Japanese delegation visits Federal Tax Authority, explores UAE’s 100% digital Tax Refund Scheme System for Tourists
The system is the first of its kind in the world.
Dubai, UAE - 25 January 2023 – An official delegation from Japan was briefed on the mechanisms of operating the tourist refund scheme system, which relies on 100% paperless procedures, during a visit by the delegation to the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) in Dubai. The system serves to enhance the UAE’s competitiveness in the tourism sector, as part of the digital government strategy, designed to drive the smart transformation of all government services, offering proactive and more sustainable services that meet customers’ expectations and allow them to process their transactions quickly and easily.
The delegation, which included representatives from the Japan Tourism Agency and J&J Tax Free Corp, was greeted at the FTA headquarters by His Excellency Khalid Ali Al Bustani, Director General of the FTA. The meeting included discussions about the exchange of expertise in terms of refunding tax to tourists.
H.E. Al Bustani stressed that the Japanese delegation’s visit reflects the depth of relations between the two countries and their mutual commitment to further strengthening ties across all sectors, including tax, through the exchange of experiences and information to achieve the best results.
During the visit, the Japanese delegation – headed by Mr. Fuji Ryosuke, Special Assistant to the Director at the Japan Tourism Agency – held a meeting with officials of the FTA, during which the delegation was introduced to the mechanisms of the tourist refund scheme. The FTA showcased the achievements the system has made since its inception more than four years ago, the continuous development and modernisation it underwent over the years, and its role in promoting the UAE as a leading international tourist destination.
The FTA representatives gave the visiting Japanese delegation a presentation about the system, which was launched in 2018, when Planet was appointed to operate the scheme. The system processes digital invoices issued by sales outlets registered in the FTA system instead of conventional paper invoices, through integration between these outlets and the tourist refund scheme system. Invoices are issued, sent, amended, and stored electronically between the seller, buyer (tourist), and the system.
Representatives from the FTA noted that that the system is also linked with the database of the Federal Authority For Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Port Security, allowing for verifying the identity of the tourist. The system offers seamless, effective, and quick tax refund procedures for tourists on purchases made during their stay in the UAE. The integrated system allows for accurately determining purchases and recoverable taxes, and then getting a refund of such taxes, in line with the government’s efforts to support the implementation of the tax system in the UAE and bring it in line with international best practices.
Furthermore, the presentation highlighted the conditions for tourists to be eligible for a tax refund, and explained the verification process programmed into the system to ensure eligibility for a tax refund in accordance with the tax legislation. It was also noted that the system had undergone several enhancements and developments since its commencement, as the system now includes integrated mechanisms directly linking to 16 air, sea, and land ports and thousands of outlets registered with the FTA.
The presentation also pointed out that the tax refund self-service was launched to provide tourists with more options, through which the refund of tax can be processed automatically, or in cash within no more than three minutes. In 2019, phase one of providing the self-service option began with Planet installing the kiosks at the departure points covered by the system. Then in 2020, the coverage was expanded to include several major commercial centres (malls) and hotels, in addition to introducing two digital tools, namely the ‘Seller’s Dashboard’ and the ‘Shoppers Portal’.
The system provides a fully integrated digital platform compatible with the systems used by registered retailers, allowing customers to simply scan their passport and complete the process. They can automatically share their transactions as digital invoices with Planet Tax Free, check their invoices through the Shoppers Portal, and recover the refundable tax they paid on their purchases quickly through a fully digital process.