INTRODUCTION:

Designated zones specified by a Cabinet Decision are generally treated as being outside the UAE if they meet the requirements listed in Article 51(1) of the Executive Regulation, which include that the area is fenced and has security measures and Customs controls in place to monitor entry and exit of individuals and movement of goods.

The supply of goods within a designated zone is generally regarded as being outside the scope of UAE VAT, unless the goods are supplied to be consumed.

CLARIFICATION:

Article 51(5) of the Executive Regulation was amended to treat the supply of goods in the designated zone as outside the scope of UAE VAT if the goods are consumed outside the designated zone, provided evidence is obtained and retained that:

− the goods were delivered to a place outside the UAE; or

− VAT was paid on the importation of those goods into the UAE.

The service of shipping / delivery of Qualifying Goods is also outside the scope of UAE VAT if supplied by the same supplier of the goods, provided the supplier is a non-resident who is not registered for VAT in the UAE.

 

However, the place of supply of goods will be regarded as being outside the UAE, if one of the following exclusions applies:

  1. The goods are incorporated into, attached to, become part of, or used in the production of, another good in the same designated zone, and that such other good is not consumed.
  2. The goods were delivered to a place outside the UAE, and the supplier retains:

− Customs evidence proving that the goods were moved from the designated zone; and

− Supporting commercial or official evidence proving the delivery of the goods to a place outside the UAE.

  1. The goods were moved from the designated zone to a place within the UAE, and the supplier retains a document issued by the relevant Customs Department, proving that the goods have been imported as well as proof that VAT was settled on the same.

The onus is on the supplier to ensure that it treats a supply correctly for VAT purposes. Therefore, as a general rule, suppliers should not treat supplies of goods as being outside the scope of UAE VAT, unless they are satisfied that one of the above exclusions applies.

  1. Goods incorporated/attached to/become part of/ are used in production of other goods

For this exclusion to apply:

− there has to be a direct connection between the purchased goods and the resulting goods after production, and

− the resulting goods should not be supplied to be consumed.

If the above two conditions are met, the place of supply of the goods will be outside the UAE and, therefore, outside the scope of UAE VAT.

  1. Goods delivered outside the UAE

For this exclusion to apply, all of the following conditions must be met:

− the goods are moved from the designated zone to be delivered outside the UAE;

− the supplier obtains and retains the relevant Customs documents proving the movement of the goods from the designated zone; and

− the supplier retains commercial or official evidence that the goods were delivered to a place outside the UAE.

If the above conditions are met, the place of supply of the goods will be outside the UAE and, therefore, outside the scope of UAE VAT. If any of these conditions are not met, the place of supply would be in the UAE and within the scope of UAE VAT.

  1. Goods delivered in the UAE

For this exclusion to apply, all of the following conditions must be met:

− the goods are moved from the designated zone to be delivered in the UAE; and

− the supplier retains official evidence proving that the goods were imported as well as evidence that VAT has been paid on that import.

In instances where the goods will be moved from the designated zone to be delivered in the UAE, consumption would generally be regarded as taking place in the UAE. In this instance, VAT would also be levied on the importation of the goods, resulting in potential double taxation. Hence, the Executive Regulation was amended to allow such supplies to be regarded as having a place of supply outside the UAE, provided certain requirements are met.

In this context, the term “official evidence” refers to import documents issued by the local Emirate Customs Department in respect of the goods entering the UAE, for example stamped import declarations.

It is acknowledged that the import may take place after the goods are sold, and that it would be impractical in such a case to obtain the proof of import and payment before the goods are actually imported. The supplier may, therefore, treat such sale as outside the scope of UAE VAT, if it has proof that the goods will be imported into the UAE. This would include instances where the supplier is responsible to import and deliver the goods to an address in the UAE.

Furthermore, the registered supplier shall retain proof that the goods were imported and that VAT was settled on the import before submitting the VAT return for the tax period in which the sale was made in order to treat the sale as outside the scope of UAE VAT.

If any of the above conditions are not met, the sale of goods for consumption shall be treated as being within the scope of UAE VAT and subject to VAT at 5%, unless it qualifies for zero-rating, as well as subject to import VAT.

Shipping and delivery services

Under the general rule, the place of supply of any service supplied in a designated zone is considered to be in the UAE.

As an exception to the general rule, shipping or delivery services supplied directly in connection with Qualifying Goods will be outside the scope of UAE VAT if all of the following requirements are met:

− The shipping or delivery service is supplied by the same supplier of the goods;

− The supplier of such goods is a non-resident, and not registered for VAT in the UAE;

− The goods are sold via an electronic sales platform; and

The supplier of the goods is not the person owning the electronic sales platform.

The term “electronic sales platform” means any type of online sales platform, including websites and electronic applications, which bring together third-party sellers and buyers and through which goods may be sold and purchased with or without shipping or delivery services.

The impact of this amendment is that non-residents who are not registered for VAT in the UAE will not be required to register for VAT if they only sell the goods to which the abovementioned exceptions apply, on an electronic sales platform, and they ship or deliver these goods to customers.