Travel and expense claims

Please take the time to review and familiarize yourself with the University of Waterloo's Policy 31 - University Expenses.

The Office of Research website provides a Travel Spending section which includes details of the most important information students should know before travelling and submitting a claim. And they also have a Research Travel Claims - Information for Students (PDF) summary sheet.


Important

  • Please note the changes made to Policy 31 University Expenses specifically related to economy airfare – the most direct base level fare at the lowest logical fare/rate is the standard for air travel. The lowest logical fare/rate is the rate that includes travel-appropriate features such as:
    • Advanced seat selection
    • Trip cancellations insurance
    • Refundable/changeable ticket status if there is a question about whether the trip will occur or the dates of travel (a small fee may apply)
    • One checked bag
  • Anything booked beyond the above level would need to be justified as to why a higher level of flight class is the only feasible option.
  • Please note that travel advances (cash advances) and claims must be settled within one month of returning, failure to do so may result in delayed payments.
  • For expenses incurred ahead of time, Claimants have the option of a cash advance to prevent the Claimant from being out of pocket for an excessive period of time.
  • For workshops or conferences paid for in advance, the claim for reimbursement cannot be submitted until after the Claimant has attended the event.
  • Several trips cannot be combined on one claim, they must be submitted individually.
  • Per diems cannot be claimed for any attendees only for yourself, meals with attendees requires itemized meal receipts.
  • This information is sent to all graduate students in the department via email each term.

Graduate studies conference assistantship

NEW: Graduate Studies Conference Assistantship (GSCA) claims are now submitted in Concur;  please follow the instructions in the Travel and Expense Claims section. Please remember to upload a copy of your GSCA application form which provides proof of department/faculty funding reserves.

Full-time students are eligible for these assistantships if they are presenting the results of research they conducted while at the University of Waterloo at professional or academic conferences. Students are normally expected to be first or second author of the paper or poster and must present the paper or poster at the conference. Confirmation of presentation and abstract do not need to be submitted prior to handing in the application. Applications must be received by the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) by the deadline posted at the Graduate Studies Conference Assistantship webpage to be considered for the funding and must be submitted before the conference is held. Please ensure that you provide a copy of your application to the Administrative Manager (sers.admin@uwaterloo.ca) a minimum of 10 days before these deadlines.

Graduate studies conference assistantships are cost shared by the student's supervisor (if possible), the school/department, the Faculty of Environment, and the GSPA. GSPA will normally pay expenses up to the total amount paid within the faculty, with a maximum of $500. These dollar amounts may be adjusted from time to time depending on the budget available and the number of travel requests. Please note that a student can submit only one application per fiscal year (May 1 – April 30).

Application procedures:

  • Submit the Graduate Studies Conference Assistantship application form (signed by the student and advisor) to the Administrative Manager (sers.admin@uwaterloo.ca) a minimum of 10 days before the above deadline. Applications after the conference will not be considered.
  • The Administrative Manager will circulate the form for department, faculty, and university approvals.
  • The GSPA will inform the student via email regarding whether their application has been approved or declined. If approved, it is the student's responsibility to follow-up with the Administrative Manager and obtain an electronic copy of the approved form.

Expense reimbursement procedures:

It is important that you submit your expense reimbursement documentation timely upon your return or your Graduate Studies Conference Assistantship funding may become void.

Claims may be submitted either via Concur or by using the Expense Claim Form ( the GSPA strongly recommends that claims are submitted using Concur). Students should contact the SERS administrative manager - sers.admin@uwaterloo.ca to obtain the appropriate GSPA/GSEF work order to indicate on the reimbursement claim, regardless of the method used to submit it (Concur or Expense Claim Form).

If you are submitting your claim using the Expense Claim form, you may also need the ENV Travel Expense Spreadsheet (.xls)

  • If your claim has more than five receipts and/or includes expenses paid in a different currency, then the ENV Travel Expense Spreadsheet is required and proof of currency conversion used is required.
    • Please ensure the currency rate is the same date as when the expense was incurred or an average for travel dates.
    • Proof of currency can be either a print out from OANDA or a copy of bank/visa statement showing the cost paid (please black out personal information).
  • NOTE: if you are using the ENV Travel Expense Spreadsheet please do not enter the expenses on the Expense Claim Form individually – indicate "See attached spreadsheet" on the Expense Claim Form

Some items required with your claim:

  1. Original receipts (scanned)
  2. Research abstract (version submitted to conference; must show student as first or second author)
  3. Proof of conference attendance and presentation e.g. conference agenda indicating student’s name and type of presentation (paper/poster)
  4. A copy of your approved Graduate Conference Assistantship application. Obtain this from the SERS administrative manager.

