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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Travel expenses: general: overseas conferences, seminars and study tours: getting evidence

Sections 337 to 339 ITEPA 2003

Before a deduction can be permitted for the cost of an overseas conference, seminar or study tour it needs to be demonstrated that attendance was necessary to carry out the duties of the employment of the person attending.

Some overseas trips are merely an incentive to reward or motivate employees, see EIM31970. This may be particularly the case where the trip is provided by a third party, see EIM31975.

An itinerary should be available for the trip showing precisely what activities were involved. It is not enough that the trip was authorised, or even required, by the employer. It is necessary to be able to demonstrate that the duties of the employment could not be performed without it, see EIM31647.

The insertion into an itinerary of a token business element, such as a meeting that could equally well have taken place at the employer’s premises in the United Kingdom, does not make the travel cost necessarily incurred, see example EIM31991.

It is not enough to demonstrate that a trip had a personal educational value. Expenditure incurred by an employee to improve his or her qualifications for doing the job, or to keep his or her knowledge up to date, are not deductible, see EIM31650. This is illustrated by example EIM31990.

You should be particularly wary of those cases where the trip is made to an exotic or desirable location that appears to be unrelated to the subject matter of the trip, for example, a dentists convention in St Lucia. You need to consider critically the reason for the trip.

If the employee’s spouse accompanies the employee, see EIM31980.