Advances Expenses

All advance purchases must be in accordance with the four mandatory Principles.
Expenses Principles Logo. 1: value for money. 2: cannot pay directly.  3: no personal benefit. 4: evidence required.
  1. Value for money is achieved.

  2. Expenses should only be used when it is not possible and/or practical for the University to pay for the good or service directly.

  3. Costs incurred are for business purposes only, and the individual does not receive a personal benefit.

  4. Only actual and evidenced costs are reclaimed.


All purchases made using advanced funds should be properly recorded and evidenced with supporting receipts or proof of purchase and the reason for purchase, for reconciliation purposes.


Advances for short-term personal expenditure while travelling on business, should be requested using the Advances Request Form (XLS) for transfer of funds directly into the recipient's bank account or Cash/Card Advances Request Form (XLS) for a pre-paid card. 

All forms need to be authorised by an approved signatory and submitted to either: the Payments Team in the Finance Division for payment into a bank account; or the Cashiers’ Office for pre-paid cards and cash requests.

Important Note for Finance Departments

Initial advances must be charged against the General Ledger natural account for uncleared travel advances (14100), or the Research Grants expenditure type for business advance/travel advance. There are no restrictions on which cost centre or project codes may be used when charging the expenditure.


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Travel advances can be requested where an individual may otherwise be significantly disadvantaged by using the expenses process. Wherever possible, direct payments by the University should be made (e.g. via a purchase order and/or invoice) before considering an advance request.

Circumstances where advance requests are allowed are:

  • the recipient will be travelling on business away from their normal place of work for at least one night; and
  • the recipient would otherwise be required to submit an expenses claim in excess of £300; and
  • it has not been possible for the University to pay directly.

Advance requests that do not satisfy all these conditions may not be authorised and the recipient would then be required to use the expenses claim process.

All advance payments are limited to 75% of anticipated expenditure and departments must not inflate estimates to cover full anticipated costs.

Spend in a foreign currency is not a valid reason for requesting an advance. Standard procedures for Expense Claims, Supplier Payments, etc., should be used together with the specific guidance provided on foreign currency payments.

Cash is not insured when overseas

Making considerable cash withdrawals in the UK before travelling is NOT permitted. Cash should only be withdrawn locally, in small, manageable amounts, to mitigate any risks.


Advances may be paid in a number of ways depending on the purpose and value of request, insurance cover provided, and risk assessments undertaken.

Following expenditure, a full reconciliation of actual costs against advanced funds must be made on the appropriate AP Advance Request Form (XLS) or the Cash or Pre-Paid Card Advance Request Form (XLS), supported by receipts. Any ‘non-qualifying’ purchases or amounts not reconciled need to be repaid to the University, or it may be classed as a taxable benefit that is subject to tax and National Insurance via Form P11D.

The University’s preferred advance payment method is a direct payment into the claimant’s bank account, as this is the most secure method of transferring funds.

Please contact the Payments team for further information.

For individuals travelling overseas on University business, Cashiers can arrange to issue a pre-paid Mastercard in advance. Consideration should be given to insurance arrangements, and a Risk Assessment should also be undertaken prior to submitting the advance request, if a significant amount of cash is to be withdrawn and held by university staff.

A minimum of 7 working days' notice is required for issuing a Prepaid Visa card.


Information about Prepaid travel cards can be found here.  Please contact the Cashiers team for further information. 

A cash advance is only considered in exceptional circumstances, where alternative options are not possible, or it is essential to carry cash (for example, because the area to be visited is remote and there are no local banking facilities).

Advances for cash floats are not limited to 75% and may be made at full expected value.

For further information about foreign currency advances, click here.

Insurance Cover for Cash

University insurance will only provide cover for up to £2,500 in cash in the UK.

  • Important note: cash is NOT insured overseas. If needed, specific arrangements should be made with the University Insurance Team  to extend cover.

In addition to insurance cover, individuals requesting an advance must also ensure that they comply with the University’s Safety in Fieldwork Policy, particularly in respect of the completion of a risk assessment for overseas work, to include details of arrangements for the security and handling of cash.

Funds provided in advance should only be used for the purposes outlined on the Advances Request Form and must conform to the principles. Only one advance may be provided at a time, which must be fully reconciled and closed before a new advance may be requested.

Important Note:

Reconciliations must be returned to the department that provided the advance for clearing. For example, bank transfer advances should be returned to the Payments team and cash or card advances should be returned to the Cashiers’ Office.


Full details of all expenditure against the advance must be reported on the Advance Reconciliation and Actual Details Forms (provided as additional tabs on the Advance Request Form). Both forms should be submitted, together with supporting receipts, to the Finance Division Payments Team, or Cashiers Office in the case of cash or pre-paid cards. The rules on authorisation and submission are the same as an expenses claim.

Any balance owed to the individual will be paid by the University in reimbursement. If a balance is owed to the University from a Cash Advance, it can be made by any of the following ways:

  • bank transfer; or
  • the University Online Store.

For further details on paying the balance owed, contact the Cashiers’ Office.

In all cases, the retention of unused cash in departments (apart from agreed petty cash floats) is expressly forbidden. Unused cash should be returned to the Cashiers’ Office with the Advance Reconciliation Form.

It is the responsibility of departments to review all advances made on a regular basis and identify opportunities where direct methods of payment might be used as an alternative.

Any balance remaining on a Prepaid Card should be left on the card for Cashiers to remove. The reconciliation should be completed as per the Advance Reconciliation instructions above.

Contact us

 : Payment Services
       Finance Division
       University of Oxford
       23-38 Hythe Bridge Street
       Oxford OX1 2ET
 :  01865 (6) 16016
 :  Team contacts