What Is Per Diems in The UK? All You Need To Know

per diems
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Do your staff need to travel for work? Does your firm provide them with per diems? Do you want to know how per diem works in the UK and how it is taxed? If this is the case, then this article is for you. A per diem expense report is the easiest way to keep track of them. In this article, we will make you understand how per diems work in the UK, how they are taxed, and the advantages and disadvantages of using per diem systems.

What Exactly Is a Per Diem?

Per diem is a Latin term that means “per day” or “every day,” and it refers to a daily allowance provided by an employer to employees to cover incidental expenses incurred when traveling for business.

Per diem payments often cover expenses such as meal costs, accommodation costs, entertainment charges, and travel fees when on business travel. Per diems are effectively non-taxable because they are designed to pay employee business expenditures rather than act as an additional bonus.

Types Of Per Diem Allowance

Per diem allowances in the UK for incidental expenses on business travel are divided into two types:

#1. Companies that Require a Lot Of Travel 

In this circumstance, you can contact HMRC and present your case for a specific scale rate. This means that your per diem payments will often be higher than the standard rates. You must demonstrate that your business-related travel expenses are above average to be successful.

#2. Companies That Occasionally Require Travel

Per diem allowance covers the usual employee’s expenses while traveling for these companies. They can use the HMRC benchmark scale rates, which vary depending on where they are located.

How Do Per Diems Work in the UK?

Per diem charges change depending on whether the employee travels locally, away from home, or worldwide. Per diems are permitted in most jurisdictions, although with restrictions and maximum payout amounts.

Per diems are not taxable and are considered reimbursement rather than income; however, if any expenses exceed HMRC restrictions, per diems will be considered a taxable benefit to employees.

Once the employee per diem exceeds the HMRC restrictions, they are frequently taxed by the government. This must be included in the employee’s insurance and taxes. As a result, it is critical to have adequate quantities that are allowed by HMRC to guarantee that the company avoids non-compliance with UK payroll and tax rules.

What are the Per Diem Rates in the UK?

Travel must be to carry out the employee’s tasks or to a temporary workplace. The employee must be absent from their typical office or home for 5 or 10 hours and must have incurred food charges after beginning the excursion. The following are typical rate guidelines:

  • £5 for travel of more than 5 hours
  • £10 per hour over 10 hours  
  • More than 12 hours: £15
  • £20 for 24 hours, starting at 8 p.m.
  • Travel after 8 p.m. costs an extra £10.

Travel must match the following conditions to qualify for these rates:

  • Travel must be to carry out an employee’s tasks or to a temporary workplace.
  • The employee should be absent from their usual office or home for more than 5 or 10 hours.
  • After beginning the trip, the employee should have incurred a meal cost (food and drink).

How Are Per Diems Taxed?

Per diems (up to the legal maximum) are tax-free because they are designed to reimburse business expenses. They are neither a bonus nor part of an employee’s normal remuneration.

Employers have the option of paying their employees more than the maximum permitted per diem. However, the surplus is considered “income” by the tax authorities, and the employee must pay taxes on it.

To be able to take full advantage of per diems, it is very important to take into account how they are taxed. How per diems are taxed fluctuates, so speak to your tax advisor to discuss how it applies to you.

How Is Per Diem Calculated On Travel Days?

Per diem rates can be calculated in a variety of ways. Travel days are tax-deductible, so a well-thought-out corporate travel strategy is critical for cost-cutting.

Per diem compensation is available to travel managers in two ways. However, the specifics of these possibilities differ depending on the country in which the business operates. Per diem rates are as follows:

#1. Standard Per Diem Rates

These are daily allowances determined by each country’s regulators. Homeland Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is the equivalent in the United Kingdom. This is the General Services Administration (GSA) in the continental United States (CONUS).

#2. Company Determined Rates

Company executives select what daily prices to provide to business travelers. This is calculated using past trip charges and incidental expenses. They are communicated to and agreed upon with the relevant regulatory body once they have been determined.

The first is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that reduces the administrative strain on your company’s finance personnel. Simply seek up the rate and stick to it—it’s that simple.

The second choice offers you more flexibility in your strategy, but it is more expensive. It also necessitates data input, which may be difficult to come by if you haven’t been using a travel management service. It will be tough to provide a company-determined fee if you cannot identify average spending for previous work visits.

How to Use Per Diems in the UK

A per diem provides efficiency and simplicity to both employers and employees, which is why, despite tight laws, it is widely employed. Companies that make use of the per diem system must endeavor to teach their employees who work under the company how to do their payment calculations with per diems in the UK.

What is the option for businesses that wish to provide per diems to their traveling employees? It’s as simple as automatic expense solutions. These include the laws, restrictions, and maximum amounts for the countries to and from which employees travel, as well as historical amounts from one year to the next.

Employees may also easily calculate and claim per diems with expense management tools. At the same time, they ensure that the appropriate deductions are made when the same employee claims a per diem with another item, such as a dinner.

Deductions can be complicated, especially when an employee travels for several days. The first and last day of travel is normally entitled to a cheaper per diem charge than full days of travel.

Because this varies depending on location and even time of departure and arrival, a cost management solution that calculates and deducts for the traveler provides appropriate accounting and simplifies business travel.

