Middle East Tax and other measures in response to COVID-19

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Based on information received from countries as of 20/05/2020 04 PM GST

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat, many countries around the world are implementing emergency tax measures to support their economies.
This dedicated COVID-19 Middle East web page includes an overview of all emergency tax and other measures announced across the Middle East. These measures include postponement of the filing and payment of taxes, reductions in taxes and government fees, loan repayment deferrals, and stimulus packages to support the local economies.
Please visit the PwC Global COVID-19 web page for an overview of tax measures announced in more than 130 countries (including the Middle East). 

Bahrain

Overview

The Bahrain Government has announced various measures to support the local economy. From a tax perspective, these measures include a three month exemption from municipal fees and tourism levies starting April 2020.

Corporate income tax measures
Not applicable / No announcement

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)
Not applicable / No announcement

Individual taxes and labour
Not applicable / No announcement

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax payments/penalties amnesty
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax reporting:
Not applicable / No announcement

Economic measures

The Bahrain Government has announced a USD 11.4bn stimulus package, which includes:

  • Payment of salaries of all private sector employees for three months from April 2020, following constitutional procedures and in line with the Social Insurance Law. Specific details of benefits as well as applicable parameters are expected to be legislated and published at a later stage;
  • Payment of utility (water and electricity) bills for all individuals and businesses (up to the costs incurred during the same period in 2019) for three months from April 2020;
  • Exempting all individuals and businesses from municipal fees for three months from April 2020;
  • Exempting all businesses from industrial land rental fees for three months from April 2020;
  • Exempting all tourism-related industry from tourism levies for three months from April 2020;
  • Increasing the Liquidity Support Fund (aimed at supporting companies in distress) to BHD 200m (equivalent to USD 530m);
  • Increasing the Central Bank of Bahrain’s loan facilities to BHD 3.7bn to allow debt instalments to be deferred and extra credit to be extended; and
  • The redirection of all Tamkeen programmes (semi-autonomous government agency that provides loans and assistance to businesses) to support adversely affected companies, as well as the restructuring of all debts issued by Tamkeen.

The Central Bank of Bahrain has taken the following measures:

  • Bahraini nationals are granted a six month deferral of loan repayments (including credit cards) without interest/profit, fees or a rate increase - applicable from March 2020;
  • Loan to value ratios for new residential mortgages have been relaxed for Bahraini nationals;
  • Merchant fees imposed by local acquirers on debit card transactions are reduced to 0.8%;
  • CBB will provide retail banks concessionary repo arrangements up to six months at a zero percent interest / repo rate on a case-by-case basis;
  • Cash reserve ratios for retail banks are reduced from 5% to 3%; and
  • CBB reduced its key policy interest rate from 2.45% to 1.7%. The interest rate on one-week deposits was reduced from 1.75% to 1% and the overnight deposit rate has been reduced from 1.5% to 0.75%.

Immigration and Employment measures

As of March 29

Effective 25th of March 2020, only Bahraini nationals, those who have prior permission granted from the Bahraini Ministry of Interior (MOI), foreign residents, diplomats, military personnel, airline crew and holders of official, service and UN passports, will be permitted to enter Bahrain. All other individuals travelling to Bahrain will not be granted entry to the Kingdom of Bahrain until further notice.

As of April 12: Bahrain has made it mandatory for anyone going outside their residence to wear a mask at all times.

As of April 20: NPRA has introduced online services to include issuing, extending and cancelling visas, local transfer, issuing and cancelling resident permits, self-sponsorship licence and the grace period via www.npra.gov.bh, as the visa sticker would be fixed on the passport while travelling at the airport.

As of April 22: Bahrain has extended the existing movement restrictions for a further two weeks until 7 May.

Egypt

Overview

The Egyptian Government has announced various measures to support the local economy. These include tax related measures such as the postponement of property tax payments and reductions in stamp duty and dividend withholding tax, and non-tax related measures such as the reduction of energy prices.

Corporate income tax measures

The Egyptian Government has announced the following measures (subject to the issuance of a law to this effect): 

  • The exemption from the taxation of capital gains on securities listed on the Egyptian stock exchange (EGX) for Egyptian residents will be extended to 1 January 2022 (originally due to expire 17 May 2020);
  • The exemption from the taxation of capital gains on securities listed on the Egyptian stock exchange (EGX) for non-residents will be made permanent; and
  • Withholding tax on dividends paid by companies listed on the EGX will be reduced from 10% to 5%.

As of April 27: The Egyptian Tax Authority has announced that corporate income tax due for FY19 (due 30 April for 31 December 2019 year end) can be settled over three instalments for certain industry sectors (see below). No interest or fines would apply in respect of payments made over instalments.

Installment payment dates:

  • 20% of the tax due to be paid during the month of April 2020,
  • 30% of the tax due to be paid during the month of May 2020,
  • The remaining amount (50% of the tax due) to be paid before the end of June 2020.

The above instalment plan shall be applicable on the following sectors:

  • Aviation sector.
  • Tourism sector (including cafes and restaurants).
  • Hotels sector.
  • Media and Journalism sector.
  • Industrial sector (especially exporting companies).
  • Shipping, transportation and car distribution sectors.
  • Hospitals sector.
  • Contracting sector.
  • Certain companies in the IT and telecommunications sector.
  • Sports and sports services sector. 

As of May 7: Law No.24 provides the Egyptian Cabinet discretion to approve any proposals from the Minister of Finance for a three month extension for the submission of corporate income tax returns due within the COVID-19 period  (FY19 corporate income tax returns originally due four months after the financial year end). The extension can be renewed for an additional three months. No interest or fines would apply in respect of submissions made during the extension period.

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)

As of March 25: The Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry (the Foreign Trade Sector) issued a statement confirming (i) documents, such as commercial invoices, would be accepted without being accredited by the Chambers of Commerce (this usually being a requirement) and (ii) certificates of origin would be accepted without authorisation from the Egyptian Embassy abroad.

As of April 8: The Egyptian Ministry of Finance has issued a decree requiring VAT registrant taxpayers to issue electronic invoices, comprising the following information:

  • Electronic signature of the invoice issuer (i.e. the supplier or the service provider)
  • The unified code of the relevant good and/or service, as pre-approved by the ETA

As of May 4: The Egyptian Tax Authority has extended the filing deadline for VAT returns relating to the period ending February 2020 to 10 May 2020 (originally 30 April 2020). No extension has been announced on the VAT payment deadline for the period ending February 2020, as such businesses should pay the relevant VAT for the period by the 30th of April 2020.

As of May 7: Law No.24 provides the Egyptian Cabinet discretion to approve any proposals from the Minister of Finance for a three month extension for the submission of VAT returns and payment of VAT due within the COVID-19 period. The extension can be renewed for an additional three months. No interest or fines would apply in respect of submissions or payments made during the extension period.

Individual taxes and labour
Citizens filing taxes online will not be charged the subscription fee for the use of the online filing portal.

As of March 23: The Egyptian Tax Authority has extended the filing deadlines for personal income tax returns relating to FY19 to 16 April 2020 (originally 31 March 2020).

As of May 7: Law No.24 provides the Egyptian Cabinet discretion to approve any proposals for a three month deferral or approval for the payment of social security contributions by way of installment. The three month deferral and payment installments can be renewed for an additional three months.

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)

The Egyptian Government has announced the following measures (subject to the issuance of a law to this effect): 

  • Stamp duty on transactions on the Egyptian stock exchange (EGX) will be reduced from 0.15% to 0.125% for non-residents;
  • Stamp duty on EGX transactions will be reduced from 0.15% to 0.05% for Egyptian residents;
  • All spot transactions on the EGX will be exempt from stamp duty; and
  • Three month extension for the payment of property taxes for companies in the industrial and tourism sector. The property taxes shall become payable in monthly installments over the following six months.

As of May 7: Law No.24 provides the Egyptian Cabinet discretion to approve any proposals from the Ministry of Finance for a three month deferral for the settlement of real estate tax due for properties that are used in sectors negatively impacted by COVID-19. The three month deferral can be renewed for an additional three months.

Tax payments/penalties amnesty
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax reporting
As of 23 March
The Egyptian Tax Authority has extended the deadline for natural persons to file tax returns from 31 March 2020 to 16 April 2020.

Economic measures

The Egyptian Government has announced the following measures: 

  • Reduction in the price of natural gas for industrial use to USD 4.50 per mmBtu (previously USD 6.00 per mmBtu for cement companies and USD 5.50 per mmBtu for metallurgy and ceramic manufacturers);
  • Reduction in the price of electricity for "heavy industries" from EGP 1.10 to EGP 0.10 (c. USD 0.0064) per kilowatt hour. Electricity prices are frozen for all other industries for the next 3-5 years; 
  • The Export Subsidy Fund will pay out the entire EGP 1 billion in arrears during March and April, plus 10% in cash payments to exporters during June;
  • The Central Bank of Egypt has decreased  the credit and discount rates from 12.75% to 9.75%; and
  • The Central Bank of Egypt has extended the tenor of all bank loans to businesses for six months and provides debt relief for individuals.

Immigration and Employment measures
As of March 29

Travel Restrictions and Entry Bans

The Egyptian government has announced that flights to and from Egypt will be suspended until at least mid-April. On 26 March, the Prime Minister announced the closure of all governmental authorities and its associated bodies for two weeks. As a result, there will be a temporary suspension of all of their services, which include those provided by the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), notary public offices, and immigration offices.

