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Expense claims FMG (for researchers)

Employees of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG) who incur costs in the line of their work or research can claim reimbursement of authorised expenses from their programme group, institution or department.

Alternatively, if their research project is funded externally, they can claim reimbursement of their expenses to the account(s) of their projects. New guidelines governing various matters came into effect in January 2016. These new guidelines supersede the previous instructions, drawn up prior to 2016, including the following sets of instructions:

  • Regulations and conditions governing expense claims;
  • Purchasing goods and/or services (on behalf of a project);
  • Project-specific agreements for individual research projects.

1 How to claim expenses

1.1  Complete a form on the self-service portal

Submit an expenses claim form to the account of a project, WBS number or cost centre through the Self-Service Tool. If needed, see the instructions.

1. Assess your scans for legibility; if a scan is illegible, your expense claim will not be accepted.

2. Keep your original receipts and invoices for at least two years, this being the term required by the Belastingdienst (Dutch Tax and Customs Administration) at present. If the Belastingdienst approves the UvA/FMG procedure, this requirement will no longer have to be satisfied. We will notify you as soon as we know more about this. Please note that the portal will not allow you to upload ZIP files or documents whose size exceeds 20MB.

3. The UvA/FMG does not work with standard per-diem rates for overseas trips. Expenses incurred for daily necessities such as meals will only be reimbursed if you submit original receipts and if these expenditures were included in the approved budget estimate. Expenses will only be reimbursed if they remain within reasonable bounds, which may vary from country to country.

4. The costs of your accommodation, meals and daily local transport must not exceed the flat rates listed in the guideline. Please note that these are quite significant amounts, which must be considered upper limits which cannot be exceeded under any circumstances. Remember that we are funded with public money, so there is no need for us to spend the night in hotels which charge such rates.

5. Expenses which were not included in the original budget estimate (or which were later added in a revised budget estimate) and which were not approved by your research institution or programme group will not be reimbursed.

6. If your expenses claim consists of more than three receipts, kindly use a cover sheet to tie your claim together. On this cover sheet you should indicate the numbers of your receipts, as well as applicable dates and currencies, a description and an explanation, and (where applicable) a link to the project or conference website, etc.

7. Complete the cover sheet (needless to say, the total sum entered here must correspond with the sum claimed in the Self-Service Tool), then print and scan it, along with your receipts. Now add all these documents to your expenses claim form in the Self-Service Tool.

8. If you have made several trips, use a separate expenses claim form for each trip. 

9. All forms claiming expenses incurred in foreign currencies must be supported – besides invoices – by bank statements or other documents which show the actual exchange rate (check this on the Internet) on the day of your purchase or on the invoice date. If you need to settle an advance received prior to your trip, use the exchange rate of the date on which the cost were incurred; the day of purchase/invoice. For more information on exchange rates (all countries), refer to  the internet.

10. Cost for matters such as room service, movie rental, the use of the mini bar and not project -related activities are not reimbursed by the UvA.

11. If you travelled by train for work purposes, please indicate the purpose of your journey and the names of the person/s and/or organisation/s you were visiting. Please note that only second-class train tickets will be reimbursed, just like only economy-class plane tickets are eligible for reimbursement.

12. If you travelled by car, you will receive a mileage reimbursement of €0.19 per kilometre, on the condition that you had practical reasons to travel by car, for instance because there was no other adequate form of transport (e.g. train or bus) available. Generally speaking, parking costs will not be reimbursed. When submitting your expenses claim form, please indicate the purpose of your trip, the postcodes of your place of departure and destination, and the total distance travelled (mileage). Use this form.

13. Unless you have received explicit permission from your sponsor, research institution or programme group, the following rule applies: generally, the UvA/FMG is not required to reimburse costs associated with the production, publication and purchasing of books and other printed materials (although exceptions are sometimes made for PhD dissertations). Some programme groups and/or sponsors will allow you to include such costs in your budget.

14. Since all FMG desktop computers have been replaced by laptops, it is now generally impossible to purchase a laptop using funds from a government-funded research budget. If you require a laptop which satisfies very specific requirements (e.g. a laptop with a very large RAM drive enabling you to make complex calculations or perform MRI), please include this expenditure in your project budget and have it approved by NWO or the EU. For any exceptions to this rule (use of special funds[1]), contact your research institution or programme group and attach their authorisation to your expenses claim form. If you purchase a laptop in this manner, please note that you will have to sign a separate business use declaration.

15. Research resources and equipment such as recording equipment, fieldwork equipment, software, etc., can only be purchased if they were included in the budget estimate approved by your research institution or programme group, and/or if the costs of the purchase will be reimbursed by the sponsor. If the items are sold upon your return to the Netherlands, ensure that the proceeds of the sale are included in your expenses claim.

16. If you submit a claim for shared expenses (i.e., if you split a bill), please provide an explanation of which part of the bill you are claiming, with whom you are sharing the bill and why you are sharing the bill.

[1] E.g. money earned by public speeches, articles, book revenues a.s.o.

1.1  Documents (scans) supporting your expenses claim

You will not be able to claim expenses unless you provide supporting evidence. Please note that credit card or bank statements and/or e-tickets do not constitute valid evidence in themselves. In other words, you must clarify how much you are claiming and when and for what purpose you incurred these costs. Furthermore, you must prove that you actually incurred these costs. Reservation confirmation emails and e-mailed purchase order confirmations will not suffice.

