Practical Tips for Maintaining VAT Compliance in the UAE

VAT was launched in the United Arab Emirates on 1st January 2018 as part of its Vision to diversify the country’s revenues. VAT compliance is a must for businesses operating within the UAE. All the companies will have to comply with the VAT requirements to avoid or reduce the penalties and ensure a smooth operation. In this article, you will be given tips in convenient terms for maintaining VAT compliance in the UAE. In the end, your business shall be fully compliant with all the requirements and procedures.

Understanding VAT Compliance in the UAE

What is VAT?

Value-added tax is one of the consumption taxes since it is charged on selling services and goods. VAT in the UAE is placed at 5% on most goods, and as such, businesses are supposed to charge this value on all their sales and then account for that charged to the government on a recurrent basis.

Importance of VAT Compliance

Staying VAT compliant helps you avoid penalties, maintain a good relationship with the tax authorities, and keep everything working smoothly in business without hassles. In case of non-compliance, there is a substantial financial and reputational loss.

Tips to Maintain VAT Compliance

  1. Register for VAT on Time

The law requires businesses whose annual turnovers exceed AED 375,000 to register for VAT. ‘ As advisable, register in time to avoid the penalty. However, voluntary registration might be helpful even if your turnover is below this threshold so that you can reclaim VAT on business expenses.

  1. Keep Records Accurate

Record-keeping is an essential area of VAT compliance. It is good practice to keep sufficient records about your business transactions, like sales, purchases, and expenses. Such records will help you accurately compute and file the value-added tax.

  1. Issue Correct Tax Invoices

Ensure all the invoices for goods and services sold to customers meet the requirements as directed by the FTA. A valid tax invoice requires including some details, such as supplier and customer information including the TRN’s, unique number of that invoice, description of goods sold/services performed, the rate and amount of VAT, the total value of the invoice including VAT etc.

  1. File VAT Returns On Time

You will be required to file VAT returns quarterly or monthly depending upon turnover. In any case, returns must be filed on time and accurately since penalties are in place otherwise. The VAT return shall be filed through the FTA’s online portal.

  1. Know About VAT Refunds and Credits

Stay updated about the VAT refund and credit mechanisms. Businesses can claim to recover the VAT paid for their expenses. It will cut down on the ultimate cost of tax. Properly submit VAT claims for a refund within the prescribed time.

  1. Be Updated with Changes in VAT Law

VAT legislation is subject to change. Keep yourself updated about all the changes made in the VAT law and ensure that your business frameworks are in tandem with any changes introduced. Continue to read the FTA newsletters and umpteen visits to the tax consultant.

  1. Regular Internal Audits

Regular internal audits will allow you to know and rectify any problems relating to VAT compliance. It will ensure that your records are accurate and the differences are dealt with on time.

  1. Seek Professional Advice

VAT could be pretty complex. It is thus beneficial to seek consultancy advice from tax professionals or consultants that help a person appreciate and handle all the details related to VAT. Receiving professional advice ensures that one keeps the business in compliance and that its VAT can be optimized.

  1. Use VAT-Compliant Software

Invest in good accounting software that is VAT-compliant. It will save time and effort by automatically calculating the VAT, generating VAT-compliant invoices, and maintaining accurate and timely records. This way, companies can ensure that its VAT compliance journey is smooth, error-free, and avoid unnecessary penalties and fines.

  1. Educate Your Staff

Ensure that your personnel understand VAT-related regulations and compliance, most especially in finance and accounting. Conduct regular training to keep your team updated on the latest changes in VAT laws and practices.

It is important that you are VAT compliant in the UAE if you want to run your business smoothly and without any penalties.

To ensure VAT compliance, you will need to ensure practical tips are followed to the latter, such as timely registration, correct record keeping, and correct invoicing, among others. Associated with it, also reach out for professional advice on VAT law. Also, being updated on changes in the VAT law and then having VAT-compliant software will help with streamlining your compliance matters. Educate your staff regularly about what has changed regarding VAT compliance. By following these best practices, your business will be better equipped to navigate the complexities of VAT in the UAE effectively and efficiently.


What is the penalty for late VAT registration in the UAE?

The penalty for late VAT registration in the UAE is AED 10,000. Timely registration is crucial to avoid these hefty fines.

How often must VAT returns be filed in the UAE?

VAT returns in the UAE are typically filed quarterly, but businesses with yearly turnover exceeding AED 150 million must file monthly. It is important to adhere to the filing frequency specified by the FTA for your business.

Can businesses claim VAT on all expenses?

Businesses can claim VAT on most business-related expenses. However, there are certain exceptions, such as entertainment expenses or expenses not directly related to business activities. Consult with a tax professional to understand which expenses are eligible for VAT reclamation.

What should be included in a valid VAT invoice?

A valid VAT invoice should include the supplier’s and customer’s information, a unique invoice number, a description of the goods or services, the VAT amount, the total amount inclusive of VAT, and the supplier’s VAT registration number.

How can businesses stay updated on VAT law changes?

Businesses can stay updated on VAT law changes by subscribing to FTA newsletters, attending tax seminars and workshops, and consulting with tax professionals. Regularly visiting the FTA website for updates is also recommended.

Is it mandatory to use VAT-compliant software?

While it is not mandatory, using VAT-compliant software is highly recommended. It simplifies the VAT compliance process, reduces the risk of errors, and ensures accurate record-keeping and reporting.