This Group Tax Manager in the UAE shares how an Advanced Diploma in International Taxation (ADIT) can help your Tax Career

Indian CA pursuing ADIT and building tax career in UAE

  • The Advanced Diploma in International Taxation - ADIT qualification enhances your career prospects in the thriving tax industry. 
  • CA Venkatakrishnan T Rajagopalan gives us an overview of the ADIT course. 
  • See how networking and a strong knowledge of GST helped him crack into the UAE job market.

How did you transition into taxation after qualifying as a Chartered Accountant? And how did you start your career in the UAE?

I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2017 from ICAI (The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). 

2017 was a hallmark year as GST was launched in India. It was a completely new set of Indirect Taxes from an Indian perspective. Many professionals, not just chartered accountants started learning the legislation and getting into the GST regime. I was one among them.

As a fresher I started working at a consulting firm, predominantly helping them with the newly introduced GST implementation. Parallelly I was also involved in a lot of assignments with IFRS implementation.  

When Value Added Tax (VAT) was introduced in the UAE in 2018, I saw many of my CA colleagues moving there. 

Since VAT was a fresh new addition, not many people in the country had ideas about what was going on. They needed experts who could help them in the implementation of the new tax.

Out of the blue, I got to know about a group of CAs in the UAE who were looking for Indian CAs with GST knowledge to educate their clients, accountants, and management. 

To be honest, the possibility of relocating to the UAE or pursuing opportunities outside of India was not on my list but I utilized the opportunity and came here.

I tried to understand what is the difference between the two legislation, that is UAE VAT and Indian GST. In simple terms, there is no major difference. UAE VAT is really simple compared to Indian GST. 

I came here in the middle of 2018, right after the implementation.

Many of the clients I was working with had issues with the implementation, as systems and controls were not in place. I started learning the nuances of UAE VAT, and problems in implementation.

My strong expertise in Indian GST gave me an advantage in helping clients navigate the new UAE VAT system. 

I initially planned to stay for six months, but one thing led to another and I was offered to look after the real estate division at First Abu Dhabi Bank. It is one of the largest banks in the gulf.

Currently, I am employed as a Group Taxation Manager at NMC Healthcare, one of the largest private-sector healthcare providers in the UAE.

Also Read

The UAE is a financial and business hub in the Middle East, employing millions of people. But now with corporate tax coming in, it is expected to create even more demand for CAs in the job market.

You recently became ADIT-qualified. What is the ADIT qualification and why did you pursue it?

ADIT stands for 'Advanced Diploma in International Taxation', a professional qualification in the field of International Taxation. 

The ADIT qualification is awarded by the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), which is a leading professional body for taxation professionals in the UK. This course has been there for more than a decade.

The ADIT program is designed for tax professionals who work in International Tax, including tax lawyers, and accountants. 

Why I pursued ADIT? As an Indian CA, you would typically get exposure to the tax in Indian jurisdiction. Not everyone will be exposed to multiple jurisdictions in their career. That is why I decided to pursue ADIT, as the course provides the opportunity to explore other tax jurisdictions.

If you are in a company or a setup where cross-border transactions happen regularly, then you should know how two taxes interact.

Principles of International Tax, the mandatory module of the ADIT course, helps you understand those basics, as well as the far-advanced concepts of Tax Planning in the International Tax arena.

Can you give us a detailed overview of the ADIT course?

Candidates must pass three modules in order to obtain the ADIT qualification, and become an International Tax affiliate.

Module 1 – Principles of International Taxation (Mandatory)

  • This module captures the concepts of the Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Committee on Fiscal Affairs.
  • You'd understand the basic principles of International Tax law, double taxation conventions, and Transfer Pricing among others. 

Module 2 – Jurisdiction Options

  • This module lets you choose one or two jurisdictions out of 11; Australia, China, Cyprus, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Malta, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States, and Brazil. You will develop your expertise in the International Tax systems of one or two countries.
  • Since I was already well equipped with the taxation of Indian jurisdiction, I chose the UK option.

Module 3 – Thematic Options

  • For this module, you have to choose one of the 5 thematic International Tax subjects, EU Direct Tax, EU VAT, Banking, Energy Resources (previously called Upstream Oil & Gas), and Transfer Pricing (I chose Transfer Pricing). These are very industry specific. 
  • International Tax and Transfer Pricing go hand in hand, hence if you want to understand the full spectrum of International Tax, you need to learn Transfer Pricing. 

