This site uses cookies to provide you with a more responsive and personalised service. By using this site you agree to our use of cookies. Please read our PRIVACY POLICY for more information on the cookies we use and how to delete or block them.
  • VAT in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

VAT in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

19 July 2018

January 2018

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has implemented VAT from 1 January 2018 at the standard rate of 5%. BDO with its dedicated VAT team has helped numerous businesses prepare for the implementation of the new VAT regime by providing end-to-end support tailored to our clients’ needs. We also work closely with our VAT specialist across our international BDO network and have collaborated in the implementation of VAT across both KSA and UAE.

More information into basic terms and terminologies of the VAT implementation can be found here.

VAT Basics

When a business makes a sale of goods or services it charges VAT to its customer – this is known as ‘output tax’

When a business buys goods or services it pays VAT to the supplier - ‘input tax’

Periodically (monthly or quarterly depending on the size of the business) the business files a VAT return with GAZT. On the return the business declares all output tax charged and claims a deduction for input tax paid (subject to some restrictions). The business pays the net amount  of output tax less input tax to GAZT

A taxpayer cannot claim a deduction for input tax if it relates to personal expenses or if it relates to the making of exempt supplies.

The law relieves some goods and services by designating them as ‘exempt’ or ‘zero-rated’ as follows :

Zero-rate explained

No VAT is charged

The supplier can reclaim all of the

VAT (the input tax) on its costs

Result: complete relief from VAT


Exemption explained

No VAT charged 

The supplier cannot reclaim input VAT on costs linked to the supply

Result: partial relief from VAT.  Customer may benefit from a slightly lower price but the supplier has an additional cost


Here we summarise the key points from the Value Added Tax Law and the VAT Implementing Regulations, which were officially approved on 26 August 2017.

The law sets out the general structure for VAT in the Kingdom.  This is supplemented by the Regulations, which provide the practical details of the tax – such as which goods and services will be zero-rated and exempt.

VAT Rate                            :              5%

Registration Threshold  :

Until 1 January 2019, the registration will be compulsory for businesses with a turnover exceeding 1,000,000 SAR per annum. Businesses with a turnover between 375,000 and 1,000,000 SAR can register voluntarily.

After 1st of January 2019, the threshold for mandatory registration will drop to 375,000 SAR

The deadline for registration is 20 December 2017.

VAT Returns:

Businesses with a turnover below 40,000,000 SAR will submit returns  on a three month cycle (not necessarily calendar quarterly);

Businesses with a turnover above 40,000,000 SAR will file returns monthly.

VAT grouping:

VAT grouping will be permitted and will allow 2 or more companies that are under common control to be covered by a single VAT registration. Supplies between the VAT group members will not be subject to VAT and VAT group members will be jointly and severally liable for VAT debts.


The following supplies will be exempt from VAT

Financial services (unless it is a fee based service)

Life Insurance

The leasing or licensing of residential real estate


The following supplies will be zero-rated

Exports of goods

Some international services

Medicines and medical equipment

International transport and related services 

Investment gold, silver and platinum

Note: There will be no zero-rating or exemption for food of any kind or for private medicine or private education. However, Government Bodies acting as Public Authorities will not be treated as ‘in business’ and will not therefore charge VAT. This will probably allow public medical services and education to be provided VAT free.

VAT Records:

Records must be kept in Arabic

Tax Invoices:

Tax invoices must be issued for all sales of goods and services to VAT registered customers. The VAT invoice must include the following details in Arabic, in addition to any other language used on the invoice:


 Identifying number;

 Supplier’s VAT number;

 Where the customer has to ‘self-account’, a statement to that effect and the customer’s VAT number;

 Name and address of customer and supplier;

 Detailed description of goods or services and quantity supplied;

 Price, rebates and discounts;  

 Rate of VAT and VAT payable;

 Details of any special scheme used


VAT is payable on the import of goods into KSA. The business may then deduct this VAT as input tax, subject to the normal rules for VAT recovery.

The basic rule is that the VAT is payable at the time of import. However, taxpayers will be able to apply for permission to defer payment of the VAT so that it is paid (and at the same time claimed) on the VAT return. This would remove the negative cash-flow impact of paying VAT at the time of import.



Exports from the Kingdom will be zero-rated.

In due course there will be different rules for exports to customers in other GCC states. However, during a transitional period intra-GCC trade and exports to outside the Kingdom will be treated the same - ie zero-rated

For all exports, the goods must leave the country within 90 days of the supply taking place. The supplier will also need to obtain commercial or official evidence that the goods have left the country.


GAZT will have powers to disregard or re-describe transactions where avoidance is perceived.


An appeals process will be put in place to deal with VAT disputes. This will include a first instance committee and a mediation process.



Penalties for VAT errors and offences:

Late registration penalty – 10,000 SAR

VAT return errors – up to 50% of the error

Failure to pay tax to the Authority on time: 1,000 SAR plus 5%, 10%, 20% or 25% of the tax due depending on how late the payment is. 

Incorrect issue of invoices: the higher of 1,000 SAR or double the tax

Failure to comply with various regulations: 1,000 SAR or 2% of monthly taxable supplies, up to a maximum of  20,000 SAR

Making false statements: double the tax involved 

Tax Avoidance: Double the tax plus a penalty by the Administrative Court

Penalty for Tax Officials committing breaches of confidentiality: up to 1,000,000 SAR plus up to 2 years imprisonment.

To find out more:


Managing Partner

BDO Dr Mohamed Al-Amri & Co

Tel: +966 11 278 8782
[email protected]

Regional Head of VAT

BDO Dr Mohamed Al-Amri & Co
Mobile: +971 52 152 5521
[email protected]