11 Things you Must Know About VAT in UAE


The year 2018 witnessed a change in the Taxation laws in the UAE. Over 150 countries have implemented VAT to raise revenue, while the UAE did the same to increase its overall revenue. This blog will shed light on the vital aspects of VAT in the UAE.

Value Added Tax, aka VAT, came into force on the 1st of January 2018. The VAT rate as per the VAT Law in UAE is 5%, and the rate is levied upon the supplied goods and services.

VAT is an indirect tax known as a Consumption Tax or Good and Services Tax (GST) in different parts. Value Added Tax in UAE is at each stage of the supply chain while the end consumer bears VAT’s burden. On the other hand, businesses act as agents to collect and account for taxes on the government’s behalf.

1. When to Register VAT in UAE?

VAT in the UAE is categorized into the following two types-

Firstly, into Voluntary VAT Registration and secondly, Mandatory VAT Registration.

The following are the two essential ways in which a VAT is registered in UAE-


Voluntary VAT Registration:

A business can opt for voluntary vat registration if its taxable turnover exceeds AED 187,500.

Mandatory VAT Registration:

Mandatory VAT Registration is for those businesses whose taxable turnover is more than AED 375,000.


Note: Businesses having a taxable turnover of less than 187,500 need not register for VAT in UAE.

2. For which Transactions are the VAT in UAE Changed?

As per UAE VAT Laws, VAT is levied on the supply of all goods and services unless they are explicitly zero-rated or exempted.

3. What are the Exemptions to VAT in the UAE?

The UAE Executive VAT Regulations list the exemption supplies that are not taxable.

As per the VAT Law in UAE, if one supplies exempted goods and services, he will not be entitled to the input tax credit on his purchases.

For example, suppose a manufacturer buys raw material at a 5% rate of tax as well as produces items that are exempt from tax. In that case, the burden of 5% input tax paid on raw materials will be on him as he will not be able to claim the input tax credit.

Moreover, certain financial services, residential buildings, and the supply of bare land, etc, are exempt from VAT in the UAE.

4. Why are Zero-rated Supplies Important in the UAE?

Zero-rated supplies refer to the taxable supply on which VAT is charged at zero rates. The input tax credit is available on goods & services, which is at zero-rated supplies. Furthermore, VAT Laws in UAE specify that all export of goods and services in UAE subject to conditions in UAE Executive Regulations will be treated as zero-rated supplies.

5. What are the Products on which VAT in UAE is Levied?

VAT in the UAE is levied on retail products such as food, beverages, jewellery, and non-essential consumer items.

Additionally, VAT applies to stationery, school uniforms, after-school activities, cars, oil and gas, electronics, smartphones, second-hand goods, imported products, and insurance products such as health, motor, property, reinsurance, water electricity, etc.

6. What are the Services Subject to VAT in UAE?

VAT in the UAE applies to the following goods and services:

Plastic, cosmetic, or elective surgery, education provided by private higher educational institutions, fee-based financial services, vehicle services, repairs, catering services, hotels and restaurants, telecoms, electronic services, etc., are indeed services subject to VAT.

7. What are the two Categories of VAT in UAE on Real Estate?

For the process of VAT in UAE, the following are the two categories of Real Estate:

  1. Commercial
  2. Residential

Commercial property transactions, including rental and sale agreements, office space, retail, public parking, and mobile homes, thus attract VAT. Further, hotels, motels, and other serviced accommodations are also subject to VAT, including residential property leased to non-residents on a short-term basis.

8. What is the Procedure for TRN (Tax Registration Number) Verification in UAE?

The Federal Tax Authority issues a unique Tax Registration / TRN Number to businesses registered for VAT. Therefore, only businesses registered for VAT with a valid TRN should charge VAT on supplies.

TRN Number Verification is required when the buyer is unsure of the supplier’s VAT Registration status.

Any VAT paid on purchases would be treated as Input Tax Credit. Still, the condition is that the supplier must have a valid TRN Number.

One can verify the TRN Number of any business by visiting the FTA (Federal Tax Authority) portal. A TRN Verification also helps in ascertaining the supplier’s genuineness.

9. What is the Procedure for Tax Return Filing in the UAE?

A VAT-registered business files a VAT Return quarterly. The authority may consequently ask certain businesses to file a return every month to ensure compliance with the VAT Laws and reduce the risk of tax evasion.

Furthermore, the UAE VAT law reduces the compliance burden and administrative load through special legal provisions. These laws allow certain businesses an extended VAT return filing period.

UAE VAT Executive Regulations have issued the VAT Return Format in which a registered business must provide the information. The return filing process is online, and hence, all VAT registered businesses in UAE file their Return by logging in on the FTA portal.

10. How does VAT Audit/Tax Audit in the UAE System Work in the UAE?

When the FTA carries out a VAT Audit / Tax Audit in UAE at their offices or the company/individual’s business premises, it is known as a field tax audit.

The taxable person generally provides all the information in a prescribed format known as FTA Audit File (FAF). VAT in UAE requires registered businesses to maintain complete financial records of transactions in order to file periodic VAT returns.

Therefore, a taxable person is self-assessing the amount of VAT Payable and the Input Tax Credit available.

FTA, at its discretion, selects businesses for Tax Audit. Besides, a VAT audit aims to verify the correctness of a taxable person’s tax liability.

During the tax audit, the FTA has a right to obtain original copies of any record, verify inventories and assets of the business, and even seize them for the audit purpose.

Moreover, the taxable person or his Tax Agent or Legal Representative shall provide all the necessary documentary evidence, help, and assist the tax authority.

Further, after examining the financial records of the taxable person, the FTA has the power to issue a notice asking him to pay the VAT along with penalties if it finds discrepancies.

Tax Assessment

As per the VAT Laws in UAE, FTA will issue tax assessments in the following cases:

  • Failure of VAT Registration completion within the specified time
  • Failing to file a Tax Return within the specified time
  • Failing to pay the tax payable as per the VAT Return within the specified time
  • Filing an incorrect VAT return
  • Failure on the part of the registered business to account for tax on behalf of another person when he was required to do so as per the UAE VAT Laws.
  • Tax evasion causes a shortfall in Tax Payable.

Further, the taxable person would also be liable to pay VAT Penalties applicable under the Federal Decree-Law on VAT. In the interest of a taxable business, it fully complies with the provisions of VAT in the UAE to avoid penalties and loss of reputation.

11. What are the Key Responsibilities of a Business in UAE?

  • Maintain financial records while ensuring the accuracy of its account information.
  • Register for VAT if it meets minimum turnover criteria
  • Keep proper financial records if the turnover is less than the minimum threshold to prove why it need not register for VAT
  • Charge VAT on Taxable goods as well as services if it holds a valid TRN
  • Claim Input Tax Credit for VAT paid on the purchase of taxable supplies
  • File VAT Returns on a timely basis
  • Pay taxes to the government if the VAT amount charged exceeds the amount of VAT paid.
  • Obey VAT Laws of the UAE

VAT Consultancy in UAE

We know that is easier said than done. However, we practice what we preach. The points are our intrinsic traits, and we take pride in having each of them. That is why we are the most preferred choice of businesses looking for Top Audit Firms in Dubai.

We give you the representation you need to impress your stakeholders and investors. N.R. Doshi & Partners is not just your audit associate but your growth partner.

If you are looking for the best auditing company in the UAE to take care of your entire audit process, we would love to be part of your success story. Please write to us at enquiries@nrdoshi.ae or call us at +971 50 6591233.

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