Travel and expense claims

Please take time to review and familiarize yourself with:

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.


  • Please note the Policy 31 University Expenses section 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 will need to be justified (in advance) as to why a higher level of flight class is the only feasible option.
  • 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 being out of pocket for an excessive period of time.
  • For workshops or conferences fees 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 can only be claimed for yourself; Meals with attendees require itemized meal receipts.

Travel Advances

A traveller is not expected to use personal funds to incur excessive out-of-pocket expenses when the expected travel expense is for university business, in whole or in part. In these cases a travel advance may be requested.

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 do so using the Concur online claim submission system. 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 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.

In Concur, travel advances are referred to as cash advances. Finance has a knowledge base with detailed instructions for all aspects of Concur, including preparing a cash advance.

Travel and expense claims

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

Graduate students submitting expense or travel claims must use the Concur online claim submission system. If you do not yet have access to Concur, please request access by emailing the SERS Administrative Manager at with your WatIAM user ID, student number and name of your supervisor. You will receive a confirmation email once you have been added to Concur.

Finance has a knowledge base with detailed instructions for all aspects of Concur, from how to create a new expense claim, allocating a single expense to a different work order, how to enter University paid airfare and missing receipt declarations.

Policy 31 covers University Expenses and the associated Guidelines for Expenses outlines University Business Expenses in section 4. 

Some information about Concur claims and highlights from the Guidelines for Expenses are:

  • You will need to confirm with your supervisor (professor) the work order and activity number to use for the expenses. This information will be entered in the header portion of the claim.
  • Ensure that you include the conference prospectus or agenda if you attended a conference or workshop. If the agenda is too big to upload, include the part showing the start and end date along with your section showing sections when you participated. Links to websites are not accepted. This material can be added using the expense type 08. Other documentation.
  • Upload the trip purpose form (PDF) into Concur as additional documentation (expense type 08).
  • Ensure that your receipts meet all of the requirements for an original receipt. Add comments to an expense if you need clarify an expense, e.g., purchased Ziploc bags for soil samples, gas was purchased for a rental car, equipment was used for, etc.
  • Travel cost comparisons - The Office of Research Travel site provides important information on what to do when trips are impacted by non-research reasons (i.e., personal travel). It is especially important to ensure that you get a quote for price comparison at the time of booking your flights which shows the cost of flights for travel on the days you should be travelling for the conference or field work dates. In these situations, the amount reimbursable from the research account is the lesser of the amount incurred and the amount that would have been incurred had the non-research portion of the travel not taken place.
  • In extenuating circumstances when an original detailed receipt is not available, please use the Missing Receipt Affidavit (PDF) form for expenses. This form must be completed by the claimant and uploaded to Concur.
  • Personal vehicle use:
    • Mileage may be claimed for transportation in a private car up to a maximum of a 500 km radius. If you are traveling farther than 500 km, you must provide a reason and comparison with other modes of travel (rail, plane, rental vehicle) to ensure the personal vehicle was more cost effective.
    • Use the mileage calculator in Concur to calculate the number of kilometers to claim when using a personal vehicle for travel.The current rate is $0.59/km. Fuel for personal vehicles is not eligible.
  • Meals:
    • Per diems are 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 prefer itemized actual meal receipts or grocery receipts.
    • If claiming per diems, include the results of a per diem calculator. Please remember to exclude any meals provided, e.g., at a 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 per What is an Original Receipt. Alcohol cannot be included in any claim. Remove that item and its tax from an actual meal receipt.
  • Currency exchange: Concur will convert an expense entered in another currency to Canadian dollars for you. If you paid by credit card and want to be reimbursed exactly what was paid, you can enter in the amount as Canadian dollars and upload your credit card statement for proof of currency conversion.

Original receipts and boarding passes uploaded on Concur no longer need to be submitted to Finance after you have submitted the claim. The original receipts and boarding passes should be retained for the duration of your program for audit purposes.

SERS Administrative Manager
519-888-4567, ext. 42025
Environment 2, room 2017