According to the BMF-letter from 18.01.2019 the following requirements apply:
The digital meal voucher is only to be used for the purchase of meals consumed on working days. The allowance can only be used for lunch and dinner in the evening paid by the employee himself.
The timing of eating shall be decisive for the evaluation of whether the meal amounts to breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Meals from digital meal vouchers are intended to be taken within the statutory recovery breaks. In the case of work in a home office or a daily working time of no more than six hours, they may also be taken before or after working hours. (See BMF letter dated January 18, 2019, point 3.)
Food only amounts to a meal if it is suitable for immediate consumption or is intended for consumption during meal breaks – this also includes drinks, if they are taken in conjunction with a meal.
Non-food articles are expressly excluded from reimbursement. Examples are detergents, household goods, alcohol and tobacco.
Requirements for the receipt
All submitted receipts must meet the requirements of § 146a AO in conjunction with § 6 KassenSichV and § 33 UStDV.
If meals of more than one person are shown on a receipt, the meals you consumed should be identified on the receipt.
If the receipt shows items that are not part of the meal submitted, this should be identified on the receipt.
Please note that any discounts must also be visible on the receipt.
You can always submit receipts in the Circula mobile or web app within the month in which they are issued in order for them to count towards your lunch benefit.
For each day on which you submit meal vouchers and receive a maximum of €7.23 per day. You can be reimbursed for receipts on up to 15 days per month. This corresponds to a tax-free meal allowance of up to €108.45 per month (2024).
The most convenient way to submit receipts using the Circula mobile app is to follow the steps below:
Go to to "Benefits" in your mobile app.
Click the yellow Plus Button and choose "Lunch".
Scan your receipt. (Alternatively: Select a receipt from the tray or from your internal device memory.)
Optional: Mark the dishes or items that were part of your meal.
You can check your submissions in the "Benefits" tab. (Each submission has a status, approved receipts show the calculated reimbursement amount).
You can also submit meal allowances in the Circula Web App by following the steps below:
Click on "Benefits" in the Web App
Click on the yellow Plus Button, and select "Lunch".
Upload a receipt or select a receipt from the Receipt storage.
Click on "Submit"
Frequently asked questions
By when must my receipts be submitted?
Receipts to be reimbursed must always be submitted within the month of their issuance to be effective in calculating the reimbursement.
For any corrections, we extend this time frame to submit to 01 - 03 of the following month. Benefits submitted in this time frame should be correct and meet all requirements, as no resubmissions will be accepted after the third.
Can I submit more than 15 receipts?
Of course! If you submit more than 15 receipts, we will make sure that the highest possible amount is calculated for you.
How do I submit multiple receipts in one day?
Receipts from multiple points of purchase may be submitted daily if they are combined into one meal. The receipts can be collected and submitted together (up to 3 receipts can be added to a submission).
If a receipt is added later, it can also be submitted separately (Circula adds the receipts of a day together at the end of the month and calculates the daily reimbursement amount).
Can I also submit beverages?
Beverages may also be submitted if they are usually consumed in connection with a meal. Drinks containing alcohol are excluded from this.
In order for us to be able to verify that a beverage was consumed in connection with a meal, beverages should always be submitted together with other foodstuffs. The items can, of course, be on more than one receipt.
Can I buy in advance for more than one meal?
No. For each working day and each subsidized meal, only one subsidy can be recognized at the official non-cash remuneration value. If the employee purchases additional meals for other days in stock on the same day, subsidies granted for this must be recorded as cash wages.
Do I have to keep the receipts?
Circula stores receipts in an audit-proof manner. Unless your company expresses other requirements, receipts do not need to be stored. However, we advise you to keep the receipts until the controlling is done in Circula.
Can I use Circula Lunch when I am working from home?
Yes! When working remotely or from home, the use of Circula Benefits is possible under the same conditions.
Can I use Circula Lunch during short-time work?
Yes! The allowance is only omitted in the case of "short-time work 0" (100% loss of working hours).
Can I use Circula Lunch when I am on a business trip?
No! On a business trip, per diems can be paid out, the subsidy through meal vouchers is therefore not possible here.
Can I use Circula Lunch on days with short away days?
If the employee performed both an outside activity and work at his/her normal place of work on one day, he/she can use Circula Lunch on that day if he/she did not claim a tax-free per diem meal allowance and the outside activity lasted less than 8 hours.
Can I submit receipts from abroad?
The submitting employee's first place of work must be in Germany, and the employee must be subject to tax and social security contributions in Germany. In addition, the employee must not be on a business trip. If these requirements are met, the employee can submit receipts from abroad.
How do I receive the reimbursement from the employer?
The reimbursement is made in the following month together with your salary. You therefore receive the allowance conveniently directly into your account.
Are there any costs for me as an employee?
No. The costs of using Circula are borne by your employer. For you as an employee the net salary simply increases.
Will the data be saved when I change my smartphone?
Yes, your data will be saved in the Circula app. You can log in with your new smartphone.
How can I stop using Circula Lunch?
You can withdraw from Circula Benefits any time you want. Just contact your HR manager.
Will my data be kept confidential?
Yes. Circula ensures that your data is secure. You can find all information about data protection at Circula here.
Do you still have questions?
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