Procedures on the Pre-approval of Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures
Version number: 1.0
Version date: March 01, 2022
Upon request, this corporate policy instrument (CPI) is available in multiple formats for individuals with a visual impairment (email Multiple Media-PAB (CRA)).
The Procedures on the Pre-approval of Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures came into effect on April 1, 2022, following approval by the Director General, Financial Administration Directorate (FAD), Finance and Administration Branch (FAB).
For the version history of this document, see section 9.
These procedures apply to employees of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and to any other individuals required to follow CRA policy, and are mandatory to follow.
The Code of Integrity and Professional Conduct highlights the rules, and describes the values, that guide CRA employees in their work. The Code, along with the CRA Foundation Framework for Corporate Policy, sets out the requirement to follow CPIs.
Consequences of non-compliance: failure to comply with CPIs may result in corrective measures, including administrative and disciplinary actions.
To help interpret and implement these procedures, key terms are defined in the Appendix A - Definitions.
These procedures flow from the Directive on the Pre-approval of Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures (Directive on the Pre-approval of THCEE).
For any other related CPIs, see References.
The purpose of these procedures is to support the planning, approval, and reporting processes to assess and manage travel, hospitality, conference and event expenses in accordance with the authorities set out in the Directive on the Pre-approval of THCEE.
Expenditure pre-approvals for travel, hospitality, conferences, and events must be in accordance with the Delegation of Spending and Financial Authorities Matrix for Agency Activities (DSFA Matrix). When pre-approvals are required at the senior Agency manager level or above, pre-approvals are sought through the corresponding Travel Plan exercise and the Hospitality, Conferences, and Events (HCE) Plan exercise, which are led by the Financial Reporting and Accounting Division (FRAD), FAB.
These procedures should be read and implemented in conjunction with the Directive on the Pre-approval of THCEE and are supplemented by the Travel Plan and the HCE Plan exercises.
Throughout these procedures, the word “pre-approval” is intended to refer to the expenditure initiation authority under section 32 of the Financial Administration Act (FAA) as defined in the Directive on Delegation of Spending, Financial and Other Authorities (DSFOA) for Agency and Administered Activities.
The authority to initiate expenditures under section 32 of the FAA does not include the authority to enter into (or change) a contract with a supplier for goods or services. The CRA’s Delegation of Procurement Authorities must be taken into consideration as some hospitality, conference or event expenditures may require a contract. Prior to starting negotiations with, or making commitments to, any vendors, the Contracting Division, Administration Directorate, FAB, must be consulted.
Local travel consist of any travel for CRA business that does not include transportation by air or rail, does not include overnight accommodations or exceed 300 km by traveller-driven vehicle.
Headquarters (HQ) area pertains to the area surrounding the traveller's workplace having a perimeter that is at a distance of 16 km from the workplace, measured by the most direct, safe and practical road route.
5.1.1 When travel is planned, delegated managers must complete a travel plan for the current fiscal year and submit it to the Financial Management Advisory Services Directorate (FMASD), or their regional finance office on a quarterly basis for review.
126.96.36.199 A travel plan must contain detailed estimates of travel costs per travel category, as outlined in section 7.4.1 of the Directive on the Pre-approval of THCEE.
5.1.2 The FMASD and regional finance offices must review and recommend travel plans submitted by the delegated managers for senior Agency managers expenditure pre-approval in accordance with the DSFA Matrix, through the annual Travel Plan exercise, including travel plan updates which are done on a quarterly basis.
5.1.3 The FRAD must:
188.8.131.52 Initiate and coordinate the Travel Plan exercise;
184.108.40.206 Receive approved travel plans, verify that the completed travel plans are approved by the respective senior Agency manager; and
220.127.116.11 Perform periodic monitoring of travel plans and expenditures.
Travel outside Canada
5.1.4 In addition to expenditure pre-approval, as outlined in sections 5.1.1 to 5.1.3 of these procedures and in accordance with the DSFA Matrix, travel outside Canada requires an operational authorization for taxpayer specific activities and non-taxpayer specific activities prior to making travel arrangements.
5.1.5 Operational authorization for travel outside Canada for taxpayer and non-taxpayer activities is obtained by using the Request for Approval to Travel Outside of Canada (RATOC) e-form. For further instructions on submitting a RATOC, refer to the RATOC User Guide.
