Guide for EXPO 2020 participants to benefit from the VAT Refund Scheme

Foreign businesses visiting the country for business purposes and exhibitors in EXPO 2020 are entitled to request a refund on the VAT expenses incurred on the goods and services related to the exhibition. The FTA has called on official participants to benefit from the special refund scheme on goods and services in connection with the EXPO.

The mega event World EXPO is taking place in Dubai from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2021. Official participants include countries and organizations that have accepted the official invitation from the UAE to participate in EXPO 2020 as an exhibitor.

In this article, we discuss the methods applicants can claim VAT refund, the categories of claimable VAT expenses and the supporting documents to be submitted.

The application to recover VAT incurred can be made by one of the following methods:

  • Where the official participant is registered for VAT, it may reclaim VAT via its UAE VAT return.
  • Where the official participant is not registered for UAE VAT, the refund applications can be made through the Bureau by submitting a special refund application to the Bureau.

Note: Official participants must register for VAT if the value of their taxable supplies or imports (for commercial or non-official purposes) in the UAE exceeds, or is anticipated to exceed, the mandatory registration threshold of AED 375,000.

**View the detailed User Guide on Refund of VAT Paid on Goods and Services Connected with Expo 2020 Dubai

The 5 categories in which vat can be claimable are:

  • 1- 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.
  • 2- 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.
  • 3- 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.
  • 4- 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.
  • 5- VAT incurred on import of goods for personal use of the official participant’s Section Commissioner-General, Section Staff and the Beneficiaries.

Certificate of Entitlement

An official participant (whether its office is registered or not registered for VAT) must apply for a Certificate of Entitlement (COE) before attempting to reclaim VAT on goods and services (Under category 1 and 2).

To be eligible to apply for COE, the applicant must meet 2 conditions:

  • Must be an official participant of the EXPO 2020 in Dubai, holding a valid EXPO 2020 license number.
  • Not more than 20% of the exhibition space or presentation is, has been, or is intended to be used for non-official or commercial purposes.

To apply for the certificate, a request form must be provided to the Bureau containing the following information:

  • Area of the pavilion (in square meters) used and its location.
  • Details and percentage of commercial use of space (if any).
  • Description of the purpose of the pavilion space.
  • Declaration that a notification to the Bureau will be made should any changes occur, that affect the eligibility to COE.

The following supporting documents must be provided with the application for COE:

  • EXPO 2020 License.
  • IBAN letter for the active domestic bank account.
  • Tax invoices related to the goods and services used for EXPO 2020 Dubai.

– In case of importing goods directly related to EXPO 2020 Dubai for non-commercial purposes, supporting documents such as customs declaration and proof that VAT was paid must be provided.

– In case VAT was paid by a freight forwarder, in addition to the previous supporting documents, the statement issued to the official participant by the freight forwarder which is treated as a tax invoice shall be provided.

Note :

  • Once the completed application is submitted, it will take the Bureau up to 20 business days to review the application.
  • If accepted, the Certificate of Entitlement with a unique reference number will be sent via email within 10 business days in a letter format, signed by the Bureau.
  • Unless withdrawn or cancelled, the certificate will be valid for all qualifying expenses incurred for the purposes of EXPO 2020.

    The Bureau does not charge a fee for certificate issuance.

VAT Refund Service Procedure

For registrants in the FTA system:

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

For non-registrants in the FTA system:

  • The official participant must provide the following documents to “One Stop Shop” EXPO 2020 office: (Submit the Special Refund sheet, Tax Invoices, Bank IBAN letter, EXPO license).
  • EXPO office will review the submitted documents and forward the request to the FTA through email to approve the refund amount claimed.
  • The FTA will review and approve the refund requested and transfer the amount to the participant’s bank account.

For further information you may contact FTA’s Service Channels:

For registrants in the FTA system: Link:

For non-registrants in the FTA system: Email : EXPO

To know more click the service link: -2020

Contact our tax consultants:

Our tax 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.