Expenses FAQs - Claiming Expenses


1.  Under the new policy, how long do I have to claim expenses?

The more quickly you’re able to claim for your expenses, the better. You should submit expense claims within three months of the expense being incurred, except where there is a good reason for delay submitted for approval by the Finance helpline.

2.  Do I still need to provide receipts?

Yes, you must attach receipts to each expense you claim, regardless of the amount.

For credit and debit card payments, please make sure you provide the itemised bill, for example for meals, as well as the debit/credit card receipt showing proof of payment.

3.  There are options on Expenses to upload or save electronic receipts. Are photos rather than scans of receipts acceptable?

Yes, you can photograph or scan your receipts, and then attach them to the online Expenses claim.

4.  What happens when a receipt isn’t provided or it’s lost? 

There’s an option on the Expenses online claim form to state that you don’t have a receipt and provide justification.

5.  Is it possible to account for advances of expenses via Expenses?

You can claim a cash advance if you really need one, you can process the cash advance request and the recovery of the advances within People & Money. 

6.  Can I claim subsistence, meals and accommodation?

Staff should refer to the Sustainable Travel Policy when booking flights, rail tickets, taxis and accommodation required for business travel.

Meals, beverages and other incidental spend incurred while on University business can be claimed via expenses.

Everyone should be mindful of the need for value for money when incurring expenses.

7.  Can I claim expenses for staff events?

Yes. If there is a University-business reason for staff events and the work agenda is a substantive part of the day, the costs of reasonable refreshments for work-related staff training events, away days and team building events will be reimbursed.

8.  Can I claim expenses for staff away days and Christmas parties?

Costs of regular annual events such as Christmas parties can be reimbursed (and are not taxable for the individual) only if the event is open to the whole school or planning unit, not limited to a research team or other sub-unit.   For further information, please read the Tax FAQs.

9.  I have a professional membership that is related to my job, can I claim this on expenses?

Personal membership to professional bodies won’t be reimbursed unless it can be proven there is a wider benefit or saving to the University (for example, cheaper conference fees that exceed the cost of membership). Personal membership subscriptions for staff with training contracts will be reimbursed.

10.  What if I need to buy a gift for a colleague or team member?

Gifts of up to £50 can be claimed if they are to recognise a staff member’s personal circumstances, such as ill health or bereavement, but not in recognition of any other life event. The University’s existing policy on retirement gifts still applies.

11.  Some goods and services I buy do not accept purchase orders. Things like bookings for venues that do not accept purchase orders; online services that do not offer the option to pay by invoice; software licence renewals and domain names where a credit card must be used.

We know there are circumstances when University procurement routes offered are not appropriate. For these purchases, you can apply for a corporate credit card.

All applications for a corporate credit card require a business case.

12.  A conference I want to go to will only accept credit/debit card payment

If you are planning to book a conference and there is an associated cost for attendance (not related to travel or accommodation), we would prefer you to arrange direct invoicing from the conference organiser.

13.  Under Hospitality and Entertaining for University Purposes, it mentions claimable tips. Do all other instances of meals, for example when travelling on University business, etc. have the same rules around tips of up to 15%?

Yes, when claiming back on expenses, the 15% limit would apply to tips for all other meals.

14.  A number of our staff attend conferences and are able to book accommodation at reduced prices if they do this via the conference website. The new policy states that accommodation and travel must be booked through Diversity Travel. Is there an exemption for this when conference accommodation is arranged directly with the organisers? 

For accommodation outside Edinburgh, bookings must be made via Diversity Travel. Exceptions to this are when accommodation is provided as part of an event or meeting; where preferential rates are provided to attendees directly through the event, or where accommodation is paid for from existing restricted research grants. In these limited exceptions, the use of University Credit Cards, direct purchase orders, or use of the University expenses system is acceptable.

15.  For things like candidate study tours, there are normally incidental expenses such as bus tickets, meals etc.  These are often negotiated and paid for as group tickets rather than individuals purchasing their own. To date, the academic leading the tour has paid for these and then claimed back on expenses. Going forward, what would be the best way of managing this type of expense?

It is not the intention of the new policy to prevent staff claiming incidental costs of travel, for example, bus fares, subsistence, etc. These costs can continue to be paid by individuals (or group costs claimed by one member of staff) and reclaimed on Expenses. The policy states “the University will reimburse claimants for expenses which they wholly, necessarily and exclusively incur in the course of official University purposes”.

For information on subsistence and the relevant clauses, refer to section 2 of the policy.

16.  I do not work for the University. Can I claim expenses?

Please complete the Non Staff Expenses Claim form on the Finance website forms page and send to your School or Planning Unit Finance team for checking, approval and processing. 

For interview expenses, please use the relevant form on the HR website:  Please ensure that the form is completed and receipts are attached securely before forwarding for processing to your respective College/Support Group HR Administration team or School/department Finance team ready for processing via People & Money). 

The Finance Department have a dedicated team to answer your questions on this policy change.


Tel: 0131 651 5151 option 1



All Relocation Support expenses are processed by our Relocation Support Provider, HCR. If eligible for relocation support, HCR will provide you with access to the self-service portal to submit expenses. If you have any questions please contact HR on