UAE FTA opens VAT registration portal

With January 1, 2018 rapidly approaching, companies now have a mere three months to get registered for VAT. We advise businesses operating in the UAE to already start applying for a Tax Registration Number (TRN) well ahead of the implementation date. Doing so will allow them to fully prepare for the launch of VAT and avoid any technical difficulties which may occur as the year-end (and thus the implementation date) approaches.

Aurifer’s tax advisors have already familiarised themselves with the registration process and are ready to assist your company in obtaining its VAT number. Hereafter we will discuss certain aspects of the UAE VAT registration process.

Which businesses can / must apply for a VAT registration?

It is important to know whether or not you are required or eligible to register for VAT. As a basic principle, every person operating a business is obligated to register for VAT. A person can be an individual (i.e. when an individual is operating as a sole trader) or a legal person. The term person also covers other entities (e.g. an unincorporated body such as a charity or club, a partnership or trust).

Businesses established in the GCC (‘Resident Businesses’) whose turnover exceeds the mandatory VAT registration threshold must register for VAT. Where the turnover of a business is below the mandatory VAT registration (AED 375.000 / USD 100.000) threshold, that business may still opt to register, provided that its turnover exceeds the  optional VAT registration threshold (AED 187.500 / USD 50.000).

Both the mandatory and the optional threshold must be assessed in two different ways. The thresholds must be evaluated, both in terms of effective turnover in the last 12 months as in terms of the expected turnover in the next 30 days.

It should be noted that there is no threshold in place for businesses which are established outside the GCC (‘Non-resident Businesses’). These businesses are required to register as from the first supply of goods or services in the UAE where they are liable to account for the VAT.

A side effect of the optional threshold is that recently incorporated businesses and micro-businesses will not be capable of registering for VAT. In most cases these businesses do not meet the minimum turnover requirement during the 12-month period, let alone the 30-day period. As a result, the optional threshold works as a de facto minimal threshold.

UAE VAT law provides for the possibility to form a Tax group between related parties,. Forming a Tax group can be an interesting opportunity for corporate groups as it allows them to organise their business activities as a whole. Provided that all members of the Tax group are UAE residents and carry out an economic activity, a Tax group can be established through a single VAT registration. This entails a significant administrative simplification for large groups of companies.

Businesses that only make zero-rated supplies (e.g. exports, international transport of passengers and goods), can apply to be exempted from registering for VAT. These businesses will still have to go through the VAT registration process, but will at a certain point have to indicate that they would like to apply for the exemption.

Why should you register?

Businesses not registered for VAT cannot charge VAT on their sales and cannot claim any VAT incurred on their inputs. Furthermore, the FTA may impose an administrative fine of AED 20.000 on every business that fails to comply with the obligation to register within the timeframe specified in the VAT law.

How to get registered?

Businesses can register through the online VAT registration portal (link). Throughout the registration process, you are required to upload copies of various documents. Accepted file types are PDF, JPG, PNG and JPEG. The individual file size limit is 2 MB.

Note that a number of information needs to be communicated in Arabic, such as trade name and authorised signatory. These must be manually entered.

What can Aurifer do for your business?

Aurifer can advise you on whether or not your business is obligated to register for VAT purposes. In addition, Aurifer provides VAT registration services where our tax advisors manage your VAT registration from A to Z. This includes assistance with collecting the necessary documents and information, completing the registration procedure and communicating with the FTA on your behalf.

Providing the wrong documents or information during the registration process may delay your VAT registration and can in some cases lead to your application being rejected by the FTA. Having tax professionals assist you during this process can significantly reduce the headache for your business.