Special Travel Authorities

Table of Contents

1. Ministers

  1. Ministers are excluded from the requirement to follow the terms of the Travel Directive. In a letter from the President of the Treasury Board to his colleagues dated , ministers were reminded to use government travel services when booking air travel related to departmental business when pre-paid tickets are needed. Ministers may book directly with carriers, or travel agents, and claim reimbursement following a trip, as long as the department is not billed directly by travel suppliers.
  2. In the Budget, ministers as well as deputy heads and public servants, were directed to refrain from using first class air travel, other than in special circumstances, as highlighted in a letter from the President to his colleagues in May 1992.
  3. Reimbursement procedures for the travel of ministers on departmental business is governed by a letter from the Minister of Finance dated , which refers to Cabinet direction. Based on this document, ministers are asked to submit as their travel claim a signed statement which includes:
    • the period covered by the trip and the places visited;
    • transportation expenses; and
    • other expenses (such as, accommodation and meals).
  4. This statement of expenses may be submitted on a monthly rather than a per-trip basis and must include the following certification, pursuant to Section 34 of the Financial Administration Act:

    "I certify that the foregoing expenditures have been incurred by me on official government business." (Minister's signature.)

  5. The aforementioned 1963 letter also specifies that where requested advances are greater than the actual costs incurred, the difference should be remitted to the department in the form of cash or a personal cheque, made payable to the Receiver General for Canada.

2. Members of Parliament

When Members of Parliament other than Cabinet ministers travel on behalf of government departments, their travel expenses shall be governed by the Travel Directive. However, such travel is subject to trip approval by Governor-in-Council of an Order-in-Council submitted to the Privy Council Office in accordance with section 33.1(1)(c) of the Parliament of Canada Act.

3. Exempt staff

When a minister requires exempt staff to travel on departmental business, their expenses are reimbursed in accordance with the Travel Directive. Travel expenditures are chargeable to the minister's operating budget. They should be authorized by the minister or the chief of staff and reviewed by a senior financial officer. The chief of staff's own travel should be authorized by the minister or the minister's senior delegate for financial matters. When exempt staff accompany the minister, the appropriate signature is necessary to upgrade travel to business class, in the event that the minister does not personally sign the travel authority.

Note: Exempt staff equivalent to EX-02 and above travelling on departmental business have the same travel entitlements as the Executive Group, EX-02 and above stipulated in the Special Travel Authorities.

4. Heads of departments and agencies

Heads of departments and agencies have discretion over commercial accommodation selected, telephone calls, meals and incidentals in excess of the per diems, based on receipts. Meal expenses should not include alcohol. Costs associated with guests are governed by the TB Hospitality Policy and should be reported as such.

This discretion should be exercised with prudence and probity, mindful that all expenditures must further government objectives. Although specific circumstances may warrant exceptional expenses, the basic norm should be comfortable and convenient, but not excessive. A benchmark may be found in the provisions of the Treasury Board Travel Directive. Deputy ministers and heads of agencies are accountable and must be prepared to justify their expenses in keeping with the responsibility of public office holders to conduct themselves in a manner that can bear the closest public scrutiny.

By Order-In-Council (number P.C. 1997-1810), the government directed that organizations with their own travel authorities, and GICs appointed to such organizations, should also be guided by the above principles. Such organizations are accountable to justify their policies and their heads to justify their personal expenses.

5. Deputy Ministers and GICs (GC 8-11 and GCQ 8-11)

Deputy ministers (1-4) and GC (8-11) and GCQs (8-11) may use business class travel at their discretion but must book through the government travel service. (First class travel was eliminated by Cabinet direction in 1992).

6. Executive Group

6.1 General

  1. The Executive Group includes EXs (but not those in "equivalent" occupational groups or in acting positions) as well as employees in the following groups and levels and above:
    • GX, LA-2, Sub-level B; LA-3, Sub-levels A, B and C; MD-MOF-4 and 5 exclusions; MD-MSP-3; PM-MCO-4; DS-7A, 7B and 8 exclusions; and
    • Governor-in-Council Appointees whose terms of travel are not otherwise specified on appointment.
  2. The above-mentioned groups are subject to the terms and conditions of the Travel Directive. In addition, during normal business trips away from the vicinity of the headquarters area (excluding weekends home, extended travel, relocations and expenses related to guests, which automatically fall under hospitality), the following flexibility apply.

