Travel Management

Managing travel expenses : Tips and milestones

Grégory Meslin
Responsable Marketing & Communication

Whether you're an employee or an HR manager, managing travel expenses can be complicated and time-consuming. Find out in this article all the important points and our recommendations for effectively managing everything to do with business travel in your company.

What are travel expenses?

Travel expenses refer to expenses incurred when a person travels on business assignments. These expenses may include transportation (plane, train, bus, cab tickets, etc.), accommodation (hotel, apartment rental, etc.), meals and miscellaneous expenses related to the trip (parking fees, tolls, etc.).

These expenses are generally reimbursed by the employer, provided certain conditions are met and the necessary supporting documents are supplied. It is therefore important to manage your travel expenses properly, to facilitate the reimbursement process and avoid any potential problems.

What are the different types of travel expenses?

When you travel for business reasons, it's important to be aware of the different types of travel expenses you may incur. These expenses can vary depending on the nature of your trip and your company's policies. In the following sections, we'll explore the most common types of travel expenses in detail.

1. Transport costs

Transportation costs are one of the most common types of travel expenses. They include expenses related to the means of transport used to get from one place to another. This can include air, train, bus and cab fares, as well as fuel costs if you use your own vehicle. It's important to keep receipts for these expenses so that you can present them during the reimbursement process.

It is also important to mention mileage allowances when justifying travel expenses. Kilometric allowances are lump sums paid by the employer to cover the cost of using a personal vehicle for business travel.

These allowances cover the cost of fuel, maintenance, insurance and vehicle depreciation. They are calculated on the basis of the number of kilometers traveled during the trip and the applicable mileage scale.

2. Accommodation expenses

Accommodation costs refer to expenses related to lodging during your trip. This may include hotel, apartment rental or B&B costs. It's important to check your company's reimbursement policies regarding accommodation expenses, as some limit the amount reimbursed or require reservations in specific establishments.

3. Meal expenses

Meal expenses are expenses related to food during your trip. This includes restaurant meals, groceries if you prepare your own meals, as well as drinks and snacks. It's important to keep receipts for these expenses, and to respect the reimbursement limits set by your company.

4. Miscellaneous expenses

Miscellaneous costs include all other expenses related to your trip. These may include parking fees, tolls, equipment rental, communication costs (telephone, internet), as well as laundry or dry-cleaning costs.

How do I justify travel expenses?

When it comes to justifying your travel expenses, it's important to understand the concept of the expense claim. An expense report is a document that summarizes all the expenses you have incurred during your business trip. It serves to provide proof of the expenses you have incurred and to facilitate the reimbursement process by your employer.

To make an expense claim, you must include the following information:

  1. Personal information: Start by providing your full contact details, including name, address and business address.
  2. Travel information: Specify the date and duration of the trip, as well as the place of departure and arrival.
  3. Expense details: Make a detailed list of all the expenses you have incurred, classifying them by category (transport, accommodation, meals, miscellaneous expenses). Include the amount of each expense, as well as the corresponding receipts (invoices, receipts, tickets, etc.).
  4. Calculations and totals: Calculate the total expenses for each category, as well as the total amount of the expense claim.

Once you've prepared your expense report, you need to send it to the person in your company responsible for processing expense reports. This may be the human resources department, the accounting department or any other person designated for this purpose. Make sure you respect the deadlines and procedures established by your company for submitting your expense report.

It's also essential to keep a copy of your expense report, along with all supporting documentation, for your own records. This can be useful in the event of future reference or audit.

What about mileage allowances?

To justify your mileage allowance expenses, it's important to keep an accurate record of the kilometers you drive on business trips. You can use a logbook or dedicated mobile app to record the details of each journey, including date, departure and arrival point, as well as the number of kilometers traveled.

In addition to the mileage log, it's a good idea to keep receipts for vehicle-related expenses, such as fuel bills, maintenance invoices and proof of car insurance. These documents will serve as proof in the event of an audit.

It is also important to comply with the kilometric scale in force when calculating mileage allowances. This scale is drawn up by the tax authorities and sets a fixed amount per kilometer driven. Be sure to check regularly for updates to the kilometric scale to ensure that you are using the correct amounts.

Who pays for travel expenses?

Employers are legally responsible for reimbursing travel expenses incurred by employees in the course of their professional activities. This is generally done through a reimbursement process based on the submission of a detailed expense claim, as mentioned above.

