Step by step, our guide will lead you to all the important information you might need for your international work.

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The Guide

How to: Mobility Funding

Hinweis

Oft werden zwei Regelungen bezüglich des Umgangs mit Reisekosten durcheinandergebracht. Dabei handelt es sich zum einen um die Regelungen des Bundesreisekostengesetztes, die zur Anwendung kommen, wenn Reisen mit Förderungen des Bundes finanziert werden. Zum anderen geht es um die Möglichkeit, beruflich veranlasste Reisekosten von der Steuer abzusetzen (weitere Infos hier). Hierbei gelten jeweils unterschiedliche Regelungen, unterschiedliche Höchstsätze, die angewendet werden können, etc.
Im Folgenden geht es um: Das Bundesreisekostengesetz (BRKG)

 

The German Travel Expenses Act ("DAS BUNDESREISEKOSTENGESETZ")

Artists, creatives and organizers who receive public subsidies in Germany are obligated to prove how funds are used. Travel expenses for funded projects must be billed according to the Bundesreisekostengesetz (BRKG; English: German Travel Expenses Act). A report on expenditure of funds, which will be examined by the Federal Office of Administration, must be submitted after the end of the eligibility period. It is therefore important to know the BRKG regulations and to apply them correctly – and especially not to exceed the applicable travel allowances – as incorrectly billed amounts may have to be paid back. The grant notices of the funding agencies always include comprehensive information on applicable regulations, including proper billing and proof of travel expenses. 

 

NOTES:

  • To avoid mistakes, it is advisable to contact the relevant employees of the funding agency in case of doubts or questions.
  • Independent travel cost-related regulations apply in some federal states, while in others the BRKG applies with only slight modifications.

Below you will find information on the most important provisions of the BRKG, which must be observed by publicly funded artists and creatives, regarding: 

Travelling within Germany
Travelling abroad
 

Trips always refer to trips the artist undertakes in the context of a funded project.

The allgemeine Verwaltungsvorschrift zum Bundesreisekostengesetz (BRKGVwV) offers further help (only available in German). 

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Travelling within Germany

Travel allowances (§ 4 BRKG)

Incurred travel expenses – for example for train and boat trips, flights and travel on public transport – can be billed up to the amount of the lowest class of travel. Possible fare reductions (for example, due to taking advantage of budget prices or a rail card) must be taken into account. 

Notes

  • Expenses for air travel can be reimbursed only if they can be justified, for example with regard to scheduling or due to lower travel costs.
  • First-class train fares can be reimbursed if the travel time exceeds two hours.
  • Travel costs incurred through the use of rental cars or taxis can be reimbursed if they are justified; for example, if the destination can no longer be reached with other means of transportation at certain times. However, one should inquire with the funding agency already during the planning phase under which circumstances the use of a rental car or taxi is acceptable.
  • Voided tickets and boarding passes for flights must be kept and submitted for billing.

Mileage allowance (§ 5 BRKG)

The costs for the use of cars and other motorized vehicles that are not covered by the above-mentioned means of transport (e.g., an individual’s personal car) can be billed on the basis of the mileage allowance, which is 0.20 euros (or in special cases 0.30 euros) per kilometer traveled, with a maximum of 130 euros per trip, based on the number of kilometers from the point of departure to the destination.

Per diem (§ 6 BRKG)

Additional costs for meals and drinks are usually incurred while traveling. These can be reimbursed based on a fixed amount per day, the so-called per diem. However, the costs that are actually incurred are not billable. The per diem amount is based on the Einkommensteuergesetz (§ 4 Abs. 5 Satz 1 Nr. 5 Satz 2 EStG; English: Income Tax Act) and depends on the duration of the trip (days and hours). The duration of the trip is usually determined by departure from and arrival at one’s home or workplace (§ 2 Abs. 2 BRKG).

The following per diems apply for trips within Germany (since 2020): 

a)    Absence of more than 24 hours: 28 euros
b)    Absence of less than 24 hours but more than 8 hours: 14 euros

Absence here means the absence from both the home and the regular workplace. 

Notes

  • The daily allowance of 28 euros can be paid only if a person goes on a multi-day trip. No per diem is paid for trips of less than 8 hours.
  • The following special regulation applies: If a business trip begins after 4 pm and ends before 8 am on the next day without an overnight stay, the total period of absence is determined and attributed to the travel day with the most hours spent away.
  • 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 (i.e. 5.60 euros) must be deducted for breakfast, and 40% each (i.e. 11.20 euros) must be deducted for lunch and/or dinner.
  • Any business trip that takes place in the same location for more than 14 days will have its daily allowance reduced by 50% starting from the 15th day (§ 8 BRGK).

If the "business-related stay at the same place of business lasts longer than 14 days", a daily allowance reduced by 50 % applies from the 15th day onwards (§ 8 BRGK).

 

Calculation of per diems

The described provisions always must be considered when calculating the per diems for the entire duration of a trip. This can be challenging in 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. 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: Example list for calculating per diems (as of 2015; updated list 2020 coming soon)

A publicly funded performance collective that works in Berlin drives to Cologne to give several performances. The artists leave their homes on Thursday at 1 pm and return on Sunday at 7 pm. The total per diems for each individual artist are calculated as follows: 14 euros (for Thursday, 11 hour absence) + 2 x 28 euros (for Friday and Saturday, 24 hour absence on each of these days) + 14 euros (Sunday, 19 hour absence) = 84 euros.      

 

If the artists stay at a hotel with breakfast included, the per diems must be reduced accordingly and calculated for each artist as follows: 14 euros + 2 x 22.40 euros + 11.20 euros = 70 euros.

Accommodation allowance (§ 7 BRKG)

A fixed rate of 20 euros may be charged for required overnight stays if no costs or costs lower than 20 euros incurred. Necessary overnight stays at higher costs can be reimbursed - by a maximum of 70 euros (75,60 euros breakfast included). The traveler always has to choose a low-cost accommodation.

Notes:

  • Original receipts listing the accommodation costs must be kept for the report on expenditure of funds. This is also the case if only the 20 euros accommodation allowance will be billed.
  • An accommodation allowance of 20 euros is reimbursable according to the BRKG even without proof of actual cost. This allowance however can only be billed for a maximum of 14 days.
  • 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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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- only available in German) 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 2023 (only available in German).

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.

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 2023 (only available in German).

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).

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.

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. 

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.   

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 2023 (only available in German).

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 2023), 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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