Travelling abroad

As different regulations apply to travel abroad and within Germany, the travel allowances for foreign travel are treated separately by the BRKG (§ 14 BRKG). The rules for foreign travel are found in the so-called Auslandsreisekostenverordnung (ARV; English: Foreign Travel Expenses Ordinance) and in the annually updated administrative regulation “Allgemeine Verwaltungsvorschrift über die Neufestsetzung der Auslandstage- und -übernachtungsgelder” (ARVVwV; English: General Administrative Provision on the New Stipulation of Foreign Per Diem and Travel Allowances). cf. ARVVwV 2020.

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Provisions for reimbursement of travel expenses (§ 2 ARV; § 4 BRKG)

For train travel, the cost of first-class tickets and special or double bed classes in a sleeper cabin can be reimbursed; some European countries are excluded from this regulation, however (i.e. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy (exception: south of the railway track Rome-Pescara), Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the UK).  In such countries, only ticket prices for the lowest class of travel will be reimbursed. First-class tickets can be reimbursed if the travel time exceeds two hours.

The cost of the lowest class of travel can be reimbursed for air travel in Europe, while for travel to non-European countries, business class (or comparable) tickets can also be reimbursed. The funding agency may stipulate that only the cost of the lowest class of travel will be reimbursed for trips beyond European borders, especially in case of short routes. 

Notes: 

  • Possible fare reductions (for example, due to taking advantage of budget prices or a rail card) must be taken into account.  
  • Boarding passes and other ticket receipts must be kept and submitted for billing.

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Provisions regarding international per diems (§ 3 ARV; § 6 BRKG)

Additional costs for meals and drinks are usually incurred while traveling. For travel abroad, these can be reimbursed based on a fixed amount per day, the so-called international daily allowance. However, the costs that are actually incurred are not billable. Different per diems apply for each country, the amount of which is regularly updated and published by the Ministry of the Interior in consultation with the Foreign Office – together with the international accommodation allowances. The current administrative regulation “Allgemeine Verwaltungsvorschrift über die Neufestsetzung der Auslandstage- und –übernachtungsgelder” (ARVVwV; English: General Administrative Provision on the New Stipulation of Foreign Per Diem and Travel Allowances) and the corresponding Annex can be found here: ARVVwV.

As in the case of the per diem for travel within Germany, the amount of the international daily allowance depends on the duration of the trip (days and hours). The amounts specified in the list of international per diems are valid for an absence of 24 hours. For an absence of less than 24 hours but more than 8 hours 80% of the full per diem is reimbursed (this two-part differentiation applies since November 1, 2014).

Notes

  • The international daily allowance of 24 euros can be paid only if a person goes on a multi-day trip. No international per diem is paid for single day trips of less than 8 hours. 
  • On a multi-day trip 80% of the full per diem is reimbursed for the arrival and departure day - regardless of the duration of absence during these days.
  • The international daily allowance is determined by the last country reached by the traveler before midnight. This means that if the traveler reaches the foreign country only on the second day of the tour (for example, in case of night flights), the per diem for travel within Germany applies on the first day of travel. If, however, Germany is reached before midnight (for example, when returning from abroad or in case of one-day trips abroad), the international per diem of the last place of activity abroad applies.  
  • Crossing the International Date Line (i.e. traveling across time zones with different dates) has no effect on the number of travel days. For trips from west to east for which the same date is used for two days, no additional day is counted; for trips from east to west, the skipped day is not omitted. Each calendar day, from the beginning until the end of the trip, is counted once. 
  • For flight trips longer than two days, i.e., no country is being reached, the per diem of Austria is applied.
  • When travelling in countries not listed in the ARVVwV or in the annex, the per diem of Luxembourg is applied.
  • A reduced daily rate applies if the traveler receives free meals, for example, from the organizer, or if meals are included in the ticket or hotel costs (§ 6 Abs. 2 BRKG). In such cases, 20% of the full per diem must be deducted for breakfast, and 40% each must be deducted for lunch and/or dinner.  
  • Any international business trip that takes place in the same location for more than 14 days (excluding arrival and departure days) will have its daily allowance reduced by 10% starting from the 15th day (§ 5 Abs. 1 ARV).