Quarantine Measures

There are currently restrictions in place including an overnight curfew, as well as on public gatherings, schools, universities, cafes, bars, clubs, malls, hotels, public transport, public gathering places and tourist locations. The Egyptian authorities may impose mandatory quarantine for visitors who test positive for coronavirus in a government isolation hospital, potentially in a remote location. Access for family members could be heavily restricted or impossible.

As of April 2: Egypt has extended its international air travel ban for a further two weeks until 15 April.

As of April 12: Egypt has extended the nationwide curfew until 23 April with revised curfew hours from 8pm to 6am with exemptions to leave home only for food and other essential reasons

As of April 26: Egypt has amended the curfew timings for the holy month of Ramadan to be 9pm to 6am. 

As of May 8: Egypt has extended the nationwide curfew which is in place from 9pm to 6am until 24 May. 

Other measures

  • The National Bank of Egypt has announced a one-year savings deposit program with a 15% interest rate;
  • The Financial Regulatory Authority has announced an extension to 15 June for EGX listed companies to submit their financial statements for Q4 2019 (original deadline 30 April); and
  • The Financial Regulatory Authority has ordered mortgage lenders, factoring and leasing companies to grant a six-month grace period upon request by clients.
  • As of 18 March: The General Authority for Investment & Free Zones has issued a decree temporarily permitting companies regulated under the Companies Law No. 159/1981, and the Investment Law No. 72/2017, to conduct meetings (i.e., board of directors meetings and ordinary shareholder meetings) via online (audio or visual) medi
  • As of April 1: The Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry issued a new decree prohibiting the export of any kind of beans for the next three months.
  • As of May 7: Law No.24 provides the Egyptian Cabinet discretion to approve any proposals for administrative fees that can be settled by way of installment over a three month period. The three month installment payment can be renewed for an additional three months.

Iraq

Overview
Iraq has announced various filing and payment extensions for corporate income tax and social security contributions in response to COVID-19.

Corporate income tax measures
As of May 7: The Iraqi General Commission for Taxes (GCT)  has extended the filing deadline for corporate income tax returns for the 2019 calendar year to 31 August 2020 (originally 31 May 2020) for all taxpayers, with no penalties and interest imposed.

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)
Not applicable / No announcement

Individual taxes and labour
As of April 2: The Social Security Department has announced a waiver for penalties for the late payment of social security contributions for the period February 2020 (due by the end of March 2020).

As of April 20: The Social Security Department has announced that social security contributions for the period March 2020 (due by the end of April 2020) and such payments must be made by electronic wire transfer, no announcement regarding the waiver for penalties for late payment has been announced

As of May 19: The Iraqi General Commission for Taxes (GCT)/ Direct Deduction Department has extended the deadline for the submission of the annual payroll schedules for calendar year 2019 to 30 June 2020. The extended filing deadline will be applicable to all taxpayers in Iraq.

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax payments/penalties amnesty
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax reporting
Not applicable / No announcement

Economic measures
Not applicable / No announcement

Immigration and Employment measures

As of March 29
The Federal Iraqi government has suspended flights from and to Iraq from March 17th until further notice. 

On 26 March, the Council of Ministers has extended the mandatory curfew and movement restrictions until April 11th, 2020.

As of March 30: The Council of Ministers has extended the mandatory curfew and movement restrictions until April 19th, 2020.

Other measures

As of May 7: The Iraqi General Commission for Taxes (GCT) has announced that the deadline for submitting the audited financial statements for the calendar year 2019 has been extended to 31 August  2020 (originally due 31 May 2020).

Jordan

Overview

Jordan has announced various measures in response to COVID-19.

Corporate income tax measures

The Jordanian Tax Authority has announced a proposed extension for the submission of audited financial statements (currently due on 30 April 2020).

As of May 4: The Tax Authority has further extended the filing deadline for corporate income tax returns for the 2019 fiscal year to 30 June 2020 (originally 30 April 2020), with no penalties and interest imposed.

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)

The collection of sales tax will be postponed until the date goods are sold (as opposed to the date on which the contract is signed / the sale is concluded). This applies to all local supplies as well as imports of food, medicine and health related goods.

As of March 31:

The Income and Sales Tax Department has extended the filing deadline for sales tax returns for the period of January and February 2020 to 30 April 2020 (originally 28 March 2020), with no penalties and interest imposed.

The following measures in relation to customs have been introduced: 

  • Reduction in the the regulatory procedures related to the importation of goods;
  • Decrease in the percentage of goods being inspected for local use;
  • Limit to the applicable controls related to goods in transit; 
  • Adjustment of the the grace period fees and cooling charges due at the Aqaba Port; and 
  • Approval for all companies listed on the Golden and Silver Importers List of the Jordanian Customs’ Department to pay their customs duties in installments (being 30% of the amount due upfront and the remaining 70% at a later date), provided that these companies are not subject to any violations.

As of April 30: The Income and Sales Tax Department has extended the filing deadline for sales tax returns for the period January and February 2020 to 30 May 2020 (originally 31 March 2020), with no penalties and interest imposed.

As of May 4: The Income and Sales Tax Department has extended the filing deadline for sales tax returns for the period February and March 2020 to 28 May 2020 (originally 30 April 2020), with no penalties and interest imposed.

Individual taxes and labour

The Jordanian Social Security Department announced the following measures:

  • Suspension of old age insurance contribution for the private sector, commencing from 1 March 2020 until 31 May 2020;
  • Termination of ongoing judicial and administrative procedures for businesses in default to pay amounts due to the Jordanian Social Security Corporation;
  • Allocation of 50% of the maternity insurance revenues for the year 2020 to provide in-kind and material assistance to the elderly and sick;
  • The option for excluded employees to subscribe to “old age insurance”; and
  • Employees on unpaid leave can apply for disbursement of unemployment benefits, provided they meet the relevant conditions and work in certain sectors, such as tourism, transport and trade.

As of May 4: The Tax Authority has extended the filing deadline for individual's income tax returns for the 2019 fiscal year to 30 June 2020 (originally 30 April 2020), with no penalties and interest imposed.

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax payments/penalties amnesty
As of March 31:

  • The Prime Minister and Minister of Defence announced the suspension of all ongoing tax audits, appeals and court sessions.

Tax reporting
Not applicable / No announcement

Economic measures
Not applicable / No announcement

Immigration and Employment measures
As of  March 25

  • Travel Restrictions:

On 14 March the Jordanian Government announced that commercial flights to and from Jordan will be stopped and all land and sea borders will be closed at 23:59 on Monday 16 March.

On 24 March, authorities announced that a flight with Qatar Airways is being arranged, leaving Jordan on 28th March. The flight will be to Doha, where it is still possible to arrange onward commercial travel to the UK. The flight is operating on a commercial basis and Qatar Airways have informed authorities that tickets to a range of UK destinations will be around 1599 JOD. In line with the FCO Travel Advice of 23 March, British Nationals who have travelled to Jordan and who now find themselves without travel options to return home will have priority on this flight. If this category is met and a ticket for this flight needs to be purchased, please send a copy of your passport biodata and visa stamp pages to Cons.Amman@fco.gov.uk by 08:00 on 25th March. The Embassy will then reply on 25 March with further details. Tickets for this flight cannot be purchased through other means.

Prior to the 14 March announcement, the Jordanian authorities introduced a number of precautionary measures, including the following entry restrictions:

• A ban on entry to foreign nationals travelling from China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Lebanon, Syria, or who have been in these countries in the past 14 days.

• From Saturday 14 March, a ban on entry of foreign nationals travelling from France, Germany, and Spain.

• Closure of border crossings to Israel (Jordan River/Sheikh Hussein; or Yitshak Rabin/Wadi Arraba) and OPTs (Allenby/King Hussein Bridge) for foreign nationals.

• Closure of the border crossings to and from Iraq.

• Closure of sea borders with Egypt and reduction in number of flights to and from Egypt.

  • Quarantine measures:

On 20 March, the Prime Minister imposed a full curfew from 21 March until further notice. On 25 March it was announced that people will be allowed to leave their homes from 10:00 to 18:00 (local time) to walk to shops, bakeries and pharmacies, which have now reopened. Anyone violating the curfew will be liable to immediate imprisonment. A very narrow exception to the curfew has been authorised by the Prime Minister for those whose work is necessary to keep the country running.

Quarantine restrictions prior to the curfew announced on 20 March:

On 16 March, the Government of Jordan declared additional precautionary measures to take immediate effect. The measures include compulsory quarantine for all those arriving in Jordan. All passengers arriving through airports and border crossings from Monday 16 March are subject to a 14-day compulsory quarantine in designated hotel facilities set by the government, either in the Dead Sea region or in Amman. Passengers departing later on 16 March are required to sign a declaration (before departure), committing to enter such quarantine before being allowed to board. On arrival, through airports and border crossings, passengers will be transported directly to the designated quarantine areas.

As of April 12: The Defence Order No.6 2020  announced several measures that aim to protect the rights of workers in various economic sectors in light of some sectors gradually returning to work while the curfew continues.

  1. Employees in private sector institutions and establishments subject to the Labour Law are entitled to their regular wages for the period between March 18, 2020 to March 31, 2020.
  2. As of April 2020, employees who perform their work in the workplace are entitled to their full wages, unless the employees agree to a reduction not exceeding 30% of their usual wages.
  3. Employees who perform their work remotely in full, in institutions and establishments permitted to work and those covered by the decision to suspend their work, are entitled to their full wages.
  4. Part-time remote employees in institutions and establishments permitted to work and those covered by the decision to suspend their work entitled to their wages with accordance to their actual hours of work spent, at a rate of no less than the minimum wages.
  5. Entities whose operations have been suspended and are unable to pay the employees’ salaries and wages can submit a request to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply and the Ministry of Labour to obtain a confirmation to suspend their work, and suspend their employees’ employment contracts.