18.104.22.168 For taxpayer specific activities, operational authorization is obtained from the designated director, Compliance Program Branch who is the CRA Competent Authority.
22.214.171.124 For non-taxpayer specific activities, operational authorization is obtained from the assistant commissioner (AC), Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch (LPRAB).
5.1.6 The International Relations and Treaties Office, LPRAB:
126.96.36.199 Reviews all non-taxpayer specific related requests to travel outside of Canada (RATOC) and forwards them for approval to the AC, LPRAB; and
188.8.131.52 Provides advice and assistance to CRA employees to support travel to destinations outside of Canada (examples: acquisition of passports and visas, travel health and safety protocols, etc.).
5.2.1 Expenditure pre-approval for hospitality is obtained in accordance with the limits specified in the DSFA Matrix by completing and submitting the Appendix B – Total Hospitality Expenses Information Form and supporting documents to the delegated manager. The CRA’s Delegation of Procurement Authorities must also be taken into consideration when entering into contracts with vendors for the provision of hospitality at an event or a conference.
184.108.40.206 Hospitality requiring minister, commissioner or senior Agency manager pre-approval must be obtained in accordance with the HCE expenditure pre-approval process outlined in section 5.5 of these procedures.
5.2.2 If there are significant changes to the original approved nature (type) or extent (amount) of hospitality, a new Appendix B – Total Hospitality Expenses Information Form must be submitted to the appropriate delegated authority for expenditure pre-approval. Refer to subsection 220.127.116.11 of section 5.5 for additional details.
5.2.3 In cases where all the individuals with the appropriate delegated authority are present at an event, expenditure pre-approval for hospitality must be obtained from the chief financial officer (CFO) and assistant commissioner of FAB and certification must be obtained from the deputy CFO and director general of FAD under section 34 of the FAA. In such circumstances, please contact FRAD for further instructions on how to proceed.
5.2.4 Bottled water or water coolers are not permitted for public servants on an on-going basis.
5.2.5 Hospitality provided in a restaurant only to employees or other public servants is not permitted unless clearly justified for business reasons. Ensure to provide the justification in the email sent when submitting the Appendix B – Total Hospitality Expenses Information Form and supporting documents to the delegated manager.
18.104.22.168 Such situations must involve the participation of at least one delegated manager at Management Level (ML) 1.0 or 2.0 as identified in the Expenditure Initiation Authority section of the Appendix C : Delegation of Spending and Financial Authorities Matrix Supplementary Notes (DSFA Notes) of the Directive on DSFOA for Agency and Administered Activities.
5.2.6 Where the CRA has no discretion in providing meals to employees and other public servants in the course of their duties, such as stipulations in collective agreements, the CRA must provide meals to employees and other public servants and it is not subject to hospitality authorization under the Directive on the Pre-approval of THCEE and these procedures.
5.2.7 Where hospitality is offered, avoid or reduce single-use plastics.
5.3.1 Expenditure pre-approval for conferences (attended in person or virtually) is obtained in accordance with the limits specified in the DSFA Matrix and DSFA Notes. The CRA’s Delegation of Procurement Authorities must also be taken into consideration when planning (hosting) a conference that may require entering into contracts with vendors for the provision of goods or services.
22.214.171.124 All conferences which have not been designated as training or operational activities, regardless of their total costs, require pre-approval by no lower than senior Agency managers.
126.96.36.199 These conferences also require event approval at the designated authority level in accordance with the DSFA Matrix.
188.8.131.52 Conferences requiring senior Agency manager expenditure pre-approval must be obtained in accordance with the HCE expenditure pre-approval process outlined in section 5.5 of these procedures.
5.3.2 When the distinction between conference, operational activities, and training is unclear, delegated managers must contact FMASD or their regional finance office. For further guidance, FMASD and regional finance offices can contact FRAD.
5.3.3 For conferences outside of Canada where travel takes place (attending in person), follow the RATOC process as outlined in section 5.1.5 of these procedures. For additional information, delegated managers should contact their regional finance office or FMASD.
