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Verpflegungsmehraufwand richtig anwenden

Additional meal expenses in the travel expense report (in Germany) part 1

26. April, 2018

What are additional meal expenses and how are they calculated? Who reimburses the expenses and how is a distinction made between domestic and foreign travel?


Markus Hansen leans back in his chair and steals a quick glance at his watch. The meeting with his most important client is already taking an hour longer than planned. Sighing inwardly, he refocuses on the discussion at hand.


Markus is on a business trip in Munich. As the workshop with the customer is taking much longer than expected, he won’t be able to eat the provided – and paid for – lunch at the hotel.


40 minutes later, he bids goodbye to his customers and sets out with a rumbling stomach in search of a restaurant. He will submit the receipt later in his travel expenses.


But how exactly does the additional meal expenses in travel expense accounting work?

What is the additional meal allowance?

Meal allowances (“Verpflegungsmehraufwände”) are mentioned in connection with business trips. They are also referred to as “Spesen”, “Auslöse” or “Tagegeld” (daily allowance). German tax law assumes that business travelers have to pay more for their own food while on the road than at home. Therefore, lump-sum rates are reimbursed to business travelers. The food costs incurred must therefore always have a business background.


Depending on the country and duration of the trip different rates are applied. These rates change annually and are published in a list by the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) at the beginning of each year.

Who will refund the expenses?

There are two scenarios of how the business traveler can claim the daily allowances:


The first option is to go through his employer. If the company reimburses the traveler for the costs, the traveler only has to submit a travel expense report.


If the company doesn’t cover the additional meal expenses, the business traveler can indicate these in the income tax return and be reimbursed.

How is the meal allowance applied?

When setting the correct rate, a distinction is made between domestic and international travel as well as between arrival / departure day and full day.

Travel within Germany

When traveling inland, the following lump rates apply: €24 for each full day the traveler is traveling and €12 for each arrival and departure day.


If the business traveler starts his journey at 7am and returns home at 8pm, this also counts as a business trip. The general requirement is, that the business traveler leaves his home or first place of work for more than 8 hours. In such a case, €12 will be charged.


If this 8-hour-period begins on one day (i.e. in the evening) and ends on the next (i.e. in the early morning), €12 will be attributed to the day the traveler was traveling longer.

Traveling abroad

In the section “What is the additional meal allowance?”, we’ve already referred to the list of exchange rates for trips abroad by the Federal Ministry of Finance. For trips abroad, the values ​​from this annually updated list apply.


You’re traveling to a country, that’s not included in the list? In this case the value for Luxembourg applies. For overseas or outlying areas, the lump sum applicable to the mother country must be used.

How to properly reduce the daily allowances?

If you booked a hotel room including breakfast for example, the amount of your lump sum will be reduced by 20% of the all-day allowance. Within Germany this means: €4.80 will be deducted from the lump sum of the day. This also applies if you get a breakfast on the departure day:


Regular travel day:

Food allowance: €24.00
Deduction breakfast 20%: €4.80


Departure day:

Food allowance: €12.00
Deduction breakfast 20%: €4.80 (in this case €24 are the basis of the reduction, too)


Lunch and dinner are reduced by 40% each. It’s not possible to reduce lump sums under €0.



Markus will be traveling to Munich for the workshop on Wednesday and returning on Friday. He gets lunch and dinner on Thursday, breakfast and lunch on Friday and breakfast on Saturday.


Food allowance: €12.00
Deduction lunch 40%: – €9.60
Deduction dinner 40%: – €9.60




Food allowance: €24.00
Deduction breakfast 20%: – €4.80
Deduction lunch 40%: – €9.60




Food allowance: €12.00
Deduction breakfast 20%: – €4.80




He would receive €16.80 per meal for these three days. But how is his missed lunch treated?


Since he was unable to eat the lunch provided by the employer because of the customer appointment, he hands in the bill for lunch. His daily allowance will be cut by 40% (€9.60).


Let’s assume that lunch cost €14 and Markus’ employer only covers half of the cost. In this case, a reduction of the reduction can be made. Specifically, this means that the self-paid €7 can be deducted from the reduction: €9.60 – €7.00 = €2.60. The food allowance will only be reduced by €2.60 in this case.


On the other hand, if lunch costs €30 and only half is approved by the employer, the remaining €15 will be deducted from the reduction. €9.60 – €15.00 = €0.00. In this case the meal allowance will not be reduced. It will not be refunded beyond the €9.60.


Markus’ lunch cost €8, which is why his daily allowance is only reduced by €1.60. He stows the receipt safely away into his briefcase to his other documents, to bring them to the accounting department on Monday.



Within Germany, €24 will be calculated for each full day and €12 for each arrival and departure. Fares for international travel are updated annually. Download the foreign lump-sum rates for 2018.


Breakfast is charged at 20% of the daily rate for 24h and lunch and dinner at 40% each.