When is travel an allowable expense?

The general rule is that where you are employed on a contract you may claim travel expenses until you are aware that the length of the contract, from the date it first started, will be for 24 months or more. It is not the point at which you have worked at the temporary place for 24 months that is relevant, but the time when an expectation that you will work there for 24 months (or more) first arises that is critical.

Once you become aware that you will be working at a temporary place of work for 24 months or more then, from that point in time, it is considered to be a permanent place of work and consequently travel is considered by HMRC as ordinary commuting.

When engaging on a new contract with an unrelated client, HMRC operates a restriction as to what is considered a change in the temporary place of work. They do not necessarily view a change in the contracting company’s client to be a conclusive change in travel to a new temporary place of work. This is most simply explained by remembering that you are employed by a Limited Company and if 2 clients are situated close to each other with similar journeys required to travel to the sites then essentially the location of your place of work is to all intents and purposes identical. It is important to remember that you are working for the same company even though the end clients may not be connected. Conversely, 2 successive contracts of 12 months with the same business but in different parts of the country will always be seen as travel to a temporary workplace.

It is important to be aware that contracts which span a break of a few months may be viewed as continuous for the purposes of ascertaining whether there is a permanent place of work where the nature of the subsequent contract may be considered to be an extension of the previous.

Where an employee spends less than 40% of their time at a place of work it can never be considered as a permanent work place and travel will always be allowable.

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