5.3.4 Gatherings of individuals to share recent developments on a product or service provided by a private organization or to increase awareness of a certain subject require conference and event approvals. For example:
- A conference that an employee attends to gather information on a product that the CRA is considering purchasing, such as a trade show;
- A conference that an employee attends to increase their awareness of specific issues or to receive updates on a discipline unrelated to their daily tasks.
5.3.5 Gatherings of individuals for which the main purpose is operational activities is not considered a conference and does not require conference or event approval. Operational activities require expenditure pre-approval for goods and services in accordance with the limits specified in the DSFA Matrix. For example:
- in situations where attendance is required to help deliver a CRA program or service by promoting the CRA program or service;
- to engage with stakeholders by delivering a presentation or discussing the design of the CRA program with stakeholders;
- to support recruitment efforts by working at an information booth to promote careers at the CRA.
5.3.6 Gatherings of individuals to support learning and professional development, can only be determined to be training by either a government-wide functional community lead (such as the Chief Information Officer of Canada, the Comptroller General of Canada, the Chief Human Resource Officer) or the commissioner where there is no community lead.
5.3.7 When the government-wide functional community lead has made a decision about the designation of a large information-sharing or learning session, they notify their community through the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) Financial Management Policy Suite GCpedia page (GCpedia page).
5.3.8 The FRAD must review the GCpedia page to consult the decision made by government-wide functional community leads.
5.3.9 When a decision on whether a large information-sharing or learning session is a conference or training is not published on the GCpedia page, contact FRAD to request a determination.
5.3.10 If there is no government-wide functional community lead, FRAD must submit a consolidated list of planned conferences requiring determination with recommendations to the commissioner for decision.
5.3.11 The FRAD will maintain a list of large information-sharing or learning sessions with their determination (as conference or training) and distribute it to FMASD and regional finance offices.
5.3.12 When a large information-sharing or learning session is designated as a conference or in the absence of direction from the GCpedia page, conference and event approval is required.
5.3.13 When a large information-sharing or learning session is designated as training, training approval is to be obtained through the established CRA processes for training and the Delegation of Human Resources (HR) Authorities.
5.3.14 When a large information-sharing or learning session is designated as training (either by the commissioner or a government-wide functional community lead) and the cost to the CRA is estimated to exceed $50,000, the CFO advises the commissioner by providing a detailed report including cost estimates and number of participants.
184.108.40.206 Once large information-sharing or learning sessions are designated as training, it is expected that planned costs will remain stable year-over-year. Planned increases compared to prior years must be justified and agreed upon between the commissioner and the respective senior Agency manager prior to the information being submitted to FRAD.
5.4.1 Expenditure pre-approval for events (attended in person or virtually) is obtained in accordance with the limits specified in the DSFA Matrix and as outlined in section 5.5 of these procedures, and is calculated based on the total cost of a single event.
5.4.2 All gatherings of individuals engaged in activities other than operational activities of the CRA or training are considered events.
220.127.116.11 Operational activities are those activities undertaken to deliver CRA programs and services including CRA internal services. For individuals, operational activities are those activities undertaken in the performance of their assigned tasks, as set out in job descriptions, terms of reference, statements of work or other like documents. For example:
- Activity undertaken to deliver CRA programs and services;
- Activity undertaken to deliver internal services that support the delivery of CRA programs and services;
- Meetings to plan activities to support CRA programs and services, including internal services;
- Governance activities that are an essential part of CRA oversight.
18.104.22.168 Training activities are formal learning activities, which include a curriculum and established learning objectives, and where the primary purpose is to enable participants to maintain or acquire skills or knowledge.
5.4.3 When the distinction between events, operational activities, and training is unclear, delegated managers must contact FMASD or their regional finance office. For further guidance, FMASD and regional finance offices should contact FRAD.
5.4.4 For events outside of Canada where travel takes place (attending in person), follow the RATOC process as outlined in section 5.1.5 of these procedures. For additional information, delegated managers should contact their regional finance office or FMASD.
