In Sweden, employers can pay their employees per diems (i.e. daily allowances) as compensation for the expenses (such as maintenance, restaurants and hotels) incurred while they are on a business trip.
Per diems are not considered part of an employee’s pay and are thus tax-free if:
- Overnight: There must always be at least one overnight stay outside the usual place of business to be able to pay a tax-free allowance. If the business trip covered the time from 00.00 to 06.00, it is considered an overnight stay, even if the employee has worked during the night. As an additional requirement;
- Distance from work and home: The location of the business trip should be more than 50 kilometers from the employee’s usual workplace or home;
- Business trip: It should be a business trip, which is a trip made by employees for work to a place outside their usual workplace;
- Up to a maximum amount: The allowance is only tax-free up to a maximum amount, which is explained below.
Reimbursements or daily allowances that do not fulfil the requirements are considered taxable income, as well as the amount that exceeds the maximum amount of daily allowances set out above.
Maximum daily allowances
These are the maximum tax-free allowances:
|Full day||SEK 240||Full allowance|
|Half a day||SEK 120||50% of a full allowance|
For international business trips, the Swedish Tax Agency annually determines standard amounts for most of the world’s countries. The amounts are based on what it costs to eat at a normal standard restaurant in each country. You can find the list on Skatteverket’s website.
The day of departure is considered half a day if the trip starts at 12.00 or later. The day of return is considered half a day if the trip ends at 19.00 or earlier.
Often, overnight accommodation is provided by the employer. If it is not provided, the employer can pay a tax-free supplement of 50% of a full allowance (domestic: SEK 120).
You can also decide to reimburse employees for their actual accommodation expenses tax-free. In this case, the employee should deliver receipts or invoices. Without proof of receipts or invoices, you can pay an employee a tax-free allowance for half a day (domestic: SEK 120).
If the employee stays in several countries during one day, you must use the normal amount for the country where the employee spent the longest time of the day. Here, travel time by plane and boat between the countries is disregarded.
Long business trips
Maximum daily allowances
|After three months||70% of a full allowance|
|After two years||50% of a full allowance|
For a business trip in Sweden, this means that an employee could receive a maximum tax-free daily allowance of SEK 168 (70% of SEK 240) after 3 months and SEK 120 (50% of SEK 240) after 2 years.
For long business trips, an employer can only pay a tax-free allowance for the full day, not for half days.
Interruption of business trip
A business trip is considered to be continuous if it is not interrupted by a break due to the work being moved to another location for at least four weeks. Shorter breaks and breaks for vacation or illness mean that the three-month period is extended by the number of days the employee would have worked. This means extending the time that the employer can pay the full allowance.
In the event of an interruption of a business trip for a new business trip to another location, the three-month period for the original business trip may be extended by the number of days that work has been performed in another location (the new business trip). The fact that allowances are paid for the new business trip is not an obstacle to an extension.
The three-month rule does not apply when the location of the business trip is constantly on the move, such as for truck drivers and pilots.
If the employer provides the employee’s meals during the business trip, the tax-free allowance should be reduced. Meals that are compulsorily included in the price of public transport shall not reduce the allowance.
Deductions are made according to the following table: