Claiming for expenses
This is information for staff and research students who wish to seek reinbursement for travel or other expenses from a Laboratory account (e.g., for flights, conferences, accommodation). If this document does not answer your question then please speak to someone in the accounts office.
Travel expenses claim form – this is an editable and saveable PDF of Parts I and II of the Laboratory's claim form.
Excel version of Part II of the travel expenses claim form - this is an editable Excel spreadsheet of Part II of the Laboratory's claim form.
Part I – complete this before you spend any money
Part I is to get authorization to spend Lab money. Authorization comes from the grant holder. Grant holders do not need to fill out Part I as they do not need to get authorization from themselves. If you are a research student or post-doc or anyone other than the grant holder, fill out and seek authorization for Part I of the form before spending any money or making any commitments and with plenty of notice. If Part I is not completed or signed then you have no guarantee of reimbursement.
The grant holder is the person who can authorise expenditure on a grant. For research grants, this is usually the Principal Investigator. For requests for use of Laboratory funds, this is the Head of Department or his deputy.
For Part I, the figures can be provisional.
Part II – complete this to claim back money
Part II is for claiming expenses.
You may use a fresh version of the PDF travel expenses claim form to do Part II or use the Excel version of Part II. In either case please ensure that you attach your signed Part I to the completed Part II.
Expenses claims are subject to checking: by the grant holder and by the Head of Department's authorised deputy (both of whom check that the funds are a valid call on the grant) and by the accounts office (who check that the receipts match what has been claimed and who occasionally flag things that the grant holder may have missed). Claims may be audited by the University auditors and by the funding body's auditors. The internal checks are to ensure that anything that is claimed is a valid call on the appropriate funds. If you are in doubt, ask the grant holder.
Receipts: original receipts are required for everything. Ask for a receipt for anything that you may need to claim back. We realise that this is sometimes tricky but our auditors insist on receipts. In particular, we know it can be tricky in a restaurant when there are people from several institutions present. In this case, ask for individual receipts or for copies of the receipt. If the restaurant will not provide these, then take a photograph of the receipt along with a note of who has the original copy: our auditors appear to be happy with this process so long as they can, at least theoretically, get hold of the original. Also, the auditors are not completely inflexible and they will accept expenses under five pounds so long as it was not possible to obtain a receipt (e.g., parking meters, London Underground and bus fares paid by Oyster Card, telephone calls from public telephone boxes). If there are other cases where a receipt has not been obtained, talk to Tanya Hall (the Accounts Clerk).
For online transactions, make a printout of the receipt.
Be aware that our auditors draw a distinction between a receipt (which usually contains details of what was bought) and a credit card transaction record (which only tells you the amount debited to your card account) – it is the receipt that they will want to see.
Car travel: travelling in your own car can be claimed at 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles and a lower rate thereafter. This mileage rate covers any costs relating to the car, including petrol. Alternatively you can claim for petrol. You cannot claim both! It is your responsibility to ensure that your car is insured for business use. Motor cycles are claimed at a lower rate of 24p per mile; pedal cycles cannot be claimed.
Grant-specific rules: each research sponsor has different rules about what is and is not allowable. These rules are particularly notable for US government research grants (e.g., DARPA, IARPA, NSF). Ensure that your claim falls within the rules for your sponsor.
Completing Part II
Every single item that you put on your expenses form (yes, even including a 50p bus ticket) will be entered individually into the University's financial system. This is a tedious job. Please make the Accounts Clerk's job as easy as possible by filling out the form neatly, leaving plenty of space between lines for annotations to be added in the Accounts Office, and following the advice below on what should go in each field. Using one of the electronic versions (editable PDF or Excel spreadsheet) helps ensure that the form is legible and has sufficient space for annotations.
Nature of Business (on Part I of the form, please fill this out even if you don't need to fill out anything else on Part I): Enter the conference name or some other descriptor that the Accounts Clerk can use when entering your expenses into the University's financial system. This is required so that we can quickly see what a given expense was for.
Date is the date on the receipt.
From and To are required for any claims for transportation. The EU auditors, in particular, insist on them. For return trips, From and To refer to the outward leg. You can also use From and To for the start and end dates of hotel stays.
Reason/Details should start with the company name on the receipt, so that the Accounts Clerk can easily identify which receipt relates to which entry (she really does have to check every single receipt).
Cost: this column should contain the cost in British Pounds. If you are claiming for only part of a receipt then clearly indicate this in writing on the receipt, including writing the actual amount that you are claiming for.
Foreign currency: if your receipt is not in British Pounds, then please write the foreign currency amount in the Reason/Details column, along with the exchange rate that you use. Put the British Pounds equivalent in the Cost column. Use the exchange rate you were actually charged or, if that is not available, a reasonable exchange rate from an appropriate exchange rate website. The Excel version of the form has extra columns to help with the entry of foreign currency transactions.
Most claims require no more than one form. If you have more items than will fit on one form, please use a second form rather than try to squeeze everything onto a single form. The Accounts Office is quite happy to have two separate forms relating to a single trip.
After completing your part of the form
Once all expenses have been entered: Ask the grant holder to add the Research Grant Account Code or Cost Centre/Source of Funds and their signature. Then take it to the Head of Department's PA for the Head of Department's signature.
It can take several weeks for a claim to be processed.
The University currently pays by cheque. The Lab has asked, many times, for the University to pay directly into people's bank accounts and the University is working on this.
Claims should be filed within two weeks of completing the trip or incurring the expense. If you incur expenses well in advance of the trip (e.g., booking air tickets) then make a claim for those expenses as soon as you have incurred them – do not wait – the Accounts Office is used to dealing with multiple expense forms relating to a single trip.