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Can I claim a meal allowance?

You’ll be glad to hear that you can claim for the cost of food and drink whilst performing your work. But there are some important rules that should be understood before you claim

The qualifying journey rule

You can only claim for meals whilst on a business trip, or whilst working away from your permanent workplace.

A very good rule of thumb to follow is: if you can claim for the travel, then you can claim for the food. Remember:  If the journey to a site does not qualify, then you cannot claim for any subsistence expenses, including food, drink or accommodation, whilst working at this site.

Other rules

  • You can only claim for meals purchased whilst performing your work. Home-made meals brought with you don’t count. You must also be able to provide receipts.
  • There is no set limit on the cost of the meal, providing the cost is ‘reasonable’; a three-course meal at the Ritz might draw the attention of HMRC.
  • You can only claim for the cost of your own food and drink – If you’re eating with clients or business contacts this becomes  entertainment. As soon as there is an element of provision of food and drink to non-company employees, the whole expense becomes classed as entertainment – there is no apportionment possible.
  • Meals other than lunch can be claimed, but within reason. As a guide, breakfast should only be claimed if you start work before 9am, and to claim dinner a good rule of thumb would be not to claim for this unless you have to work until 7pm.

Note for those who have previously worked under an umbrella company

If you have previously worked under an umbrella company you may be familiar with the £5 allowance.  This unreceipted, fixed allowance, does not apply when you’re working through a Ltd company. Instead, you must claim for your actual costs!




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