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Questions about business travel in Europe

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Oct 2nd, 2006, 07:20 PM
  #1
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Questions about business travel in Europe

Hi there, everyone,

I am headed to Amsterdam on business at the end of the month (wooohoooo!!!) and have a few simple, possibly idiotic questions. I have traveled to Europe many times on my own dime, but this is my first time traveling on business. I was wondering... do taxi drivers give receipts? And is it rude or unusual to ask for separate checks at restaurants?

Now, obviously, plenty of other businessmen and women travel throughout Europe, so I would think these are common practices - but I just want to make sure I can get properly reimbursed for my expenses.

Thanks!
Meredith
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Oct 2nd, 2006, 07:42 PM
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Hi Meredith,

You should have no problem getting a receipt from a taxi in Amsterdam (just ask).

As for seperate checks, that gets more complicated. I've found during business travel that it's more important to know who is hosting the dinner, i.e. who's paying. Are you the host? Or are you just enjoying dinner w/colleagues? Once you figure that out then it's easy to ask up front for a seperate check if need be.

I wouldn't be suprised if most of your company dinners are expensed by the local office (unless you're there asking them to do something--then you'd pay).

Enjoy your trip!
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Oct 2nd, 2006, 10:21 PM
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yes, all real taxis will give receipts.

as for the bill splitting, your question can be taken on two levels.

1. is it rude to ask the restaurant to make separate bills - no, actually in this part of europe it is often assumed and the waiter will indicate the separate totals for you. if you pay by cash, it can be difficult to get a separate receipt for your payment, however. CC payments, you of course get one automatically. hopefully you are on a per diem and don't have to worry about receipts for everything.

2. is it rude to ask those eating with you to split the bill? who pays is as complex as it is at home and depending on where you are from, it is no different. if you are working in your company's amsterdam office and the team just goes to lunch, you are not expected to pay, nor would they pay for you (in my experience working on projects in the netherlands). NL is a small country so if it is a big company, most likely they often work with people from all over europe and the world and don't make a big deal about visitors...dutch are businesslike and practical...not big on the pleasantries and fluff.
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Oct 3rd, 2006, 06:31 AM
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Thanks for the replies! To clarify my question about separate checks, I was wondering about asking the waiter to make separate checks, not asking about who should pay. My husband will be traveling with me, and I want to make sure that I can charge only my meals to my company and pay for my husband's food on our own credit card. Again, thanks for your replies!
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Oct 3rd, 2006, 08:41 AM
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Hi Meredith,

I travel to Europe on business quite often and actually just returned last Friday from a trip in which my husband met me in Italy for a few days.

Taxi: I have never had a driver not supply a receipt for asking and just a note don't forget to add the tip to the total if the driver doesn't.

Separate checks: If you work for an American company simply pay one bill and put only your expenses on the expense report. Unless your company controller tells you otherwise, this is common practice - even among co-workers sometimes. It is my understanding that the receipt is needed for any meal reimbursement over $25/day for American companies (tax purposes). It doesn't mean it has to be separate, and in my case I often simply write a receipt on paper with the date and place if a receipt isn't available.
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Oct 3rd, 2006, 09:06 AM
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Unless your firm has rules against it, I agree w/ LilyLace. You don't need seperate checks to claim just your expenses.

If you are using a company-issued credit card that is in your own name the same applies. You can usually charge the entire bill and then just claim back your portion for reimbursement.
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Oct 3rd, 2006, 11:46 AM
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For business meals you don;t split bills.

Whoever is the host pays. If you're the client you get treated. If they're the client you pay. If you all work for the same company the senior person pays and expenses it with the names of all the other employees.
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Oct 3rd, 2006, 11:56 AM
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LilyLace is wrong saying that taxis don't provide receipts.

We were in Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago and took a taxi from the train station to our hotel. Our taxi driver asked whether we needed a receipt. So yes, they do provide them. Simply ask if they don't offer.

Have fun in Amsterdam! It's a fabulous city!
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Oct 5th, 2006, 11:17 AM
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Pavfec,

I didn't say that taxis don't supply receipts. I think most all do.
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Oct 5th, 2006, 11:26 AM
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For a while, a company I worked for insisted on printed taxi receipts with all the info, not the blank receipts that most taxis gave you (this was the brainfart of one of a suburban accountant who never traveled and never took taxis). The company refused to reimburse taxi rides that didn't give you a printed receipt. They also tried to insist that we only take taxis that took credit cards. Needless to say, this policy didn't last long.

Re separate checks, many restaurants will split a check once, but they get seriously annoyed if the party asks for more than two checks.

There are occasions when separate checks are prudent...for example, this March in Vienna, a group of us had dinner at Novelli's our last night after a convention. The group consisted of staff from two magazines that were direct competitors. Everybody agreed that it was better to get two separate checks (one for each magazine) than to answer questions later about who they were dining with.

And of course, there are those who like to "double dip" their expenses (submitting a receipt for a meal somebody else paid for), but I'm sure the OP would never consider such a thing...

Happy travels!
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Oct 5th, 2006, 01:07 PM
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>>>>>
It is my understanding that the receipt is needed for any meal reimbursement over $25/day for American companies
>>>>>

ouch. $25 is less than €20. in the UK we get about €55 per day for meals depending on the country and no tax worries.
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Oct 5th, 2006, 06:17 PM
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It's not that the company allows you $25 for daily expenses - or anything else. In fact - we didn;t have a set daily budget - as long as you didn;t abuse it ($200 for dinner for one person).

It's that the IRS (tax service) won;t let a company write off any item costing more than $25 without a receipt. So - to maximize write-offs the companies require receipts for $25 and up. But I've never heard of needing a printed receipt. For cabs you can usually just get the driver's card and write the info on the back.
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Oct 6th, 2006, 08:17 AM
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Yes NYTraveler is exactly right. That's the same with my company they don't let you starve or eat rubbish! Far from it, in most cases I am the one to host dinner and pay the entire bill. However, contary to many beliefs, even though I'm VP of sales, most of my customers in other countries pay the bill when I visit them! This also includes my hotel in some places. I may just have the best customers in the world, I'm not sure. I stay at the homes of one customer in particular in Europe, just back in fact 2 weeks ago..
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Oct 6th, 2006, 11:27 AM
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It frequently depends on the specific contract with the client.

For instance - in my business my employer picks up the tab for me to visit the client - either mileage or airfare/hotels etc - if the client is in another city. If I take the client out to dinner in that city most clients let me pay. A few (more ethical - or realistic) client will pay for my dinner if we eat together.

However, if I travel on behalf of the client - for instance to a professional convention (either in the US or abroad) or for market research, then the client rather than my employer picks up the costs. And in those instances, my budget is the same as the client allows it's own employees (for instance, businees or first class air on international flights but coach on domestic ones).
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