A 'travel diary' is a diary or similar document that must be obtained from the employee where:
- the employee's expense is incurred for travel within Australia for more than five consecutive nights and the travel is not exclusively for performing employment-related duties (the fact that the business travel requires the employee to stay away over a weekend will not, in itself, mean the trip is not undertaken exclusively in the course of their employment), or
- the employee's expense is incurred for travel outside Australia for more than five consecutive nights.
In determining whether a travel diary needs to be kept, you need to look at the number of nights the employee is away from home. The number of nights away from home includes transit time.
Example: travel more than five consecutive nights
An employee lives in Brisbane and travels to Hawaii for work purposes. The employee's flight to Hawaii departs from Sydney. The employee leaves their home in Brisbane on 2 April, flies to Sydney, and departs for Hawaii on 3 April. The employee returns directly to Brisbane on 8 April. The employee is away from their home for six nights in total and would need to keep a travel diary.
A travel diary shows the nature of each work or business activity, where and when it took place, the duration of the activity and the date the entry was made.
If the provision of the expense payment or residual benefit is covered by an annual 'no private use declaration' (refer to section 20.3 of Fringe benefits tax exempt benefits), the requirement to obtain a travel diary will be waived. That is, if the expense payment benefit is subject to a consistently enforced prohibition on private use and which would result in a taxable value of nil, you will then be able to make an annual no private use declaration.
Such a declaration would state that the benefits were provided only for employment related purposes and that there was no private portion.