Please take the time to review and familiarize yourself with the University of Waterloo's Policy 31 - University Expenses as well as the Guidelines for Expenses that can be found under the section "Other Related Links" on the Finance Resources webpage.


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, for example the most direct base level economy would be Coach/Standard/Flex. The lowest logical fare/rate is the rate that includes travel-appropriate features such as:

  • Advanced seat selection
  • Trip cancellation 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 (if a second bag is required please provide the reason)

Please note, that purchasing the Air Canada flight class Comfort for reasons of requiring a refundable ticket must be justified by the traveler.  Justification must include an explanation of why there is a high risk the travel may be cancelled and if so, why a future flight credit would not be usable by the traveler.  If that cannot be reasonably justified, Flex level airfare is considered the lowest logical fare.  Please note, UW strongly encourages the purchase of flight cancellation insurance to protect against unforeseen cancellations such as illness.  Travel lockdowns are unlikely under the current climate, therefore indicating covid disruptions for the reason of requiring a refundable ticket is no longer a suitable justification.

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.

  • If you plan on extending your trip for personal days:

please ensure that you get a quote for a 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.

Please note that travel advances (cash advances) and claims must be settled upon 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.


Meal expenses may not be covered, you need approval from your supervisor if they are covering meal expenses and the amount. i.e. some professors only cover the travel days to and from not during the trip.

Finance is requesting that we please use the per diems for meals whenever possible on expense claims.   

Per diems are strongly encouraged for administrative ease as receipts are not required to be submitted or retained for per diem meal claims.

If you need to claim meal receipts rather than using the per diem calculator, and if the meal receipts are not itemized, please add comments to the expense line with a list of food purchased and you must declare no alcohol was purchased.

Per diems cannot be claimed for other attendees, only for yourself. Meals with attendees require itemized meal receipts.