Advantages Of Using Per Diem in the UK

Knowing how per diem works is essential and crucial for businesses because it benefits both the employer and the employee. Some of these benefits include:

A Per Diem Allowance For The Employer:

#1. Reduces spending volatility and simplifies business travel planning because you know exactly how much each person will spend every day.

#2. Reduces administrative overhead by eliminating the need to report expenses similarly.

#3. It is tax deductible, which means you don’t have to pay tax or NICs (unlike usual expenses) as long as you stay under the restrictions stated below.

A Per Diem Allowance for the Employee:

  • Offers Flexibility

Allows employees to spend their per diem money however they want.

  • Provides Clarity

Because the per diem is a defined amount, employees know exactly how much money is supplied and for what.

  • Reduces The Administrative Burden 

It reduces administrative effort because they are not required to preserve receipts or make expense claims for scale rate payments following HMRC requirements.

  • Make Finances Simpler

Employees don’t have to wait for payment or forfeit expenditures due to lost receipts, so they’re never out of pocket.

Disadvantages Of Using Per Diem Allowance in the UK

While flexibility and prudence are advantageous, they can also be damaging if left unchecked. Employees may cut corners to pocket the difference between actual expenses and per diem payments if they begin to consider them part of their salary.

Internal governance systems can be implemented to keep track of this. The administrative advantages of per diem payments, however, are negated by this. Employee travel may also grow unnecessarily as a result of per diem allowances—traveling for meetings is more appealing when you’re essentially paid a little extra to do so.

Setting Your Expense Policy

To ensure permissible and reimbursable expenditures, businesses must set a clear employee expense policy. Employees and the firm can use the defined standards to assess whether expenses should be reimbursed in whole or only partially, depending on how well they correspond with the policy.

Any business policy’s substance is determined by the company’s budget, culture, and individual ambitions. However, some critical practices contribute to the effectiveness of a cost policy:  

#1. Make Categories

Inform your staff on what expenses can be repaid from the company’s pocket and set a spending limit for each area.

#2. Define Clear Boundaries

Provide a list of criteria for non-reimbursable expenses. Fines lost personal items, and unlawful service upgrades are all possibilities.

#3. Gather Evidence

Define what constitutes valid proof of purchase, such as receipts and invoices.

#4. Comply With the Rules 

Inform staff about the requirements for valid submissions as well as the penalties for fraudulent or duplicate claims.

#5. Promote Open Communication 

Allow your staff to request pre-approval and processing of one-of-a-kind particular circumstances that do not fit into standard expense categories.

Additional points for certain spending categories that match HMRC regulations may be included in the expense policy. Providing extra standards for per diem allowances simplifies the submission process and allows businesses to expedite expense reimbursements.

Understanding Per Diem

Per diem payments are advantageous for employees whose jobs include extensive travel. Such travel can result in significant annual business expenses for lodging, meals, transportation, and so on. Companies have various per diem policies in place to pay these costs:

#1. Credit Cards Issued By the Company

Some companies provide credit cards to their employees. They use the cards to pay business expenses immediately while on the job, with no out-of-pocket charges.

#2. Full or Partial Expense Coverage

Some firms pay for all employee expenses, while others just pay per diem for particular expenses, such as housing, food, and incidentals.

#3. Fixed Amounts

Many companies pay their staff a set daily rate. Employees are expected to use this per diem to cover all or a portion of their expenses.

How much does the daily subsistence allowance cost?

The daily subsistence allowance must consist of the United Nations’ entire contribution to such costs as food, accommodation, gratuities, and other such payments paid for services given during official travel.

What are Food Subsistence Costs?

Meals and any other required travel costs, such as parking fees, tolls, congestion charges, or business phone calls, are considered subsistence.

Is Subsistence Allowance Taxable in the United Kingdom?

Typically, the business will reimburse the employee’s actual expenses. However, covering subsistence expenses through a flat rate structure can frequently be appealing to both employers and employees. These are tax-free and computed using HMRC-approved flat-rate amounts.

What Expenditures Should My Company Cover If I Work From Home in the United Kingdom?

Equipment, services, or supplies you supply to employees who work from home (for example, laptops, office furniture, internet connection, pens and paper) are examples of home working expenses. Additional household expenses, such as gas or electric bills, for employees who must work from home

What Is The Personal Allowance For Non-UK Residents?

If you are a UK or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen, you are still eligible for personal tax allowances as a non-resident. In 2022/23, the personal allowance of £12,570 can easily cover any UK sources of income that a taxpayer may have.

What Exactly is a Basic Salary Allowance?

Base pay is the base compensation provided to employees before any benefits. This is the bare minimum you can earn for doing your job before taxes and before receiving any bonuses or other rewards. They may reflect your base wage as an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or annual amount, depending on your work.


If your staff is frequently on the road on behalf of your firm, it’s well worth considering a business expense model that makes life easier for your employees while also reducing unnecessary paperwork. Company staff should be aware that per diems are typically taxed when they exceed the HMRC restrictions, so they can plan their finances accordingly.

Being acquainted with how to do financial calculations per diem is vital for budget travelers who work. Even as a freelancer who can work anywhere in the UK, having a comprehensive knowledge of how to do financial calculations with per diems is also crucial because it can help manage your expenses during trips.


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