Foreign employment

Produced by Tolley

The following Personal Tax guidance note Produced by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Foreign employment
  • Introduction
  • Travel and subsistence reliefs
  • General rules on travel and subsistence
  • Travel to and from overseas ― special rules
  • Travel and medical treatment
  • Termination payments
  • Special rules for non-domiciliaries
  • Non-domiciliaries - remittance basis
  • Non-domiciliaries ― exemption for small earnings
  • More...

Foreign employment


An employee who works overseas may be entitled to extra reliefs and exemptions. This guidance note covers:

  1. reliefs for travel and subsistence when travelling overseas

  2. exemptions for termination payments made to individuals who have worked overseas for part or all of their employment

  3. special rules that may apply to UK resident, but non-domiciled, employees

  4. special rules for employees in the first three years of residence (known as overseas workday relief)

It does not cover the position where an individual leaves the UK to work overseas. This is dealt with in the Residence ― issues on leaving the UK (2013/14 onwards) and Reporting requirements on leaving the UK guidance notes. In addition, the Leaving the UK ― UK source income, Temporary non-residence and UK capital gains tax liability of temporary non-residents guidance notes may be useful.

Remember, for tax purposes, the UK territories of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey are classed as overseas.

For further discussion of the meaning of 'foreign earnings', see Simon's Taxes E4.1304.

Travel and subsistence reliefs

General rules on travel and subsistence

Employees are not taxed on the reimbursement of business travel and / or subsistence costs. From 2016/17, reimbursed business expenses and benefits are exempt from income tax and national insurance. See the Expenses and benefits matched by allowable deductions guidance note. For 2015/16 and previous tax years, the employer needed to report the amounts on the P11D unless there was a dispensation in place.

If the business travel and / or subsistence expenses are not reimbursed by the employer, a claim for relief can be made by entering the figure in box 17 of the employment supplementary page to the tax return or by completing form P87 and submitting this to HMRC.

These general rules apply to all business travel, whether within or outside the UK, and are explained in the Employment income guidance note. It is recommended that you are familiar with these rules before you read this note.

One important element

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