Travel and Expense Claims

This list is designed as a guide to help students with their travel arrangements and travel claim settlement when conducting business travel on behalf of the university.  It is important to familiarize yourself with Policy 31 - University Expenses (including the related guidelines) and the Office of Research Website for further information about spending on research accounts. Following these guidelines will help expedite your reimbursement and ensure that you receive reimbursement for eligible business costs. Know before you Go!

Last updated: Sept 1, 2023; CSM

Concur Account Set-up

Graduate Student travel expenses are processed through Concur, the university’ s on-line claim submission system.  An account must be created on your behalf in order to use the system. This includes travel advances and travel claim settlement. Contact the Administrative Coordinator to create your account on Concur no later than 3 weeks prior to departure if you are a first-time user. This is an excellent opportunity to review travel requirements and ask questions of the Coordinator before booking travel and incurring costs, whether you are a novice or seasoned traveller.

Travel Advances

The university does not expect students to assume significant financial burden for business travel costs. Students are encouraged to obtain a cash advance for all out-of-pocket business expense prior to travel. Airfare, conference registration, and accommodation expense are costs that are usually incurred before you start your trip. This expense can be recovered with a Cash Advance. The Cash advance is processed through Concur.  Please make an appointment with the Department Administrative Coordinator [Gen Belford,] for assistance with obtaining a cash advance well in advance of your departure start date. Cash advance requests must be received in Finance for processing no later than 10 business days prior to departure.

Travel Requirements and Documentation


Each expense claimed for business purpose in Concur must be accompanied with an original itemized receipt that shows proof and method of payment. This is the University and Canada Revenue Agency policy. Credit card slips alone are not sufficient. Please familiarize yourself with What is an original receipt? If the currency of the transaction is absent from the receipt, provide supplementary documentation of the purchase location.


  1. The university will reimburse ECONOMY CLASS FARE ONLY - coach/standard/flex. Eligible options under this class can include:
    • Advance seat selection
    • Trip cancellation insurance *recommended
    • Refundable/changeable ticket status - if there is question about whether the trip will occur or a question with the dates of travel (a small fee may apply)
    • One checked bag
  2. It is important to book your arrival date, one day before the conference starts, and the departure date, one day after the conference finishes. In cases where return flight options are limited and a later departure date is required, provide proof at the time of purchasing the ticket by taking a screenshot of the booking website that shows you are selecting the earliest available flight.
  3. If you are extending your trip for personal days, secure a cost comparison for a direct return flight at the time of booking that covers the duration of the business portion of the trip. The university will reimburse the lowest economical fare between the two fares.
  4. You must secure an itemized flight receipt at the time of booking that shows your name, departure dates, proof, and method of payment.


Commercial Accommodations

    1. Provide original, itemized receipts
    2. Meals included on the hotel bill will be removed from the bill total if Per Diem is claimed. In cases where receipted meals are claimed, meals charges on the hotel bill must be accompanied by an itemized receipt. Alcohol purchases are an ineligible expense.

Private Accommodations

  1. Used for reimbursing the claimant for the cost of thanking their host (friends, family). Contact the Administrative Coordinator for more information or refer to Non-Commercial Accommodations.

Conference Documentation and Trip Purpose

The claim must include conference itinerary from the conference website which includes the conference title, date, location, and schedule/agenda. In addition, a trip purpose must be supplied indicating the business purpose and relevance to the grant funded research.

Trip Purpose Example: to attend xxxx (name of conference) which is relevant to my supervisor’ s grant funded research on xxxx (research topic) because xxxx (reason for attending).

The conference documentation and trip purpose must be uploaded to the travel claim under the expense heading, ‘€˜Additional Documentation,’ when settling your claim.

Per Diem Meals

The university provides per diem rates to simplify the administration of meal reimbursement. Receipts are not required. A Per diem calculator is used to determine the eligible number of days that can be claimed during business travel by calculating the number of meals the claimant would be out-of-pocket. The calculator tracks:

  1. The number of meals the claimant was out-of-pocket.
  2. The number of gratuitous or hosted meals provided to the claimant where the claimant is not out-of-pocket. These meals would be deducted from the count (i.e. meals included in hotel cost, conference banquet, etc.)
  3. In the case where hosted or gratuitous meals are offered but declined by the claimant, a justification must be provided (i.e. dietary reasons, declined luncheon invitation to catch early flight, declined to prepare for talk, etc.).

