For Business Owners

Understanding the Tax Invoice Law in the UAE: A Comprehensive Guide

Navigating the tax laws in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can be challenging for businesses, especially with the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) in recent years. Understanding the VAT system, particularly the tax invoice law, is crucial for businesses to ensure compliance and optimize their financial operations.

This article delves into the key aspects of the UAE's VAT system, focusing on mandatory and voluntary registration, VAT categories, tax invoice requirements, record keeping, VAT returns, and recovery of input tax.

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Mandatory and Voluntary VAT Registration

Mandatory Registration


  • Businesses must register for VAT if their taxable supplies and imports exceed AED 375,000 over the past 12 months.

Anticipated Revenue:

  • Registration is also required if the threshold is expected to be exceeded in the next 30 days.

Voluntary Registration

Lower Threshold: Optional registration is available if taxable supplies and imports or taxable expenses exceed AED 187,500 in the previous 12 months.

Future Projection: Businesses can also opt to register if they expect to exceed this threshold in the next 30 days.

Tax Invoice

VAT Categories

The UAE VAT system categorizes supplies into three main types: 5% VAT, zero-rated VAT, and exempt supplies.

5% VAT

This category applies to all supplies that fall under the UAE VAT scope and are not classified as zero-rated. It encompasses a wide range of goods and services, thereby forming the standard VAT rate.

Zero-Rated Supplies

Zero-rated supplies include the export of goods and services, international transport, certain types of transport and related services, the first supply of residential buildings within three years of construction, and other specified items. Though VAT is not levied on these supplies, businesses must still record these transactions and report them in their VAT returns.

Exempt Supplies

Exempt supplies cover certain financial services, the supply of residential units (lease or sale) if not zero-rated, bare land, and local passenger transport. These supplies are not subject to VAT, and businesses cannot recover any input VAT incurred on these.

Related Topics: e-Invoicing in UAE: Embracing Digital Transformation in Financial Transactions. 

How to Navigate the UAE's New Corporate Tax Law. 

Tax Invoice Requirements

Businesses must issue tax invoices for each taxable supply of goods or services. A tax invoice must include essential details like "Tax Invoice," a description of the goods or services, the name, address, and Tax Registration Number (TRN) of both the supplier and recipient, tax invoice number, unit price, quantity, VAT rate, total amount payable and the dates of issuance and supply.

Record Keeping

Effective record-keeping is critical for VAT compliance. Businesses should maintain balance sheets, income statements, records of wages, salaries, fixed assets, inventory records, and other specified documents. VAT-registered entities must keep records of all supplies, imports, tax invoices, tax credit notes, and adjustments or corrections to accounts or tax invoices.

VAT Returns and Payment

VAT returns are typically submitted quarterly and must be filed no later than the 28th day following the end of each tax period. The return must detail the value of supplies subject to the standard tax rate, tax refunds for tourists, the value of imports, and supplies subject to zero rate or exempt from VAT.

Read more: What are a VAT and a VAT return?

Recovery of Input Tax

Businesses can recover input tax incurred on the purchase of goods and services used for business purposes. However, certain expenses like entertainment costs, motor vehicles used for personal purposes, and employee-related expenses are not eligible for input tax recovery.


The VAT system in the UAE, including the tax invoice law, is integral to the country's tax framework. Understanding and adhering to these regulations is essential for businesses to ensure compliance, avoid penalties, and optimize their VAT-related processes. By staying informed and vigilant about these laws, businesses can navigate the UAE's tax landscape more effectively and contribute to their overall financial health and success.

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