6.2 Meals

  1. Claims may include the daily meal allowances or actual and reasonable meal expenses based on receipts. When actual expenses are claimed for a given meal (based on receipts), meal allowances are applicable to other meals purchased that day (and no receipts are required).
  2. Actual meal expenses shall not include alcohol, costs associated with guests or co-workers, or the additional cost of room service, which is to be identified by the claimant. Employees must submit the actual bill for their own meal, rather than claim a bill that covers a number of people, except under the Hospitality Policy.

6.3 Incidentals

  1. The incidental allowance covers such items as laundry, dry cleaning, gratuities, a daily newspaper, luggage depreciation over the duration of a trip, even though a particular expense may be higher on a given day.
  2. Whenever actual and reasonable expenses are claimed, the Travel Expense Claim must include a brief statement describing why the meal or incidental allowances were inadequate under the specific circumstances.
  3. The incidental allowance is cumulative. For example, with respect to laundry and dry cleaning costs, even though such expenses are unlikely to occur before day three, the allowance is provided on a daily basis so that when a dry cleaning expense is incurred, the employee has the necessary funds to cover the cost.
  4. Actual incidental costs may be claimed in unusual circumstances. However, if one decides to claim actual incidental costs instead of the pre-determined incidental allowance, then all incidental expenses reimbursements incurred on that trip will be on the basis of receipts.
  5. It is recommended that the claims of employees who qualify under the Executive Group be flagged for easy retrieval should the Treasury Board Secretariat request an internal audit.

6.4 Taxis and parking

On overnight business trips away from the vicinity of the headquarters area, actual expenses may be claimed for taxis and parking, based on the honour system (without receipts). Receipts may be submitted if preferred.

6.5 Hotels

The Accommodation and Car Rental Directory no longer lists properties on white or green pages. Accommodations are now listed by the equivalent, as within the city rate limit or above the city rate limit. As a result of changes from the Budget of , accommodation above the city limit rate must be justified on the travel claim. Selection of such properties should be because it is cost-effective or because exceptional circumstances warrant.

6.6 Calls home

  1. For travel in Canada and continental USA, home communication is included in the new revised incidental expense allowance.
  2. For international travel, the regular telephone provisions of the Travel Directive apply when inter-city authorization codes are not provided or cannot be used because cities are not linked to this network, as is often the case for overseas travel.
  3. When inter-city authorization codes are provided and may be used, executives should use them and not separately claim the cost of telephone calls home. Executives are asked to exercise discretion in their use of this facility as to the frequency and duration of calls home.

6.7 Business class air

  1. The Budget specified that Deputy Heads will manage a reduction in the use of business class travel. The reduction refers to air travel outside the terms of article 3.4.11 of the Travel Directive which is covered by a collective agreement. It includes travel by the Executive Group, Governor-in-Council appointees, and other situations where business class could be individually authorized.
  2. The Treasury Board authorized the use of business class air travel for trips of 850 air kilometres or more one way by the following groups and levels, and above:
  • outside the NCR: EX-1, LA-2A, PM-MCO 4, GC3 and CGQ3,;
  • in the National Capital Region: by EX-2, GX, LA-2B, excluded MD-MOF-4, MD-MSP-3, DS-7A, GC4 and GCQ4 as well as to equivalent senior RCMP and military personnel.


  • first class travel was eliminated by Cabinet direction on ;
  • upgrades to business class do not apply for relocations and weekend travel home (when returning to the duty travel location immediately following the weekend);
  • where business or executive class is unavailable, economy (or reduced) fares are to be used. This authority does not provide for the reimbursement of first class air travel;
  • this authority does not entitle persons accompanying the above to upgrade their fare at the employer's cost.

7. Persons on contract

7.1 Identify travel costs in contract

The authority to enter into a contract with persons outside the Public Service is contained in the Contracting Policy. The rates and allowances to be reimbursed for government business travel are stipulated in Appendices B, C and D of the Travel Directive. Travel expenses must be treated as an amount payable under the contract for services rendered. All travel expenses payable should be specified and the costs should be included as part of the overall cost of the contract. Only original receipts will be accepted from contractors; photocopies of hotel bills, air tickets, etc. are not claimable.

