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The complete guide to corporate travel policies

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Corporate Travel & Expense Reimbursement Policy Template

With our travel expense policy template, we’ve done the hard work for you. We talked to travel managers to discover what essential elements go in a policy, and we developed one that is concise, simple-to-understand, and very easy to customize. 

Grab the template now, or keep reading below to learn more about what’s included, why we included it, and how to customize each element for your own company use. You’ll see that planning a business trip has never been easier!

What’s inside our travel policy template?

Our company travel policy template for UK, US, or EU travelers includes the six key sections detailed here. We’ve formatted it to be easy to read and easy to customize. It can apply to domestic or international travel, air travel, rail transport, and more. 

An effective corporate travel policy is made up of six key sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Travel booking process
  3. Expense categories
  4. Non-reimbursable purchases
  5. Expense reporting and reimbursement process
  6. Travel support, safety and duty of care

Let’s take a look at what you need to include in each section. 

Download travel policy template

Section 1: Introduction

A smart travel expense policy template should always include an introduction. Why? You want to make it clear to employees that your policy is not just a bureaucratic loophole. It helps keep them safe, improves fairness, and reduces manual work and confusion. We recommend including a bulleted point list of the top benefits of your travel policy so travelers know why it matters. 

If you have multiple travel policies for departments or types of employees, then you should also use the introduction section to clarify who the policy is for.

Top tip: In your introduction, include the benefits of following your policy for travelers, such as staying safe and getting support, so they know why they should follow it. 

Section 2: Travel booking process

In the second section of our free travel policy template, we’ve included everything employees need to know about where and how to book travel. Make travel arrangements for your employees or let them book for themselves—either way, this template will work for you. 

  • How to book travel – What is your approved process, method and/or platform for booking business travel? If your company use a platform to enable travelers to book within policy, include the name of your approved booking platform. Otherwise, write out the name and contact details of the company or person they’re supposed to contact in order to request a booking.
  • Approval process for senior management – the approval process for c suite and senior members of staff will likely differ from that of other employees. Senior management might require approval from an executive, and executives might require sign-off from other c suite members. All of this must be included in your policy.
  • Use of loyalty programs – Many companies don’t allow travelers to collect points for their personal loyalty programs. But if you trust your travelers to do the right thing, you can allow this and include a line in your policy like “Employees may not choose more expensive options only to get loyalty points.”
  • Leisure extensions – Sometimes business travelers want to extend their trip into the weekend, or use up some of their vacation days. You should include rules around leisure extensions (or “bleisure”), such as what cost difference is allowable for return flights. It’s important to outline what expenses you will cover and what you consider “personal expenses” for “personal travel”. Make clear that these are additional costs that do not fall within the ambit of business expenses under your travel policy.
  • Traveling with non-employees travel expenses related to travel with spouses, family members, pets or anyone outside of the company are not normally eligible for reimbursement. These situations can be subject to approval if they are accompanying staff members for business reasons such as attending a conference or for a networking event. 

Top tip: Make it crystal clear how travelers are supposed to book trips. Use a corporate booking platform to keep track of travel in one place. 

Section 3: Expense categories

An important part of any expense policy and procedure is what employees are allowed to expense. This is a great way to make your travel policy more cost-effective and aligned with your business needs for this trip. 

In the third section of our corporate travel policy template, we’ve broken up business travel expenses by common categories: flights, lodging, ground transportation, food and entertainment, and personal telephone usage. 

Here’s the information to include in each expense category:

Air travel

  • Approved tool or method for booking
  • Preferred vendors (if any)
  • Rules on whether or not business class is allowed, such as for flights over a certain duration, or flights taken by employees of a certain seniority level. Highlight whether travelers should go in economy class or business.
  • How many days in advance international flights must be booked
  • How many days in advance domestic travel must be booked

Accommodation

  • Approved tool or method for booking
  • Maximum nightly rates per city for hotel rooms
  • Preferred vendors and negotiated rate details (if any)
  • Rules on standard rooms and upgrades, for example standard rooms are required but room upgrades are allowed if offered at no additional charge
  • Reimbursable hotel costs, such as parking
  • Rules for booking Airbnb or apartment rentals

Rail travel

  • Approved tool or method for booking
  • Type of train ticket allowed, such as economy

Taxis and ride-sharing

  • When taxis and ride-sharing is allowed, for example when public transportation isn’t viable
  • Maximum amount per transaction

Rental and personal car

  • Type of rental car class allowed, such as compact or mid-size
  • The number of employees expected to share a rental car when traveling together
  • How much is reimbursed per mile or kilometer

Conferences & events

  • Expense reimbursement process for conference or event registration in cases where it was not pre-paid. 
  • Process for other conference or event related expenses such as business meals or anything not included in the registration cost.   

Food, travel and entertainment

  • Reimbursable amount, per breakfast
  • Reimbursable amount, per lunch 
  • Reimbursable amount, per dinner
  • Alternatively, a daily maximum or per diem
  • Personal meal expenses throughout their trip
  • Rules for business meals, such as who approves the amount
  • Rules for client entertainment expenses, such as what is allowed

Personal telephone usage

  • Cell phone bill amount or percentage that is reimbursable during the weeks that the employee travels. Clarify whether calls for personal reasons will be covered by your company. 
  • Whether or not personal phone damages or theft are reimbursable during business travel, and if so up to what amount?

