Travel and Expense Policy


To provide guidance on the claiming and reimbursement of expenses incurred by employees for Seneca business.



This policy applies to any person representing the institution making an expense claim, including all employees, board members, appointees, volunteers, consultants and contractors.


Key Definitions


An individual making a formal demand for a payment.


The provision of food, beverage, accommodation, transportation and other amenities paid out of public funds to people who are not engaged to work for Seneca, Broader Public Sector organizations or any other Ontario government ministries, agencies or public entities.



1. Policy Statement

1.1 It is the policy of Seneca to set out rules and principles for the reimbursement of expenses that ensure fair and reasonable practices and provide an accountability framework that guides the effective oversight of resources.

1.2 Seneca will reimburse allowable travel, meal and hospitality expenses that support its business, are of an appropriate standard and are supported by proper documentation.

1.3 This policy is consistent with the Ontario Broader Public Sector Expenses Directive issued by the Management Board of Cabinet.

1.4 All guidelines stipulated in this policy are in Canadian funds.

2. Principles

2.1 This policy is based on the following four (4) key principles, as outlined in the Ontario Broader Public Sector Expenses Directive:

  • Accountability: Seneca is accountable for funds used to reimburse travel, meal and hospitality expenses submitted by employees. All expenses incurred by employees must support Seneca’s business objectives.
  • Transparency: The rules surrounding travel, meal and hospitality expenses and employee reimbursement for these expenses are clear, easily understood and available to employees and the public on Seneca’s website.
  • Value for money: Funds must be used prudently and responsibly. All travel, meals and hospitality plans must support Seneca’s business, be necessary and economical with due regard for health and safety and have appropriate authorization.
  • Fairness: Legitimate, authorized expenses incurred by employees during the course of Seneca’s business will be reimbursed.

Employee Claims

2.2 Employees shall ensure expenses incurred during the course of Seneca’s business receive approval from the appropriate authority. All appropriate approvals must be obtained prior to incurring expenses, where possible. Authority levels for travel authorization, cash advances and travel expenses are outlined in Appendix A.

2.3 Employees shall submit claims with original, itemized receipts for all items, except for meal expenses when meal allowances are used as outlined in section 7.3. Credit card slips are not sufficient as a receipt. Seneca may reject reimbursement claims that are more than three (3) months old. Electronic or scanned receipts are acceptable if claims are also submitted electronically.

2.4 Employees must obtain written approval to receive reimbursement for expenditures with no receipts. A written explanation of why the receipt is unavailable, description of the item and expense is submitted with the approval.

2.5 Employees shall repay any overpayments on claims.

2.6 Employees ending their employment with Seneca must submit any expense claims prior to leaving Seneca.

2.7 In situations where expenses are incurred for a group of employees, the most senior person present at the event shall submit a claim for the expenses.

3. Claim Approvals

3.1 Employees approving expense claims shall ensure that the expenses claimed were necessarily incurred in the performance of Seneca business and that the appropriate documentation is presented before providing an authorizing signature.

3.2 Employees shall not approve their own expense claims. Approval at the next higher authority level must be obtained before the claims can be processed.

4. Travel

4.1 Seneca will reimburse the legitimate and reasonable travel expenses of persons travelling on Seneca business. Travel expenses are allowed for the employee only. Any share of expenses applicable to an employee’s spouse or related persons accompanying the employee shall not be reimbursed.

4.2 A Travel Authorization form must be approved by the appropriate signing authority before travel and related expenses are incurred. Refer to Appendix A for the signing authority levels required to approve travel within Ontario, North America and outside North America.

4.3 Employees shall select the most practical and economical means of travel. Seneca may allow for flexibility with international travel based on location, length of travel, available accommodations, and health and safety.

4.4 The maximum allowable gratuity is 15 per cent of a taxi fare.

5. Insurance

  • Employees are covered while travelling in or outside of Canada under the employer’s health insurance plans in the event of illness or injury. The cost of additional private medical/health insurance is not reimbursed.
  • Travel accident insurance:
    • Employees are covered under the employer’s health and accident insurance plans. The cost of additional coverage is not reimbursed.
  • Vehicle insurance:
    • For vehicles rented, full insurance is to be purchased at the time of the rental and these costs will be reimbursed.

6. Reimbursement and Rates

6.1 Rates are based on kilometres accumulated from April 1 of each year (fiscal year).

6.2 Expense claims must be submitted with distances calculated in kilometres

Kilometre Reimbursement Rates* for use of a personal vehicle on Seneca Business
Cumulative kilometres driven in a year** Southern Ontario (cents per km) Northern Ontario*** (cents per km)
0 – 4,000 km 40.0 41.0
4,001 – 10,700 km 35.0 36.0
10,701 – 24,000 km 29.0 30.0
More than 24,000 km 24.0 25.0

* As per Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive, updated Jan. 1, 2017.

