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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Employment income: scale rate expenses payments: accommodation and subsistence payments to employees travelling outside the UK: tables of benchmark rates: what the tables contain: what is not covered

HMRC has published tables of benchmark scale rates that employers can use to reimburse accommodation and subsistence expenses incurred by employees who have to travel outside the UK. The tables cover a wide range of countries and regions.

What the tables contain

For most countries, there are benchmark rates for the larger cities as well as an “elsewhere” rate. Employers wishing to use the published rates must ensure that they refer to the table entry for the city where the employee stayed, or the elsewhere rate, as appropriate. Rates are quoted in the relevant foreign currency, US$ or Euros.

The tables provide:

  • a “room rate” per night
  • a “total residual rate” and individual rates for breakfast where it is not included in the room rate, lunch, dinner etc. The “total residual rate” figure is intended to cover the total cost of meals in a period of 24 hours, plus the cost of daily travel between the employee’s hotel and office
  • a “24-hour rate” - this is the sum of the “room rate” and the “total residual rate”
  • an “over 10-hour rate”, which is intended to cover subsistence expenses for any period of more than 10 but less than 24 hours
  • an “over 5-hour rate”, which is intended to cover subsistence expenses for any period of more than 5 but less than 10 hours
  • separate amounts for individual meals and other expenses incurred during the day - employers who wish to do so may use these rates instead of the “over 5”, “over 10” and “24-hour” rates (see EIM05260)

Whilst most rates are published in the local currency, or are consistently in either US$ or Euro(€), there are a number of countries where the room rate is published in either US$ or € and the total 5-hour, 10-hour and residual rates are in the local currency. In these cases, the 24-hour rate will show both currencies.

For some destinations, the table simply shows “ACTUALS + £4 PER DAY”. These are destinations for which no benchmark information is available. In such cases, employers may reimburse their employees’ actual accommodation and subsistence expenses, plus £4 per day to cover hotel-to-office travelling expenses.

Employers cannot choose to use rates from destinations to which their employees have not travelled as a substitute for destinations for which no benchmark rate is available. The rates can only be used as published.

There’s guidance on and examples of using the tables.

What is not covered

The benchmark rates are intended to represent the accommodation and subsistence expenses that employees incur during a period spent in a foreign country. That is why the “24-hour”, “over 10 hours” and “over 5 hours” periods are measured by reference to the times of arrival at and departure from the foreign country. The benchmark rates do not cover incidental, allowable expenses that employees may incur en-route - for example, the cost of a taxi to the airport in the UK, or necessary refreshments taken at the airport. Employers who wish to use the benchmark rates may reimburse those other expenses separately, in addition to paying the benchmark rates.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)