Policy 21 - Travel Expenses

Approved Board of Governors 2016.XX



1. This Policy together with University Procedure 16-11 sets out the principles and rules governing the reimbursement of travel expenses incurred for University business or in connection with funds administered by the University, regardless of whether the expense is charged to or reimbursed by the University’s operating funds, a grant or other funding source administered by the University.

The purpose of this Policy is to:
a) require prior approval of travel for University business;
b) provide a set of principles by which rules may be established in Procedure 16-11 for the reimbursement of eligible travel expenses that ensures the effective use of public resources;
c) ensure transparency, accountability and compliance with accounting and reporting regulations;
d) manage authorized business travel in a consistent and cost-effective manner based on fair and transparent principles.


2. This Policy applies to travel expenses incurred by a Traveller as defined in this Policy for University business or in connection with funds administered by the University.

3. This Policy and Procedure 16-11 do not prevail over provisions related to travel expenses contained in a collective agreement between the University and a union representing University employees. For APUO members, see Appendix “B” located at the end of Procedure 16-11.

4. In the event of a conflict between a policy and regulations of a funding agency relevant to a request for reimbursement of an Eligible Expense, the more stringent provision will apply.


5. In this Policy, the following definitions shall apply:
a) “Approved Traveller” refers to a person who is not defined as an Employee and who is required to travel for University business.

b) “Authorized Approver” refers to a person in a position of authority over the Traveller and/or who has authority to approve the commitment of University resources.

c) “Eligible Expense” refers to a travel expense that meets the principles and rules set out under this Policy and those more particularly set out in Procedure 16-11 and that may be eligible for reimbursement by the University.

d) “Employee” refers to a person who holds a regular position at the University or is subject to a collective agreement at the University or has incurred more than twelve months of continuous employment paid by grant or other funding source managed by the University.

e) “Expense Form”: refers to the form used to claim travel expenses after travel has taken place

f) “Request Form”: refers to the form used to request authorization to travel and to request a cash advance.

g) “Travel” refers to travel outside of the city limits of Ottawa and Gatineau and as may be more particularly defined in Appendix “A” of Procedure 16-11.

h) “Traveller” refers to an “Employee” or an “Approved Traveller” requesting a reimbursement for travel expenses.

i) “University’’ refers to the University of Ottawa.

j) ‘’University business” refers to purposes that are connected to the University’s educational, research and administrative activities, services and functions.


6. An Eligible Expense must be:
a) incurred for travel approved by the Authorized Approver as travel for University business,
b) fair and equitable,
c) sufficiently explained and documented,
d) unclaimed from or ineligible for reimbursement from another source, and
e) able to stand up to scrutiny by auditors and members of the public.


7. The Traveller is responsible for obtaining the approval of the Authorized Approver in writing and in advance of travel.

8. Travel by a Traveller is subject to the availability of funds budgeted for this purpose and approval by the Authorized Approver. The Authorized Approver is responsible and accountable for ensuring that travel and travel expenses claimed comply with this Policy and Procedure 16-11.

9. The Authorized Approver cannot approve his or her own travel expenses.


10. The University is not obliged to reimburse for travel that has not been approved in advance. Travel expenses are reimbursed only to the extent that they meet the general principles of Eligible Expenses set out in this Policy and any other requirements set out in Procedure 16-11. Where applicable, a Traveller must disclose all sources from which an expense may be otherwise claimed when submitting a request for reimbursement of travel expenses.

11. It is the joint responsibility of the Traveller and the Authorized Approver to ensure that an Expense Form is complete, accurate and submitted in accordance with this Policy and Procedure 16-11. The Expense Form must be approved and signed by the Authorized Approver and submitted within the timeframe specified by Procedure 16-11 and with original itemized receipts and other documentation to support the travel expenses.  Expenses incurred comply with the principles set forth in this Policy.

12. A travel expense involving a group can only be claimed by the person with the higher level of authority. A travel expense cannot be claimed by an individual when it is incurred by his or her Authorized Approver.

13. The Traveller is responsible for the repayment of any overpayments even if the Traveller is leaving or has left his or her employment or position at the University or even if the Traveller’s relationship or status with the University will be ending or has ended.

14. The Principal Investigator’s signature must be present on all claims charged to research grants and contracts as required by the funding agencies.


15. The University must maintain good record keeping practices of the reimbursement of Eligible Expenses for verification and audit purposes. Each Faculty and Service is responsible for maintaining the records associated with the travel.


16. The University may audit travel claims and the reimbursements. Approval and reimbursement of a travel expense does not constitute final acceptance of the expense as an Eligible Expense. All expense reimbursements are subject to subsequent review and adjustment by Financial Resources, Internal Audit Office, external agencies and external auditors. The Vice-President, Resources makes the final decision related to any adjustments. Travellers are responsible for the reimbursement of any amount that is subsequently adjusted or refused.


17. The Associate Vice-President, Financial Resources is responsible for the interpretation of this Policy. The implementation of this Policy is the joint responsibility of Faculty and Service administrators and the Associate Vice-President, Financial Resources.


16. No exception to this Policy can be made without the written approval of the Vice-President, Resources.


18. No amendment may be made to this Policy without the approval of the Finance and Treasury Committee of the Board of Governors.

Revised: April 25, 2016

(Financial Resources Service)

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