** Employees must track their cumulative kilometres driven per year, and use the appropriate rate on each claim.

*** Northern Ontario is defined as that part of Ontario north of and including Greater Sudbury and North Bay.

6.3 Using a Personal Vehicle
It is the driver/owner’s responsibility to ensure that the motor vehicle insurance includes coverage for business use of the vehicle. Seneca is not responsible for reimbursing deductible amounts related to insurance coverage and in event of an accident, will not permit a claim for any damages.

A rental vehicle should be considered if driving more than 200 kilometres in a day or five consecutive days, even if less than 200 kilometres.

6.4 Parking and Tolls (Highway 407)
Reimbursement is provided for necessary and reasonable expenditures on parking, as well as toll for highways, when driving on Seneca business. Parking costs incurred in the office area as part of a regular commute to work will not be reimbursed. The destination and purpose of travel must be provided on the expense report.

There is no reimbursement for traffic or parking violations.

Employees will be reimbursed for Highway 407 (tolls) when used for Seneca business. Charges associated with regular commute to work will not be reimbursed. The cost of a monthly or annual fee to lease a transponder will not be reimbursed.

7. Personal Meals

7.1 Personal meal expenses that are reasonable and appropriate shall be reimbursed.

7.2 Employees attending business meetings or events at any Seneca campus shall not claim for meals while at that campus.

7.3 Meal expenses will be reimbursed at the established meal reimbursement rates (including taxes and gratuities) as listed below. Receipts are not required to be submitted with meal claims. Meals must be purchased in order to be able to submit a claim for reimbursement. Alcohol cannot be claimed and will not be reimbursed.

  • breakfast $15
  • lunch $25
  • dinner $40

7.4 Meals included in conference fees, flights, provided by the employee’s host or in any other means already covered in other costs are not reimbursable.

7.5 Reimbursement rates determined by the federal government shall be used for claims where the meal expenses were incurred outside of Canada. United States (USA) rates are as listed above in US dollars. For more information, refer to the current version of the National Joint Council Travel Directive. These rates are an allowance and include taxes and gratuities.

8. Hospitality

8.1 Hospitality shall only be provided when it does not obligate, appear to obligate or inappropriately influence the recipient and is provided in support of Seneca’s initiatives and objectives.

8.2 Hospitality events shall use Seneca-owned facilities when possible and appropriate.

8.3 Functions involving only Seneca employees, employees of Broader Public Sector (BPS) organizations and Ontario government ministries, agencies or public entities are not considered hospitality functions and shall not be reimbursed.

8.4 Contractors and consultants are not eligible for hospitality expense reimbursement.

9. Alcohol

9.1 The reimbursement of alcohol expenses requires the approval of the President.

9.2 Alcohol shall only be served at events when prior written approval has been obtained from the President. The department hosting the event shall work with the President’s Office to obtain required liquor licenses and ensure compliance with required regulations and legislation.

9.3 The serving of alcohol at an event shall be done in a responsible manner. Food must be served when alcohol is available.

9.4 Alcohol included in meal expense claims shall not be reimbursed.

10. Meetings and Events

10.1 Meeting expenses may be claimed if they support Seneca’s business, but are not regularly scheduled internal/departmental meetings. Reimbursable meeting expenses include off-site meetings, activities and events provided to Seneca employees (including staff professional development events), employees of BPS organizations or any Ontario government ministries, agencies and public entities that advance Seneca’s strategic directions. Non-reimbursable meeting expenses include office social events, retirement parties and staff holiday parties/lunches unless the meeting is approved as outlined in section 10.5.

10.2 Meals served to employees as part of an internal/departmental meeting shall only be reimbursed in cases where the meeting falls inside of a regular meal period and could not be accommodated at any other time, or where serving a meal at the meeting is seen as an efficient use of the employees’ time.

10.3 Requests for reimbursement of meeting expenses must be accompanied by original, itemized receipts, and nature of the business, including a list of employees in attendance. Maximum allowable gratuity is 15 per cent of the total cost of a meal.

10.4 Light refreshments may be served at meetings involving non-employee members or employee-only meetings that are in excess of two (2) hours.

10.5 Office events, retirement parties and staff holiday parties/lunches shall be covered by Seneca to a maximum of $20 (including taxes and gratuities) per person and require prior approval by the Dean or Director. The approval of the President is required if alcohol is to be served.