7.2 Amounts payable

Where a contract specifies that "travel is in accordance with the Travel Directive", it refers strictly to the negotiated meal, private vehicle and incidental allowances specified in Appendices B, C and D, and to those policy provisions referring to "travellers" rather than those referring to "employees". It is a department's responsibility to inform contractors (and those bidding on contracts) of the current government rates and allowances.

7.3 No fees paid

A contract may be entered into where the only consideration for services rendered is payment of all or part of the travelling expenses incurred, and there are no fees paid. This could include volunteers and private sector experts. Where the contract is a verbal agreement between the parties concerned, officers with payment authority should obtain a memorandum from the contracting authority outlining the agreed-upon terms of the engagement and the applicable travel provisions.

7.4 Air fares

In an effort to contain costs, the department will reimburse consultants for fares up to full-fare economy only. Contractors are required to seek the lowest possible airfares, including charters and other discounts for each trip, and to book immediately upon contract approval, in order to take advantage of the lowest fares. The employing department retains the right to limit the reimbursement of the air portion when the lowest appropriate fare is not obtained. Upgrades to business or first class may be personally paid by the contractor or private sector company, where this is company policy.

7.5 Private motor vehicles

Contractors who use a private motor vehicle are entirely responsible for the management and underwriting of risk pertaining to the operation of the vehicle. Insurance premiums are paid by the contractor and are not reimbursed other than through the payment of the kilometric allowance (Appendix B of the Travel Directive). This mode of travel, once parking and time-billed are included, is only permitted when cost-effective in relation to commercial transportation.

7.6 Crown-owned vehicles

Crown-owned vehicles should not be driven by contractors or other people travelling on government business. If they are authorized by a department, it is with the knowledge that the Crown self-insures for vehicles and that insurance protection is not provided for either the driver or vehicle.

7.7 Insurance

Individuals other than public servants who travel as passengers in government-owned vehicles are not covered by the Crown for any type of insurance purposes. Certain insurance benefits are part of employees' compensation package, but it is the financial responsibility of contractors to cover the cost of insurance, such as, for cars/accidents/sickness/airline travel and immunizations.

7.8 Booking air and hotels

Reservations for transportation and accommodation will, where determined to be practical by the department concerned, be arranged through the department in order to qualify for reduced rates. In cases, where they are not, hotel management is not obligated to provide government preferred rates to government contractors, although it may elect to do so. Contractors are expected to use moderately priced hotels, and they risk partial reimbursement of actual costs should claims be for unreasonably high-priced accommodation or transportation. Should a contractor stay with friends or relatives, the private non-commercial accommodation rate is reimbursed. When a department makes the travel arrangements, the transportation expenses must be booked through the government travel services.

7.9 Reimbursement of costs

Contractors, when so advised, are permitted to make their own travel arrangements. Arrangements may be made through private travel agents or directly with suppliers. In such cases the contractor is expected to pay for all travel and related living expenses personally and subsequently invoice the department for reimbursement. Departments shall not pay the suppliers of travel and related services (hotel, air, etc.) directly, but will reimburse the contractor for appropriate costs incurred. Such expenses as telephone calls home, child care and weekend travel home are not paid to contractors (persons other than employees).

7.10 Travel advances

Contractors are not supposed to be provided with a travel advance as this is one of their normal business expenses. Advances could imply an employer-employee relationship. Contractors are expected to fund their own travel expenses and bill the department following the trip, within the terms of the appropriate travel provisions and the level of travel funds authorized within the terms of the contract. The cost of self-funding travel is to be covered within the administrative overhead of the contract and/or per diem payment. Departments can approve a limited advance, only in highly exceptional circumstances where the contractor is in the unusual situation of being unable to finance the trip, for example, to a university professor. Departments are advised that it would be difficult to recover an advance from an individual or company in the event of financial difficulties.

7.11 Business and pleasure

When contractors combine government business travel with either personal or business travel for other clients, or other departments, the travel expenses must be appropriately apportioned. Additional travel costs pertaining to indirect routings and stopovers, or extensions at work location(s) will be paid by the contractor.

7.12 Treasury Board approval

Treasury Board approval is not required for a given contract unless the total amount payable under the service contract is greater than the financial limitations established by the Contracting Policy.

8. Students

The travel allowance for persons engaged under one of the student employment programs are published in the Terms and Conditions of Employment for Students.

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