Business expenses reimbursement

Our new business and student travel policy came into effect in January 2023. They include ambitious measures in favor of the environment and the protection of travelers.


What are your roles and responsibilities?

• Tell your supervisor about your trip.

• Prepare your travel request alone or in collaboration with the travel organizer.

• Provide information on the categories of expected expenses (estimated costs, if applicable: flight, train, car rental, accommodation, registration fees, meals) and the fund(s) to be charged.

• Have your request validated by your supervisor (or delegated person) before purchasing any services relating to the trip.

• Make all the necessary reservations and purchases for the trip (the validated travel request authorizes you to do so).

• Register your trip via the appropriate tools, ensuring that no private expenses are included, that no double payment is made and that expenses are presented in compliance with the present directive.

• Validate your expense claim.

• If necessary, you correct refused claims.

• Prepare the travel request in collaboration with the beneficiary (the traveler).

• Completes the predicted spending and allocated funds sections. The travel request must include an estimate of the costs for the following expense categories: flight, train, car rental, accommodation, registration fees, and meals.

• Collate all of the expenses incurred by a trip in an expense claim;

• Trigger the validation procedure for the expense claim.

Any person with signing rights on the relevant funds center can be an approver. The Head of unit is authorized to approve his or her own request, but the supervisor may, however, require that he or she be the sole approver of requests from units under his or her responsibility.

1 – Make sure that travel is justified and that the indicated expenses are appropriate.

2 – Make sure that necessary funding for the travel plans are available.

3 – Check the eligibility of expenses according to the source of funding.

Validation takes place in three stages: first by the beneficiary, then by the superior (or his delegate) having rights over the funds centre and finally by the accounting department (randomized verification). When the beneficiary is a Dean of Faculty or College Director, the approver is the Vice President for Finances. When the beneficiary is a Vice President or President, the approver is the General Counsel.

1 – Review and approves the expense claim

2- Ensures compliance regarding the claim and supporting documents.


Different purchasing channels

EPFL has a duty of diligence and protection (Duty of Care) towards its travelers. Compliance with the purchasing procedures in place for flight tickets makes it possible to provide advice, monitoring and assistance to travelers if necessary (in particular with regard to the necessary visas).

The following channels are to be accorded priority:



• Travel expenses. (For all questions regarding trains, taxis and other public transport – SBB and regional subscriptions – flight – car sharing and rental cars – private vehicle – parking, see Articles 9)

• Accommodation expenses (see Articles 10 and 11).

• Meal expenses (see Article 12).

• Visas, vaccines and gratuities (see Article 13).

• Entertainment expenses (see Article 14 and 15).

The directive also applies to the reimbursement of travel expenses for speakers, experts and academic visitors. Visitors to EPFL are subject to the rules of the travel’s Directive as part of their mandate with EPFL.

• A list of reference amounts for accommodation and meal expenses (by country) can be found in LEX 5.6.1. The list gives an indication of the maximum amount that travelers should spend. All spending which exceeds the reference amount must be duly justified in writing and may be denied;

• Bookings via the EPFL travel agency (preferential rates).

  • Use of individual motorised transport must be kept to a strict minimum.
  • Within the framework of their professionnal activity, employee must reserve a rental vehicle via the EPFL’s official suppliers in order to benefit from the insurance linked to rental vehicles (maximum risk coverage).
  • Use of a private vehicle (car or motorised two-wheeler) for professional purposes
    is only authorised in Switzerland and limited to the specific cases cited in LEX 5.6.2.
  • Use of taxi services must be kept to a strict minimum and not to the detriment of public
    public transport. Any taxi journey made within a 10km radius from or to an EPFL campus will not be reimbursed, an exception is made for people with disabilities or who hold a valid medical certificate.

The rules relating to meal and entertainment expenses have been updated:
• Expenses incurred within the context of business/academic relations between EPFL and external third parties (primarily meal expenses); maximum CHF 100.- per person.

• The end-of-year meal between employees; maximum CHF 100.- per person.

• Meal expenses between colleagues are not considered as entertainment expenses. They are subject to the reference values (i.e. CHF 28 per person in Switzerland). They can only be reimbursed in exceptional cases, with a justification explaining the purpose of the lunch meeting.

• Reimbursement on presentation of supporting documents.

• Lump sum compensation granted on an exceptional basis.

• Reference amount per country according to the Confederation’s scales.

• All private expenses, including any increase in professional travel costs in combination with private travel, personal luggage or equipment necessary for the trip, expenses relating to ancillary activities.

• Travel costs between the place of residence and the contractual workplace.

• Costs for the issuance of identity cards, passports or residence permits.

• Fines (private vehicle, rental or “Mobility” vehicle).

• Ancillary expenses which appear on the hotel invoice, such as bar, minibar, films, etc.

• Fuel expenses in place of the kilometers travelled in a private vehicle.

• Fees for additional weight for luggage or for additional articles of luggage brought for private purposes.

• Fees resulting from negligence or misconduct.



Support and documentation

Forum Compta on Zoom

Every Monday and Tuesday from 3pm to 4pm. Zoom Link


Business Expense: Create a travel request
Business Expense: Create an expense claim

Useful links

LEX 5.4.1 – Directive on the use of credit cards at EPFL
LEX 5.6.1 – Directive concerning the reimbursement of work-related expenses
LEX 5.6.2 – Directive relating to the organizsation of responsible professional travel
EPFL Travel website
Risks related to business and educational travel

Any Questions?

For expense reports: contact finance support: [email protected]