5.4.5 Prior to requesting expenditure pre-approval for events, event planners or delegated managers must calculate the total costs for a single event, which include the following:
- Facility/room rental and associated costs (for example, audio/video equipment and technical support);
- Conference fees;
- Professional services charges, including interpretation and speaker fees;
- Meals while travelling;
- Taxes, gratuities and service charges;
- Costs incurred by the minister or the appropriate minister’s staff for activities related to the CRA programs that are charged to the CRA budget; and
- Other relevant costs directly attributable to the event. These costs exclude salary and wages costs and other CRA fixed operating costs that are part of the CRA’s ongoing operations.
5.4.6 Event planners or delegated managers prepare cost comparisons when planning an event or hospitality to ensure cost minimization, value for money, and to withstand audit and public scrutiny. Price quotes are to be obtained from at least three different vendors for any type of goods or services and procurement requirements and methods must be adhered to, as applicable. The CRA’s Delegation of Procurement Authorities must be taken into consideration when planning an event that may require entering into contracts with vendors for the provision of goods or services. For additional information, visit the Procurement Place on InfoZone.
5.4.7 When upfront costs for a major event are being paid by the CRA but the reimbursement of some costs will be sought from other departments or external participants, the event approval authority is to be determined in accordance with the total costs of the event before any reimbursement. The planned reimbursements should, however, be disclosed to the event approval authority.
22.214.171.124 In situations where the CRA is organizing an event with a total cost exceeding $50,000, and other government departments are participating, the event planner must obtain the total estimated federal cost of the other government department participants and submit it to FMASD which will submit it to FRAD in order to obtain ministerial approval. Each department participating in the event must obtain its own travel and event approvals, as appropriate.
5.4.8 For events where an all-inclusive package is being offered, delegated managers must seek advice from FMASD or their regional finance offices regarding the level of approval required.
126.96.36.199 When provided with an all-inclusive package, event planners must request the supplier to bill the CRA directly, with a breakdown of the expenses such as accommodation, meals, equipment and meeting room rentals, to permit proper coding and ensure that all expenses will be properly accounted for.
5.4.9 Whether approving the event expenditures for their respective branch or region, or reviewing and recommending event expenditures for minister or commissioner approval, senior Agency managers must certify that due consideration has been given to:
a)The need to have a meeting in person;
b)The number of participants;
c)The duration of the event;
d)The frequency of recurring events; and
e)Ensuring that the most economical location and venue were chosen and that the estimated travel costs are in accordance with the Directive on the Pre-approval of THCEE.
5.5 HCE expenditure pre-approval process
5.5.1 When a conference requires senior Agency manager approval, the Summary of Conferences must be submitted to FMASD for senior Agency manager approval through the HCE plan exercise.
188.8.131.52 When obtaining conference approval, the objective of attending a conference must be specified in the Summary of Conferences.
184.108.40.206 To obtain the most recent version of the Summary of Conferences, contact FMASD or your regional finance office. The FMASD and regional finance offices can contact FRAD for further support and guidance if required.
5.5.2 Event planners or delegated managers must:
220.127.116.11 When the total event cost does not exceed $5,000 or hospitality cost does not exceed $1,500, obtain expenditure pre-approval as per the limits specified in the DSFA Matrix.
18.104.22.168 When total event cost exceeds $5,000 and/or hospitality cost exceeds $1,500, obtain expenditure pre-approval as per the limits specified in the DSFA Matrix by submitting required documentation to FMASD or their regional finance office for minister, commissioner or senior Agency manager pre-approval through the HCE plan exercise.
22.214.171.124.1 Complete the Summary List of Events when the event’s total costs are over $5,000 and up to $25,000 and/or hospitality costs are over $1,500 and up to $3,000.
126.96.36.199.2 Complete the Event Summary Workbook when the event’s total costs exceed $25,000 and/or hospitality costs exceed $3,000.
188.8.131.52.3 To obtain the most recent version of the required documentation, event planners or delegated managers can contact FMASD or regional finance office. The FMASD and regional finance offices can contact FRAD for further support and guidance if required.
184.108.40.206 On an exceptional basis, submit event and hospitality requests received during the year which are not included as part of the scheduled quarterly exercise. Submitting requests outside the scheduled quarterly exercise should be avoided when possible.
