How to register for VAT in UAE for new company

Registering for VAT in UAE for new company - Step-by-step guide
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VAT (Value Added Tax) registrations are a critical process for businesses operating within the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The main topic of this article is to guide companies through the VAT registration process, explain the importance of registration, and discuss the impact it could have on their operations. In the UAE, businesses that meet certain criteria must register for VAT, which involves taxing goods and services at each stage of the supply chain. The key to a successful VAT strategy is understanding when and how to register, as well as how to manage subsequent VAT returns.

The Importance of VAT Registration

VAT registration in the UAE is more than a compliance measure; it is an essential facet of a legal and financial framework for businesses. Since January 1, 2018, when VAT was first introduced in the UAE, businesses have been required to register for VAT if their taxable supplies and imports exceed the mandatory registration threshold of AED 375,000 per annum. Not only does registering for VAT enable businesses to charge VAT on their sales, it also allows them to reclaim any VAT they’ve paid on business-related purchases, thus reducing their overall costs.

Companies must be diligent when it comes to registering for VAT; failing to do so when eligible could result in hefty penalties. By having a valid VAT registration, businesses demonstrate a commitment to adhering to the country’s tax laws and regulations, which can enhance their reputation with both clients and authorities.

 VAT registration process for new businesses in UAE

Criteria for VAT Registration

VAT registration in the UAE is determined by specific criteria set by the Federal Tax Authority (FTA). To understand if your business needs to register for VAT, you must assess the following:

  1. Your business’s annual taxable revenue.
  2. The value of taxable imports.

For most businesses, if the value of their taxable supplies in the UAE exceeds the mandatory threshold of AED 375,000 over the previous 12-month period, or it is anticipated to exceed that in the next 30 days, they will need to register for VAT. Additionally, there is a voluntary registration threshold set at AED 187,500, which businesses can opt for if they wish to reclaim any VAT that they incur.

The VAT Registration Process

The process of registering for VAT in the UAE is conducted through the Federal Tax Authority’s online portal. Here’s a simple outline of the steps involved:

  1. Create an account on the FTA website.
  2. Complete the VAT registration form.
  3. Submit necessary documentation (such as a copy of the trade license, financial statements, and proof of business activity).

Once submitted, you typically receive your VAT registration number within 20 working days. It’s crucial for businesses to make sure that all information provided is accurate and comprehensive to avoid any delays or rejections in the registration process.

Managing VAT Returns and Compliance

After registering for VAT, businesses will be required to periodically submit VAT returns to the FTA. These returns summarize the VAT charged on sales (output tax) and VAT paid on purchases (input tax). Maintaining accurate records is essential for VAT compliance and for preparing your VAT returns. Here’s a quick look at the table breaking down the steps involved in managing VAT returns:

Record KeepingKeep detailed and accurate records of all taxable sales and expenses.
Calculate VATDetermine the net VAT due by subtracting input VAT from output VAT.
VAT Return FilingSubmit VAT returns and any payment due online via the FTA portal.
Regular Review and ReconciliationPeriodically review VAT accounts to ensure accuracy and prepare for potential audits.

Businesses must file VAT returns at regular intervals—usually quarterly. Late filings or incorrect returns could result in penalties, so it is vital for businesses to keep on top of their VAT affairs.

The Impact of VAT on Business Operations

Adapting to a VAT system means changes in several operational areas of your business, including pricing, accounting, and IT systems. With VAT being an indirect tax, it affects almost all transactions and has to be incorporated into pricing strategies to ensure that businesses remain competitive while still complying with tax laws. Furthermore, having an understanding of VAT and how it works is important for financial planning, as it can affect cash flow management.

 New company VAT registration in UAE - Compliance requirements

Preparing Your Team for VAT Implementation

Training your team is pivotal to ensure everyone is up to speed on the new VAT system. From the accounting department to sales and customer service, employees will need to understand VAT policies to accurately manage pricing, invoicing, and customer queries. Here are critical steps to prepare your team:

  1. Conduct comprehensive VAT training sessions for relevant staff.
  2. Develop internal VAT policies and procedures for day-to-day operations.