The university takes into account geographical location. Different rates are applied for domestic and international travel. Concur tabulates the number of eligible days calculated from the Per Diem Calculator and applies the rate listed on the Policy 31 Per Diem Schedule, provided below. Example: 2.75 eligible days x 80, domestic; 3.25 eligible days x 100, international


Within Canada

Outside Canada

Breakfast (.25)



Lunch (.25)



Dinner (.50)



Maximum per day (1)



Transit (Train, Bus, Taxis)

Provide original receipts of all transit fees. Take pictures in cases where receipts cannot be redeemed.

Personal Vehicle Mileage/Km

  1. Mileage is applicable for use of the Claimant’ s personal vehicle when driven on University business. The vehicle must be owned and operated by the claimant or an immediate family member inhabiting the same household.
  2. Use the mileage/km calculator provided in Concur to calculate the distance in km. You are required to provide the address of origin and address of destination to calculate the correct distance.
  3. The University reimburses the claimant for use of their personal vehicle to a maximum of a 500km radius (one way) from the University.
  4. Alternative modes of travel are required for distances > 500km (one way). If circumstances arise where this is not possible, justification for your decision to drive must be accompanied with a cost comparison using an alternative mode of travel, done in advance of the trip. The university will reimburse the lowest economical fare between the two.

Gas Usage

Original, itemized receipt(s) must be supplied. *This applies to rental vehicles only.

Other Eligible Business Costs

  1. Parking costs.
  2. Road toll costs.
  3. In-flight Wi-Fi costs.

Trip Itinerary

Create a short trip itinerary to be included with your claim submission. Your goal is to tell a story with your itinerary. It is just as important to state what you aren’t claiming as it is to state what you are (ex. “I walked to the conference from the hotel, so I have no travel expenses to claim for this portion of the trip”).

This will help auditors reviewing your claim. You want your claim to be clear, concise, and compliant with policy. This will speed up the review process and avoid unnecessary delays in the approval process. The university will not reimburse multiple claims for the same trip. The trip itinerary will help organize your claim.

Example Itinerary

September 23: Left Waterloo at 3:00 p.m. to go to the airport by taxi. Flight left at 5:00 p.m. Took public transit from the airport to the hotel. Bought dinner.

September 24: Bought breakfast as it was not provided by the hotel. Took public transit to the conference, which started at 10:00 a.m. Lunch and dinner were provided by the conference. Returned to the hotel by public transit.

September 25: Bought breakfast as it was not provided by the hotel. Took public transit to the conference, which started at 9:30 a.m. Lunch was provided by the conference. The conference ended at 3:00 p.m. Returned to the hotel with public transit, then took a taxi to the airport. Bought dinner. Flight left at 7:00 p.m. and landed at 9:00 p.m. Took a taxi to Waterloo.

Shared Costs

It is preferable that travelers pay for their own expenses; in cases where this is not possible, the individual who incurred the cost will be reimbursed. If someone incurs a cost on behalf of others, this person claims the entire amount and should make a note of the names and affiliations of the individuals who shared the item(s) purchased. The shared expense can be ‘€˜itemized’ in Concur to apportion each person' s share to different Supervisor’ s grants. 

Grants/External Funding

If the claimant has received external funding to be used toward or to offset travel or conference fee costs, they must provide:

  1. A picture of the cheque or other relevant documentation.
  2. Proof of deposit into the claimant’s bank account (screenshot of redacted bank statement, account information blacked out).

This funding will be deducted from the claim. Please note: Third party external funding deposits can take time and delay the reconciliation of your claim.  It is for this reason we highly recommend taking out a cash advance to offset travel costs while you wait for receipt of funds.

Cash Advance and Claim Settlement

Your travel claim must be settled within one month of the travel return date.  The university will not reimburse expense claims received by Finance four months or more after the travel end date.

To settle your claim access Concur via the Finance Resources webpage using your WatIAM credentials and password. Concur requires Two-factor authentication, 2FA to access the system.  A ‘€˜Help’ link is provided in the upper right-hand corner to obtain the Concur User Manual and the system training modules.

Concur allows for delegation of claim settlement. The Undergraduate Administrative Coordinator acts as the graduate student delegate. 

Designate the C&O Administrative Coordinator, Gen Belford, as delegate [instruction to designate a delegate is provided in the Concur User Manual].  Upload receipts and required documentation to claim. Contact your delegate when your claim is ready for review.  The claim must be reviewed by the C&O Administrative Coordinator before you submit the claim and activate it through the approval process in the systems.  Your delegate will ensure your claim is compliant with policy. This will mitigate unnecessary delays with the processing of your claim.

You are welcome to bring all original documents, itinerary, and receipts to the Administrative Coordinator for reconciliation and input into Concur if you prefer to exercise this option.  You will be notified when your claim is compliant and ready to submit.


If you have questions about Waterloo Policy or the processing of your claim, please contact the Administrative Coordinator.