10.6 The President may approve Seneca-wide events for business purposes or events that are considered desirable as a matter of protocol or courtesy. Alcohol may be served at these pre-approved events.

10.7 Seneca may also provide support, including meals and refreshments, when hosting staff from other institutions and during discussions or conferences on issues of mutual interest and/or that seek to further institutional or governmental objectives. Expenses related to these situations shall be claimed as meeting expenses, provided approval is obtained from the appropriate Vice-President or the President.

11. Gift Giving

11.1 Appropriate token gifts of appreciation and retirement, not including cash, may be offered in exchange for gifts of service or expertise to people who are not engaged in work for Seneca. Appropriate, detailed receipts must accompany any claim for reimbursement.

11.2 Appropriate gifts of compassion or condolences are reimbursable expenditures.

11.3 Gifts purchased for social events held within a department are not reimbursable expenditures. Items purchased shall be funded by the department collections for the gift.

12. Telecommunication

Seneca’s cellular phone plans can be used for business travel. Prior to leaving on trips outside of Canada, please check with Seneca cellular plan representatives on the best phone plan for your travel. The least expensive means of communication is to be used. For example, whenever possible use Wi-Fi networks when travelling.

13. Consultant and Other Contractor Claims

13.1 Consultants and contractors are not eligible for hospitality, incidental or food expense reimbursement in any contract with Seneca. Expenses that are not reimbursable include:

  • meals, snacks and beverages
  • gratuities
  • laundry or dry cleaning
  • valet
  • dependent care
  • home management
  • personal telephone calls

13.2 Consultants and contractors may be reimbursed for allowable expenses if outlined in their engagement contract.

14. Non-Reimbursable Expenses

14.1 Expenses considered to be personal in nature are not reimbursable by Seneca. Employees shall only claim reasonable charges necessarily incurred in the course of carrying out authorized Seneca business.

14.2 Non-reimbursable expenses include:

  • items purchased for personal use
  • fines incurred as a result of any criminal act or traffic violations
  • fines resulting from border crossing violations
  • hotel room movie/game charges and in-room bar services, excluding the purchase of water
  • any additional/incremental costs incurred as a result of travelling with a spouse, partner or friend
  • credit card fees and interest charges
  • expenses incurred on behalf of other Seneca employees, unless the individual is submitting the claim on behalf of a group and is the most senior person in the group
  • club memberships for personal recreation or socializing purposes
  • professional advisory services for personal matters, unless prior approval is received from the appropriate Vice-President or the President

15. Benefits Accruing from Travel Inducements

15.1 Employees shall apply benefits earned and accumulated as a result of travelling on Seneca business against the purchase of future travel expenses. Formal reporting of these benefits is not required due to the cost and complexity associated with reporting and quantifying the value of airline, hotel, car rental and credit card incentives.

15.2 Employees are responsible for quantifying and reporting the value of benefits earned and accumulated as a result of travelling on Seneca business for income tax purposes. For more information, refer to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Interpretation Bulletin 470R.

16. Failure to Adhere to this Policy

16.1 Should an employee fail to adhere to Seneca’s Travel and Expense Policy, the supervisor of the employee shall take appropriate corrective action in consultation with Human Resources, which may include a review of the employee’s authorization to travel and/or disciplinary actions.

16.2 The employee will reimburse Seneca for ineligible expenses identified in an audit.


Supporting Documentation

Related Seneca Policies

Related Materials

Appendix A: Travel Authorization, Cash Advanced and Travel Expenses

The following denotes positions with signing authority for final approval:

Travel Approval
International Travel outside of North America President
North America Vice-Presidents
Within Ontario Associate Vice-Presidents, Deans, CIO, Executive Directors and Directors

Seneca international staff may obtain prior approval for their travel program on a quarterly basis from the President or Vice-President, Academic.

Employees shall obtain approval from their superiors even if the travel area is within their authorization.

Limits for cash advance and travel expense authorizations are as follows:

  Cash Advance Travel Expense
President No limit No limit
Vice-Presidents $10,000 $20,000
Deans and Directors $5,000 $10,000
Managers N/A $5,000

Appendix B: Travel and Expense Checklist

Before Travel

  • Obtain approval prior to making travel arrangements by completing the Travel Authorization Form or an email approval for travel.
  • Complete Travel Advance form for cash advance (in Canadian funds), obtain approval and forward the form to Accounts Payable five business days prior to date required.
  • Make travel arrangements after receiving approval.

During Travel

  • For personal meal allowance claims, receipts are not required to be submitted. When submitting a claim, submit the allowance stated in section 7.3.
  • For meeting expenses, see section 10; itemized receipts must accompany all claims.
  • Tips/gratuities paid for meeting expenses are limited to 15 per cent of the total of the meal. Credit card slip can be included with itemized receipt.
  • If using a personal vehicle for business travel, record the actual kilometres driven in the course of business travel with personal vehicle for reimbursement claims (see the section 6.2: Kilometre Reimbursement Rates).

After Travel

  • Complete and submit expense claims for approval within 15 days of the completion of travel.
  • Attach scanned copies of all receipts and slips, including the travel authorization, to your supervisor. Note, airline/train ticket scanned receipt must be submitted with the travel expense claim.
  • If a receipt is lost, or a detailed receipt is not provided, complete a ’missing receipt‘ form (docx), obtain approval and attach the approved form with the expense claim.
  • Reconcile a cash advance on the expense report form.
  • Report all transactions in Canadian funds; all funds owing to the employee will be reimbursed in Canadian funds.
  • If incurring expenses in foreign currencies, convert to Canadian funds; provide scanned receipts outlining conversion rates.


Appendix C: Travel and Expense Quick Guide

These are the steps to be followed before, during and after travel and for reimbursement of non-travel related expenses:

  1. Authorization and Cash Advance
    1. Obtain authorization for travel as outlined in Appendix A.
    2. Complete Cash Advance Form if funds are required for travel.
  2. Travel by Vehicle
    1. When travelling out of town on Seneca business, employees are encouraged to rent a vehicle under Seneca’s name, "Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology", rather than use their own vehicle or rent one under their own name. This ensures coverage by Seneca’s commercial insurance procedure. A general guide is to rent a vehicle for distances greater than 200 kilometres, excluding travel to Peterborough Campus for Seneca business.
    2. Rental vehicle insurance is to be purchased for all rentals.
    3. Employees travelling together or to the same destination should share automobiles, where practical.
    4. Where employees use their own personal vehicle for business travel, in town or out of town, Seneca’s insurance procedure does not cover the vehicle for liability or damages. These damages, if incurred, are paid and claimed to the employee’s car insurance provider. Individuals need to ensure there is adequate coverage from their insurance provider for their coverage.
  3. Out-of-Country Travel Insurance
    1. Seneca’s extended health care plan provides out-of-country coverage for hospital and medical expenses. Employees travelling outside of Canada on Seneca business do not require additional out-of-country health insurance.
  4. Accommodation
    1. A standard room is the set option for accommodation, consistent with the principle of value for money.
    2. Accommodation will be economical (government or corporate rate where available).
    3. Hotel guarantees will be billed to Seneca’s corporate credit card or to the traveller’s personal credit card.
    4. Non-College employees travelling on Seneca business should be provided with a letter indicating that they are travelling on Seneca business and are entitled to receive the government or corporate rate, where available.
    5. Private accommodation with relatives or friends may be arranged. An allowance of $30 per night may be claimed in lieu of a charge for commercial accommodations, provided the funds are used for a gift or token of gratitude for the host. Instead of a receipt, a written explanation stating the purpose of the trip and identifying the host and the number of days spent with the host may be submitted.
    6. Hotel Internet charges may be reimbursed when the Internet is used for business purposes.
  5. During Travel
    1. Meals
      During domestic travel, meal expenses must be in line with the thresholds as listed under the Meal section above and for international travel within maximum limits outlined with National Joint Council. Where meals are included on a hotel accommodation invoice, the employee must include the restaurant’s detailed receipt to support the charge on the hotel invoice.
      No claim for meals may be made when meals are included in the transportation fare or in the cost of registration fees unless there are extenuating circumstances.
    2. Incidental Expenses
      For each full day of travel, an employee may claim up to $10 for incidental expenses such as gratuities, laundry and dry cleaning. These expenses should be supported, where possible, with original, itemized receipts.
    3. Telephone
      Long distance phone calls should be of a reasonable duration, frequency and kept to a minimum.
      Mobile phones must be used in the most economical way available during travel. Employees are requested to shut down roaming features on their phones, use on-line calling applications such as Skype and FaceTime and buy appropriate phone packages suitable to their needs.
    4. International Travel
      Claims for expenditure in foreign currency are to be reported in the local currency and converted to Canadian dollars. Exchange rates are available on the Bank of Canada website. Expenditures made by credit card will be converted at the rate on the credit card statement. Maximum meals rates are listed on the National Joint Council website.
    5. Hospitality While Travelling
      It is recognized that at times it is necessary to entertain business partners and associates. Employees are expected to apply a common-sense approach with a view to minimizing these expenditures. Supporting documentation is required for employee reimbursement.
      Hospitality cannot be claimed for consultants, contractors or other Broader Public Service employees.
  6. After Travel
    1. Travel Expense Claim
      The form for the Travel Expense Claim for reimbursement of allowable expenses must be completed and submitted within 15 working days of the completion of the trip if expenses are being claimed or if a travel advance was issued to the employee.
      Original or scanned, itemized receipts or all expenses being claimed must be submitted with the Travel Expense Claim form, except of meals as outlined in section 7.3.
      The Travel Expense Claim must be approved according to the level of signing authority as outlined in Appendix A of this Procedure prior to submission to Finance for payment.
      Approvers of Travel Expense Claims must ensure that claims are for legitimate business expenses only and are in compliance with this procedure, including all required documentation to support the claim (original, itemized receipts).
      An employee cannot approve his or her own expense claim. The employee must obtain approval from the next higher level of signing authority as outlined in Appendix A.
  7. Travel Advance Overpayment
    Any cash advance overpayments are considered a debt owing to Seneca. Employees are required to reimburse Seneca within 15 days of the completion of the trip.

Travel and Expense FAQ

Employees, volunteers and contractors that have been outlined in the agreement.

Business travel, such as:

  • attending a business meeting outside of the Greater Toronto Area
  • attending a conference
  • travelling for business internationally

Total of $80 with the following breakdown:

  • breakfast — $15
  • lunch — $25
  • dinner — $40

Receipts are not required, but if more is spent on a meal, the allowance rate is available and not the meal cost. To receive an allowance, the individual needs to be away from the vicinity of their office (outside of the Greater Toronto Area):

  • if the meeting is at noon, breakfast allowance is not available, unless travelled to the meeting the day before
  • if the meeting is completed at noon, dinner allowance is not available, unless returning the next day or past the dinner hour

Same as outlined in the policy, in U.S. dollars.

Reimbursement rates determined by the federal government shall be used for claims where the meal expenses were incurred outside of Canada. For more information on the allowance by town/country, refer to the current version of the National Joint Council Travel Directive. These rates are an allowance and include taxes and gratuities.

Travel authorization is required for all business trips outside of the Greater Toronto Area requiring overnight stay. If there are frequent scheduled business meetings, travel authorization can be approved monthly. For approvals required for travel, see Appendix A for authorization.

The preference is to complete the i3 form, but for multiple business travel trips, an email approval is accepted. This approval is to be included each time a travel expense form is submitted for reimbursement.

Please refer to your employee benefits coverage plan for specific details on the coverage available under the plan.

A rental vehicle should be considered if driving more than 200 kilometres in a day or five consecutive days.

Yes, this is a reimbursable cost.

Meetings (Sec. 10.1) are held with invited individuals with a specific agenda. Refreshments can be served if the meeting is:

  • held off site
  • held during the lunch hour, when other times during the day are not available

PD sessions, including lunch and learns, are also eligible.

Refreshments served during regular department meetings (i.e. one-hour meetings), social events, retirement parties, staff holiday parties and lunches held by the department are not eligible.

Events (Sec. 10.5) are open to individuals within a department(s) of Seneca. It’s a social event (i.e. a retirement or holiday party) without an agenda. These events require approval from a dean, director, associate vice-president, vice-president or the president prior to the event being planned. Upon approval, event expenditures are eligible as outlined in Sec. 10.5.

Costs for meeting meals should be reasonable. Personal meal allowances can be used as a guide as outlined in Sec. 7.

Office events, retirement parties and staff holiday parties/lunches shall be covered by Seneca to a maximum of $20 (including taxes and gratuities) per person and require prior approval by the dean or director. Alcohol is not permitted to be served at these events.

Gifts of appreciation at a reasonable cost are allowed:

  • gifts of appreciation for non-staff members, up to $50
  • gifts of retirement, up to $100
  • appropriate gifts of compassion or condolences are reimbursable expenditures, up to $100

Cash or gift cards are not allowed as a gift type and are not eligible for reimbursement. Detailed receipts must accompany a claim for reimbursement.

Gifts purchased for social events held within a department are not reimbursable expenditures. Items purchased shall be funded by the department collections for the gift, such as those for religious holidays, birthdays, weddings or the birth of a child.

Yes, cellphone costs are covered. Roaming in the United States is enabled by default for all employees and does not need to be purchased separately.

Employees travelling to countries other than the United Stated need to purchase a specific plan for the country/region. Prior to leaving on trips outside of North America, please check with Seneca’s cellular plan representatives at Bell and Rogers for the best travel package, or contact Sharon McCaslin at ext. 77877 for assistance.