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Dubai Expo 2020 VAT Refund on Goods and Services


In accordance with the Cabinet Decision No. 1 of 2019 on the “Refund of Value Added Tax Paid on Goods and Services Connected with Expo 2020 Dubai”, Official Participants* of the Expo 2020 shall be able to claim a refund of VAT incurred by them on the import or supply of certain Goods and Services in the UAE.

*Official Participants are defined as countries and intergovernmental organizations which have received and accepted the official invitation from the UAE to participate in the Expo 2020 Dubai and engage in a non-commercial capacity as an exhibitor.

What does this mean in simple words?

If you participate in Dubai Expo 2020, you will incur UAE VAT on goods and services purchased, and you shall be eligible for a refund on such VAT, provided you submit the right documentations and meet certain conditions.

Am I obliged to register for VAT as a result of participating in the Dubai Expo 2020?

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.

How can I obtain a VAT refund?

Official Participants will be incurring VAT on UAE obtained goods and services that are related to the Expo 2020. In certain situations, the Federal Tax Authority allows Official Participants to recover their input VAT incurred by one of the following methods:

- Where Official Participants are not registered for VAT in the UAE, a refund application must be submitted to the Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau.

- Where Official Participants are registered for VAT in the UAE, then the input VAT can be claimed through the normal VAT return.

What type of expenses can Official Participants claim VAT on?

Official Participants can only claim VAT on goods and services that are used or intended to be used to make taxable supplies. If the expenses incurred on goods and services were not related to making taxable supplies, then the VAT cannot be reclaimed.

Official Participants can recover the Input VAT incurred on import and acquisition under the following four categories:

A. The VAT paid on goods and services that are related to construction, installation, alteration, decoration, and dismantlement of their exhibition space.

B. The VAT paid on goods and services that are related to the operation of their exhibition space and any presentation within the Expo 2020 site.

C. The VAT paid on goods and services that are related to actual operation of Official Participant’s office, provided that the value of each good or service for which a claim is made is not less than AED 200 (USD 54.5).

D. The VAT paid on import of goods for the personal use of the Official Participant’s *Section Commissioner-General, *Section Staff and the *Beneficiaries.

* Section Commissioner-General: The representative appointed by the Official Participant in accordance with Article 13 of the Paris Convention of 22 November 1928 relating to International Exhibitions.

*Section staff: The staff of the Section Commissioner-General, the deputy of the Section Commissioner-General, the pavilion director, and other direct employees of the Section Commissioner-General.

*Beneficiaries: Family members of the Section Commissioner-General, deputy Section Commissioner-General and pavilion director, including spouses, ascendants, descendants under the age of 21, and personnel necessary for the care of such family members (where applicable).

What not to do after obtaining a VAT Refund in relation to imported goods for Dubai Expo 2020?

Where a refund has been granted to the Official Participant in respect of any import of goods, the goods cannot be sold for consideration as well as transferred free of charge without obtaining prior approval from the Expo 2020 Bureau or the UAE Federal Tax Authority, and without payment of the VAT.

Special Case for import of goods for Dubai Expo 2020

In respect of imports made by Official Participants, it should be noted that they may use the special Tax Registration Number allocated to the Expo 2020 Bureau, in coordination with the Bureau, where the goods fall under Categories A and B above, and where they hold a Certificate of Refund Entitlement.

Where the special Tax Registration Number is used, no import VAT will be imposed in respect of the goods, and such goods should not be included in any refund application.

What is a Certificate of Refund for Dubai Expo 2020?

The VAT paid on expenses under certain categories (not only imports) requires the Official Participants to apply for a Certificate of Refund entitlement issued by the Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau.

In order to apply for the Certificate of Refund, a request form must be provided along with the details of area and location of the pavilion, detailed description of the purpose of the pavilion space, and some further declarations.

The Certificate of Refund is free of charge and may take up to 20 business days to be issued.

Eligibility Criteria for the Certificate of Refund Entitlement

In order to be eligible to apply for the Certificate:

- The applicant must be an Official Participant of the Expo 2020 in Dubai, holding a valid Expo 2020 trade 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.

What is the Frequency of a VAT Refund Application for Dubai Expo 2020?

Official Participants who are not registered for VAT may apply for a refund application 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.


This is not an official advice; businesses shall seek advice for their specific transactions and business models. Further conditions and processes apply for obtaining VAT refund in connection with Dubai Expo 2020. Reach out to us for more information and clarification regarding Dubai Expo 2020 VAT Refund on Goods and Services!

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