220.127.116.11 Re-submit an event or hospitality request that has received pre-approval if any of the following situations occur:
18.104.22.168.1 The total planned or actual cost of the event or the planned or actual cost of hospitality has increased and now exceeds the original approved estimate by 15% or more;
22.214.171.124.2 The total planned or actual event cost or cost per person for hospitality exceeds the financial signing authority of the delegated manager who originally approved the amount;
126.96.36.199.3 The venue changes from a government facility to a private or commercial location;
188.8.131.52.4 Exceptional forms of hospitality (according to the Directive on the Pre-approval of THCEE’s Appendix A – Exceptional hospitality components) are being provided which were not originally approved or the planned or actual cost now exceeds the amount originally authorized by 15% or more.
184.108.40.206 In circumstances where event pre-approval was not possible and approval authority is required after-the-fact, a memorandum to FMASD or regional finance offices must be submitted with a rationale explaining the circumstances resulting in the late request, along with a completed copy of the Event Summary Workbook. Submitting after-the-fact requests should be avoided.
5.5.3 The FMASD and regional finance offices must:
220.127.116.11 Submit the Summary of Conferences to the senior Agency manager for conference requests requiring senior Agency managers pre-approval.
18.104.22.168 Submit the Event Summary Workbooks to FRAD for event and hospitality requests requiring minister or commissioner pre-approval, as applicable, or to the senior Agency managers for events and hospitality requests requiring senior Agency managers pre-approval.
22.214.171.124 Submit the Summary of Conferences and the Summary List of Events to FRAD for conference, event and hospitality requests pre-approved by senior Agency managers.
126.96.36.199 Receive the pre-approved conferences, event and hospitality requests from FRAD and/or senior Agency managers, and distribute to the respective branch and regional contacts.
188.8.131.52 Seek additional information from delegated managers for clarification of conferences, event and hospitality information to support minister, commissioner and/or senior Agency managers decision-making, as applicable.
5.5.4 The FRAD must:
184.108.40.206 Review, prepare and seek approval for all events and hospitality requests requiring minister and/or commissioner pre-approval.
220.127.116.11.1 Submit a consolidated list of event and hospitality requests on an annual basis, prior to the start of a fiscal year.
18.104.22.168.2 On a quarterly basis, submit a consolidated list of event and hospitality requests which were not previously approved, or which require re-approval.
22.214.171.124.3 On an exceptional basis, submit event and hospitality requests which were not previously approved or which require re-approval and that cannot wait until the next quarterly update. These requests are to be discouraged and avoided as much as possible.
126.96.36.199 Seek additional information from FMASD or regional finance offices for clarification of event and hospitality information to support minister and/or commissioner decision-making, as applicable.
188.8.131.52 Review, prepare and submit to the commissioner, for information purposes, all large information-sharing or learning sessions designated as training with costs estimated to exceed $50,000.
184.108.40.206 Maintain a list of conferences, event and hospitality requests approved by the minister, commissioner and senior Agency managers, and distribute it to FMASD and regional finance offices.
5.6 Monitoring expenditures
5.6.1 The FRAD must monitor travel, hospitality, conference and event actual costs against planned costs to ensure proper approvals have been received by the appropriate delegated authority by:
220.127.116.11 performing quarterly review exercises comparing planned event costs to actual costs for:
18.104.22.168.1 all events with costs exceeding $20,000; and
22.214.171.124.2 a sample of events with costs exceeding $5,000, but that are less than $20,000;
126.96.36.199 performing regular monitoring of all relevant (travel, hospitality, conference, event) expense accounts.
5.7 Coordination of approvals
5.7.1 To maximize efficiencies, pre-approvals for travel, hospitality, conferences and events are to be coordinated and submitted to the most senior approval authority.
5.7.2 In cases where the authority to approve hospitality is delegated to the commissioner, but the commissioner is in attendance, the CFO is responsible to approve the hospitality, up to the commissioner’s approval limits. The commissioner continues to approve the event expenditures within the event approval authorities, as applicable.
5.8 Tax considerations
5.8.1 To determine the level of approval authority for travel, hospitality, conferences and events, sales tax must be included in the total for planning and approval purposes.
188.8.131.52 If employees use personal funds or their individual designated travel card to pay for items such as meals, taxis, vehicle rentals and hotel accommodations, the sales tax charged must also be included in the total for planning and approval purposes and will be reimbursed to the employee.