How to submit a successful expenses claim:

  • If you are claiming expenses incurred by staying at a hotel or purchasing something, be sure to submit the following documents:

1. a scan or photocopy of a bank statement or credit card statement (do not copy and paste this document into a Word file!) listing the date of the payment, the amount of the expense and your name. If you wish, you may render other details illegible. Since Word files can be doctored, the accountants auditing our books will not accept them as valid evidence.

2. an itemised invoice (preferably made out in your name) which clearly lists all the costs incurred. A reservation confirmation email will not suffice. The same rule applies to AirBnB and private accommodation.

  • If you are claiming expenses incurred by air travel, be sure to submit the following documents:

1. a scan or photocopy of the relevant credit card or bank statement;
2. your e-ticket and boarding passes.[1]

  • If you are claiming expenses incurred by travelling by public transport (using a public transport smart card), be sure to submit the following documents:

1. a list of your recent transactions, including the relevant journey/s. In order to be granted access to your list of recent transactions, you will have to register with the public transport smart card website.
2. Alternatively, you may print an overview of your 10 most recent journeys through a GVB vending or topping-up machine. This will serve as proof of payment if you also provide a photocopy of your public transport smart card listing your name and card number. Use a pen to write down the purpose of your journey/s.

  • Representation costs: When you submit invoices or receipts of restaurant meals, gifts for informants, etc., be sure to explain the occasion and provide the names of the attendees and/or recipients. You are allowed to add a reasonable tip (up to 10%) to the price of a restaurant meal.

[1] Our external accountant had the following to say on the matter: a ticket or e-ticket in itself constitutes insufficient evidence because it does not prove that you actually travelled. You may have cancelled your flight, got a partial refund and claimed the price of the ticket, too. If you were not given a boarding pass, you may convert your electronic boarding pass into a PDF and use this to support your claim. In addition, you can prove that you actually travelled by submitting evidence that you booked and paid for a hotel during your trip, and that your name is listed among the contributors to the conference and/or in minutes of a meeting, or something to that effect. In other words, you will be required to prove that you actually made the trip!

2. Purchasing goods and/or services (on behalf of projects)

The purchase of items (be they goods or services) on behalf of a project is subject to the following rules:

1. Check whether the UvA has made special arrangements (i.e., a framework contract) with certain preferred suppliers. Ask staff at the secretariat of your research institution or programme group  who can help you order things directly (such as flowers and bouquets, overseas business trips, printed matter, items required for special events, hotel rooms, office supplies, telephones, PCs, meeting venues). If you wish to acquire or book something which is not subject to a special arrangement between the UvA and a preferred supplier, make a request for this item to be booked or purchased in the ordering system, OrderDirect (this is called ‘placing a FreeFormat order’). The Purchasing department will then acquire the item on your behalf. By using OrderDirect, you will ensure that you pay a fair price and that you satisfy all the legal requirements regarding purchasing and tendering procedures. In addition, you will not have to pay for the item yourself, then claim expenses afterwards.

2. In the event that you do purchase goods and/or services yourself, ensure that they are ordered in the name of your department, research institution or programme group. If you order things in your own name, the Belastingdienst may regard your purchase as ‘benefits in kind’, meaning that either yourself or the UvA will have to pay taxes on it.

3. Contact Marco Teunisse of LAB (TOP) prior to purchasing research equipment whose value exceeds €1,000.

4. If you need to book a hotel room for a guest, keep in mind that special arrangements are in place with certain hotels in Amsterdam. For meetings outside the UvA, discounted rates are available if you use this system. Using the system will also spare you some hassle, in that you (or your guest) will not have pay the hotel first, then claim expenses afterwards. Instead, the hotel will invoice UvA directly.

5. Ask for invoices to be emailed to factuur@uva.nl. Invoices and supporting documents must be submitted as a single PDF file and addressed to the University of Amsterdam, attn. Accounts Payable department. In addition, each invoice must include the following information: a. a reference (i.e., a UvA cost centre, a UvA WBS element or a UvA order number); b. the name of the contact (generally the person placing the order). The supplier will need the UvA’s address for his own records. Please provide the following address: PO Box 49, 1000 AA Amsterdam. However, do tell the supplier to send the invoice to the aforementioned email address.

Please note the following UvA purchasing guidelines:

a) In the event of so-called single invitations for tender (individual purchases) up to a maximum purchasing price of €50,000 a single quotation will suffice. Your file must comprise a request for tender, the quotation you received and the order form or contract. We recommend checking several suppliers, to see if they offer different prices (brief market survey), and possibly inviting more than one tender.

b) If you seek to purchase goods and/or services whose value exceeds €50,000 and which may involve a long-term contract or something to that effect, you must notify the Facility Management department and allow them to get involved in the tender procedure, the award of the contract and the contract negotiations.

3. Research and teaching project-specific arrangements

  • In the event of incidental payments to student assistants, test subjects, etc. (without an employment contract), be sure to attach an approved timesheet.
  • If you give people vouchers of any kind as a token of appreciation, be sure to attach a list signed for receipt by the recipients.

Purchases on behalf of EU-funded projects must meet the following EU criterion:

‘Any subcontract, the costs of which are to be claimed as an eligible cost, must be awarded to the bid offering best value for money (best price-quality ratio), under conditions of transparency and equal treatment.’

To ensure that we satisfy this requirement, EU-funded projects are subject to the following additional guidelines:

  • Prior to purchasing goods and/or services with a value between €5,000 and €50,000, invite at least three tenders. Use OrderDirect to request help from the Purchasing department.
  • Provide a brief explanation beforehand of the criteria that you will use to select a supplier.
  • Draw up a brief report of the award process.
  • Append these documents to the project folder.