You can check out the syllabus for 2023 here.  

What is the process of the ADIT examination and what are the ADIT course fees? 

The entire process of obtaining the ADIT qualification can be carried out online.

Yes, you heard that right. You can study this course from anywhere in the world, with a stable internet connection and a Laptop/Desktop. 

Register with CIOT:

  • First, you need to register with the Chartered Institute of Taxation through your email address.
  • The registration will be valid for 5 years and you must register by a specific deadline prior to each exam session. 

ADIT fees:

  • You have to pay a registration fee of £235 which will be valid for five years.
  • The entry fee for each exam is roughly £200- £220.
  • Overall the cost of the round £750- £900.

Writing the exams:

  • Exams are conducted every two months, namely in June and December. You have two chances to write your exams in a year.
  • You must complete each exam in 3.15 hours.
  • Although you may write all three modules in either June or December, it would demand a significant time commitment. Given my work schedule, I decided to take up one module at a time. 

I wrote the Principles of International Taxation module in December 2021, the Transfer Pricing option in June 2022, and the UK option in December 2022. And with that, I became an International Tax Affiliate. I studied for 6 months before each exam. In all, it took me 1.5 years. 

Also Read

You have probably heard about the UAE implementing Corporate Taxation Law. But did you know that it will act as a catalyst for the ever-growing UAE job market? Calling all the tax professionals.

Can you give us an overview of your preparation process for the ADIT exams? 

You can either prepare for the exams on your own or opt for training/course providers. 

You have to factor in the point that the ADIT exam doesn't have a standard syllabus. Rather the discussions and the questions will be around the latest issues or trends in International Tax.


  • If you are planning to self-study I suggest you look at online study materials. YouTube contains many videos that discuss these topics. 
  • With knowledge of Transfer Pricing, you could manage on your own for the first and third modules. The thematic module can be tricky, it was at least for me. 

Course Provider:

  • I opted for training providers/ course providers as it was difficult for me to understand certain concepts.
  • I chose a Europe-based training provider for my Principles of International Taxation and Transfer Pricing modules and a UK-based training vendor for the UK option.
  • CIOT’s website has a list of course providers for each module of ADIT. PwC is also providing courses for the ADIT qualification.
  • Course providers would either give you the study materials, online training or sometimes both.

Given my full-time job, I spent approximately 150 – 160 hours studying for the first and third modules, and 200 hours on the UK option. For the 1st module, I prepared for nearly 6 months. 

Utilizing my early mornings and weekends was my secret to clearing the exams. 

The UAE Corporate Tax Law is going to become effective from June 1st, 2023. Your advice to those who want to find opportunities here? 

With Corporate Tax becoming effective from 1st June 2023 in UAE, almost all the companies in the country will be in huge need of tax professionals.

The moment the implementation period is over, they need people to manage all the corporate tax-related accounting aspects, litigation, and everything.

Everyone from large corporates, and Big 4s, to mid-sized firms, is hiring good corporate tax professionals either with expertise in Indian Income Tax or any other jurisdiction. The opportunities are immense. 

If you have Corporate Tax knowledge you can easily crack into the market. It’s a good time for Tax Professionals to move to the UAE and grab these opportunities.

If you are a professional without a corporate tax background, don’t lose hope. My suggestion would be:

  • Read through the documents published, it’s very straightforward with 70 articles/sections. It is not very hard for a finance professional to grasp the nuances of it.
  • ICAI and many other Big 4s are conducting diploma courses in UAE Corporate Tax. Enrol in those courses, and build your base.
  • Pursuing relevant diploma courses such as ADIT can be helpful. 
  • Furthermore, networking with CAs that are working in the UAE can prove beneficial. They will inform you of any openings in the field. 

But having said that, there is no guarantee whether the job opportunities would come right after the course. 

It may grant you a visiting card for one or two interviews then everything relies on your convincing skills and technical skills. This is what I would say to a professional who has never worked in corporate tax. 

I too didn’t have a Big 4 experience or fancy job title. By acquiring knowledge and networking, I was able to crack into the UAE job market. 

If I can do it, you can too.

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