However, it is important to note that in most cases, the employee must advance the travel expenses on site. This means that he or she must use his or her own funds to pay for travel-related expenses, then claim subsequent reimbursement from the employer by providing the appropriate supporting documents.

Some companies also offer business travel packages, which allow the traveler to benefit from a sum of money available in advance. We'll look at these in the next section.

In even rarer cases, companies provide dedicated work bank cards, specially designed for business expenses such as travel. These cards enable the employee to pay for travel-related expenses directly, without having to pay in advance. Transactions made with this card are then automatically recorded and can be easily justified during the reimbursement process.

It is important to note that reimbursement terms may vary from company to company. Some companies reimburse travel expenses in full, while others may apply reimbursement limits or caps. So it's essential to familiarize yourself with your company's reimbursement policies so you know what to expect.

What are the different types of travel expense reimbursement?

There are two main methods of reimbursing travel expenses: actual reimbursement and flat-rate reimbursement. In most cases, it's the former that's used, and flat-rate reimbursement is often synonymous with big business.

Actual reimbursement

Actual reimbursement means that travel expenses are reimbursed on the basis of the expenses actually incurred by the employee. This means that the employee must provide detailed supporting documents for each expense, such as invoices, receipts or tickets, to prove the amounts spent. The advantage of this type of reimbursement is that it enables precise compensation for actual expenses. However, it can be more complex to manage in terms of collecting and verifying receipts, and it's up to the traveler to advance any expenses incurred on the spot.

Flat-rate reimbursement

Flat-rate reimbursement involves reimbursing travel expenses using a fixed amount predetermined by Urssaf, irrespective of the actual expenses incurred by the employee. This amount is often based on criteria such as travel time, destination or other specific factors. The advantage of this type of reimbursement is its simplicity, as it does not require the collection of detailed receipts (although this remains a good idea). However, it may not accurately reflect the employee's actual expenses, which can be a disadvantage if travel expenses vary considerably from one trip to the next. What's more, the company may be penalized for providing a sum that's too high, and the traveler may find himself in trouble if that sum is too low.

It should be noted that the type of travel expense reimbursement may vary from company to company. Some companies may use one or the other type of reimbursement exclusively, while others may offer a combination of both depending on the circumstances. It's essential to familiarize yourself with your company's reimbursement policies to find out which type of reimbursement applies, and what procedures to follow when submitting claims.

How do I calculate travel expenses?

In companies, the calculation of travel expenses is generally carried out by the human resources or finance department, in collaboration with the employee concerned. This can be a complex process, as it involves taking into account different criteria and complying with the company's internal scales and policies.

For each type of travel expense, here are the elements to consider:

1. Transport costs

For transport costs, you can refer to the existing scales drawn up by the tax authorities or the relevant organizations. These scales provide flat-rate amounts based on the mode of transport used and the distance travelled.

2. Accommodation expenses

Accommodation costs can vary according to destination, length of stay and company policies. It is important to be aware of the reimbursement limits set by the company, as well as the specific criteria for each type of accommodation (hotel, apartment rental, etc.). Some companies may provide fixed daily allowances to cover accommodation costs.

3. Meal expenses

Meal expenses can be calculated using existing scales for professional meals. These scales provide lump-sum amounts based on geographical area and meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner). It is important to respect any restrictions, such as limits on the amount per meal or exclusions of certain types of expense.

4. Miscellaneous expenses

Miscellaneous expenses, such as parking, tolls, communications or laundry, can be reimbursed on the basis of receipts provided by the employee. It is important to keep receipts and comply with company policies regarding these expenses.

It is also essential to take into account the kilometric scale in force when calculating mileage allowances if the employee uses his or her personal vehicle. This scale provides flat-rate amounts per kilometer driven, and can be used to determine the amount to be reimbursed.

To sum up, calculating travel expenses in companies involves taking various criteria into account and complying with internal scales and policies. It is important to refer to existing scales, to respect the restrictions and specific criteria for each type of expense, and to keep the necessary supporting documents. The company's human resources or finance department can provide further advice and guidance on how to make these calculations accurately and in line with company policies.

Are there solutions for efficiently managing travel expenses?

Yes, there are several expense management solutions available to help companies effectively control travel expenses. Numerous HR tools are available on the market to facilitate expense claim management, receipt collection and the reimbursement process. These tools enable processes to be digitized and automated, reducing errors and processing times.

There are also new-generation travel agencies like Fairjungle which, in addition to centralizing transport-related invoices, offers an intelligent booking platform to benefit from an inventory of XXL flights, trains and car rentals and ultra-competitive rates.

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