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October 22, 2022 - 2 min read

What Is Per Diem Allowance?

Per diem originated from the Latin phrase that means “per day” or “for the day”. When someone travels for work, they are given a per diem allowance, which is a specific allocation for meals or other miscellaneous expenses. 

For instance, the travel policy of your employer may specify that if you go to Quebec for work, you are entitled to a $100 per diem meal allowance. This means that you can spend up to $100 each day on food.

The per diem rates in Canada

In Canada, per diem payments are governed by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Effective April 1, 2022, the per diem rate in Canada is 98.45. Additionally, there is a daily incidental allowance of $17.50 that can be used to pay for things like coffee, snacks, tips, porterage, dry cleaning, etc. without the need for receipts.

The suggested rate for meals is $21.90 for breakfast, $22.15 for lunch and $54.40 for dinner. Receipts for meals are not required. The private non-commercial accommodation rate in Canada is currently $50.00 per night.

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When and how you can receive per diem payments

Your company is obligated to ensure that your per diem money is available while you are on business travel. You must compile all your travel-related expenses into a single expense report before submitting it to your company.

How you receive per diem payments is up to your employer and can be one of a few options:

  • Cash in hand: The per diem money is given to you upfront to be used as needed.
  • Corporate credit cards: These may have limits and be tracked to prevent employee fraud.
  • Personal spend: If it's a longer trip, you use your own funds and receive reimbursement upon return or frequently, such as on the last day of every month. 

Receiving a per diem allowance

It is worthy to note that the per diem allowance is not a taxable benefit and can be excluded from the employee's income if all the following conditions are met:

  • The employee travels away from the office
  • The allowance is reasonable. The CRA generally considers a value of up to $23 for the meal portion of the travel allowance to be reasonable.
  • You are the primary beneficiary of the allowance
  • The allowance is not an additional form of remuneration

If you drive your personal car for work-related purposes, check our guide on mileage reimbursement in Canada to learn all about the CRA rules on vehicle related expenses.

FAQ

Simply described, per diem pay is a sum of money that a company pays to a worker to use while on a business trip. This money is designed to pay for a variety of costs, including food, lodging, and travel.
Per diem rates are the daily rates assigned for lodging, meals, and other expenditures during a business trip.

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