Original receipts

Must be detailed (showing itemized list of purchases) and must include proof of payment:

  • $0 balance on receipt; or
  • Payment information on receipt; or
  • “Paid” noted on receipt; or
  • Credit / debit card statement (confidential information removed); or
  • PayPal details; or
  • Wire transfer details
  • In extenuating circumstances when an original receipt is not available, please use the Declaration of Meal Expense (PDF) form for a meal or the Travel Claim Supplementary Explanation (PDF) form for expenses other than meals. These forms must be completed by the claimant and submitted with their paper claim, where applicable.

Boarding passes/airfare receipt (if applicable)

  • All travel invoices must accompany the reimbursement request.
  • If you plan on extending your trip for personal days, please ensure that you get a quote for price comparison at the time of booking your flights showing the cost of flights and the days you should be travelling for the conference and then submit the price comparison with the actual receipts of the flights booked. Normally, you are allowed only one day before and one day after the conference to be claimed. Price comparisons cannot be done when you return from the conference, so make sure this is done at the time you book your flight.

Meals

  • Per diems are now accepted on most research accounts but before you travel, you must confirm with your supervisor on their preference - actual cost (itemized meal receipts) or per diems. Some faculty members still require itemized actual meal receipts so please ensure you confirm with your supervisor.
  • If per diems are claimed, the per diem rates will be reimbursed regardless of the actual meal costs. Receipts are not required to be submitted or retained for per diem meal claims. Note: A single claim cannot include both per diems and receipted business meals.
  • If claiming per diems, users must indicate how they derived the number of days/meals claimed by using the per diem calculator in Concur or attaching the per diem calculator (.xlsx) if using an expense claim form.
  • Each per diem is allocated to individual meals as follows:
    • for breakfast
    • for lunch
    • for dinner
  • Partial per diems can be used where a full per diem is not eligible; for example: When breakfast was provided by a hotel
    • When lunch was provided by a conference
    • When a dinner banquet was provided by a conference
    • When someone travelled only part of the day:
      • E.g., evening flight to go to conference (breakfast and lunch are ineligible)
      • E.g., arriving home in morning after a conference (dinner is ineligible)
    • When someone does not eat a meal that was provided to them, they must claim the actual cost of the meal they purchased (supported by a receipt):
      • E.g., when someone does not eat the conference meals because of a dietary restriction
    • Meals cannot be excluded from a hotel bill and replaced with a higher per diem.

The information in the charts below:

  • States the maximums per day in Canadian dollars by geographical areas. The maximums includes taxes and gratuities. It should be noted that the rates (for both per diems and receipted meals) are not intended to render Claimants expense-free. It is assumed that the Claimant would have incurred some personal meal cost whether they were travelling on University business or not.
  • Provides the amounts for specific meals as a guideline only, except where a traveler is only eligible for certain meals (i.e. a day trip extending over the lunch hour).
  • Provides the rates for meals that are eaten. Meals must be purchased in order to be able to submit a claim for reimbursement.

Canadian dollar amount for permitted per diems (effective May 14, 2021 forward)

Meal Within Canada Outside Canada
Breakfast (.25) 20.00 25.00
Lunch (.25) 20.00 25.00
Dinner (.50) 40.00 50.00
Maximum per day (1) 80.00 100.00

Actual meals must be supported by itemized meal receipts and are eligible up to the maximum Per Diem rates on a per-person basis. For business meals where a Claimant is paying for themselves and one or more attendees and where all attendees are considered internal to the University, claimants may only claim actual receipted business meal expenses.

Due to the significant differences in meal costs around the world, meals outside of North America may be reimbursed using actual receipts if the claimant is travel in a country where the Per Diem rate is not reasonable or sufficient. When the Per Diem is not appropriate, actual meal expenses supported by itemized meal receipts will be reimbursed up to the established meal rates below.

Canadian dollar amount for receipted business meals (effective May 14, 2021 forward)

Meal Within Canada Outside Canada Outside North America
Breakfast

20.00

25.00 35.00
Lunch 20.00 25.00 35.00
Dinner 40.00 50.00 70.00
Maximum per day 80.00 100.00 140.00

Gas expenses

  • To ensure the eligibility of the fuel purchased and to ensure the completeness of the documentation, please specify which vehicle or equipment this fuel was purchased for (i.e. UWaterloo owned vehicle or rental). Gas for personal vehicles is not eligible.

Mileage expenses (claiming KMs) for personal vehicle

  • Please ensure to include a Google Map print out showing kilometres driven from points A to B. Mileage may be claimed for transportation in a private car at the rate of $0.59/km up to a maximum of a 500 km radius. The rate is effective May 14, 2021 forward. Gas receipts are not eligible for private cars.

Travel Advances

NOTE: This policy also applies to virtual conferences/events.

