Business and taxes

UAE tax guide: everything you need to know about tax rates and exemptions for individuals and companies

Individuals in the UAE do not pay income tax, and businesses are exempt from corporate tax until June 2023, with a 9% tax afterwards.

There are high taxes for businesses dealing in products considered harmful by the UAE government: companies selling tobacco, energy drinks, soda, and products containing sugar are subject to a 50­–100% tax.

UAE taxes 2022: Taxation System in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

UAE taxes for individuals

A UAE residence visa allows one to become a tax resident of the country and legally optimise their taxes.

Income taxes. Individuals, both citizens and residents, do not pay any income tax whatsoever. They are also exempt from taxes on interest, dividends, wealth, luxury, inheritance, gifts, and capital gains.

0%
UAE income tax
for individuals

Foreigners with residence visas do not pay pension tax in the UAE — while, for example, in Portugal, the tax rate for pensions obtained from overseas is 10 to 48%.

Tourist taxes. Foreigners pay taxes in the United Arab Emirates on resorts, hotels and restaurants. Several taxes and fees can be included in the bill:

  • hotel tax — 10%;
  • service fee — 10%;
  • municipal tax — 0–10%;
  • city tax — 6–10%;
  • tourist fee — 6%.

Tax rates may vary in different emirates. For example, in Ajman or Sharjah, a municipal tax is 10%; in Dubai, it’s 7%, while in Ras Al Khaimah, this tax isn’t charged.

Dubai is the most popular emirate in the country, with 5.1 mln tourist visitors from January—April 2022. When staying in Dubai hotels, guests pay an additional fee called “tourism dirham“, ranging from AED 7 to 20 per night, depending on the hotel's stars and room category. 

A fee for the night in a one-bedroom room in a 4-stars hotel will be AED 15; in a 5‑stars hotel — AED 20. If the room has two bedrooms, the dirham will be charged twice. However, a guest will only need to pay this fee for the first 30 days of their stay in the hotel.

How does an individual become a UAE tax resident?

Foreigners with UAE residence visas automatically become tax residents. They do not need to obtain their tax identification number for that.

However, if one wants to avoid double taxation and their primary country has a double tax treaty with the UAE, they will need to obtain a Taxation Residence Certificate.

To confirm your tax status, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get a residence visa and live in the UAE for at least 180 days.
  2. Rent or buy a property in the UAE.
  3. Fill in an application with the Federal Tax Authority.

Documents needed to obtain a Taxation Residence Certificate:

  1. Copy of the passport.
  2. Copy of the UAE residence visa.
  3. Copy of the long-term rental contract or the property purchase contract.
  4. Confirmation of income, like salary or pension statement.
  5. UAE’s bank account statement for the last 6 months.
  6. Confirmation that the applicant has indeed resided in UAE for at least 180 days. It is obtained at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs or in the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

When filling an application with the FTA, the applicant needs to specify the country they wish to obtain a Taxation Residence Certificate for, choose a start date for a financial year, attach copies of the documents, and pay an AED 1,000 fee.

The Taxation Residence Certificate is issued within the next three days. It can then be downloaded from the website along with the Tax Identification Number, which is obtained automatically. 

The Taxation Residence Certificate and Tax Identification Number are sufficient to confirm a UAE’s tax resident status in another country.

Taxes for companies in the UAE

Corporate tax will be introduced in June 2023 at a 9% rate. It will apply to companies earning more than AED 375,000 ($102,000) a year. Until then, corporate tax for most companies remains at 0%.

9%
Corporate tax in the UAE
from June 2023

Foreign companies in the oil and gas sector pay 55% corporate tax. Branches of foreign banks pay 20%.

There are no taxes for dividends and capital gains, as well as intragroup transactions and reorganisations.

VAT. The value-added tax is 5% in the UAE. VAT is obligatory for companies earning more than AED 375,000 ($102,000). To pay the tax, a company must register as a VAT payer with the FTA.

For companies earning between AED 187,500 and AED 375,000, registration is voluntary.

VAT is usually paid on a quarterly basis within 28 days after the end of the tax period. However, the Federal Tax Authority may appoint different tax periods for some taxpayers.

Excise tax is imposed on products the UAE government considers harmful to human health or the environment. The tax is calculated in percentage from the retail price minus excise tax and VAT or from the price of the product appointed by FTA — whichever is higher.

The UAE Cabinet approves the list of products and their taxes rates:

  • 50% for fizzy drinks, except for plain soda;
  • 50% for all products containing sugar or sweeteners;
  • 100% for tobacco products;
  • 100% for energy drinks;
  • 100% for electronic smoking devices.

The excise tax is paid by companies which manufacture, import, or store excise products. Such companies must register with the FTA as excise taxpayers. The tax itself is paid quarterly within 15 days after the end of the tax period.

Import and export taxes. The import tax may vary depending on the nature of imported goods. But generally, it is 5% of the cost, freight, and insurance value of imports (CIF). 

However, certain harmful products, like tobacco or alcohol, are imported with a 50–100% tax. Others, like most national products of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area, are imported without any tax at all. 

