Additional per diems for catering costs 2019 - All you need to know

By Benjamin Bakali  -  Jul 31,   2020



Anyone who travels for professional reasons has to dig deeper into their pockets for food than in their usual environment. Therefore, the legislator has regulated that the so-called additional per diems for catering costs are tax deductible. But when can you claim it and how can you get your money refunded? We answer the most important questions.

What are catering costs? 

Catering costs are costs incurred by employees for food and drinks when they are on business trips. Travel and hotel expenses are not included, but are reimbursed via the travel expense accounting.

Employees can get back their additional expenses for food and drink by means of legally stipulated per diems. Therefore, it is pointless to collect individual receipts to prove the actual costs incurred for tax purposes.


When can additional per diems for catering costs be claimed 

Not every little snack eaten out of town counts as additional per diems for catering costs. The requirements for tax consideration are clearly regulated by the legislator in the Income Tax Act § 4 paragraph 5 number 5 sentence 2. According to it, employees can always claim additional costs if they were incurred during their professional activities for which the employee had to leave their usual place of work.

Additional expenses for meals can be claimed not only for business trips with overnight stays, but also for absences of more than eight hours from the usual place of work. 

The calculation of the duration begins at the employee's last whereabouts, from where he leaves to his outward appointment. This can be either his home or the company headquarters.


Additional per diems for catering costs 2019 at a glance

The extent to which the legislator reimburses catering costs can change over the years. We have listed the current lump sums for catering costs in 2019 below.


Lump Sum

8 - 20 H

12 €

> 24H 

24 €

External overnight stay 

20 €


Arrival and departure days can also be taken into account if employees spend the night out the day before or after. The lump sum is 12 Euro each.

For business trips abroad, the amount that will be reimbursed differs.The following lump sums will be paid in 2019 to cover additional expenses for meals abroad:




Day of arrival and day of depature 

Expenses for overnight accomodation 

















*varies, depending on the region. 


Cases when additional per diems for catering costs will be reduced 

If the employer provides or pays for meals while the employee is away, these meals must be deducted from the per diems.

For the calculation, the per diems for a 24h trip is used as a basis. It is reduced by 20 percent for every breakfast paid for by the employer and by 40 percent for every lunch or dinner.


Meal paid by the employer 

Reduction of the 24-hour-lump sum by 








Exception: If an employee works at a different location for more than three months, for example as part of a customer project, he or she can no longer deduct the catering costs from tax (so-called three-month rule).


How do you receive additional per diems for catering costs?

There are two ways to recover the costs of additional meals: via the employer or via the tax return.

The employer can pay the expenses directly via the travel expense accounting. The payment is tax-free up to the amount of the per diem. If he does not do so, the employee has the right to deduct the per diem as income-related expenses in his tax return.


Faster billing via Travel Expenses App Circula

For employees who have to go on a lot of business trips, it is a lot of effort to calculate the additional per diems for catering costs. If employers reimburse the costs directly, they often offer Excel templates as additional per diems for catering costs  calculators, but the transfer to the financial software still has to be done manually. On the one hand, this is tedious and, on the other, carries the risk of incorrect entries.

Specialized travel expense apps such as Circula offer a more intelligent solution. Circula simplifies the reimbursement process for both employees and companies and ensures a legally compliant travel expenses accounting. The app is GoBD-compliant, DATEV-compatible and ensures that the calculations are always based on the latest BMF values.

Calculate additional per diems for catering costs with Circula

Employees can calculate their additional per diems for catering costs themselves in the app in just a few steps. Afterwards they can easily submit all expenses, mileages and lump sums. 

Accountants save valuable time because they receive the travel expenses via Circula, validated and assigned to an account in advance. They can import expenses into the financial software with just a few clicks. The optimized process enables them to process payments to employees within a very short time. This gives all those involved more time for strategically important tasks.



Circula is the ideal partner for your expense management. Circula's expense management app makes it easy to account for all employee expenses - per diems, cash expenses, travel expenses, and out-of-pocket expenses. The intelligent Circula corporate credit card adapts perfectly to your business processes and offers further premium benefits with attractive cashbacks. In addition, Circula offers companies tax-optimized employee benefits such as the digital lunch benefits and a flexible mobility budget with which employees can be supported.


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Benjamin Bakali

Benjamin was at Circula from January 2019 to July 2020. First in the operations team and later as marketing lead he was able to dive deeply into the topics around digital accounting and helped to build up the online marketing for Circula.