Accurately quantifying the capacity of sewer inlets (such as manhole lids and gullies) to transfer water is important for many hydraulic flood modelling tools. The large range of inlet types and grate designs used in practice makes the representation of flow through and around such inlets challenging. This study uses a physical scale model to quantify flow conditions through a circular inlet during shallow steady state surface flow conditions. Ten different inlet grate designs have been tested over a range of surface flow depths. The resulting datasets have been used (i) to quantify weir and orifice discharge coefficients for commonly used flood modelling surface–sewer linking equations and (ii) to validate a 2D finite difference model in terms of simulated water depths around the inlet. Calibrated weir and orifice coefficients were observed to be in the range 0.115–0.372 and 0.349–2.038, respectively, and a relationship with grate geometrical parameters was observed. The results show an agreement between experimentally observed and numerically modelled flow depths but with larger discrepancies at higher flow exchange rates. Despite some discrepancies, the results provide improved confidence regarding the reliability of the numerical method to model surface to sewer flow under steady state hydraulic conditions.