Policy 74 – Capital and Non-Capital Assets

Established: July 1, 1996

Last Updated: August 19, 2005

Class: G


This policy, administered by the Vice-President, Administration and Finance, applies to all capital and non-capital assets belonging to, or in the custody of, the University of Waterloo [i.e. all land; buildings; site work; teaching, research and academic-support equipment and furnishings]. Its purpose is to establish general requirements for safeguarding UW assets through the implementation and maintenance of loss prevention practices by all departments. Section 2 sets out general principles; section 3 establishes general requirements for tracking capital assets through a Capital Asset System; and section 4 deals with safeguarding measures, including disposal and removal from campus. The tracking of capital assets by Finance allows UW to meet external financial reporting requirements, including the calculation of annual amortization cost and is important for insurance purposes.


UW is responsible for all land, buildings, furnishings and equipment to which it holds title. Responsibility for other equipment rests with UW to the extent that it has explicitly agreed to accept responsibility under a contractual arrangement. The ownership of certain assets purchased by UW will be determined by the Grantor upon completion of a research project.

Responsibility for the care and custody of property rests with the UW person providing the resources for the purchase of the asset, and/or the person responsible for the physical area where the furniture or equipment is located. Generally, the responsibility rests with a department Head.

No personal purchases of equipment may be made by a department on behalf of faculty, staff and students.


Owned Furnishings and Equipment

All furnishings and equipment (including vehicles) acquired, fabricated or donated, and charged or recorded to any operating, ancillary, trust, endowment, research or capital account are classified as capital assets subject to the following requirements.

  • The asset must be a non-consumable, tangible item with a life expectancy of at least two years.
  • The purchase value, or established donated value, must be at least $5,000 (Note: Equipment, such as pumps, fans, and motors, permanently installed in buildings for such purposes as air conditioning is not normally recorded as individual equipment but rather considered part of the building cost).
  • Research equipment with a value of at least $5,000. UW is responsible under research grants, contracts and agreements for the custody of the equipment purchased from the funds provided. Unless otherwise specified by the granting agency, all equipment is considered to be UW property. The equipment remains in the hands of the research director until the research work is concluded, following which it becomes available for other permitted research related UW purposes.
  • All capital asset purchases of at least $5,000 must be purchased through one of UW's approved procurement systems. Supplier invoices without a related purchase order or personal reimbursements will not be processed under any circumstance and UW will not accept any responsibility for payment.

Physical Capital Asset Validations

  • Items tracked centrally will not be tagged, however, they will be specifically identified within the Capital Asset System, including funding source; a list of assets will be available by Faculty, department, and by item classification.
  • Random test counts of capital assets (with a value of at least $5,000) will be conducted throughout the year by Finance staff.
  • Finance will provide a list of all capital assets to each department annually. The list must be verified by the department for completeness and accuracy. The department Head, or designate, will sign the list confirming its accuracy, or detailing any discrepancies. Implementation of proper safeguarding and security measures, described below, will eliminate the need to conduct a physical count each year to verify the list.


Safeguarding Measures

It is the responsibility of UW to take appropriate measures to safeguard all property, including equipment and other moveable assets. All persons/departments having responsibility for the use and care of these assets must ensure that adequate security measures are in place at all locations where these assets reside to prevent damage to or the loss of such assets.

Removal from Campus

When furniture or equipment is removed from campus to an individual's home or other location, an "Off Campus Asset Location Form" (Form # 5051-1) must be completed and filed with the Department Head, or designate. This form is available from Finance.


  • Assets must be disposed of according to the procedure issued by Finance and available on the Finance website. An Asset Disposal Form (Form # 5064-2; Central Stores part # 89-2180) must be completed for all assets, regardless of original purchase value. This includes all vehicles, equipment and furnishings (e.g., computers, desks, chairs, work stations, filing cabinets, shelving units).
  • Assets which are obsolete, worn out, damaged beyond repair, or no longer meet the requirements of a department, may be sold as surplus, transferred to another department, traded-in, reconfigured, used for parts, or discarded. Assets which are lost, stolen, or returned to the granting agency are no longer in the care and custody of UW and must be identified as disposed.
  • Central Stores must be notified before any sales are transacted to ensure that items are being sold at market value, appropriate taxes are charged, an asset disposal form is completed, and the sale is recorded in the accounting records.
  • All Asset Disposal Forms must be signed by the department Head, or designate, and in cases where equipment was acquired with research funds, the Office of Research.