Help documentation


Expense policies are an effective way to control your employee expenses. It defines the rules and limits that every employee should keep in mind while incurring expenses on behalf of the company. Manually enforcing the policy is as much a pain as manual expense reporting. We understand your pain and hence, we have taken the first step towards automating your expense policy.

So, how does this work? The magic happens in the Admin > Policies section. To begin with, a default policy will be enabled for ‘ALL’ the employees in your organisation, with zero limits and rules. You(being the admin) can change the limits and rules in the default policy, but cannot delete it.

Since the nature of work is different for different departments, it is possible that the spending limits might also vary. In such cases, you can create multiple policies that cater to individual departmental needs. For instance, since the sales team travel a lot more than other departments, they will be provided with a higher limit on ‘Travel’ expenses when compared to other departments. Here, you can create a policy named ‘Sales Department’ and associate it with the corresponding department. Similarly, you can create expense policies that can be assigned to individual users.

Wondering what the rules and limits are? They include the following:

Once you are done creating the policy and assigning to users, it will be automatically applied on all expenses. Expenses exceeding the defined limits will be flagged as a policy violation. Currently, we do not block the submission of such expenses. But don’t you worry, we’ll be supporting that soon!

Configuring policy currency

Policy currency allows you to reimburse the employees in the currency configured in their policies. If you configure the policy currency in a policy and associate it to the employees, they can create reports only with this currency. You can then reimburse the employees in the same currency with which they had created the report. 

Let’s understand this better with an example:

Let’s say John owns ABC Private Limited, a product-based company in the United States. The company has its branches spread throughout various countries, with India being one among them. The base currency of the organization created by John is, USD. If John wants to reimburse the business expenses of the employees in India, he can create a policy, configure the policy currency as INR and associate it to the corresponding employees. Once this is done, the employees in India can create reports with INR only, after which John will be able to reimburse them in INR.

To configure the policy currency, select a currency from the Currency dropdown under Policy Settings and click Save and Continue.

Configure Policy Currency

Note: This feature is still in early access. Please contact to enable this feature.

Uploading travel document

Apart from the spending rules and limits, Companies will have a travel document with rules on corporate card usage, list of allowable expenses, timeframe on submission, approval and reimbursements of expenses and so on. You can upload the soft copy of this travel document for easy reference. Your employees will be able to view the travel document on the dashboard of their respective Zoho Expense accounts.

Upload the travel policy in one of the following formats:

Uploading the travel document

Ensure that the file size is less than 7MB.

Configuring general rules, applicable to all expenses

General rules are applied to all expense categories by default. These limits will be applied only on users associated with the policy. General rules include the following:

Configuring general rules

Configuring surcharge on foreign currency expenses

Surcharge is an amount that organizations give to their employees for the additional fee charged while exchanging a foreign currency.

To understand this better, let us take a look at an example.

Bailey Miles, an employee from the USA goes on a business trip to Canada. Her employer, John has configured a surcharge of 5% (Surcharge is applied to all the expenses recorded in any currency other than the base currency). John has given her a cash advance in USD. When she converts the cash advance from USD to CAD, an additional fee is charged by the currency exchange and the remaining amount is given to her. Later, when she records the expenses incurred in CAD, a surcharge of 5% will be added to the expenses automatically to compensate for the additional fee charged while exchanging the currency.

Note: This feature is available for early access. Email us at to get access. 

Admins can set a surcharge percentage to be applied to expenses when employees incur expenses in foreign currencies. To enable:

Surcharge Percentage

Once the admin enables this option, surcharge amount is automatically calculated when employees record expenses in foreign currencies. For example, if Bailey Miles records an expense of $100 and the policy allows a surcharge of 5%, surcharge will be recorded as $5, that is, 5% of $100.

Defining category-specific limits

Here, you can select the categories that you want your employees to see. If you have integrated with Zoho Books or QuickBooks Online, the imported accounts will also be available in the list. You can set individual limits to each category. i.e override the general rules and make them category specific. To do that:

Defining category specific limits

Overriding general rules

Configuring mileage and per diem rates

Mileage Rate

If your employees regularly incur mileage expenses, you can add mileage rates based on which the mileage expenses will be calculated.

Configuring mileage rates

Per Diem Rate

Per diem is a daily allowance that an organization provides to an employee while they travel for work. It includes meals, lodging and other incidental expenses like tips to hotel staff, baggage carriers etc. If your company doesn’t provide per diem, you can skip the per diem configuration and complete the setting.

Admins can set up various per diem rates according to the travel duration and the location (cities and countries) to which employees will be traveling to. You can also import and export the per diem rates.