Top tip: We’ve included everything in our travel policy template. Simply enter the amounts, approved vendors and other details for each reimbursable expense category. You can easily delete anything that doesn’t fit your company.

Section 4: Non-reimbursable purchases

Include a bulleted list with the potential travel expenses that your company will not reimburse. Make it clear that your company will only cover travel-related expenses and whatever provisions you accounted for in the previous section. 

Here are some examples of non-reimbursable items that you may want to include in your travel policy:

  • In-flight purchases, not airfare 
  • Excess baggage fees
  • Childcare, pet care, and pet boarding
  • Costs for family members joining travelers on their trip
  • Toiletries or clothing
  • Airline club memberships
  • Minibar purchases or bar bills
  • Laundry or dry cleaning
  • Parking fines or traffic violations
  • Airline ticket change fees
  • First-class rail transportation
  • Premium, Luxury or Elite car rentals
  • Movies, online entertainment or newspapers
  • Spa and health club usage
  • Flowers, sweets and confectionery
  • Room service
  • Additional beds or bedding
  • Clothes
  • Damage to personal vehicles
  • Rental car company insurance

Top tip: Involve stakeholders like your CFO and a few of your frequent travelers to determine what is fair to exclude across the entire company, for all trips. Make it clear what is payable to employees upon their return and what is not (ex. think about commuting). 

Section 5: Expense reporting and reimbursement process

In the section on your expense policy and procedure, be sure to include the following:

  • What tool to use for expensing
  • What items do not need to be added in the expense tool, for example if a trip is booked with your approved booking tool
  • Who to submit expense reports to
  • What to include in reimbursement requests, such as original receipts 
  • Deadline for submitting reimbursement requests
  • Typical processing time for receiving reimbursement

Your policy on the use of personal credit cards

Top tip: Make it crystal clear what tool employees should use to submit expenses and reimbursement requests.

Download the free template 

Section 6: Travel support, safety, and duty of care

It’s important for your travel policy to be something that travelers want to read. It should include information that they need to access, that way they must visit it regularly and at the same time, they can familiarize themselves with the document. Travelers definitely care about staying safe on the road, and your company should too. You should include information on travel support, travel insurance, and your duty of care provider right inside of your travel policy.

  • Tracking travelers’ whereabouts – Use this opportunity to let travelers’ know that when they book using your approved method or tool, their trip is tracked. In the event of an emergency, steps will be taken to evacuate them. If you don’t know where they are, you can’t help! Include the name of your approved tool, and what they should do to ensure their trip is accurately tracked if they must book outside of it for a valid reason.
  • Travel support – In case of trip cancellations, changes, etc., who should your travelers call? Include contact details for your travel support provider, including phone numbers, email addresses and whatever applies. If there are multiple numbers based on region or language, include those as well. 
  • Support for emergency needs – In this sub-section, include your duty of care vendor (if you have one) and your travel insurance policy details. Also include the employee name or vendor name they should contact in the event of an emergency. 

Top tip: Include information on travel support, insurance and safety so travelers can get everything they need to know in one place and familiarize themselves with your policy as a whole.

How to implement your travel policy

  • Customize – Customize and finalize the travel policy template. Work with stakeholders to make all of the necessary edits and customizations to the policy; collect all details like travel insurance, nightly rates, etc. 
  • Automate – Update your automated travel policy. Create or update an automated travel policy so travelers and/or admins can book within policy all the time.
  • Deploy – Roll out changes to employees. Depending on the size of your company, roll out your new policy document and automated policy to all employees or an initial subset.
  • Listen – Collect feedback on the new policy. Get feedback from employees on the clarity of your travel policy, as well as the ease-of-use of your approved tools and automated policy.

Grab the template now, or sign up for a free trial to TravelPerk Premium so you can make an automated policy that’s built inside of the travel booking process.

Download travel policy template

How to improve corporate travel policy compliance

Have you got a travel policy compliance issue? Are your employees disregarding your T&E policy on purpose or due to insufficient training? There are a number of issues why this might be happening from the booking tool your company is using, to your company culture, or even your policy document itself.

Here a few things to consider if you’d like to increase your corporate travel policy compliance: 

  • Is your policy outdated? This could be down to changes within your organization or simply that your current policy isn’t being adhered to. Maybe it’s time to revisit and revamp your policy.
  • Monitor your compliance issues. Use travel management software that monitors your policy compliance and use that data to help you understand the reasons behind the barriers you’re facing. 
  • Self-booking improves policy compliance. Your preferred booking tool plays a role here too. Make use of one that allows your team to book the business trip they want within your policy to avoid confusion and breach of policy.
  • Choose an easy-to-use booking tool. Your employees aren’t going to want to use software that is difficult to use, offers little to no support, and has limited options. 
  • Build your travel expense policy into the booking tool. By doing this, you create an automatic system that allows or rejects different types of travel arrangements based on your business needs.

The more accurately your policy reflects reality with the help of the right corporate travel software, the better job it can do to improve compliance around the clock with no micromanaging.