Other measures
As of March 31: All business trade licenses that are due to expire have automatically been extended to 1 June 2020. 

As of April 2: The companies control department has announced that the general assembly meetings, boards of directors, and managers’ boards meetings for Public Limited Companies, Private Limited Companies, and Limited Liability Companies will take place after mid-April, subject to the conditions and circumstances in Jordan at that time

Kuwait

Overview

Kuwait has announced several measures in response to COVID-19 to support the economy, but to date, the only tax measure announced has been the postponement of certain social security contributions for a period of six months starting from 1 April 2020.

Corporate income tax measures
Not applicable / No announcement

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)
Not applicable / No announcement

Individual taxes and labour
As of April 20: PIFSS has announced the implementation of  the decision of His Excellency the Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Corporation’s Board of Directors to postpone some of the social security contributions payments for a period of six months starting from 1 April 2020. The postponement of contributions will be available for those:

  1. Who are working for their own account. (i.e. Self employed).
  2. Business owners in the private and oil sectors that are not fully owned by the government/country.

This is for employer contributions only, and will not affect employee contributions which should be calculated as normal. Repayment of the postponed contributions will be repaid over a 24 month period, starting from October 2020.

As of April 30: PIFSS has announced for the business owners in the oil and gas and private sector that qualify for the above relief, if they would like to forgo postponing the social security contributions, they have to request on the PIFSS website "postponement cancellation now". Otherwise the postpone will be automatically applied.

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax payments/penalties amnesty
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax reporting
Not applicable / No announcement

Economic measures

The Kuwait Central Bank has announced the following measures: 

  • Reduction in the discount rate from 2.50% to 1.50%;
  • Establishment of a KWD 10m fund to support COVID-19 containment efforts;
  • Three month deferral of the collection of payments from affected customers; and
  • Removal of charges imposed on ATMs, online transactions and POS transactions for a period of 3-months

As of 25 March: The Kuwait Banking Association has announced the following measures:

  • Six month postponement of the payment credit card installments for all citizens;
  • Six month postponement of the payment of loans and interest for all citizens;
  • Six month postponement of the payment of loans and interest for SMEs; and
  • No interest or fines in respect of the above postponements

As of March 31:

The Kuwait Banking Association has announced the following measures:

  • Six month postponement of the payment of credit card installments for illegal residents and children of Kuwaiti women; 

  • No interest or fines with respect to the above postponement; and

  • Expatriates will be treated on a case by case basis.

As of April 1: The Kuwait Cabinet has announced that it will adopt the recommendations put forth to address the economic and social impact of the coronavirus. 

As of April 2: The Central Bank of Kuwait has announced the following for local banks:

  • Reduction of the capital adequacy requirements by 2.5%

  • Reduction of liquidity requirements

  • Reduction of the risk weight of small and medium enterprises from 75% to 25%

  • Increase of the maximum funding available from 90% to 100%

  • Increase of the permitted percentage of financing to the value of the property (LTV)

Immigration and Employment measures

As of March 29

The Ministry of Interior's (MOI's) General Department for Residence Affairs has made the following announcements:

  • An exemption has been granted to Kuwaiti nationala with respect to fines incurred as a result of the expiry of their workers' residency permits during the period of state administration disruption.

  • A requirement has been imposed for Kuwaiti national business owners to renew the residency of their (i) registered workers and (ii) domestic workers via the online portal on the official website of the Ministry of the Interior.

Furthermore, visitors with commercial, tourist or family visas that have expired during the holiday period in Kuwait are allowed to exit the country without paying fines once the airport commences flight operations.

The Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) announces, in light of cabinet decisions taken regarding measures to combat the new coronavirus. It has been decided to open the doors of government contracts and project management for two hours throughout the week except Friday, starting from 10 am to 12 pm.

Kuwaiti authorities have announced a nationwide 11 hour curfew starting 22 March 2020 between 5pm to 4am, until further notice.

Kuwaiti authorities have extended the closure of offices until 9 April 2020, as of 22 March 2020.

As of March 31:

In accordance with the Ministerial Resolution No 288 issued on 27 March 2020, all foreign nationals who do not hold a valid residence permit in Kuwait are required to exit the country between 1 April 2020 and 30 April 2020, from any of the designated ports of exit. The exit formalities will be completed at the port of exit. Tourist/Commercial Visit Visa/Visit Visa holders are requested to exit Kuwait no later than 30 April 2020 in order to avoid the payment of any fines.

The Kuwaiti authorities have arranged temporary accommodation facilities for foreign nationals who are required to exit the country on or before 30 April 2020 (in accordance to the Ministerial Resolution No 288), until the required exit arrangements are made and to complete the exit formalities. Foreign nationals with expired Kuwaiti permits and Tourist/Commercial Visit Visa/Visit Visa holders are requested to report to the designated accommodation centres immediately between 8am to 2pm on all days.

1- Reception for males (Al Farwaniyah Governorate - Al-Muthanna Primary School - Boys (Block) 1 (Street) 122) 

2- Reception for females (Al Farwaniyah Governorate - Farwaniya Primary School - Girls (Block) 1 (Street) 76)

As of April 2: 

The Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) announces the online renewal of Work and Residence Permit for expats who are both inside or outside of Kuwait. The applications for the renewal Work and Residence Permit needs to be submitted online, by the sponsoring entity in Kuwait. The approval of the application is at the discretion of the authorities. This is applicable for expats whose permits have expired during the travel ban/restriction period. Upon successful renewal, the Residence Permit details will be updated in the immigration systems and the expat should have no issues entering Kuwait, once the suspension on travel into Kuwait is lifted. 

Online application for Civil ID renewal can be filed once the Residence Permit has been renewed.

As of April 5: According to a circular issued by the Ministry of Health on 5 April 2020, individuals who leave mandatory quarantine facilities or are discharged from a hospital (after being tested negative from COVID-19 infection), are required to observe a mandatory home quarantine for 14 days. The files of individuals discharged are sent to public health services teams in every health zone to ensure compliance.

As of April 6: The Kuwaiti authorities have announced online application services for the following applications:

  1. New passport information transfer service for expatriates;

  2. Latin name modification service according to passport;

  3. Renewal of residence permit family, Article (22) service; and

  4. The residence sponsorship renewal service of the same person, Article 24. 

The applications are to be filed through the website of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) (www.moi.gov.kw). 

This online service is applicable for individuals whose Kuwaiti Residence Permit has expired as on 1 March 2020.

As of April 12:

Kuwait authorities have extended the partial curfew by two hours effective 7 April 2020 from 5pm to 6am until further notice. All Ministries, government entities and the public sector will remain closed until 26 April 2020.

The decisions taken at the Council of Ministers’ meeting on Thursday 9 April 2020 is to:

  • Instruct the General Administration of Civil Aviation to issue a circular allowing the operation of flights for all airlines concerning travel for those who reside in the country and wish to return to their home countries
  • Entrust the designated authorities with the preparation of all the necessary requirements to plan for a comprehensive ban on roaming in all regions of Kuwait if such decision gets issued, in order to ensure the provisions of these plans, achieve the desired goal and avoid any possible obstacles

Based on the decision of the council of Ministries on 9 April 2020, the Council accepted the operation of all airline flights to residents (non-Kuwaitis) wishing to return to their home countries. 

Given the above, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is pleased to announce its acceptance of requests from all airlines, as per the applicable procedures of the Air Transport Department, to obtain the necessary approvals for flight operations for those wishing to travel out of Kuwait.

As of April 15: This is due to the exceptional circumstances that the country is going through at the present time in order to facilitate citizens and residents, and in view of the disruption of work in all ministries, government agencies, public bodies and institutions until the date of 4/26/2020, in implementation of Civil Service Bureau Circular No. (10) for the year (2020). Complementing the efforts made by the Ministry of Interior and its endeavor to address the situation of violators in the country, which will reflect positively on the security, humanitarian and economic side. His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, Anas Khaled Al-Saleh - issued a ministerial decree granting residents in conflict with a temporary residence that is valid for a period of three months, starting from the date of 1/3/2020, with a maximum of all cases ending on 31/5/2020 automatically through the computer system in cooperation with the information and communications technology sector and they are as follows:-

  1. Residents who are inside the country only residency holders (of all kinds) who have expired.

  2. Those who entered the country according to entry passes or visits (of all kinds) and the validity of their entry passes expired.

Provided that the sponsor or the employer during this period modifies the status of the violator who was granted temporary residence automatically by completing the residence procedures previously granted to him through the website of the Ministry of Interior www.moi.gov.kw.

As of April 20: Based on the decisions taken by the Council of Ministers meeting on 20 April 2020

Closure of all Ministries, Government Agencies, Public Institutions from work (precautionary) due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, as of Sunday 26 April 2020 until Thursday 28 May 2020 as rest days.  To resume official working hours on Sunday 31 May 2020. 

Assigning the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Information to take all necessary measures - each in relation to its line of work towards violators of the decision (home quarantine or curfew), and publishing the names of violators through the media, daily newspapers and social media. 

With the approaching of the Holy month of Ramadan the Council of Ministers discussed the precautionary measures taken to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, and the Council has decided to amend the curfew, from the beginning of the Holy month, to start from 4 pm until 8 am. Delivery service from restaurants and food centers is allowed from 5 pm to 1 am. 