Let’s say, your employee’s work requires them to travel only for a couple of hours in a day. You can set up per diem rates for specific number of hours and per diem expenses will be calculated based on the hours your employee records.

Note: This feature is still in early access. Please contact to enable this feature.

Setting up Per Diem

Admins can set up per diem for their organization.

Default Category: This category will be shown by default while creating a per diem expense.

Default Rate: This rate will be used to calculate per diem when an employee records a per diem for which you have not configured the main per diem rate.

Note: You can configure Travel Day Per Diem (early access) if you wish to provide your employees allowance based on the number of hours they travel instead of a full day allowance.

Configure per diem based on travel hours: You can set per diem rates for different travel durations (0-6 hours, 6-24 hours, etc). If the duration your employee records, falls in any of the configured travel durations, per diem will be calculated by applying the corresponding percentage of the applicable per diem rate. 

To configure:

Configure Per Diem based on travel hours

Per Diem Rates: You can set up multiple per diem rates that are specific to different locations that your employees travel to.

To configure:

Once this is done, the per diem expenses will be calculated based on the per diem rates configured in this page.

Configure Per Diem Rate

Configuring Rules

Rules help you set daily, monthly, yearly or custom limits to have a check on the expenses of your employees. If the employees’ expenses exceed the set limit, you can choose to send a warning notification or you can block the employee from submitting that expense.

Note: This feature is still in early access. Please contact to enable this feature.

To configure rules:

Configure Rule Type * The following are the Rule Types:

If you have selected daily limit, you can restrict the amount expended by the employees on a daily basis. You can choose a Daily Limit Type from the following:

After setting up the daily limit, click Save.

Note:  In all the above daily limit types, if the user has configured a daily limit for a specific category and the sum of the expenses recorded under that specific category exceed the set limit, then all the expenses recorded under that specific category will receive a warning notification or will be blocked from submission as per the set action type.

Configure Daily Limit Type

If you want to restrict the expenses of the employees on a monthly basis, choose this rule type. Enter the amount limit in the Amount field. If you want to set a monthly limit for a particular category, select a category from the dropdown. Select the action type as Warn or Block from the dropdown and click Save.

You can set a yearly limit above which the employees cannot spend every year. Enter the amount limit in the Amount field. If you want to set a yearly limit for a particular category, select a category from the dropdown. Select the action type as Warn or Block and click Save to save the rule.

In this rule type, you can set up custom criteria based on which the actions are triggered. For example, let’s say that the set criteria are: 

When the trip is International AND the expense amount is greater than 1,00,000. In this case, when an expense satisfies this criteria, you can choose to send a warning notification or block the submission of that expense. You can also enter a violation message that you want to show when the user violates this rule. After setting up the criteria and the violation message, click Save

Configure Daily Limit Type

Associating policy with a user

On creating an organization, a default policy would be automatically created for you, sans any limits or rules, which will be applied to all the users by default. However, if you would like to associate policy to individual users, perform the following steps. To associate a different policy with user, please perform the following steps:

Associating policy with a user

Policy based access permissions

In Zoho Expense, you previously had the option to restrict/grant access permissions while creating roles and assigning them to users. You could restrict the user to view their report alone or grant them access to all company reports.

To add to this, you can now create roles, set policy based permissions, and assign them to your users. This option enables users to perform certain actions based on the policy they are an admin of. 

Note: Only policy admin(s) can be given the access permissions.

Let us take a look at a couple of scenarios where this feature will come in handy.


Scenario 1:

Case: Mark Ryan runs a construction company which has branches at France, Canada, and Egypt. He has a finance team for each of his branches. He wants each finance team to be able to view expense reports from their respective branches only.

Solution: He can create policies, namely France, Canada, Egypt and add the finance team members as policy admins to their respective policies. This would ensure that they can view the expense reports submitted by the users from their policy.

Scenario 2:

Case: Rupa Ved is a member of the logistics department of Silver Spoon firm. She wants to view the expense reports, trip requests, and advance requests of her department members.

Solution: The Admin can create a policy with Rupa as the policy admin. This would ensure that she can view all the expense reports, trip requests, and advance requests of her department members.

Quick links:

How to add a policy admin?

To add a policy admin, follow the instructions mentioned below:

Adding policy admin

Supported policy based actions

For now, you can give policy based permission to view expense reports, advance payments, and trip requests, to policy admin(s). We will be adding more policy based actions in the coming days. 

Note: Trip requests is a feature which is available for early access. Contact if you would like us to enable it for you.

Create a role with policy based permissions

Policy based permissions

Now the users with this role will be able to view all the reports and advance payments in the policy for which they are an admin.  

Policy admin’s actions

Once you have everything set up follow the steps mentioned below to view the policy based expense reports/trip requests/advance payments:

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