Short Term Business Visitors (STBV): UK rules, reporting and compliance (incl. Appendix 4 exemption)

UK Short Term Business Visitors (STBV): guidance to stay compliant..
UK Short Term Business Visitors (STBV): guidance to stay compliant..

When it comes to short term business visitors (STBVs) to the UK, confusion can arise on whether or not there are any tax liabilities or reporting requirements to fulfil even for just short business trips.

Often people may have heard of the 183 days threshold and therefore assume (wrongly) that double tax treaty (DTT) relief will always apply automatically to a short term business visitor too.

Unfortunately, in the UK the rules are slightly more complicated and often companies find themselves caught off-guard when it comes to the reporting and compliance for STBVs.

The table below aims to provide some form of clarity in as a succinct way as possible.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that the information provided below is non-exhaustive and that there are different short terms business visitor requirements depending on the country an individual is from and whether or not they are a company Director. 

It is important to note that for short term business visitor purposes, a “day” in the UK is considered any part of a day in the UK for business or pleasure.

STBV in the UK

30 days

51 - 59 days

60 - 90 days

91 - 150 days

151 - 183 days

183+ days

UK entity = economic employer

No PAYE

No PAYE

PAYE from Day 1

PAYE from Day 1

PAYE from Day 1

PAYE from Day 1

UK tax return

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

UK entity is NOT the economic employer

No PAYE if STBV exemption rules apply AND Appendix 4 obtained

No PAYE if STBV exemption rules apply AND Appendix 4 obtained

No PAYE if STBV exemption rules apply AND Appendix 4 obtained

No PAYE if STBV exemption rules apply AND Appendix 4 obtained

No PAYE if STBV exemption rules apply AND Appendix 4 obtained

PAYE from Day 1

One time Appendix 4 application to HMRC for exemption from STBV payroll rules* 

UK tax return

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Company annual reporting requirements

No reporting

No reporting provided:

1. employee remains on home country payroll.

2. no formal contract with the UK entity

3. visit is not part of longer spell in the UK

Submit individual report to HMRC.

Report to include details such as name, address, duties, country in which tax return is filed declaring worldwide income and confirmation that the UK company has not borne costs.

Employee remains on home country payroll.

Same info as for visitors up to 90 days + copy of overseas tax residence certificate, details of nationality, place of birth.

In addition, confirmation individual has not spent 183+ days in any tax year, or more than 364 days in the past 5 tax years, in the UK.

HMRC ought to be informed as soon as it is known individual will be in the UK for 150+ days.

In addition to info for STBVs up to 150 days, individual also needs to show, at the year end, certificate of continuing residency from their home country.

 

Not applicable

Short term business visitors rules and conditions 

*In order to successfully apply for an Appendix 4 to HMRC and to obtain the short term business visitor exemption from operating a UK payroll, the following conditions ought to be met:

This arrangement must only be applied where individuals are:

  • Resident in a country with which the UK has a Double Taxation Agreement under which the Dependent Personal Services / Income from Employment Article (Article 15 or the equivalent) is likely to be competent
  • Coming to work in the UK for a UK company or the UK branch of an overseas company, or are
  • Legally employed by a UK resident employer, but economically employed by a separate non resident entity
  • Expected to stay in the UK for 183 days or less in any twelve month period

Moreover, in order to successfully apply for an Appendix 4, HMRC will usually want to be satisfied that:

companies will have a system in place to accurately track and record employees visits to the UK for business trips;

employees will periodically report details of their UK visits to the company and in particular they do not spend more than 30 days intermittently in the UK in a 12-month period without reporting it to their employer.

Records to be kept under this arrangement fall within Regulation 97 IT (Pay As You Earn) Regulations 2003 and must be retained for inspection for the stated time limits.

Additionally, the Appendix 4 short term business visitor agreement (STBVA) is denied to employees visiting for work from overseas branches of a UK entity.

The 60-day rule

At a high level, the 60-day rule means that a cross charge to a UK entity, which, per the applicable DTT, would normally deny tax relief to the STBV, is not conclusive, if the period of work in the UK is 60 days or less.

In order to be eligible for this rule, employees need to be on an overseas payroll and the 60 days (or less) must not form part of a more substantial period.

Further information can be found in HMRC Tax Bulletin: Non-Residents Working In The UK For Short Periods: The “60-Day” Rule.

Risks for short term business visitors to the UK

Not maintaining accurate records of days in the UK may result in:

the employer being required to operate a UK payroll (PAYE) for all business visitors; and

potentially, the employee having to file a treaty claim for a refund (FTC) of the tax withheld in the UK on their home country tax return at year.

This might in turn have the unexpected consequence of a cashflow problem arising for the individual as a result of:

1. having to pay taxes in the UK through the payroll (for being a non payroll exempt short term business visitor); and

2. then having to wait for up to 18 months for the foreign tax credits to wash through when filing their home country tax return. 

Ultimately, this issue will need to be managed by structuring the short term business visits as an actual assignment and therefore by operating a shadow payroll under some kind of tax equalization / protection policy and with the individual becoming a de facto expat, albeit accidentally.

Should the conditions for payroll exemption no longer be met after Appendix 4 has been successfully applied for, HMRC ought to be notified without undue delay to ensure payroll regularization and to avoid potential penalties.

FAQ on STBV

What happens if the foreign company has no entity in the UK?

If the foreign employer has no entity in the UK and there is no other UK host employer, then there is no UK entity which can be deemed to be the economic employer (see definition in the OECD’s commentaries to Article 15 section 8.14) of the individual and therefore no UK payroll is required.

Nonetheless, taxes may still be due in the UK by the employee which means they will need to be settled via the employee filing a UK tax return. Additional details can be found in CWG2: further guide to PAYE and National Insurance contributions

Are there any alternatives to applying for Appendix 4?

If the sending company has only one or two employees affected, they may want to apply to HMRC for an NT code for the individual/s instead.

Furthermore, if the Appendix 4 conditions cannot be met, for instance because the STBV is from a country with which the UK has no DTT, a special arrangement exists that allows companies to apply for Appendix 8 instead.

Appendix 8 however, only applies to any STBVs who work in the UK for 60 days or less during the UK tax year. 

Any other factors to consider for short term business visitors?

Attention should also be paid to the activities carried out by the individual/s in the UK in order to avoid inadvertently triggering a de facto Permanent Establishment of the foreign entity and thus exposing it to UK corporate taxation. 

Finally, companies and employees should be aware of the social security contributions implications when visiting the UK even for short business trips only lasting less than 30 days.

Given the complexities around STBV rules, it is recommendable to engage the expertise of a niche expat tax and global mobility specialist like us to advise on the best approach to follow for the individual circumstances of each short term business visitor.

Contact us should you require further clarifications on STBV reporting requirements and on how to stay compliant. We offer a free ½ hour consultation.

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