As of May 9: Kuwait will impose a full lockdown from 4pm on 10 May until 30 May. We understand that people can exercise inside residential areas between the hours of 4.30-6.30pm every day if using masks and adhering to social distancing but the use of cars is prohibited. Grocery stores will remain open with residents required to book an appointment in advance.

As of May 17: In accordance to the latest announcement from the Ministry of Interior, employer/sponsoring companies in Kuwait are now able to renew the Residence Permits of their employees who are currently outside the country, with Residence Permits that have expired in the beginning of the year 2020. The expired Residence Permit can be renewed upon payment of the applicable fines.

Lebanon

Overview

As of 25 March: The Minister of Finance has announced a suspension of the filing, payment and other related administrative processes in respect of all taxes effective immediately (and including any taxes previously postponed), until such time as the Council of Ministers issues a notice confirming the end of the public mobilization.

Corporate income tax measures

As of March 25: The Minister of Finance has announced a suspension of the filing, payment and other related administrative processes in respect of all taxes effective immediately (and including any taxes previously postponed), until such time as the Council of Ministers issues a notice confirming the end of the public mobilization.

As of April 2: The Minister of Finance issued a new decision announcing the extension to 30 April for the filing and payment of the movable capital tax on foreign revenues received by natural and legal persons residing in Lebanon, that were previously due 31 March 2020

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)

As of March 25: The Minister of Finance has announced a suspension of the filing, payment and other related administrative processes in respect of all taxes effective immediately (and including any taxes previously postponed), until such time as the Council of Ministers issues a notice confirming the end of the public mobilization.

As of April 15: Lebanon has extended the filing and payment deadline for quarter one VAT declarations and VAT refunds for this period to 15 May 2020 (original deadline 20 April 2020), under Decision No. 147/1.

As of May 15: Lebanon has extended the filing and payment deadline for quarter one VAT declarations and VAT refunds for this period to 20 May 2020 (original deadline previously extended to 15 May 2020), under Decision No.  165/1.

Individual taxes and labour

As of March 25: The Minister of Finance has announced a suspension of the filing, payment and other related administrative processes in respect of all taxes effective immediately (and including any taxes previously postponed), until such time as the Council of Ministers issues a notice confirming the end of the public mobilization.

As of April 15: Lebanon has extended the filing and payment deadline for quarter one payroll tax declarations (R10) to 15 May 2020 (original deadline 15 April 2020), under Decision No. 146/1.

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)

As of March 25: The Minister of Finance has announced a suspension of the filing, payment and other related administrative processes in respect of all taxes effective immediately (and including any taxes previously postponed), until such time as the Council of Ministers issues a notice confirming the end of the public mobilization.

As of May 15: Lebanon has extended the filing and payment deadline for quarter one payroll tax declarations (R10) to 20 May 2020 (original deadline previously extended to 15 May 2020), under Decision No. 165/1.

Tax payments/penalties amnesty

As of March 25: The Minister of Finance has announced a suspension of the filing, payment and other related administrative processes in respect of all taxes effective immediately (and including any taxes previously postponed), until such time as the Council of Ministers issues a notice confirming the end of the public mobilization.

Tax reporting

As of March 25: The Minister of Finance has announced a suspension of the filing, payment and other related administrative processes in respect of all taxes effective immediately (and including any taxes previously postponed), until such time as the Council of Ministers issues a notice confirming the end of the public mobilization.

Economic measures
Not applicable / No announcement

Immigration and Employment measures

As of March 29

Effective 26 March, Lebanon has extended the nationwide lockdown whereby people can only leave their homes to buy food and medicine, as well as all non-essential businesses being closed for two weeks until Sunday 12 April.  In addition, the authorities have ordered the closure of supermarkets and food producers between 7pm and 5am by imposing a curfew during these hours.

As of April 12: Lebanon has extended the nationwide lockdown until 26 April. A curfew from 7pm to 5am remains in place during this period and all non-essential business premises will remain closed.

As of April 20: Lebanese authorities have modified the curfew to start 1 hour later, so the new timing is 8pm to 5am

As of April 26: Lebanon has extended the existing restrictions until 10 May and updated the nationwide curfew hours to be between 9pm and 5am. A plan to reopen the country with a 5-stage timetable has been developed which we will share more details on when available.

As of May 6: Lebanon has extended the overnight curfew prohibiting non-essential movement between 9pm and 5am until 24 May.

As of May 13: The authorities in Lebanon are imposing a nationwide lockdown from 7pm today until 5am on 18 May.

Libya


Overview
As of April 12
: The Libyan tax authority has announced that no penalties would apply with respect to the late filing of corporate income tax, personal income tax and stamp duty returns.

Corporate income tax measures
Not applicable / No announcement

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)
Not applicable / No announcement

Individual taxes and labour
Not applicable / No announcement

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax payments/penalties amnesty
As of April 12
: The Libyan tax authority has announced no penalties would apply with respect to the late filing of corporate income tax, personal income tax and stamp duty returns.

Tax reporting
Not applicable / No announcement

Economic measures
Not applicable / No announcement

Oman

Overview

The Oman Government announced certain tax and non-tax related measures that are effective immediately.

Corporate income tax measures

As of March 31: The Oman Tax Authority has announced the following tax measures effective immediately:

  •  Automatic three month extension to the filing and payment due date for corporate income tax, with no penalty imposed for late filing and payment, for all CIT returns due affected by COVID 19;

  • Formal application and approval for all taxpayers to settle taxes due by way of installments, with no penalty imposed;

  • An extension for taxpayers to raise objections against original, rectified or additional tax assessments from the Oman Tax Authority, provided they can justify the delay at the time of filing the objection. 

  • Taxpayers can request for a discretionary extension on the time to submit required information and documents to the Tax Authority in relation to an objection. If approved, the duration for making a decision on objection is also automatically extended.

  • Donations made by taxpayers for the purpose of combating the COVID-19 pandemic shall be allowed as a deductible expense for CIT purposes for FY20 fiscal year, provided such donations are made in accordance with the provisions of the Oman Income Tax Law and Executive Regulations.

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)

As of March 25: The Omani customs authority has announced that where the importer is unable to obtain or produce the necessary authorisations (i.e., documents and certificates of the goods from the exporting country), the relevant goods will be cleared nevertheless. Further, the current requirement to obtain a guarantee for the non-submission of original legalised documents has been waived until further notice

As of April 6: Royal Oman Police represented by the Directorate General of Customs in cooperation with the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry has announced that:

  • Documents accompanying the goods will be considered original documents without collecting the guarantee stipulated in Clause (9) of Article (1) of Customs Decision No. 38/2017 and Customs Circular No. 37/2017.

  • Product authentication labels (including country of origin) will be accepted in case the certificate of origin cannot be submitted

Individual taxes and labour

As of April 16: The Public Authority for Social Insurance (PASI) has announced postponement of the payment of monthly contributions due for the months of March, April and May until the end of June 2020.

Payment of the postponed contributions  can be made as a single payment before the end of  June 2020, or in installments, with further details on how this will work to be detailed later. 

The measure includes an exemption from any fines that would have resulted from the delay in payment of the contributions due for March-May 2020, as well as any fines that result from a delay in registering their Omani workforce, or notification of the end of their services during the same period, but specifically does not cover failure to meet these obligations in prior months (i.e. pre March 20)

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax payments/penalties amnesty

The following tax measures are effective immediately: 

  • Exemption from Tourist and Municipal Tax (rate 4%) for restaurants until 31 August 2020; and
  • Exemption from Municipal Tax (rate 5%) for commercial establishments until 31 August 2020. 

Tax reporting
Not applicable / No announcement

Economic measures

The following economic measures are effective immediately: 

  • Government warehouse facilities to store food commodities can be used free of charge for the next six months; 
  • All loan installment payments to the Al-Rafd Fund by SMEs are deferred for the next six months; 
  • All loan installment payments to the Oman Development Bank are deferred for the next six months; 
  • Three month exemption from rent payments for factories located in the industrial cities (under Madayn i.e. Rusayl, Suhar, Raysut, Sur, Nizwa, Buraimi, Al Muzunah, Samail, Knowledge Oasis Muscat); 
  • Exemption from trade license renewal fees for companies renewing within the next three months;  
  • Reduction in handling, shipping and unloading fees at ports; and 
  • Reduction in air freight charges on food products and medicine.

As of March 31: On 18 March the Central Bank of Oman introduced a stimulus package of USD 20bn to support the economy.

Immigration and Employment measures

As of March 29

Effective 23 March, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) have closed all their service offices related to civil status, passports, residence and traffic until further notice. 

The Ministry of Manpower (MoM) in Oman are currently working with a reduced workforce at a maximum capacity of 30%.  Therefore, delays in all the ongoing applications are expected. (Vendor)

As of March 31: Given the suspension of all international flights to Oman, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) have provided an online Residence Permit (RP) extension option to holders currently outside Oman whose RPs have either expired or will expire during this suspension period. Such individuals can then complete other standard renewal formalities once they have arrived in Oman after the suspension is lifted.

With regards to the individuals who are currently in Oman and are not able to exit due to the suspension of travel, they are able to extend their visas online on the ROP website and stay in Oman until the suspension is lifted.

