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What is VAT?

From a travel expense management perspective, VAT (Value Added Tax) refers to a consumption tax levied on the value added to goods and services at each stage of production or distribution. In the context of travel expenses, VAT is typically applied to goods and services purchased during business travel, such as accommodations, meals, transportation, and other expenses.

Key Points:

  1. Application: VAT is imposed by governments on the sale of goods and services and is often included in the price paid by consumers.

  2. Rate: The VAT rate varies by country and may differ for different goods and services. It is typically expressed as a percentage of the total price.

  3. Recovery: Businesses may be eligible to reclaim VAT paid on eligible expenses related to business activities, including travel expenses, through a process known as VAT reclamation or VAT recovery.

  4. Documentation: To reclaim VAT on business travel expenses, proper documentation, such as invoices and receipts that clearly show the amount of VAT paid, is usually required.

  5. Compliance: It's essential for businesses to comply with VAT regulations in each jurisdiction they operate in to avoid penalties and ensure accurate financial reporting.


An employee stays at a hotel during a business trip and pays a total of $200, including a 20% VAT rate. Of the $200, $40 represents VAT, which the hotel will remit to the government.


  • Cost Management: Understanding and managing VAT expenses helps businesses accurately budget and track costs associated with business travel.

  • Compliance: Ensuring compliance with VAT regulations helps avoid penalties and legal issues.

  • Financial Efficiency: Reclaiming VAT where eligible can result in cost savings for businesses.

In summary, VAT is a consumption tax applied to goods and services purchased during business travel, which businesses may be able to reclaim under certain conditions, contributing to cost management and financial efficiency in travel expense management.

If you want to learn more about VAT and other compliance topics, please refer to the links below:

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