Auditing, VAT, Accounting & Business Consultancy Services in UAE

VAT Refund Guide for EXPO 2020 Participants & Tourists

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  • Taxation
  • 2021-11-13
  • Mr. Wasim Firoz

VAT Refund Guide for EXPO 2020 Participants & Tourists

What Is A VAT Refund?

A VAT tax refund is the reimbursement of Value Added Tax paid on certain purchases. VAT is charged in many countries throughout the world. Non-resident tourists and companies located outside those countries are often eligible for VAT tax refunds for goods and services purchased for export or business purposes. There are certain restrictions and requirements that must be followed to be eligible for a VAT tax refund.

VAT Refund Expo 2020:

The UAE government has recently introduced Cabinet Decision No. 1 of 2020 on the “Refund of VAT paid on Goods and Services connected with the Expo 2020 Dubai”. Offices of the Official Participants will be able to claim a refund on the VAT incurred by them on the import or supply of certain goods and services which will be mentioned below.

Offices of the Official Participants are the representative offices of the Official Participants for the whole period of preparation, operation, dismantlement of the pavilion and execution of all necessary operations and various other activities for participation in the Expo 2020 Dubai.


Refund Application Process:

VAT registered participants can claim their Expo 2020 VAT refunds through normal.

For registrants in the FTA system:

  1. Log into the FTA account.
  2. Apply for refund as per the process available in the VAT refund user guide.
  3. The FTA will review and approve the request within 20 working days.


For Non-Registrants In The FTA System:

VAT Non-Registered applicants shall need to proceed with VAT refund application through a special VAT Refund request and must provide following information to the FTA.

  1. The official participant must provide the following documents to the EXPO 2020 office: (Submit the Special Refund sheet, Tax Invoices, Bank IBAN letter, EXPO license).
  2. The EXPO office will review the submitted documents and forward the request to the FTA through email to approve the refund amount claimed.
  3. The FTA will review and approve the refund requested and transfer the amount to the participant’s bank account.
  4. Reference number and date of the previous refund claim.
  5. Details of the supplies supported by original tax invoices / customs declarations.
  6. Description of the Goods and Services to demonstrate that they fall under the categories of eligible Goods and Services. 

In addition to the above following Supporting documents must also be provided:

  1. Copy of the Certificate of Entitlement issued to the Official Participant.
  2. Copies of the tax invoices, including simplified tax invoices. Only invoices issued
  3. to the eligible persons are allowed to be used to claim the refund.
  4. Copies of customs declarations issued in respect of imported Goods.
  5. -Copies of an employment ID that proves the employment of the personnel in
  6. respect of whom the VAT is being reclaimed.


What Type of VAT can be Reclaimed?

In normal scenarios, only VAT incurred in UAE for Goods and Services where they are connected or intended for making taxable supplies is refundable, however, if it’s not connected or intended for making taxable supplies, then it’s not refundable.


  1. However, with the introduction Cabinet Decision No. 1 of 2020 for the duration for Expo 2020, Offices of the Official Participants can claim VAT incurred on the following five categories without the need to use them for taxable supplies;
  2. VAT incurred by the Official Participant on Goods and Services in direct connection with the construction, installation, alteration, decoration, and dismantlement of their exhibition space.
  3. VAT incurred by the Official Participant on Goods and Services in direct connection with the works and activities of organizing and operating the Official Participant’s exhibition space and any presentations and events within the Expo 2020 site.
  4. VAT incurred by the Official Participant on Goods and Services relating to the actual operations of the Official Participant, provided that the value of each Good or Service for which the Office of the Official Participant makes a claim is not less than AED 200.
  5. VAT incurred by the Official Participant in connection with all operations, services and activities provided for the purpose of participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, whether located within or outside the boundaries of the Expo 2020 Dubai site.
  6. VAT incurred on import of Goods for personal use of the Official Participant’s Section Commissioner-General, Section Staff and the Beneficiaries.


How Can We Help You?

Our VAT experts can offer guidance in connection with your activities related to EXPO 2020. The list includes license, registration with FTA, eligibility of input tax recovery, VAT returns and submission of VAT refund application. We support participants through administrative tasks to ensure full compliance with the VAT laws and allow them to recover VAT expenses incurred in the UAE.

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Mr. Wasim Firoz AUTHOR

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