Goods imported into Free Zones are also exempt from import tax until they are transferred to the local market.

The export tax is 0% in the UAE. 

Tax exemptions for companies in the UAE

Investors and entrepreneurs register businesses in the UAE to minimise their tax burden. The most favourable terms for companies are in Free Zones, which have special tax and customs regimes. 

Benefits of the UAE Free Zones for companies:

  1. No corporate tax for 15–50 years after company registration.
  2. No VAT.
  3. No custom fees.
  4. Revenue generated from the international businesses of both individuals and companies is not subject to taxes in the UAE and can be withdrawn from bank accounts freely.
  5. An investor can also be the sole owner of the company, as opposed to the necessity of finding a local partner and giving them 51% shares of the company when registering a business outside Free Zones.

There are currently 45 Free Zones in the UAE and counting. The majority of them are in Dubai.

Free Zones in the UAE

EmirateZone
DubaiDubai Airport Free Zone
Dubai Auto Zone
Dubai Cars and Automotive Zone
Dubai Design District
Dubai Flower Centre
Dubai Gold and Diamond Park
Dubai Healthcare City
Dubai Industrial City
Dubai International Academic City
Dubai International Financial Centre
Dubai Internet City
Dubai Knowledge Park
Dubai Logistics City
Dubai Maritime City Authority
Dubai Media City
Dubai Multi Commodities Centre
Dubai Outsource Zone
Dubai Science Park
Dubai Silicon Oasis
Dubai Studio City
Dubai Techno Park (New name: National Industries Complex)
Dubai Textile City
Energy and Environment Park
International Humanitarian City
Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority
Jumeirah Lakes Towers Free Zone
Dubai Production City
Abu DhabiAbu Dhabi Airport Business City
Abu Dhabi Global Market
Abu Dhabi Ports Company
Higher corporation for specialised economic zones/ ZonesCorp
Industrial City of Abu Dhabi
Masdar City
TwoFour54
SharjahHamriyah Free Zone Authority
Sharjah Airport Free Zone Authority
USA Regional Trade Center Free Zone
FujairahCreative City Fujairah
Fujairah Free Zone Authority
Ras Al KhaimahRAK Investment Authority Free Zone
RAK Maritime City
Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone
Ras Al Khaimah Media Free Zone
Ajman Ajman Free Zone Authority
Umm Al Quwain Umm Al Quwain Free Zone Authority

How can a company get tax residence in the UAE?

When a company is registered in the UAE, it is automatically considered a tax resident. 

However, applying for a Taxation Residence Certificate is only possible after one year of registration. This certificate is needed to confirm the UAE tax residency in another country and avoid double taxation.

The companies’ founders fill in an application with the FTA. The registration fee for businesses is AED 1,750.

Documents needed for obtaining the Taxation Residence Certificate for companies:

  1. Trade licence and the enclosed list of founders and shareholders.
  2. Foundation agreement.
  3. Copies of passports, ID cards and residence visas of the company’s owners, partners, and managing directors.
  4. Financial statement for the year of the certificate, prepared or confirmed by an accredited UAE audit company.
  5. Corporate account statement from the UAE bank for the last 6 months.
  6. Rental or purchase agreement for the commercial property.

When filling an application with the FTA, the applicant needs to specify the country they wish to obtain a Taxation Residence Certificate for and choose a start date for a financial year.

Offshore companies cannot obtain a UAE Taxation Residence Certificate.

Property taxes in the UAE

When buying property in the UAE, two types of taxes are paid: a Transfer Fee and a Registration Fee.

The Transfer Fee rate may vary in different emirates. For example, the property tax in Dubai is 4%, while in Abu Dhabi, it’s 2%. This sum is usually divided equally between the buyer and the seller.

4%
Property transfer fee in Dubai

The administrative fee is AED 540, or $147. It is paid along with the Transfer fee.

The buyer pays the registration fee. Its rate depends on the cost of the property:

  • AED 2,000 ($545) for property worth less than AED 500,000, or $137,000;
  • AED 4,000 ($1,090 ) for property worth more than AED 500,000, or $137,000.

After the purchase, the new owner has to obtain an ownership certificate. The fee for this certificate is AED 250, or $68. 

When buying a commercial property, a new owner additionally pays a 5% VAT. FTA explains how to pay this type of VAT in its User Guide.

Taxes and fees for buying property in Dubai 

Taxes and feesApartments in a golf complex for $160,000Townhouse in Maltese style for $545,000
Property transfer fee$3,200 $10,900 
Administrative fee$147 $147
Registration fee$545 $1,090
Certificate of ownership fee$68 $68
Total taxes and fees$3,960 $12,205 

Taxes and fees for real estate owners. In the UAE, there are no annual taxes for property owners.

Owners pay an annual fee for property maintenance. This money is invested in capital repair, common areas maintenance, children’s playgrounds, sports facilities, and other infrastructure. 

The developer establishes the fee amount, usually between $15 and $60 for m². The fee is paid once a year in advance; if owners rent their property out, they still pay maintenance fees themselves.

When selling property, the seller usually pays half the Transfer fee, for example, 2% in Dubai and 1% in Abi Dhabi.

