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  • Keeping travel expense records

    You generally need to keep records of your travel expenses to claim a deduction. You can claim a deduction for travel expenses, if you:

    • incur the expenses while earning your employment income
    • keep written evidence and travel records.

    On this page

    Records you need for travel expenses

    Unless an exception applies, you must keep records of your travel expense records, this may be a combination of:

    You need to keep your travel expense records for 5 years from the date you lodge your tax return.

    If you don't keep written records and travel records, you can't claim your travel expenses as a deduction. If you receive a travel allowance for travel expenses from your employer a record keeping exception may apply.

    Written evidence

    Written evidence is a document (paper, digital or electronic) that you get from the supplier of the goods or services, such as an itemised receipt. Written evidence must set out all of the following:

    • the name or business name of the supplier
    • the amount of the expense in the currency in which it you incur the expense
    • the nature of the goods or services
    • the date you incur the expense
    • the date the document (evidence) is created.

    The document must be in English where you incur the expense in Australia. However, if you incur the expense in a country outside Australia, the document can be in a language of that country.

    If the document the supplier gave you doesn't show the date you incur the travel expense, you can use the following to show when you made payment:

    • a bank statement
    • credit card statement
    • other reasonable, independent evidence that shows when it was paid.

    If the document the supplier gave you doesn't specify the nature of the goods or services, you may write the missing details on the document yourself. However, you must do this before you lodge the income tax return in which you claim the deduction.

    Travel records

    A travel record is a travel diary or similar document where you can record your travel activities.

    You need to keep a travel record if your travel is either domestic or overseas and involves you being away from your home for 6 or more nights in a row.

    The purpose of the travel record is to show which of your activities were work-related. This will help you work out the work-related portion of your accommodation, food and drink and incidental expenses if your travel was for both a work and private purpose.

    You should record each activity in your travel diary or similar document by specifying:

    • the nature of the activity
    • the date and approximate time the activity began
    • the length of the activity
    • your engagement in the activity.

    Record the activity before it ends or as soon as possible afterwards. Each entry must be in English.

    Example: travel records

    Noel is a manager of a tool manufacturing company that has plants in Australia and New Zealand. He travels to New Zealand for 9 days to attend a conference in Auckland and to visit the factory in Christchurch.

    Noel receives an allowance from his employer to cover his accommodation and meal expenses while in New Zealand.

    As Noel will be staying away from his home for more than 6 nights, he keeps the following diary of his travel.

    Date

    Activity

    Monday 7 October

    7.10am flight to Auckland. Arrive 12.15pm

    6.30pm–9.30pm Opening night of conference

    Tuesday 8 October

    9.30am–4.30pm Conference

    Wednesday 9 October

    9.30am–4.30pm Conference

    5.00pm–6.30pm Teleconference with Australia

    Thursday 10 October

    9.30am–5.30pm Conference

    Friday 11 October

    9.00am flight to Christchurch. Arrive at 10.25am

    11.30am–6.00pm Work at Christchurch plant

    Saturday 12 October

    Day off

    Sunday 13 October

    8.30am–12.30pm Management planning session.

    Monday 14 October

    8.00am–6.30pm Work at Christchurch plant

    Tuesday 15 October

    8.00am–3.00pm Work at Christchurch

    6.05pm Flight to Sydney. Arrive at 7.25pm.

    Noel keeps his travel records for a period of 5 years from when he lodges his tax return with the expenses that relate to this travel claim.

    End of example

    Exceptions for written evidence and travel records

    Exceptions from keeping written evidence and travel records exist for:

    • domestic travel
    • overseas travel
    • overseas travel for air crew.

    To rely on the exception from keeping records for domestic and international travel allowance expenses you must meet the requirements.

    If any of the requirements are not met, you'll have to keep written evidence for all of your travel allowance expenses along with travel records.

    Last modified: 21 Mar 2022QC 31952