Have you recently returned from a business trip where you attended meetings and sealed deals, and now you find yourself with a stack of receipts – paper and digital – wondering how to claim back your travel expenses? 

Worry not; in this guide, we give you easy-to-follow tips for simplifying this often complex and time-consuming process, helping you receive every hard-earned penny back without hassle.

Document Everything Diligently

Before you even think about claiming your travel expenses, meticulously document everything. And we do mean everything related to your business trip: every train ticket, taxi receipt, boarding pass, they all matter.

The best thing you can do to prevent confusion and make this process smooth is to create a spreadsheet with your expenses so you can categorize them and attach corresponding receipts. 

Here, you can group your expenses under simple categories like transportation, accommodation, meals, and miscellaneous. This will not only make your claim more transparent but also show that you pay attention to every detail. Ideally, you should be doing all this on the go – so while you’re on the business trip – but once you get home it is fine too, as long as you can take some time to do this properly and thoroughly.

Always remember, an organized documentation system will not only make your life easier but will also ensure your employer doesn’t miss any legitimate expenses.

Familiarize Yourself with Your Company’s Policy

Every company has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to travel expenses and it’s essential to acquaint yourself with your organization’s policies before you start the reimbursement process.

Why is this important? Because when you submit your claims, they should adhere to the company expense policy. For example, some companies may have daily limits on meals or specific guidelines for accommodation expenses. You want to be familiar with these policies so you can be sure you’re entitled to claim reimbursement.

Embrace Digital Tools

One of the best things about living in the 21st century is the abundance of technological tools that can make our lives easier, including expense tracking. There are various apps and software solutions designed specifically for this very purpose, so take advantage of them to streamline your expense management.

Snap pictures of receipts, use expense management apps, and take advantage of tracker tools to create an efficient system for managing your travel costs. If you use public transportation for work often, use contactless payment receipts.

For instance, if you’re in London, you can optimize travel expenses with contactless TfL receipts (as a bonus, contactless is cheaper than buying individual tickets with cash for TfL travel but that is another topic). Simply include these digital receipts in your expense documentation, and voila – you’ve just made the reimbursement process much easier.

Be Detailed and Accurate in Your Claims

When you’re filling out reimbursement forms, the last thing you want is to be vague. What do we mean by this? For example, if you’re trying to get paid for a business lunch you had on behalf of your company, don’t write a generic “meal” on the form and hope for the best – instead, specify the purpose and participants.

Of course, it’s not enough to only be detailed – your claims should also be accurate. So, double-check your figures to ensure every decimal aligns. Submitting a well-organized, error-free claim not only expedites the process but also shows that you’re professional.

Don’t Be Afraid of Negotiation

In some cases, you might find that your actual expenses exceed the company’s stipulated limits. If you’re dealing with this right now, we have one thing to tell you: don’t be afraid to negotiate.

If you present a clear case, outlining the reasons you’ve exceeded the limits and explaining how this ultimately benefits the company, it’s possible they will reimburse you anyway. Always be polite, reasonable, and open for discussion – a diplomatic approach can go a long way.

Speaking of being polite and friendly, it’s always a good idea to build a rapport with your colleagues and other teams, including the finance team or individuals handling the reimbursements. Building strong relationships at work can not only increase your job satisfaction but can sometimes also smoothen the process and ensure your claim is given the attention it deserves.

Reflect on Future Trips

Once everything is done, take a moment to reflect on the entire process: what worked well, what didn’t, and what could be improved? Then, use these insights to refine your approach for future business trips so you can simplify the process even more and ensure your every out-of-pocket spending is reimbursed.