The Bureau Expo 2020 Dubai (Bureau) shall be the governing body for the refund scheme. The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) of the United Arab Emirates, in line with the SEE Agreement, has released the 'Cabinet Decisions No.1 of 2020 on the 'Refund of Value Added Tax Paid on Goods and Services Connected with Expo 2020 Dubai1 and a User Guide2 (Guide) for its implementation.

The Official Participant incurring VAT on goods and services connected to the Expo 2021 shall be eligible to claim a refund as per the Rule provided under UAE VAT.

We have herewith brought out the salient features of the Cabinet Decision and captioned Guide:

Person eligible to claim a refund

An Official Participant holding a valid Expo 2020 trade license number and who does not use or intend to use more than 20% of the exhibition space or presentation for non-official or commercial purposes will be eligible to claim such refund.

Category of Goods and Services on which VAT Refund is Reclaimable

Following are the only categories of goods and services on which VAT refund can be reclaimed:

  1. Directly connected with the construction, installation, alteration, decoration and dismantlement of their exhibition space;
  2. Directly connected with the operation of their exhibition space and any presentation within the Expo 2020 site;
  3. Related to the actual operation of the office of the Official Participant, provided that the value of each good/service for which a claim is made is not less than AED 200; and
  4. For the personal use of the Official Participant's Section Commissioner-General, Section Staff and the Beneficiaries.

Certificate of Refund Entitlement

In order to be eligible to reclaim VAT on expenses under the first two categories [i.e. (A) and (B)], the Official Participant (whether registered for VAT or not) must be in possession of a Certificate of Refund Entitlement issued by the Bureau. An Official Participant (both registered and not registered for VAT) needs to apply for the Certificate before attempting to claim VAT on goods and services under categories (A) and (B) above. A detailed procedure has been prescribed for obtaining the Certificate of Refund Entitlement.

Manner of refund

Sr.No Registration status Manner in which refund to be filed
1 Official Participant registered for VAT in UAE Apply for VAT refund through its periodical VAT Return
2 Official Participant not registered for VAT in UAE Submit the refund application to the Bureau in the prescribed format


Special Case of Imports

In respect of imports made by Official Participants, it should be noted that they may use the special TRN (Tax Registration Number) allocated to the Bureau, in coordination with the Bureau, where the goods fall under categories A and B, and they hold a Certificate of Entitlement. Where the special TRN is used, no import VAT will be imposed in respect of the goods, and such goods should not be included in any refund application.

Requirement of VAT Registration

The Official Participants are required to register with the FTA where:

  • The value of the taxable supplies or imports (for commercial or non-official purposes) in the UAE exceeds or is expected to cross the mandatory registration threshold of AED 375,000 or
  • Where more than 20% of exhibition space is used for commercial or non-official purposes, then in order to recover VAT.

The Official Participant in the above cases may apply for registration on a voluntary basis

Frequency of the Refund

Sr.No Registration status Frequency of refund to be filed
1 Official Participant registered for VAT in UAE Can claim their refund in their regular VAT return
2 Official Participant not registered for VAT in UAE Apply for a refund within 15 days of the end of the calendar month/Quarter where the total value of the VAT claim is AED 10,000 or more


Sale or Transfer of Non-Commercial Imported Goods by official Participants

Official Participants shall be required to take prior approval from the One-Stop Shop before the sale or transfer of Non-Commercial Imported goods for consideration or Free of Cost, where VAT has been previously exempted/ not collected or refunded.

Official Participants are also required to pay VAT on such sale or transfer of Non-Commercial Imported goods through defined mechanism if registered under VAT Regulation or through One-Stop Shop if not registered with VAT Regulation.


1.  Cabinet Decision 1 of 2020 - Version to publish 

2. Value Added Tax Guide Final (1) and VAT Refund for Expo 2020 - Final EN - 27 02 2020

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.