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British Business in Dubai: Navigating VAT Registration

british business dubai vat

As a British entrepreneur, the dynamic city of Dubai offers an exciting canvas to bring your business ideas to life. However, in order to navigate this vibrant business landscape with confidence, it’s essential to understand how the Value-Added Tax (VAT) system operates in the UAE. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the ABCs of VAT registration for a British business in Dubai, offering you a clear understanding of the procedure, who it applies to, and the important factors to consider.

An Overview of VAT for British Business in Dubai

To diversify its economy and reduce reliance on oil revenues, the UAE introduced VAT on the 1st of January, 2018. The VAT is set at a standard rate of 5% on most goods and services sold in the UAE. Some items, however, like essential food items, healthcare, and education, are either zero-rated or exempt from VAT. As an indirect tax, VAT is collected at every point of the supply chain and is ultimately borne by the final consumer. Businesses essentially play the role of tax collectors for the government, keeping track of VAT charged on their sales (output tax) and VAT paid on their purchases (input tax).



Journey to VAT Registration British Business in Dubai

Checking Your Eligibility

Mandatory VAT registration in the UAE is required for businesses whose taxable supplies and imports exceed AED 375,000 annually. Businesses that don’t meet this threshold but exceed the voluntary registration limit of AED 187,500 in taxable supplies, imports, or expenses can also opt for VAT registration.

Getting Your Paperwork in Order

Before commencing registration, businesses should gather necessary documents, which include a copy of the trade license, passport copies of the business owner and managers, and information about business activities and turnover.

Registering Online

The VAT registration process in the UAE is a straightforward online procedure, handled via the Federal Tax Authority’s (FTA) secure and user-friendly portal. The online platform is designed to guide businesses through the registration process step-by-step, offering a simplified and efficient means to ensure compliance. The process requires filling out a detailed form, which includes providing insights into the business activities, its ownership structure, and management team. It’s important to note that the accuracy of this information is essential as it forms the basis for the FTA’s review process.

Awaiting Verification and Activation

Upon successful submission of the application, the journey doesn’t end there. The Federal Tax Authority engages in a comprehensive review process to verify the information provided. This due diligence phase is essential in maintaining the integrity of the UAE’s tax system. During this phase, the FTA may request additional information or clarification to ensure all details are accurate and up-to-date. Once the review is successfully completed, the FTA approves the application and issues a unique Tax Registration Number (TRN). This TRN is a critical identifier for businesses in their future VAT-related activities and communications with the FTA. It’s the final seal of approval, signifying the business’s official entry into the UAE’s VAT system.

Key Considerations for British Businesses

Record Maintenance

VAT registered businesses in the UAE are expected to keep accurate records like balance sheet, profit and loss account, payroll records, wages and salaries records, fixed assets records, and inventory records for at least 5 years.

Issuing Tax Invoices

VAT registered businesses must provide tax invoices for their supplies. These should include details such as the date of issue, a sequential number, the supplier’s TRN, the gross amount payable, and the VAT amount payable.

Submitting VAT Returns

VAT registered businesses are obligated to submit VAT returns, usually quarterly, to the FTA, which detail the VAT due and paid during the period.

Claiming VAT Recovery

Businesses can claim back the VAT paid on their business expenses under certain conditions. The amount of VAT to be recovered must be calculated in line with the input tax recovery rules set out by the FTA.


Navigating the VAT registration process can be complex, particularly for British businesses unfamiliar with the UAE’s tax landscape. Understanding the process, the eligibility criteria, and the responsibilities that come with being a VAT-registered business is key to ensuring compliance and avoiding penalties. As always, seeking advice from a tax professional or consultant can help simplify the process and ensure all obligations are met.

How Can Choose UAE Help

At Choose UAE, we specialize in assisting British entrepreneurs with VAT registration in Dubai. Our experienced team of tax experts can guide you through the entire process, ensuring compliance with UAE VAT regulations. We provide comprehensive support, from determining your eligibility for VAT registration to gathering the required documentation and completing the online registration form. With our expertise, you can navigate the complexities of VAT registration with ease, allowing you to focus on growing your business in Dubai. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help simplify your VAT registration journey.

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