are paid for from the government budgets. VAT will provide the UAE with a new source of income which will contribute to the continued provision of high quality public services into the future. It will also help government move towards its vision of reducing dependence on oil and other hydrocarbons as a source of revenue.

Why does the UAE need to coordinate VAT implementation with other GCC countries?

The UAE is part of a group of countries which are closely connected through “The Economic Agreement Between the GCC States” and “The GCC Customs Union”. The GCC group of nations have historically worked together in designing and implementing new public policies as such a collaborative approach is best for the

What is the standard rate of VAT in the UAE?

The standard rate of VAT in the UAE is 5%.

How does the government collect VAT?

Businesses are responsible for carefully documenting their business income and costs and associated VAT charges. Registered businesses and traders charge VAT to all of their customers at the prevailing rate and incur VAT on goods / services that they buy from suppliers. The difference between these sums is reclaimed or paid to the government.

How can one object to the decisions of the Authority?

Any person is able to object to a decision of the Federal Tax Authority.


As a first step, the person shall request the FTA to reconsider its decision. Such request of reconsideration has to be made within 20 business days from the date the person was notified of the original decision of the FTA, and the FTA will have 20 business days from receipt of such application to provide its revised decision.


If the person is not satisfied with the revised decision of the FTA, it will be able to object to the Tax Disputes Resolution Committee which will be set up for these purposes. Objections to the Committee will need to be submitted within 20 business days from the date the person was notified of the FTA’s revised decision, and the person must pay all taxes and penalties subject of objection before

How do I include my Customs Registration in my records at the FTA?

Log into the FTA e-Services portal via E-SERVICES, and go to EDIT on the VAT section and enter your Customs Registration Number. This will automatically update your records.


Who can or will be able to register for VAT?


A business must register for VAT if its taxable supplies and imports exceed the mandatory registration threshold of AED 375,000.


Furthermore, a business may choose to register for VAT voluntarily if its supplies and imports are less than the mandatory registration threshold, but exceed the voluntary registration threshold of AED 187,500.


Similarly, a business may register voluntarily if its expenses exceed the voluntary registration threshold. This latter opportunity to register voluntarily is designed to enable start-up businesses with no turnover to register for VAT.

Businesses Questions

New around here ? Start With the Basics

What are the VAT-related responsibilities of businesses?

VAT-registered businesses generally:


  1. must charge VAT on taxable goods or services they supply;
  2. may reclaim any VAT they have paid on business-related goods or services;
  3. keep a range of VAT related business records (e.g. Tax invoices);
  4. report their taxable supplies and purchases in periodic VAT returns.

What does a business need to do to prepare for VAT?

Businesses will need to meet certain requirements to fulfil their tax obligations. To fully comply with VAT, businesses will need to consider the VAT impact on their core operations, financial management and book-keeping, technology, and perhaps even their human resource mix (e.g., accountants and tax advisors). It is essential that businesses try to understand the implications of VAT and make every effort to align their business model to government reporting and compliance requirements.

When are businesses supposed to start registering for VAT?

A Person required to register for VAT needs to submit a registration application to the FTA within 30 days of being required to register.


Registration applications shall be submitted via the e-Services Portal on the FTA website.

When are registered businesses required to file VAT returns?

Taxpayers must file VAT returns with the FTA on a regular basis (quarterly or for a shorter period, should the FTA decide so) within 28 days from the end of the tax period in accordance with the procedures specified in the VAT legislation. The Tax returns shall be filed online using e Services.


  • Each Taxable Person shall:
    1. Prepare the Tax Return for each Tax Period for each Tax within the time limit of registration in accordance with the Tax Law.
    2. Submit the Tax Return to the Authority in accordance with the provisions of this Law and the Tax Law.
    3. Settle any Payable Tax as specified in the Tax Return or any Tax Assessment within the timeframe specified in this Law and the Tax Law.
    4. Any incomplete Tax Return submitted to the Authority shall be treated as not having been accepted by it if it does not include the basic information determined by the Tax Law.
    5. Each Taxable Person is responsible for the accuracy of the information and data in the Tax Return and in all his correspondence with the Authority.
    6. Each Taxpayer shall settle any Administrative Penalties prescribed within the period of time specified in this Law and the Tax Law.

What kind of records are businesses required to maintain, and for how long?

Businesses are required to keep records which will enable the Federal Tax Authority to identify the details of the business activities and review transactions. The documents which are required and the time period for keeping them are prescribed in Federal Law no. (7) of 2017 on Federal Tax procedures and the Cabinet Decision No. (36) of 2017 on the Executive

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