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Calculation of international per diems

The described provisions must always be considered when calculating the per diems for the entire duration of a trip. This can be challenging in the case of extensive trips with many participants. Both the arrival day (or travel days of arrival in case the journey takes place overnight or takes several days) and the departure day (or travel days of departure in case the journey takes place overnight or takes several days) should be considered separately. This also applies to travel days on which a person travels from one foreign country to another foreign country (see the second example). The per diem amounts for the days in between the travel days are always the same – assuming the additional meal allowances are the same for all days, i.e. if breakfast is always included in the hotel costs or if the organizer provides a free lunch every day.

Tip: 

It is advisable to make a table to calculate the daily allowances for the entire trip that clearly lists the daily rates of the arrival and departure days and the daily rate and total amount of the remaining days of the trip. If several artists or creatives are involved, each of them should be listed individually by his/her full name. An example of what such a list might look like can be found here again shortly.

Example 1:
A publicly funded acrobat duo flies to Israel to give several performances. The international per diem for Israel amounts to 55 euros for 24 hours in 2020. The acrobats leave their home on Wednesday at 2 pm and return on Monday at 4 pm. The total per diems for each acrobat are calculated as follows: 44.00 euros (for Wednesday, 10 hour absence) + 4 x 55 euros (for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 24 hour absence on each of these days) + 44.00 euros (for Monday, 16 hour absence) = 308.00 euros.    

If the acrobats stay at a hotel with breakfast included, the per diem must be reduced by 11.00 euros (20% of the full amount). The arrival day is excluded from this rule. 

Example 2:
A publicly funded visual artist travels from Germany to Bulgaria for research purposes, from there to Romania, and then back to Germany. How is the international allowance calculated?

For the arrival day and her stay in Bulgaria, she bills the applicable international per diem (80% of the full amount for the arrival day, 100% for the the remaining days). For the travel day on which she reaches Romania, she bills the full amount of the international per diem applicable for Romania – the same applies to the other full days she spends in Romania. The Romanian international allowance also applies for the return journey; whereby she is allowed to bill again only 80% of the full amount.   

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Provisions regarding international accommodation allowances (§ 3 ARV, § 7 BRKG)

Required overnight stays abroad can be reimbursed up to the fixed amounts that are stipulated in the previously mentioned Allgemeinen Verwaltungsvorschrift über die Neufestsetzung der Auslandstage- und Auslandsübernachtungsgelder (ARVVwV; English: General Administrative Provision on the New Stipulation of Foreign Per Diem and Travel Allowances) and can be found in the corresponding Annex. Different international accommodation allowances apply for each country, the amounts of which are regularly updated. For hotel accommodation, the actual costs can be reimbursed up to the amount of the applicable international accommodation allowance. If the hotel costs exceed the applicable international accommodation allowance, they may be billed if they are justified and can be verified with original receipts.

The current administrative regulation “Allgemeine Verwaltungsvorschrift über die Neufestsetzung der Auslandstage- und Auslandsübernachtungsgelder” (ARVVwV; English: General Administrative Provision on the New Stipulation of Foreign Per Diem and Travel Allowances) including the current amounts can be found here: ARVVwV.

Notes:

  • Original receipts listing the accommodation costs must be kept for the report on expenditure of funds. If hotel bills are in a foreign currency, the up-to-date daily conversion rate must be used (unless the corresponding euro amount is also included on the receipt). For credit card payments, it is advisable to attach the credit card bill that specifies the corresponding euro amount. 
  • An accommodation allowance without proof of actual cost can be reimbursed according to the BRKG by 50% of the amount listed for accommodations in the respective country (ARVVwV), however with a maximum of 30 euros.
  • An accommodation allowance cannot be granted if the accommodation costs are included in the eligible travel or other expenses (for example, when spending the night on a night train) or when the traveler is provided with accommodation free of charge (for example, by the organizer). 

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