An informed team can effectively communicate with customers regarding the additional VAT charges and can handle internal VAT-related transactions with confidence. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to taxing; in fact, it can lead to significant errors that may have legal and financial repercussions for your business.

The Role of Technology in VAT Compliance

Leveraging technology is key in managing VAT efficiently. Nowadays, there is a plethora of accounting software that is designed to help with VAT compliance:

  • Automated VAT calculation for transactions.
  • Generation of VAT-compliant invoices.

Investing in such technologies will not only reduce the risk of errors but also save precious time and resources. The software can be programmed to produce periodic VAT reports, making the process of filing returns much smoother. Moreover, it will aid in keeping secure digital records, which is a requirement for VAT compliance, and will prove invaluable in the event of an audit.

Navigating VAT with External Expertise

While some businesses may have the capability to manage VAT in-house, others may find it beneficial to seek external advice or support. Consultants and tax advisors can provide invaluable assistance, ensuring that you’re not only compliant but also taking advantage of any possible efficiencies or tax relief strategies. Their expertise could help with the following:

  • Understanding complex VAT legislation.
  • Strategic planning to minimize VAT liability.

This external perspective can often spot potential issues before they arise and guide your business through any audits or inspections conducted by the FTA. They can also offer training and support in setting up internal systems and processes designed for VAT management.

Ensuring Continuous Compliance and Adaptation

The laws and regulations around VAT are subject to change, and businesses must remain vigilant to stay compliant. This requires continuous monitoring of any updates from the FTA and adapting your practices accordingly:

  1. Attend FTA briefings or subscribe to updates.
  2. Regularly review and adjust VAT strategies and pricing structures.

Staying compliant ensures that your business avoids penalties and maintains a good standing with tax authorities. Moreover, it requires a proactive approach for continued financial health and operational efficiency.

 Understanding VAT registration for new businesses in UAE

The Big Picture: VAT as a Part of Business Strategy

Understanding VAT is crucial for sound financial planning and overall business strategy. Far from being just a tax matter, VAT impacts budgeting, investment decisions, and even market pricing strategies. By embracing VAT as a part of your strategic planning, you can turn what might be seen as an obligatory burden into an opportunity for optimization and growth.


By understanding and correctly implementing VAT as part of their operations, businesses in the UAE will not only ensure compliance with tax laws but could also uncover areas for increased efficiency and potential cost savings. As cumbersome as the registration and return processes might initially appear, businesses that attain VAT proficiency gain a competitive edge, fostering trust with clients and the authority alike.


Q: Who needs to register for VAT in the UAE?

A: Any business with taxable supplies and imports exceeding the mandatory registration threshold of AED 375,000 in the last 12 months must register for VAT. Businesses with amounts below this threshold but over the voluntary registration limit of AED 187,500 may also choose to register.

Q: How frequently do businesses need to file VAT returns in the UAE?

A: Most businesses must file VAT returns on a quarterly basis. However, the specific filing frequency for your business will be determined by the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) and could be on a different periodic basis, depending on the circumstances of the business.

Q: Can businesses reclaim VAT on purchases?

A: Yes, registered businesses can usually reclaim VAT paid on business-related purchases, which can help reduce overall costs. However, certain conditions must be met, and proper documentation must be maintained to support the reclaim.

Q: What happens if a business fails to register for VAT?

A: A business that fails to register for VAT may face penalties, including fines as stipulated by the UAE VAT law. It is important to register by the deadline once your business meets the criteria to avoid such penalties.

Q: Do external tax advisors add value to VAT management?

A: Yes, tax advisors can bring significant value by providing expertise in VAT legislation, ensuring compliance, and helping to plan efficient tax strategies. Their support can be particularly helpful for businesses that do not have in-house VAT expertise.