GCC Indirect Tax Weekly Digest


GCC Indirect Tax Weekly Digest

December 11, 2018

Bahrain National Bureau for Taxation website now online

The website of the Bahrain tax authority, the National Bureau for Taxation (NBT), is now online. According to the website, the NBT manages the implementation, administration and enforcement of taxes in Bahrain.

The website provides access to the NBT’s E-Services portal, which allows taxpayers to register for VAT.

The website also includes sections which provide an overview of what Value Added Tax (VAT) is, frequently asked questions, key definitions, and links to the GCC VAT treaty and Bahrain VAT law.

Further, the website includes sections on preparing businesses for VAT, with separate entries for large and small/medium businesses.

UAE FTA updates FAQ on Tourist Refund Scheme and lists ports eligible from 16 December 2018

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has updated the FAQ section of its website with answers to commonly asked questions on the VAT Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS).

The TRS allows overseas tourists visiting the UAE to reclaim VAT incurred on eligible purchases made through registered retailers, and came into effect on 18 November 2018.

Further, the FTA has posted a guide to tax-free shopping, which summarizes eligibility criteria for utilizing the TRS, eligible goods, and the process for validating purchased goods.

The guide also lists the airports, seaports, and land borders where refunds can be validated on departure from 16 December 2018. Currently, refunds can only be validated on departure from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah International Airports.

The full list, applicable from 16 December 2018, is as follows:


  • Abu Dhabi Airport
    • Common area between all terminals
  • Dubai Airport
    • Terminal 1, 2, 3, and 3 Business
  • Sharjah Airport
  • Al Maktoum Airport
  • Al Ain Airport
  • Ras Al Khaimah Airport


  • Port Zayed Abu Dhabi
  • Port Rashid – Dubai

Land borders

  • Al Ghuwaifat – at the border with Saudi Arabia
  • Al Ain – at the border with Oman
  • Hatta – at the border with Oman

Qatar and Oman developments

VAT update – Qatar

The preparation for implementing VAT in Qatar is underway. Awareness briefings have been conducted by the relevant authorities recently to complex businesses such as those in the financial services, insurance and telecoms sectors.   

VAT update - Oman

Preparations for VAT in Oman continue. Comments made by a representative of the Ministry of Finance in a seminar organized by the Oman Chambers of Commerce and Industry indicate that VAT implementation could be introduced as early as 1 September 2019.

Industry body meetings (including the financial sector and the telecoms industry) are now starting, with a view to devising practical guidelines for dealing with VAT compliance requirements. Businesses should begin to start their VAT implementation preparations, if they have not done so already.

Excise update - Oman

With regards to Excise in Oman, according to representatives of the Ministry of Finance and recent media reports, the Majlis A’Shura and State Council have now approved the Excise Tax draft law and are awaiting His Majesty’s ratification. 

Pursuant to the objectives set out by the GCC Member States in their Unified Excise Tax Agreement, we understand that the Oman law is expected to levy Excise Tax (rate wise up to 100%) on tobacco products, as well as energy and carbonated drinks.

We also understand that the tax will be implemented in early 2019. It is in the best interests of businesses to ensure that implementation plans are in place so that compliance requirements are understood and met. From the experience of Excise implementation elsewhere and in particular in other GCC Member States, transition accounting is likely to be a priority and focus area

This digest is for information purposes only and should not be construed as advice. It does not necessarily cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. You should not act upon the contents of this alert without receiving formal advice on your particular circumstances.

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