5.9.1 On a monthly basis, the CRA is required to proactively report on CRA travel and hospitality expenses, in accordance with sections 82 and 83 of the Access to Information Act (ATIA) and the TBS Guide to the Proactive Publication of Travel and Hospitality Expenses.
184.108.40.206 Travel disclosure must include the purpose of the trip, the period covered by the trip, places visited, transportation expenses including airfare or other transportation expenses (such as train, vehicle rental, mileage, taxis, parking), lodging (accommodation), meals and incidentals, and other expenses (such as special passport, visas, calls to the office, dependant care), and the total amount incurred;
220.127.116.11 Hospitality disclosure must include the date(s) of the hospitality activity, a description of the purpose and form of the hospitality, the attendees (such as number of public servants and non-public servants), the location, and the total amount incurred;
18.104.22.168 The travel and hospitality expense disclosure must be published within 30 calendar days after the end of the month in which these expenses were reimbursed;
22.214.171.124 All amounts are to be reported in Canadian dollars with a note stating that taxes are included; and
126.96.36.199 Expenses must be listed chronologically and the description must be provided in a bilingual format.
5.9.2 Amendments to previously reported periods are to be provided in a separate report for each individual, or acting individual, and each period to correct a previously published report using the appropriate template.
188.8.131.52 The corrections are to be processed and published in the next reporting period.
5.9.3 The director general, FAD, FAB approves the proactive disclosure reports and provides these reports to the minister and the commissioner for information before publishing.
5.9.4 The FRAD must:
184.108.40.206 Prepare monthly proactive disclosure reports on travel and hospitality expenses on behalf of the identified positions in section 7.2.17 of the Directive on the Pre-approval of THCEE.
220.127.116.11 Maintain a list of the officials who are subject to proactive disclosure based on the updated lists of Corporate Management Committee members and Board of Management members.
18.104.22.168 Publish the reports on the Open Government website and advise the Privacy Directorate in the Public Affairs Branch.
The director of the Systems, Policy and Controls Division (SPCD), FAB is responsible for the scheduled review of these procedures every five years, as well as any unscheduled reviews when necessary.
To support the review process, the FAB will identify and undertake any monitoring and assessment activities to help it determine if the procedures are effective and being followed.
Related instruments and information:
- Access to Information Act
- Code of Integrity and Professional Conduct
- Conflict of Interest, Directive on
- CRA Foundation Framework for Corporate Policy
- Delegation of Human Resources (HR) Authorities
- Delegation of Procurement Authorities
- Delegation of Spending, Financial and Other Authorities for Agency and Administered Activities, Directive on
- Discipline, Directive on
- Financial Administration Act
- Financial Management and Financial Administration, Policy Framework for
- Financial Management and Financial Administration, Policy on
- Financial Management Policy Suite GCpedia page (TBS)
- Guide to the Proactive Publication of Travel and Hospitality Expenses
- International Relations and Treaties Office Division
- Open Government
- Policies for Ministers’ Offices
- Pre-approval of Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures, Directive on the
- Privacy Act
- Proactive Disclosure
- Procurement Place
- RATOC User Guide
- Sustainable Development Policy
- Sustainable Development Strategies
- Travel, Directive on
- Travel, Procedures on
|If you are located in:||Please contact:|
|Branches or Regions||Financial Management Advisory Services (FMAS) / regional finance offices|
|FMAS / regional finance offices||Financial Reporting and Accounting Division (FRAD)|
|FRAD||Financial Policy Section, SPCD of FAB|
|SPCD||Treasury Board Secretariat or CRA Legal Services|
|Version #||Change(s)||Reason for change(s)||Area responsible||Major change - Approved by:
Minor change- Sign-off by:
(name and title)
|Approval date||Effective date|
|1.0||New CPI||To develop a principle-based policy suite that is simple, clear and streamlined.||FAB||Sylvie Godin, Director General, FAD, FAB||2022-03-01||2022-04-01|
The following key terms, found in this directive, are defined in the FAD Lexicon:
- All-inclusive package
- Delegated managers
- Headquarters area
- Local travel
- Non-public servants
- Operational activities
- Public servants
- Senior Agency managers
- Travel plan
- Date modified: