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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Employment income: scale rate expenses payments: accommodation and subsistence payments to employees travelling outside the UK: tables of benchmark rates: how to use the benchmark rates

Employers may use the individual meal rates or the hourly rates, but should not pay both for the same journey.

So, for employees who are away overnight, the employer may decide to pay the “24 hour” rate for each complete period of 24 hours, starting from the time when the employee arrives at the destination airport, or train station, and ending when they leave the country in question.

Alternatively, the employer may prefer to pay the room rate plus individual amounts for the meals and other expenses that the employee has incurred. Either method is acceptable, but employers should not pay hourly rates and individual meal amounts for the same journey.

For any period (or residual period) of less than 24 hours, the employer may use

  • the room rate (if the period includes an overnight stay), plus
  • the over 5 hour rate or the over 10 hour rate, as appropriate.

The over 5 hour rate applies to a period of more than 5 but less than 10 hours. The 10 hour rate applies to a period of more than 10 but less than 24 hours.

Here again, instead of paying the over 5 hour and over 10 hour rates the employer may prefer to pay the room rate (if the period includes an overnight stay) plus individual amounts for the meals and other expenses that the employee has incurred.

See example 1 at EIM05280.

Employers are not bound to use the benchmark room rate. Some employers may prefer to pay for accommodation and subsistence separately, perhaps reimbursing (or paying for) their employees’ actual, “room only” accommodation expenses, or paying a lower scale rate for accommodation. Such employers may then use the benchmark rates to pay tax/NIC free subsistence expense, as follows. They may do so using the over 5 hour, over 10 hour and total residual rates or, if they prefer, the separate amounts for meals, etc.

See examples 2 and 3 at EIM05280.

Separate rules apply if an employee

  • stays as a guest of a private individual (including a colleague) – see EIM05265
  • receives free meals and accommodation (for example, when staying as a guest of another company) – see EIM05270
  • stays in vacant residential property, or a serviced flat with cooking and laundry facilities – see EIM05275.