As of April 20: The Supreme Committee tasked with handling the development of COVID-19 pandemic have approved a set of initiatives to support individuals employed in the Private Sector. Key initiatives are as follows:

  1. Private sector firms to maintain stability of Omani manpower and not terminate their services

  2. Private sector firms are encouraged to implement modern technology to facilitate remote/online work options

  3. Paid leave with full salary to workers during the period of health isolation and Stay-at-Home period provided a “certificate on the end of quarantine period” be issued by the departments concerned

  4. Affected private sector establishments and firms may offer advanced paid annual leave for their workers in sectors that have been shut down

  5. Under the current conditions, affected private sector establishments may negotiate to lower the salaries of their workers for a period of three months in return for a reduction of duty hours after the expiry of outstanding days of an employee’s paid leave. If necessary, this system will begin to be applied with effect from May 2020

  6. For expatriate workers, annual leave may be advanced and paid in full if they operate in the sectors terminally shut down.

  7. Expatriate workers of affected private sector establishments and firms can be terminally repatriated to their respective countries, according to the package agreed by the Supreme Committee and establishments and firms of the private sector

  8. Reduction of renewal fees of expatriate workers’ labour cards from its date (today, April 15) to the end of June 2020, from OMR301 to OMR201

  9. Exemption from fees, waiving of delay fines and extension of expat manpower’s licenses during this period

  10. Approval of preliminary work permits for expat manpower for partial use or temporary use

  11. Possibility of secondment of workers of any private establishment to work in time of emergency for another establishment

  12. Allowing affected private sector establishments to terminate the contracts of their non-Omani workers provided these establishments adhere to the payment of all the dues of the laid-off workers before their terminal departure from the Sultanate

Other measures
As of March 31: The Oman Ministry of Finance has instructed all state owned entities to reduce budgets by 10% in response to COVID-19 (and low oil prices) through the following: 

  • Reducing operating and administrative expenses; 

  • Suspending implementation of new projects;

  • Suspending training programs; and 

  • Reducing allocations for official missions.

As of April 2: Effective April 1 and as per the decision taken by the supreme committee, the Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF) and the Royal Oman Police (ROP) in a joint effort have suspended the movement of citizens and residents between all governorates until further notice.  

However, the following will be exempted from the movement restriction:

  1. Public and private sector employees whose nature of  job requires their presence at their office;

  2. Ambulance and emergency services;

  3. Military and security vehicles;

  4. Vehicles transporting food items and other necessities;

  5. Vehicles transporting commercial and construction materials, petroleum derivatives and other materials for public and commercial use;

  6. Exceptional cases that require the movement of citizens and residents between governorates will be assessed by officers at the checkpoints;

Private Sector employees whose presence is required at the office and are exempt from the above restriction will require a letter of authorization from the CSP and to carry their ID Cards.

Palestine

Overview

As of March 25: West Bank: The Minister of Finance has announced several measures in response to COVID-19, including the extension of filing deadlines for corporate income tax, postponement of tax audits / inspections, and suspension of late filing penalties in respect of monthly VAT returns.

As of March 25: East Jerusalem (Israeli Law): Several measures in response to COVID-19, including the extension of filing deadlines for corporate income tax, VAT and Individual Tax.

Corporate income tax measures

As of March 25: West Bank: The Minister of Finance has announced the following measures effective immediately:

  • The deadline for filing corporate income tax returns for FY 2019 has been extended to 30 June 2020; and

  • The postponement of all tax authority procedures regarding pending assessments, objections and appeals until the end of the emergency period.

As of March 25: East Jerusalem (Israeli Law): The deadline for the submission of corporate income tax returns has been extended from 31 May 2020 to 30 July 2020.

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)

As of March 25: West Bank (VAT): The Minister of Finance has announced the following measures effective immediately:

  • Suspension on the issuance of late filing penalties in respect of the submission of monthly VAT returns during the emergency period.

  • The validity of clearance certificates issued by the VAT Department that expired on 1 March 2020 are automatically extended to 15 April 2020; and

  • The postponement of all procedures by the tax authority regarding pending assessments, objections and appeals until the end of the emergency period.

As of March 25: West Bank (Customs): The Minister of Finance has announced the following measures effective immediately:

  • The postponement of all procedures by the tax authority regarding pending assessments, audits, objections and appeals until the end of the emergency period.

East Jerusalem (Israeli law):

  • Extension to 26 March for monthly VAT filings and payments originally due 16 March; and

  • Extension to 27 April for two monthly filings originally due 15 March.

Individual taxes and labour

As of March 25: West Bank: The Minister of Finance has announced that companies are required to file their payroll and withholding tax forms electronically during this emergency period and has removed the requirement for companies to file hard copy supporting documents.  The Minister of Finance has also confirmed, no penalties will be issued for not providing hard copy supporting documents during this period.


As of March 25: East Jerusalem (Israeli Law): The deadline for the submission of individual tax returns has been extended from 31 May 2020 to 30 July 2020.

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)

As of March 25: West Bank: The Minister of Finance has announced the following measures effective immediately: 

  • Tax clearance certificates will be issued to businesses for a period of at least two months; and

  • Withholding tax certificates will be issued to businesses for a period of at least three months.

Tax payments/penalties amnesty

The tax authorities have suspended tax settlement sessions and are providing limited services only.

As of April 12: East Jerusalem (Israeli Law): Businesses impacted by COVID-19 are entitled to a 25% exemption on their municipality taxes. An extension on the payment of municipality taxes that was due in January 2020 has now been granted until 1 May 2020.

Tax reporting
Not applicable / No announcement

Economic measures
Not applicable / No announcement

Immigration and Employment measures
As of March 25

  • Travel Restrictions:

The Palestinian authorities have introduced a number of precautionary measures.

The Allenby/King Hussein Bridge Crossing between the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Jordan is closed with the exception of: Jordanian citizens returning to Jordan; Palestinian residents (West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem ID holders) returning to the Occupied Palestinian Territories; and Israeli citizens returning from Jordan to Israel. Tourists leaving Israel and entering Jordan will only be permitted to do so via cross the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge Crossing if they have a flight booked. In this case, exit will be allowed six hours before the flight departs.

The Jordan River / Sheikh Hussein and Yitzhak Rabin/ Wadi Arraba crossings between Jordan and Israel are open to Israeli citizens. Foreign passport holders will not be allowed to enter Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories via these crossings.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has issued restrictions for visitors and residents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including in the Bethlehem area. On 5 March 2020 the PA announced a state of emergency lasting 30 days, including closure of educational institutions, reducing movement between cities, cancellation of public gatherings and conferences, and cancellation of tourism reservations and hotel bookings.

  • Quarantine measures:

Palestinian authorities announced a two-week lockdown of the Palestinian Territories (PT) from 22 March. All residents are prohibited from leaving their homes except to work in vital sectors such as health services and other critical infrastructure.

On 9 March 2020 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that arrivals entering Israel from overseas would be subject to home quarantine measures for 14 days on public health grounds, effective from 12 March. Visitors who are unable to demonstrate they can undertake the home quarantine measures will be refused entry in to Israel. Visitors who are subject to home-quarantine regulations must be able to do so in a private dwelling, not a hotel.

As of April 12: The Palestine authorities have announced that the emergency period has been extended for a further 30 days starting 4 April 2020.

Other measures
Palestine Capital Market Authority extended the deadline of financial statements submission by listed companies from 30 March to 30 April.

As of April 12: Palestine Capital Market Authority extended the deadline of quarterly financial statement submissions by listed companies from 30 May to 30 June.

As of May 18: East Jerusalem has extended the deadline of quarterly financial statements  submission by listed companies from 30 May to 30 June.

Qatar

Overview

Qatar has announced various measures in respect of COVID-19. These include measures to support the economy and certain tax related measures, including filing extensions for corporate income tax purposes and certain customs exemptions for food and medical supplies.

Corporate income tax measures

The corporate income tax filing deadline for financial years ended 31 Dec 2019 has been extended from 30 April 2020 to 30 June 2020.

Further, all communication and interactions with the General Tax authority has to be undertaken using electronics means.

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)

The Supreme Committee for Crisis Management has announced an exemption from customs duties for food and medical goods for a period of six months for the following sectors:

  • Hospitality and tourism; 
  • Retail;
  • Small and medium sized industries; and
  • Commercial complexes in exchange for providing services. 

As of March 31: The General Customs Authority announced that 905 items will be exempt from customs duties on importation. These items include food (meat, fish, dairy products, pastry, oils, etc.), medical supplies (masks, sterilizers, etc.) and hygiene products (cleaners, soap, tissues, etc.).

Individual taxes and labour
Not applicable / No announcement

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax payments/penalties amnesty

The Qatari tax authority has extended the corporate income tax filing deadline for financial years ended 31 Dec 2019 from 30 April 2020 to 30 June 2020.

As of March 25: An announcement has been made that requires all QFC firms that are expected not to meet the deadline for filing their tax returns (being 6 months following year end) to ensure that an application for a filing date extension is made via the E-Services portal (https://eservices.qfc.qa/Login/Login.aspx) before the filing due date has passed.

As of March 30: The QFC issued a Public Notice in which it announced the following: 

  • a reduction of the late payment penalty rate from 5% to 0%, effectively abolishing the penalty; and  
  • a reduction of the interest rate on overpaid tax from 1% to 0%,

These reductions apply for the period 1 March 2020 to 31 August 2020.

Tax reporting
Not applicable / No announcement

Economic measures

The Supreme Committee for Crisis Management has announced the following economic measures: 

  • QAR 75bn package comprising financial and economic incentives;
  • QAR 10bn investment into the Qatar Stock Exchange by Qatari Funds;
  • Exemption from having to pay for water and electricity for several industries, including hospitality, tourism, retail, small and medium industries, commercial complexes and logistical areas;
  • The Qatar Development Bank will postpone instalments due by all borrowers for six months; 
  • The Qatar Central Bank will put in place measures to allow the private sector to postpone loan installments to banks for a period of six months; and
  • Exemptions from rent provided by various organisations.

As of April 2: The Government of Qatar has announced a Private Sector Stabilization Program to support certain eligible private sector companies with their critical payments due in April, May and June 2020, covering:

  • Staff payroll as per the Wage Protection System (WPS) registry; and

  • Rental payments (factory, business outlet, warehouse and labor accommodation rent).

A business is eligible for the program if it is: 

  • Incorporated under Qatar regulations;

  • 100% privately owned; 

  • Has a valid commercial registration and license or other certification to prove incorporation and operation; and

  • Has been impacted negatively by COVID-19.

The above does not apply to companies operating in real estate, construction or contracting.

The program will be limited to one loan per Qatar ID and per commercial registration. Each Qatari obligator is eligible to apply for only one company where their shareholding is 10% or more.

Immigration and Employment measures

As of March 29

On 16 March, Qatar implemented a 14 day entry restriction on all foreign nationals to Qatar. These travel restrictions are still in place and likely to be extended beyond the 14 day period. (Vendor)

Foreign nationals currently in Qatar on a free visa on arrival will have their visas extended by default until 22 April. (Vendor)

Currently all new Qatar work and residence permit applications are suspended by the Ministry of Labour (MoL) until further notice. (Vendor)

Effective 29 March, all new block visa quota and amendment applications will be declined until further notice. (Vendor)

As of April 2: As per a statement issued during a cabinet meeting in Qatar, effective 2 April until 16 April, the following decisions were implemented as precautionary measures towards the COVID-19 outbreak:

  1. Limiting the total workforce at private sector offices to 20%, with the remaining 80% to work remotely from home;
  2. Limiting the working hours at office premises in both public and private sectors to only six hours a day (from 7am - 1 pm). Grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants that do delivery orders are excluded from this decision; and
  3. Temporary suspension of home services provided by cleaning and hospitality companies and reducing the number of workers transported by buses to half the capacity of the bus.

As of April 20: The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs have instructed the employers and employees in Qatar to follow the below  in light of the current COVID situation:

  1. Employers in sectors where business has not been impacted by the COVID outbreak and are still operating should continue to pay the employees continue their basic salaries and other allowances as per their contract;
  2. Businesses which are affected by the COVID outbreak and are currently not operating, employers and employees can mutually agree on certain terms such unpaid leave, use of annual leaves, reduced working hours, temporary reduction in salaries;
  3. Employees who are isolated or quarantined and receiving treatment shall receive their basic salary and allowances regardless of whether their entitlement to sick leave;
  4. Employers may terminate employment contracts with their employees in case the contract has ended in  compliance with the provisions of the Labour Law. They must also adhere to the notice period and payment of outstanding benefits, including a return ticket;
  5. Cases where employee contracts are terminated, employers are required to provide workers with adequate food and housing free of charge, or equivalent cash allowances, until the workers repatriation procedures are completed at the employer's expense.

As of May 4: Qatar has extended the work from home requirement for non-essential employees in government and private sector until further notice

Other measures

The Supreme Judicial Council of Qatar has announced the suspension of hearings of the Appeal Court, the Court of First Instance, labor dispute settlement committees and rental dispute settlement committees for a period of two weeks from 15 March 2020.

As of March 31: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has announced that all requests for new corporate registrations / renewals and other requests must be conducted by way of call or email, and customers should only visit the Ministry if requested by the Ministry.

Call Centre Number: 16001

Single Window Contact Number: +974 4042 3344

Email: investinqatar@moci.gov.qa

Saudi Arabia

Overview

The Saudi Ministry of Finance (“MoF”) and General Authority for Zakat & Tax (“GAZT”) have announced various measures in respect of COVID-19 to support the local economy, including a range of corporate income tax, Zakat, VAT, excise tax, and customs duties related measures.

Corporate income tax measures

The Saudi MoF has extended the deadline for the filing and payment of Zakat and Corporate Income Tax, and has issued other administrative measures (see below).

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)

  • Temporary three month payment extension for VAT and excise tax; 
  • Temporary filing extension for VAT and excise tax returns; and
  • A 30 day deferral for the collection of customs duties on imports for the next three months, provided a bank guarantee is submitted.

As of May 11: The Saudi MoF has announced an increase in the rate of VAT from 5% to 15% effective 1 July 2020.

Individual taxes and labour

  • No expat levy for Iqamas (expatriate residence permits) that expire between 20 March to 30 June 2020. Such Iqamas shall be extended for a period of three months for free; 
  • Employers will be entitled to a refund of fees paid to obtain work visas for employees that are ultimately not used, due to the entry/exit restrictions in the Kingdom; and
  • Employers will be allowed to extend exit and re-entry work visas that were not used, due to the entry/exit restrictions in the Kingdom.

As of April 5: The General Organisation for Social Insurance (GOSI) announced significant measures with respect to support for Saudi workers in private sector enterprises affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Private sector employers will have the right to apply to GOSI for a monthly compensation payment for up to 60% of the wages (as registered in the Social Insurance system) of up to 70% of their Saudi National workforce (or 100% of the workforce for employers with 5 or less Saudi national workers) for an initial 3 month period comprising May to July 2020.

If claimed, the employer cannot compel the worker to continue working during the compensation period. In order to benefit from such a claim, the employer must:

  • Have been subscribed with the unemployment insurance branch before January 1, 2020, and continue to participate in this branch; 

  • Resume payments after the three month period of the workers covered; 

  • Continue to pay the wages of the remaining uncovered Saudi nationals and non-Saudis; and 

  • Have met all their wage payment obligations for employees during the first quarter of 2020.

The relief will not be available to those industries not deemed to be significantly affected by the outbreak, namely: 

  • The financial sector (including those licensed by the Monetary Agency, banks, finance and insurance companies, insurance brokers, and licensees from the Capital Market Authority);

  • Telecommunications operators; and

  • Food and supply supermarkets.

GOSI has clarified that it will review and evaluate the performance of this initiative, and submit a recommendation before the end of June 2020 with respect to any extension to the period of cover, or changes to those employers who will be able to make a claim. Employers should continue to make deductions from employees for their share of the payments, as this will need to be paid over once the grace period has come to an end.

GOSI have also announced that all establishments will be exempted from any fines for late payment/filing of February and March 2020 contributions (due to be paid in March and April 2020 respectively). Penalties for late filing/payment are likely to be calculated from May onwards, unless further relaxation is provided.

As of April 16: GOSI has announced on their official twitter account a deadline to register in the "Sand " system for the compensation of furloughed Saudi workers as previously advised above. In order for the subscriber to be entitled to the compensation on the first of May, the employer is required to apply for the support before the end of April 26 and the "subscriber/employee" must also submit a request for compensation before the end of April 30. Any delay to these dates will mean that the entitlement will not begin in May (but rather from 1 June if completed thereafter).

As of April 30: GOSI has confirmed that the above relief is still available even to those employers who will be eligible to return to work in some capacity under recent relaxations of certain vital industries.

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)

The Saudi MoF has announced the deferral of certain Government fees and municipal levies.

Tax payments/penalties amnesty

The Saudi MoF / GAZT has announced the following:

  • Three month extension for the payment and filing of corporate income tax, Zakat and mixed returns due between 19 March and 30 June 2020;
  • Corporate income tax and Zakat certificates will be issued without restriction for the fiscal year 2019 to allow companies to renew visas, licenses and receive payment in respect of government contracts;
  • Approval of installment payment requests for Zakat and corporate income tax purposes by the GAZT, where no advance payment was made; 
  • Three month extension for the payment and filing of withholding tax returns relating to the period March, April and May 2020;
  • Three month extension for the payment and filing of monthly VAT returns relating to the period March, April and May 2020; 
  • Three month extension for the payment and filing of quarterly VAT return relating to Quarter 1 of 2020;
  • Three month extension for the payment and filing of excise tax returns due for the period March/April 2020; 
  • The GAZT will temporarily suspend the application / enforcement of certain administrative penalties and fines; 
  • The GAZT has temporarily waived penalties for amending prior filing positions and offers additional filing relief;
  • The GAZT has exempted registered taxpayers from late payment and return amendment penalties;
  • The GAZT has announced taxpayers must file any non-submitted returns and amended return(s), and settle any taxes due, before 30 June 2020;
  • The GAZT has exempted non-registered persons (who are liable to register)  from late registration, late filing and late payment penalties, provided such persons register and submit all declarations and payments before 30 June 2020; and
  • The GAZT has also announced its commitment to expedite the payment of taxpayers’ refund claims.

As of March 15: The General Secretariat of the Tax Committees announced that all the appointments of the scheduled hearing sessions in front of the Tax Committees (Resolution and Appellate) will be suspended until further notice, and all parties will be notified with the new appointments.

Tax reporting
Not applicable / No announcement

Economic measures

The Saudi MoF has announced that it will support the private sector, focusing on SMEs and the economic activities most affected by COVID-19 through various exemptions, the deferral of government liabilities and the provision of liquidity.  In this regard, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority has announced a SAR 50bn stimulus package for the banking sector, financial institutions and SMEs.

As of March 31: The stimulus package for SMEs includes:

  • SAR 30 billion for banks and financing companies to delay dues payments from SMEs for a period of six months;

  • SAR 13.2 billion of concessional finance for banks and financing companies to support SME business continuity, sector economic growth and maintaining employment levels; and

  • SAR 6 billion for banks and insurance companies to relieve SMEs from the finance costs of the KAFALA Program.

The following additional measures have also been introduced:

  • More than SAR 800 million to support the fees of POS and e-commerce platforms for a period of three months; and 

  • SAMA has announced that it is coordinating with banks and finance companies to facilitate finance repayments due from affected institutions by COVID-19 in Makkah and Medina.

Immigration and Employment measures

As of March 29

Following the suspension of all international flights from The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the General Directorate of passports (Jawazat Office) on 24 March 2020 urged all non-GCC nationals in the country to cancel their unused Exit/Re-entry Permits (ERE), if any. 

The EREs are issued to Iqama holders in KSA to allow single or multiple exit/entries and the ERE holder must exit KSA on or before the prescribed exit date on the permit. Considering that the Kingdom has suspended all international flights as of 15 March for two weeks (possibly longer), the ERE holders must proceed with cancellation to avoid any fines. 

To summarise the temporary changes to new and renewal applications for Saudi Arabia: 

  • The Kingdom has suspended the issuance of all work visas until further notice
  • ERE applications cannot be made from outside the Kingdom until further notice 
  • Sponsorship transfers and work permit renewals can be completed since these applications are processed online
  • Business Visit Visas will not be processed until visa processing suspensions have been lifted

On 29 March 2020 the KSA Ministry of Interior (MOI) also extended the suspension of all international and domestic flights until further notice. An extension on the suspension of workplace attendance for both government and private sectors has also been implemented until further notice.

As of March 31: The General Directorate of passports (Jawazat Office), in light of the current travel restrictions to and from Saudi Arabia, has implemented a short term extension of the affected Saudi permit holders. See details below:

  • Iqama (Long-term work and residence permit) - All foreign nationals whose Iqamas expire between the period of 18 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 (whether inside or outside Saudi Arabia) are able to extend their Iqamas for three months  through the online Muqeem portal. The three month extension will be exempt from the standard expat levy.

  • Exit /re-entry (ERE) Permit - All foreign nationals who were not able to use their EREs between the period of 25 February 2020 and 20 March 2020 (whether inside or outside Saudi Arabia) are able to extend their EREs for three months through the online Absher and Muqeem portals. The three month extension will be exempt from the government fee.

  • Final Exit - Companies who have cancelled the Iqamas of their employees and  secured a final exit visa for them are able to cancel their final exit visas and will be granted a three month stay extension in Saudi Arabia, without any expat fee.

As of April 2: The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MLSD)  in a joint effort with other relevant authorities in Saudi Arabia are working on an initiative to repatriate some expats to their respective countries. These expats mainly include those who have ended their employment contracts with the employers in Saudi Arabia.

We are closely monitoring further developments on this initiative and will update accordingly.

As of April 12: Following the 24 hour curfew enforced last week in the cities of Makkah and Madinah, the curfew has been extended to Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran, Hofuf and in the governorates of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif and Al-Khobar effective 6 April 2020.

Residents are only allowed to leave their residences between 6am and 3 pm to buy essentials or for medical care. Residents working in vital sectors such as military, media, security and health services are exempted from this 24 hour curfew.

As of April 26: KSA authorities have defined the curfew restrictions during Ramadan. Residents of areas that are not currently subject to a 24-hour curfew will be permitted to leave their homes from 9am to 5pm. Residents of areas that are subjected to a 24-hour curfew will also be permitted to go out within their neighborhoods for essential needs such as buying groceries or seeking medical care from 9am to 5pm.

As of April 27: Saudi Arabia has announced the partial lifting of the curfew between the hours of 9am and 5pm from 26 April to 13 May. Social distancing must still be observed at all times and social gatherings of more than 5 people are not allowed. Mecca city and its neighbouring areas will remain under 24 hour curfew. It is not clear at this stage if offices will be able to re-open. 

On April 22, the Saudi Ministry of Interior took an initiative called 'Auda' which will allow expats with a valid exit/re-entry permit or a final exit permit or those who are in Saudi under various types of visit visas including tourist visas to return to their countries. Expatriates are able to seek permission for travel to their countries through the Absher portal of the Ministry (the applicant does not necessarily need to have their own Absher account).  Once the request is approved, a text message will be sent to the expat with the travel date and reservation details, and those details can be used by the expat to obtain a travel ticket and finally to go to the airport for the departure. Expats must take print out of all the data from the Absher while visiting the airport.

The ministry said that the departure will be through the following airports: King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Prince Muhammad International Airport in Madinah, and King Fahd International Airport in Dammam.

As of May 4: The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, in cooperation and coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have started cancelling and refunding the work visa fees for those applications which were stamped on the passports.

The cancellation and refunding of the stamped visas will be considered effective from the date of issuance of the royal decree on March 18.

As of May 13: Saudi Arabia will impose a complete 24-hour nationwide lockdown across the country from 30th of Ramadan until Shawwal 4 (23 May - 27 May)

United Arab Emirates

Overview

The UAE Federal Government has announced certain country wide stimulus measures, in addition to measures taken by the individual Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai to support their respective Emirates.

Corporate income tax measures
Not applicable / No announcement

Indirect tax measures (VAT and Customs)

The stimulus package released by the Dubai Government includes the following: 

  • a refund of 20% of customs duties paid on imported goods that are sold locally; and 
  • cancellation of bank guarantee required to clear goods.

As of March 24: removal of bank/cash guarantee requirements to clear goods for clearing companies (i.e. customs brokers) and refund of the existing bank/cash guarantees for these companies.

As of April 1: The Sharjah Executive Council has issued an exemption on all shipping and customs clearance companies from the bank guarantees required to conduct their activities.

As of April 13: The Federal Tax Authority has announced a one month extension to the tax period for Excise tax purposes. The period commencing 1 March 2020 has been extended to 30 April 2020 (covering both March and April 2020) to allow registered businesses additional time to fulfil their tax obligations before the extended deadline.

As of April 21: The Federal Tax Authority has announced a one month extension to the filing and payment deadline for monthly and quarterly VAT returns for the tax period ended 31 March 2020. The filing and payment deadline has been extended to 28 May 2020 (original deadline 28 April 2020).

Individual taxes and labour

As of April 5: The General Pension & Social Security Authority (GPSSA) and the Board of Directors of the Abu Dhabi Retirement Fund have announced that all subscribing private sector companies will be able to defer payment of monthly employer subscriptions (i.e. Social Security and Pension contributions) in relation to their staff, starting with payments due in respect of March 2020 and running initially for a three month period (i.e. covering payments due up to May 2020).

This three month grace period may be extended based on an updated assessment of the situation towards the end of the grace period. If an employer chooses to postpone payments, a catch up payment for all months will be due when payments resume (currently June 2020).

Other taxes (local taxes, procedures)
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax payments/penalties amnesty
Not applicable / No announcement

Tax reporting
Not applicable / No announcement

Economic measures

The UAE Central Bank has taken the following actions:

  • Urged banks to consider loan forbearance;

  • AED 50bn in zero interest loans for banks to support SMEs;

  • Reduced banks’ voluntary capital buffers to free up AED 50bn in capital;

  • Lower real estate LTV ratios; and 

  • Limits on bank fees for interest/credit cards.

The Dubai government announced a AED 1.5bn stimulus package in the form of targeted fee reductions for 3 months.

As of 31 March: The Dubai stimulus package includes;

  • 50% reduction in municipal fees paid by hotels; 

  • 10% reduction in water and power bills; and

  • Removal of the 25% down payment for requesting the installment of government fees for licensing and renewing licenses.

The Abu Dhabi government announced a 16-point stimulus plan with fee exemptions, fine waivers, SME support, and a AED 1bn market makers fund.

As of 31 March: The Abu Dhabi stimulus plan includes:

  • Allocation of AED 5bn to provide subsidies for water and electricity for citizens, and commercial and industrial activities;

  • Allocation of AED 3bn to the SME credit guarantee scheme managed by Abu Dhabi Investment Office;

  • Allocation of AED 1bn to (a) establish a market maker fund (b) enhance liquidity and (c) sustain balance between supply and demand for stocks;

  • Suspension of bid bonds and an exemption of performance guarantees for projects up to AED 50m for startups; 

  • Providing a 20% rebate on rental values for the restaurant, tourism and entertainment sectors; 

  • Exemption from UAE road toll tariffs for all vehicles until the end of 2020; 

  • Reduction of industrial land leasing fees by 25% on new contracts; and

  • Suspension of real estate registrations fees for 2020.

As of March 24: The UAE government has announced an additional economic stimulus package of AED 16 bn to support the national economy and ensure business continuity. These measures include the following: 

  • a renewable six-month suspension of work permit fees;
  • reduction in labour and other charges to reduce the cost of doing business; 
  • 6 month suspension of the collection of administrative fines by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation;
  • reduction of work permit fees for businesses with 1 - 6 registered workers.
  • reduction of the fees of the Ministry of Economy.
  • businesses can obtain a rebate equal to 50% of the bank guarantee they submitted for each employee

As of April 1: The Sharjah government announced a 47-point stimulus package, featuring the following:

  • A three month fee exemption for existing licensees;

  • Various rent exemptions and fee discount for targeted businesses and industries operating in Sharjah (e.g. Expo participants, export industries, supermarkets, aviation);

  • Rent exemptions for SMEs operating from Sharjah's Trade Centre 101;

  • A 50% reduction of fines for any traffic violation committed before 30 June 2020; and

  • Exemption of fines incurred by hotels operating in Sharjah for violation committed during 1 January 2019 and 31 March 2020.

As of April 5: The UAE Central Bank doubled the size of its stimulus package to AED 256 bn on 5 April 2020. The updated measures now include:

  • AED 50 bn capital buffer relief banks [no change];

  • AED 50 bn funds available at zero cost to extend finance, with the time extended to 31 December 2020 (from mid-September 2020); 

  • A new stimulus measure of AED 95 bn to ensure there is enough liquidity in the market; and 

  • A further AED 61 bn reduction of cash reserve requirements.

Immigration and Employment measures

As of March 29

Travel Restrictions:

  1. The Emirati government has issued a mandatory three-day lockdown from Thursday, March 26, through Sunday, March 29, (that has been extended (see below), while it conducts a general sterilisation campaign with the aim of controlling the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. The lockdown began at 8 pm on March 26, and has now been extended until April 5. All residents in the UAE are urged to not leave their homes during the lockdown period between 8pm to 6am unless it is for essential work. Violation to the lockdown period would attract significant fines.

  2. Effective 25 March 2020, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) has announced that they will temporarily suspend the physical stamping of Residence Permits into passports until further notice. Instead, an electronic email of the residence permit approval will be issued and provided to those affected by the change. This will enable employees to continue/ start work as per their e-approval.
    In the instance where an individual must travel, e-approval is to be presented at the Immigration Office at the UAE Airports, where the immigration officials will place a physical stamp of the Residence Permit inside the passport. The ability to travel outside of the UAE is subject to change and at present, there are significant disruptions and flight cancellations

  3. As further measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Dubai Economy issued a statement announcing the closures of Government Transaction Centres starting 26 March until 9 April 2020, including Tasheel, AMER Centres, Tawjeeh Centres, Medical Test Centres and Emirates ID Authority and Emirates ID Biometric Centres.

In light of the nationwide closure of government transaction centres, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) and the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, have announced exemptions on medical test requirements for blue collar workers whose Work Permits/Residence Permits have expired, as of 25 March 2020.

In addition, as of Sunday 29 March, the exemption of a medical test requirement for Residence Permit renewals has now been extended to all  individuals employed in the private sector.

As of March 31: In light of the ongoing national sterilisation programme, the UAE authorities have restricted the movement of residents beyond the non curfew hours (8pm to 6am). Residents are advised to not step out of their homes even during the non curfew hours (6am to 8pm) unless it is to perform a vital job or buy necessities. Voitation to government directives will attract significant fines and repeated offenders will be subject to public prosecution.

The UAE Cabinet has approved automatic extension of Residence Permits for a period of three months, without additional fees/charges. All Residence Permits that have expired starting 1 March 2020 are eligible for an automatic extension of three months. The extension is basically a grace period providing exemption from overstay fines for three months until the Residence Permit is formally renewed at a later date.

As of April 2: The Ministry of Interior has announced waiver of overstay fines for foreign nationals who are in the UAE on expired/cancelled Residence Permit, Visit and Tourist visas, affected by the ongoing suspension on international passenger flights in and out of the UAE. Overstay fine waiver is applicable for three months starting 1 March 2020 until 30 May 2020.

As of April 5:

  1. UAE authorities have extended suspension of entry for valid Residence Permit holders, currently outside the UAE until 16 April 2020. The individuals who have remained overseas are requested to register with Twajudi for Residents (https://www.mofaic.gov.ae/en/services/twajudi-resident), if they have not already done so.   

  2. Emirates and Etihad airways have special approvals to fly passengers outbound from the UAE to some destinations from April 5 2020. The flights, although limited to certain destinations, aim to unite travellers with their families. Suspension of regular passenger services, including transit remained in place. 

  3. Dubai's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management has extended the sterilisation programme to 24 hours a day across all areas of the Emirate, effective 8pm on Saturday 4 April 2020 for a renewal period of two week until 16 April 2020. Strict measures in place to restrict public movement in Dubai, except to carry out vital or necessary work.

As of April 6: In light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has announced the decision to cancel/waive off overstay fines for expats with expired Residence Permits in Dubai, until the end of 2020. 

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) have launched an 'Early Leave' initiative. This initiative is to enable expats working in private sectors, who wish to return to their home country during the period of precautionary measures undertaken in the UAE, to combat the spread of COVID-19. Expats are encouraged to seek prior approvals from their employers and agree on the eligibility of availing annual leave early or unpaid leave, to visit their home country.

As of April 14: The Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship in the UAE has announced automatic extension on the validity of Residence Permits and Emirates ID cards expiring as on 1 March 2020 until 31 December 2020. The extension in the validity of Residence Permits is applicable for individuals who are inside or outside the UAE and have their permits expiring as on 1 March 2020 or after. 

All visa holders in the UAE (Visit Visa, Visa on Arrival, Tourism, Transit) who's visas expire as on 1 March 2020 or after, will also have their visa validity extended until 31 December 2020.

As of April 16: Emirates has become the first airline to test passengers on an outbound repatriation flight, in partnership with the Dubai Health Authority, using rapid tests. While this is currently used for outbound flights from the UAE, we would expect to see this used more widely on flights in future, including on inbound flights to the region, when they become available.

As of April 20: Dubai has extended the 24-hour National Sterilisation Programme for a further week. The 24-hour lockdown means residents will have to continue quarantining at home and should continue to apply for a movement permit if they wish to leave their houses to shop for groceries or medicine. The permit will only be issued once every 3 days while permits to withdraw cash from an ATM will be issued once every 5 days.

As of April 24: Dubai has announced a partial reduction in the restrictions on movement starting from Friday 24 April. As part of the first phase of easing of restrictions, the lockdown will now be from 10pm and 6am with the public only allowed to leave their homes for medical emergencies during this period. Between 6am and 10pm individuals will be able to leave their homes for exercise without a permit and will be required to strictly follow precautionary measures which include maintaining physical distance from others and wearing a mask at all times

As of May 10: Both Etihad and Emirates airlines have announced that they will begin operating inbound flights to the UAE as of 9 May for residents to finally return to the country.

Due to the ongoing flight restrictions and closures of the UAE borders, only outbound flights were being operated for repatriation purposes. The inbound flights are for select cities only for the month of May.

For those individuals hoping to fly back to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, approval must first be sought from the UAE authorities prior to booking a flight. This can be applied for via the UAE Twajudi Resident service online. If the application is successful, individuals will receive a unique ICA approval number, which will need to be provided to the airline at the time of booking. Only those who hold a valid UAE resident permit as well as the ICA approval number will be allowed to travel – otherwise, entry into the UAE will not be permitted.

Emirates Airlines – Inbound flight destinations:

  • Frankfurt

  • London 

Etihad Airways - Inbound flight destinations:

Europe:

  • Amsterdam 

  • Barcelona 

  • Frankfurt

  • London

Americas:

  • New York

  • Chicago

  • Toronto

Asia:

  • Jakarta:

  • Kuala Lumpur

  • Manila 

  • Seoul

  • Singapore

  • Tokyo 

Australia: 

  • Melbourne

Flights can be booked directly through the airline websites. The destination cannot be changed, and tickets are non-refundable. As part of the government’s preventative measures, all returning residents will be expected to undergo a mandatory DHA test on arrival at Dubai airport, a mandatory 14-day quarantine and a follow-up test. For those entering through Abu Dhabi airport, they will undergo thermal testing upon arrival and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

As of May 12: The UAE government has started to open up limited repatriation flights for nationals and residents. The initial priority is the return of nationals, key workers and dependents. Despite some flights being advertised by the airlines, seats can only be booked by those who have been granted a permit to return having registered on the Twajudi MOFA website.

As of May 14: The Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) has announced three-month grace period for expats with expired residence permits to exit the UAE with exemptions on fines, starting 18 May 2020. The exemption of fines is applicable for all foreign nationals on entry permits or residence permits that expired on or before 1 March 2020 and will exit the UAE within three months starting 18 May 2020.

As of May 17: The UAE authorities have now transitioned the Twajudi service to the Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship. UAE residents currently outside the country, holding valid residence permits and intending to return to the UAE are required to register on the following site https://beta.smartservices.ica.gov.ae/echannels/web/client/guest/index.html#/issueResidentEntryPermission/request/708/step1?administrativeRegionId=1&withException=false  

Upon successful registration and approval, the individual will be provided with a ICA approval number and this number is required in-order to book a return flight to the UAE.

As of May 19:

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) and the Federal Authority For Identity and Citizenship (ICA) have announced that foreign nationals holding valid residence visa can return to the UAE starting 1 June 2020. Residents stranded outside the UAE who have relatives in the UAE are required to apply for Entry Permission on smartservices.ica.gov.ae prior to booking their flight tickets.
  • The UAE authorities have announced changes to the National Sterilisation Programme timings. Movement restriction for residents will apply between 8pm to 6am, as on 20 May 2020 until further notice.

Useful Resources:

Disclaimer

This page gathers together information on matters of general guidance and provides a high-level overview of the nature and extent of measures local Tax authorities are taking in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as at the date set out herein. This is made available for information purposes only and no PwC Member Firm accepts any liability or responsibility whatsoever for the accuracy or completeness of this information or any use you may make of it. While best efforts from PwC Member Firms across the PwC Network have been used to compile this information, from reliable sources, matters are moving and evolving at a fast pace as governments respond. Accordingly, you are on notice that any use you make of this information, or any reliance you place on it, is solely your responsibility. For professional advice and assistance, please contact your usual PwC contact.

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