A traveler is not expected to use personal funds to incur excessive out-of-pocket expenses. The University will pay an approved travel advance for a reasonable amount where the expected travel expense is for university business, in whole or in part. The university will not pay a travel advance where the travel does not relate to university business or where the entire travel expense will be recovered from a third party.

The University will not pay an advance where the amount is equal to or less than the equivalent of $250 Canadian. Expenses may be claimed on a reimbursement basis only.

Requests for travel advances must provide sufficient processing time (Finance must receive an approved travel advance at least ten business days prior to the departure date) and be settled promptly.

The money payable for a travel advance may be directed to the Claimant and/or in the case of airfare only, directly to the university’s contracted service provider.

Graduate students submitting requests for travel advance use the online claim submission system called Concur. Cash advances are approved by your Supervisor please ensure you list them as cash advance approver.

If you do not yet have access to Concur, please request access by emailing the SERS Administrative Manager at
sers.admin@uwaterloo.ca. Provide your WatIAM user ID, your student ID number, and your Supervisor's name. You will receive a confirmation email once you have been added to Concur.

When you log into Concur, you can access the Concur User Manual and other training materials by clicking on the ‘Help’ link on the upper right hand side.

In Concur, travel advances are referred to as cash advances.

  • Enter the amount of the cash advance that will be required and the currency. The University will only disburse Canadian or US funds. (Do not include any amounts to be paid directly to Frederick Travel for airfare.)
  • Provide information about your trip purpose. Note: this filed only contains 48 characters so longer trip purposes should be attached using the Additional Documentation expense type in the body of the claim.

Travel and expense claims

NOTE: The University will not reimburse expense claims received by Finance four months or more after the travel end date (or virtual event end date) unless senior approval is obtained, i.e. the Faculty Dean.

Graduate students submitting expense or travel claims must use the online claim submission system called Concur.

If you have a claim to submit, and you do not yet have access to Concur, please request access by emailing the SERS Administrative Manager at sers.admin@uwaterloo.ca. Provide your WatIAM user ID, your student ID number, and your Supervisor's name. You will receive a confirmation email once you have been added to Concur.

When you log into Concur, you can access the Concur User Manual and other training materials by clicking on the ‘Help’ link on the upper right hand side.

You will need to confirm with your supervisor (professor) the work order and activity number to use for the expenses. This information will need to be listed in the header portion of the claim. You will need to scan and upload your trip purpose sheet, all your receipts, agenda, etc. to the claim individually and make sure you enter in the date listed on the receipt. You are not able to combine multiple receipts to one expense line – they need to be entered in separately. Add all the necessary information such as trip purpose, conference agendas (links are not accepted), then continue to add comments if you need clarify an expense i.e. purchased Ziploc bags for soil samples, gas was purchased for a rental car, equipment was used for…. etc. If you are claiming meal receipts and they are not itemized, please add comments to the expense line with a list of food purchased and you must declare no alcohol was purchased.

Effective for travel May 14, 2021 forward, original receipts and boarding passes scanned/uploaded on Concur will not need to be submitted to Finance. However, the original receipts and boarding passes should be retained for the duration of your program for audit purposes.

  • You do not need to print off the trip purpose or conference/meeting agendas, they need to be scanned and uploaded to the claim as additional documentation. If the agenda is too big to upload just scan in the top sheet showing the start and end date along with your section showing, please also upload your abstract if applicable
  • No google map is required for KMs being claimed the system calculates this for you once you enter in the information
  • Meals - please continue to use the per diem calculator (.xlsx) this must be approved by your Supervisor first before claiming per diems. Upload the information as a receipt under per diems expense (please note you will need to convert the excel sheet to a PDF to upload into Concur), please remember to exclude any meals provided i.e. at the conference, flight times leaving late and coming early (you would exclude breakfast and lunch and dinner), etc. If claiming actual meal receipts please ensure that the receipt is itemized and shows proof of payment
  • Please upload the trip purpose form (PDF) into Concur as additional documentation
  • Currency rating sheets are not required, once you enter in the amount in that currency for that date, it will calculate it to CAD dollars for you. If you paid by credit card and want to be paid out exactly what was paid you can enter in the amount as CAD dollars and upload your credit card statement for proof of currency conversion
  • the ENV Travel Expense Spreadsheet is not required and the system allows for many expenses to be entered and does the math for you

Receipts

Must be detailed (showing itemized list of purchases) and must include proof of payment:

  • $0 balance on receipt; or
  • Payment information on receipt; or
  • “Paid” noted on receipt; or
  • Credit / debit card statement (confidential information removed); or
  • PayPal details; or
  • Wire transfer details
  • In extenuating circumstances when an original detailed receipt is not available, please use the Missing Receipt Affidavit (PDF) form for expenses. This forms must be completed by the claimant and uploaded to Concur.

Note: Currency-rating sheets are not required, once you enter in the amount in that currency for that date, it will calculate it to CAD dollars for you. If you paid by credit card and want to be paid out exactly what was paid you can enter in the amount as CAD dollars and upload your credit card statement for proof of currency conversion

Boarding passes/airfare receipt (if applicable)

  • Scans/uploads of all boarding passes and travel invoices must accompany the reimbursement request on Concur. If you are using the e-boarding passes make sure to take a screen shot so that you can print it and upload it to Concur later. Although you do not need to submit the original documentation, keep it for the duration of your program for audit purposes.
  • If you plan on extending your trip for personal days please ensure that you get a quote for price comparison at the time of booking your flights showing the cost of flights the days you should be travelling for the conference or field work dates and then upload the price comparison with the actual receipts of the flights booked. Normally, you are allowed only one day before and one day after the conference or filed work dates to be claimed. Price comparisons cannot be done when you return from the conference or field work dates so make sure this is done at the time you book your flight.

Meals

  • Per diems are now accepted on most research accounts but before you travel, you must confirm with your supervisor on their preference - actual cost (itemized meal receipts) or per diems. Some faculty members still require itemized actual meal receipts so please ensure you confirm with your supervisor.
  • If per diems are claimed, the per diem rates will be reimbursed regardless of the actual meal costs. Receipts are not required to be submitted or retained for per diem meal claims. Note that a single claim cannot include both per diems and receipted business meals.
  • If claiming per diems, users must indicate how they derived the number of days/meals claimed. Upload the per diem calculator (.xlsx) as a receipt under per diems expense (please note you will need to convert the excel sheet to a PDF to upload into Concur). You cannot claim per diems for any other attendees.
  • Each per diem is allocated to individual meals as follows:
    • for breakfast
    • for lunch
    • for dinner
  • Partial per diems can be used where a full per diem is not eligible; for example:When breakfast was provided by a hotel
    • When lunch was provided by a conference
    • When a dinner banquet was provided by a conference
    • When someone traveled only part of the day:
      • E.g., evening flight to go to conference (breakfast and lunch are ineligible)
      • E.g., arriving home in morning after a conference (dinner is ineligible)
    • When someone does not eat a meal that was provided to them, they must claim the actual cost of the meal they purchased (supported by a receipt):
      • E.g., when someone does not eat the conference meals because of a dietary restriction
    • Meals cannot be excluded from a hotel bill and replaced with a higher per diem

The information in the charts below:

  • States the maximums per day in Canadian dollars by geographical areas. The maximums includes taxes and gratuities. It should be noted that the rates (for both per diems and receipted meals) are not intended to render Claimants expense-free. It is assumed that the Claimant would have incurred some personal meal cost whether they were travelling on University business or not.
  • Provides the amounts for specific meals as a guideline only, except where a traveler is only eligible for certain meals (i.e. a day trip extending over the lunch hour).
  • Provides the rates for meals that are eaten. Meals must be purchased in order to be able to submit a claim for reimbursement.

Canadian dollar amount for permitted per diems (effective May 14, 2021 forward)

Meal

Within Canada

Outside Canada

Breakfast (.25)

20.00

25.00

Lunch (.25)

20.00

25.00

Dinner (.50)

40.00

50.00

Maximum per day (1)

80.00

100.00

Canadian dollar amount for receipted business meals (effective May 14, 2021 forward)

Actual meals must be supported by itemized meal receipts and are eligible up to the maximum Per Diem rates on a per-person basis. For business meals where a Claimant is paying for themselves and one or more attendees and where all attendees are considered internal to the University, claimants may only claim actual receipted business meal expenses.

Due to the significant differences in meal costs around the world, meals outside of North America may be reimbursed using actual receipts if the claimant is travel in a country where the Per Diem rate is not reasonable or sufficient. When the Per Diem is not appropriate, actual meal expenses supported by itemized meal receipts will be reimbursed up to the established meal rates below.

Meal Within Canada Outside Canada Outside North America
Breakfast 20.00 25.00 35.00
Lunch 20.00 25.00 35.00
Dinner 40.00 50.00 70.00
Maximum per day 80.00 100.00 140.00

Gas expenses

  • To ensure the eligibility of the fuel purchased and to ensure the completeness of the documentation, please specify which vehicle or equipment this fuel was purchased for (i.e. UWaterloo owned vehicle or rental). Gas for personal vehicle is not eligible.

Mileage expenses (claiming KMs) for personal vehicle

  • The system will calculate distance travelled in KMs for you once you enter the information so no google map is required. for KMs being claimed the system calculates this for you once you enter in the information. Mileage may be claimed for transportation in a private car at the rate of $0.59/km up to a maximum of a 500 km radius. The rate is effective May 14, 2021 forward. Gas receipts are not eligible for private cars.

Contact:
SERS Administrative Manager
519-888-4567, ext. 43444