Guidelines for Eligible Hospitality Expenses

Effective date: 1 September 2013


This document provides guidelines for eligible hospitality expenses incurred for university business.


Hospitality is defined as the provision of food, beverage, accommodation, transportation and other amenities paid from university funds to people who are not engaged in work for the university.

Guiding principles:

It is recognized that hospitality is an important component of advancing the university’s mission of teaching and research.  Hospitality may be extended to people not engaged in work for the university through business meals, events, receptions, gifts, etc. Below are guiding principles when incurring hospitality expenses:

  • The university is a publically-funded organization.  Any individual incurring hospitality expenses on behalf of the university must be able to demonstrate the prudent and responsible use of public funds.
  • Normally, alcoholic beverages are purchased and served by a licensed establishment.   The cost of alcoholic beverages for events is ineligible under the following conditions:
    • When an individual purchases alcoholic beverages directly from a supplier, such as The Beer Store or Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).
    • When the event, at which alcoholic beverages are served, is not held at a commercial, licensed establishment. 
  • The University's Food Services - Catering department is required to serve at events held in a private residence.
  • Reasonable hospitality expenses are permitted and will be paid or reimbursed when authorized.
  • The cost of alcoholic beverages is eligible where consumption is nominal or moderate.  If the cost is funded by a third party, alcoholic beverages must be permitted as an eligible expense by the funding agency.
  • The guiding principles are applicable regardless of the funding source (e.g., operating, research, trust, ancillary, etc.).
  • Hospitality expenses funded by a third party (e.g., Tri-Agency – NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR or Government of Ontario) must meet the terms and conditions imposed by that entity.  Specifically,:
    • University policy prevails where the third party funder does not specify terms and conditions.
    • Terms and conditions of the third party funder prevail where the third party specifies terms and conditions, regardless of whether they are more stringent or more generous than the university’s guiding principles.

Documentation required:

When incurring hospitality expenses for university business, the following documentation is required:

  • Original, itemized invoice or receipt.  Purchases by an individual directly from suppliers of alcoholic beverages, such as The Beer Store or Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), are ineligible.
  • Reason for the hospitality activity.
  • Name of attendee(s) and affiliation of the attendee(s) to the university.

If any of the above information is not provided, a written explanation is required.

Approving claims for reimbursement:

The following conditions must be met when approving claims for hospitality expenses:

  • The hospitality expense must be incurred for university business and comply with the guiding principles mentioned above.
  • The claim includes the documentation specified above in ‘Documentation Required ’.
  • Approval must be obtained from the next reporting level and that authority may not be delegated downward.
  • Approved claims normally should be submitted to Finance within one month of the hospitality event or function or before the university’s fiscal year end (April 30), whichever is sooner.  The university will not reimburse expense claims received by Finance four months or more after the date of the hospitality event or function unless approval is obtained from the appropriate member of Executive Council.

Related documents:

The university specifies the appropriate use of alcohol in Policy 21 – Alcohol Use and Education.

Endorsed by Executive Council on 26 June 2013.