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VAT Refund for Pavilions at Expo 2020 Dubai

March 26, 2019

Countries & Inter-government agencies will be able to claim Value-Added Tax (VAT) refunds for the costs incurred for the developments of pavilions at Expo 2020 Dubai.

In this matter, FTA has published Cabinet Decision No. (1) of 2019 on the Refund of Value Added Tax Paid on Goods and Services Connected with Expo 2020 Dubai and User Guide for Official Participants on Refund of VAT Paid on Goods and Services Connected with Expo 2020 Dubai. Official Participants include countries and intergovernmental organizations that have received and accepted an official invitation from the UAE - in a non-commercial capacity as an exhibitor will benefit from this VAT refund scheme.

Refund of Tax

The Official Participants (OP) of the Expo 2020 are able to claim a refund of VAT incurred by them on the import or supply of certain goods and services if:

  • VAT incurred by the OP on Goods and Services in direct connection with the construction, installation, alteration, decoration, and dismantlement of their exhibition space;
  • VAT incurred by the OP on Goods and Services in direct connection with the operation of their exhibition space and any presentation within the Expo 2020 site;
  • VAT incurred by the OP on Goods and Services relating to the actual operation of the office of the Official Participant provided that the value of each Good or Service for which a claim is made is not less than AED 200;
  • VAT incurred on the import of Goods for personal use of the Official Participant’s Section Commissioner-General, Section Staff and the Beneficiaries.
Certificate of Refund

The official participant would have to obtain a certificate of refund entitlement from the Expo 2020 Bureau. A certificate of refund entitlement shall not be granted to any official participant in respect of imports and supplies covered more than 20 percent of the exhibition space or presentation is used or intended to be used, for commercial or non-official purposes. The Expo 2020 Bureau will largely administer this process. The application for refunds will be submitted to the bureau, which will perform an initial audit and then request the FTA to refund the amount. The official participant would have to obtain a certificate of refund entitlement from the Expo 2020 Bureau.

Requirements for Refund

The Authority and Bureau Expo 2020 Dubai shall determine the procedural, evidential, and verification requirements which need to be met by the Official Participant or any other Person to be eligible for the refund claim such as Area of the pavilion (in square meters) used by the Official Participant, Location of the pavilion, Details and percentage of commercial use of space, Expo 2020 trade license, Scan of passport and Emirates ID of the Section Commissioner-General of the Official Participant.

Refund Application

OP registered for VAT can apply for VAT Refund via completion of their VAT Return and must be in possession of a Certificate of Refund Entitlement issued by the Bureau.

OP not registered for VAT can apply for VAT Refund via submission of special refund application.

Official Participants not registered for VAT may apply as follows:

  • Within 15 days of the end of the calendar month in which the total VAT value to be claimed is AED 10,000 or more.
  • Within 15 days of the end of the calendar quarter where the total VAT value to be claimed is less than AED 10,000.

It will take the Bureau up to 20 business days to review the application. The applicant will be notified of the results and of the amount of VAT refund approved. If accepted, the Official Participant will receive the refund of VAT directly from the FTA into the nominated bank account within 30 business days of approval of the application. Where a refund has been granted to the official participant in respect of any import of goods, these goods cannot be sold for consideration or transferred free of charge without prior consent in accordance with the procedures agreed upon between the FTA and the Expo 2020, and without payment of the tax.

If an Official Participant has omitted any qualifying expenses from a refund application, these expenses may be included in a subsequent application. 

Payment of Tax

Before the sale of the Goods, the Official Participant must request for approval of the sale by submitting the “Consent of Sale Request Form” to the Bureau. The form shall be submitted electronically. Once the Official Participant has received the approval on the sale notification from the Bureau, it may proceed with the sale of the Goods.

Following the completion of the sale, the Official Participant should account to the FTA for the amount equal to 1/21 of the sale price of the goods.

MBG Corporate Services can provide assistance on the below-mentioned services:

  1. Getting Certificate of Refund Entitlement
  2. Applying for refund

Last Updated: 25th March 2019

This article is contributed by:

CA Priyanka Garg

Assistant Manager, Taxation


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