There are no taxes on gifts and inheritance in the UAE.

The municipal rental tax in the UAE is paid by the tenants, along with utility bills. The tax is automatically added to the bill. For tenants in Dubai, the tax is 5% of the rent; in Abu Dhabi, 3%; in Sharjah, 2%.

The tenants pay a 10% municipal tax when renting a commercial property.

Buy property in UAE and get residence

Spacious apartments in Dubai next to an international golf club for at least $160,000

Buy property in UAE and get residence

A villa in a large-scale residential project in Dubai designed by Roberto Cavalli is sold for at least $368,000

Buy property in UAE and get residence

A villa with three bedrooms in Dubai in a residential project with parks, a tropical forest and an international golf court is sold for at least $433,000

Double tax treaties and tax information exchange

Double tax treaties. The UAE has double tax treaties with 138 countries, including Singapore, India, the UK, and most European countries.

The treaty covers taxation for tax residents of one country making an income in another. An individual or a company pays taxes in the country where the income is made and then submits a tax deduction in a country of residence.

Those who are not UAE tax residents are obliged to pay an income tax in their residence country, according to its tax policies.

Tax information exchange. In 2018, the UAE joined the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), a unified system for exchanging tax information.

The CRS Agreement was signed by more than 100 countries, including European countries, Canada, several Asian countries, and island countries such as Antigua and Barbuda or Saint Kitts and Nevis.

According to the agreement, the banks, investment institutions, and insurance companies inform the local authorities of non-residents’ bank accounts. The authorities then exchange the information between the countries. This system allows the countries to find debtors and charge taxes.

How to get residence in the UAE

The UAE tax system attracts investors from all over the world: they buy real estate and open businesses in the Emirates. Some of them also obtain residence visas for 3 or 5 years.

Investors obtain a 3-year residence visa if they buy real estate for at least AED 750,000 (or $204,000). Investors who purchase property for at least AED 2 mln (or $545,000) get a 5-year Golden Visa.

By keeping ownership of the property, the investor can prolong their visa for however many times they wish.

Residence visas in the UAE for buying property

ConditionsResidence visaGolden visa
Validity time3 years5 years
Property costSingle owner
AED 750,000
or $204,000

Co-ownership
AED 1,000,000
or $272,000
AED 2,000,000
or $545,000
Property type
Flats, apartments, hotel rooms, villas, townhouses, offices, and warehouses


Land
MortgageYes, an initial instalment from 50%

A UAE residence visa enables one to minimise tax burden and open bank accounts in dirhams, dollars, or euros. Moreover, an investor and their family can benefit from UAE’s modern healthcare system, and their children can study in international schools and universities.

Frequently asked questions

Which taxes do individuals pay in the UAE?

UAE citizens and foreigners with residence visas are exempt from taxes on income, capital gains, gifts, inheritance, wealth, and luxury.

When buying or selling property, individuals pay a property transfer tax. The tax rate may vary in different emirates: in Dubai, for example, the tax is 4%, with a buyer and a seller both paying 2%.

A foreigner can obtain a residence visa in the UAE for 3 or 5 years by buying property there.

Which taxes do companies pay in the UAE?

UAE companies pay corporate tax, VAT and excise tax.

Corporate tax for most companies is 0% till June 2023, with a 9% rate afterwards. Companies registered in Free Zones are exempt from this tax and will remain as such even after June 2023.

VAT is 5% and is paid by companies with a year’s revenue above AED 375,000, or $102,000.

Companies that produce, import or store harmful products such as tobacco or fizzy drinks pay an excise tax.

How to minimise taxes in the UAE?

Investors who choose to open businesses in UAE Free Zones minimise their tax burden considerably, as such companies are free from:

  • corporate tax for 15–50 years;
  • VAT;
  • customs fees.

With a favourable tax system, investors can get a UAE residency visa if they invest at least AED 500,000, or $136,000, in the new company. A Golden Visa is given for 5+ years.

What taxes do I have to pay when buying property in Dubai?

When buying real estate in Dubai, you will have to pay several taxes and fees:

  1. Property transfer fee — 4% of the property cost. This tax is usually paid equally by the buyer and the seller.
  2. Administrative fee — AED 540 or $147.
  3. Registration fee depending on the property’s cost: $545 for property worth less than $137,000; $1,090 for above.
  4. Ownership certificate fee — AED 250, or $68.
How much tax do you pay in the UAE?

You don’t pay taxes on income, capital gains, gifts, inheritance, wealth, and wealth as an individual. When buying or selling property, you pay a property transfer fee — usually 4%, split equally between the buyer and the seller.

If you travel to Emirates as a tourist, you pay tourist taxes and fees — up to 10% of the service. The rates may vary in different emirates, but the taxes are usually already included in the bill, so you don’t have to pay anything separately.

Does the UAE have a real estate tax?

No, the UAE does not impose taxes on property owners. However, when buying or selling a property, you pay a property transfer fee; usually 4%, split equally between the buyer and the seller.

Is foreign income taxed in the UAE?
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UAE tax guide: everything you need to know about tax rates and exemptions for individuals and companies