International business travel is accompanied by a slew of challenges for both travelers and financial managers. Language barriers, jet leg and jam-packed itineraries only scratch the surface for this breed of travel. Luckily, there are corporate travel tips all over the Internet to help guide international jetsetters. Here are a few things you'll want to know before you go.
Know the VAT and How to Get it Back
Value Added Tax (VAT) is an additional charge on goods or services, much like sales tax in the U.S., that varies among different countries. Unlike U.S. sales tax, VAT is factored into the advertised price of goods and services and doesn’t necessarily apply to visiting consumers. Non-residents can request a VAT refund at the end of their trip to get back what they were taxed while on their foreign excursion.
Corporate travelers should take the VAT into account when budgeting and spending on an international business trip. Missing out on a VAT refund could mean many dollars lost from the company budget. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Be vigilant about tracking all expense activity. Detailed proof is part of the refund process.
- Upon purchasing goods or services, let merchants know that a VAT return will be requested. They will supply the receipts and forms needed to file a return on the expense.
- Before checking in for your flight, visit the local customs office to submit the receipts accrued on the trip for the VAT refund.
- Follow the requirements closely.
- Refunds may take anywhere from a couple of months to a year, so plan business budgets accordingly.
Use Your Apps
One of the top corporate travel tips is to take time before your trip to browse the Apple app store. Utilize one or more of the hundreds of smart phone apps designed to make business travel and expense tracking a cinch.
Watch for Corporate Crooks
Keeping track of honest expense reporting is difficult enough within the borders of the U.S. Put a business bandit overseas with little supervision and the company budget could take a big blow.
- Mandate original documentation of overseas spending.
- Require detailed expense reporting.
- Conduct random audits to relay a company-wide message that every report is subject to close review.
- Address past expense discrepancies face-to-face with individuals prior to international trips.
Overseas corporate travel doesn’t have to be impossibly difficult. Avoid obstacles by conducting research on the VAT rates and requirements, wising up with smart phone apps, and watching out for expense-tracking troublemakers.