Small Business Growth

5 Expense Reimbursement Policy Templates You Can Steal

Need to create an expense reimbursement policy but aren't sure where to start? This list of 5 expense reimbursement policy templates can be tailored to fit your needs.

Danielle Antosz
Danielle Antosz writes about business, tech, and finance for ClearSpend. When she's not researching weird facts about business finance, you'll find her looking for her next favorite sci-fi show. Stalk her on Twitter @dantosz.

So, you need an expense reimbursement policy. It might not sound like a lot of fun. Whether you're just getting started or are trying to fix issues with the current policy, it's easy to get overwhelmed. How do you make sure you cover everything? What if you forget something and leave the company open to fraud? 😱 Luckily, you don't need a master's in accounting to get this right. 

At ClearSpend, we're all about making the financial side of business easier. Here's what you need to know about expense reimbursement policies, including how to use a template to create yours, and how ClearSpend can help eliminate the need for a written expense policy. 

What is an expense reimbursement policy?

An expense reimbursement policy refers to the guidelines that determine what expenses employees can get reimbursed for and how they claim those expenses. Depending on your business, these policies might cover purchases like travel for work, client dinners, and other totally normal expenses like a human skull. 

The biggest challenge with expense reimbursement policies is they get complicated. Like, really complicated. Can employees claim their airport dinner after arriving back from a work trip? What about that toothbrush they bought because their bag was delayed? What information does the expense report need to include—and when is it due? All that info (and more) should be included in your expense reimbursement policy. 

If you want to build this policy from scratch, no one is going to stop you. However, there's an easier way. For starters, you can use an expense reimbursement policy template and adjust it to fit your needs. 

What is an expense reimbursement policy template?  

An expense reimbursement policy template is a basic template that outlines what expenses employees can claim reimbursement for and the process for making a claim. Some, like Netflix's, are incredibly basic: 

Our policy for travel, entertainment, gifts, and other expenses is 5 words long: “act in Netflix’s best interest.”

While clever, that's not very helpful. Do they use a tool to track expenses? Do I need a physical receipt? Most importantly, can I spend $55K to bribe a Connecticut town to rename their waste management plant after me? These are the important questions your expense policy needs to cover! 

Guidelines your expense reimbursement policy should cover also include: 

  • Spending limits 
  • Where employees can spend money 
  • What documents employees need to submit 
  • What tools employees must use to submit expenses 
  • How long employees have to submit expenses

Is this only for travel expenses or other expenses, too?

Expense reimbursement policy templates should cover every possible expense, not just travel expenses. Other expenses might include: 

  • Work from home supplies 
  • Uniforms 
  • Educational expenses 
  • Tools and supplies 
  • Dues for professional organizations 
  • Medical expenses 
  • Use of a personal car for business purposes 
  • Health care stipends 

Basically, if an employee spends money to fulfill their duties to your company, you should consider reimbursing them for the cost and outlining how to do it. 

Expense reimbursement policy template examples 

Ready to create your very own expense reimbursement policy? Below, we'll share a few different policies you can use as templates. Some are official policies from companies like CitiBank and BBC you can use to create your own template, while others are bare-bones templates you can use to create your own from scratch. Choose the format that works best for your business. 

BBC's expense reimbursement policy to use as a template 

BBC's expense reimbursement policy is pretty detailed. If you want to cover all your bases, it's a good place to start. Their policy covers: 

  • Timeline of submissions 
  • Receipt requirements 
  • Authorization of expenses 
  • Details for specific types of travel, including rail, air, and taxis
  • Mileage 
  • Accommodations 
  • Meals 
  • Incidentals 
  • Business phone calls 
  • Working from home 
  • Bank charges (like interest and card costs) 
  • Software 
  • Clothing
  • Eye tests 
  • Exam fees
  • Subscriptions to professional organizations 
  • Gifts 
  • Charitable donations 

You can access BBC's expense reimbursement policy here in PDF form.  

Basecamp's expense reimbursement policy 

Basecamp takes a different path with its reimbursement policy. In order to claim expenses, US workers must get an American Express Card in their name and use that for all expenses. Employees must get permission for expenses, save a receipt, and upload it via Expensify.

Screenshot of Basecamp's expense policy
Basecamp's expense reimbursement process for employees

Doesn't sound that complicated, but it definitely can cause issues. What if employees don't qualify for the credit card? What if the company takes too long to reimburse costs—who pays for the interest? The company's rules about how much you can spend are also pretty vague. "If you’re attending a conference on behalf of Basecamp, we’ll buy your meals. Just try to stay away from caviar and champagne at dinner (okay, maybe once if you have a great day to celebrate)." Quirky and cool, but also open to interpretation. 

CitiBank's travel expense reimbursement policy template

If you're looking for an expense reimbursement policy that covers quite literally every possible topic and expense, CitiBank might be a good place to start. Their corporate travel policy alone is more than 20 pages long and covers everything from how much to tip if someone opens your car door to what telephone costs are considered reimbursable. 

Citibank's tipping guidelines for a hotel bell hop
Citibank's hotel tipping guidelines

If your team travels a lot for work, this is a good policy to review. Consider cutting and pasting the parts that make sense for your business. 

Workable sample expense reimbursement policy template 

If you want to cover your bases but aren't interested in creating a 20-page policy just for business travel, Workable's template is a good starting point. This template covers all the important parts without the fluff. 

Sections in their template include: 

  • Travel expenses 
  • How to minimize expense
  • What they don't cover 
  • Definition of work-related expenses 
  • How to submit an expense 
Workable's non-reimbursable expenses
Workable's non-reimbursable expenses template

You can easily keep what works, remove what doesn't, and add additional details as needed.

Betterteam's employee reimbursement policy template

Betterteam's policy template is another solid contender if you want to build a policy from the ground up. Their template covers qualifying expenses, non-qualifying expenses, and the expense reimbursement procedure. 

This one is simple, straightforward, and can be downloaded so you can easily make edits. 

How ClearSpend can make managing your expenses easier (and eliminate employee reimbursements)

What's the easiest way to manage your expense reimbursement policy? Use ClearSpend to bake your policy right into your spending control and expense management solution. You won't have to worry about someone spending $1,000 on caviar because they won't be able to. 

With ClearSpend, you can issue business debit cards, set limits for merchant categories, and even limit daily/monthly spending. All those limits are embedded directly onto the card—and you can adjust them at any time. We take care of receipt management, too. Just have your employees upload receipts directly in the app when they make a purchase and say goodbye to that box of paper receipts. 

Did we mention it's free? 

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