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Looking to spend less time clicking and reviewing? Learn how to set up Automatic Approval.

Approval Overview

Policy Admins can modify approval workflows by navigate to Settings > Policies > [Policy name] > People and scroll to Approval Mode:

Expensify offers three approval workflow modes:

  • Submit and Close for when no approval is required
  • Submit and Approve for when all reports go to a single approver
  • Advanced Approval for more complex flows. 

Submit and Close

New policies have Submit and Close enabled by default. This is a workflow where no approval occurs in Expensify.

What happens after submission? The report state becomes Closed and is available to view by the user set in Submit reports to and any Policy Admins. A closed report requires no further action.

Who should use this workflow? This mode should be used where you don't require approvals in Expensify. For example where expense approvals occur in another system or where the submitter and approver are the same person.

Submit and Approve

Submit and Approve is a simple workflow where all reports are submitted to a single user for approval. 

What happens after submission? The report state becomes Processing and it will be sent to the user indicated in Submit reports to for approval.  When the user approves the report, the state will become Approved.

Who should use this workflow? This mode should be used where the same person is responsible for approving all reports for your organisation.  If submitters have different approvers or multiple levels of approval are required then you will need to use Advance Approval.

Advanced Approval

Advanced Approval allows you to fully customize your approval workflow. You can set specific approvers for specific users and create multiple levels of approval. Company policy admins can also set approver authority limits.

What happens after submission? After the report is submitted it will follow the set approval chain. The report state will be Processing until it is Final Approved.  We have provided examples of how to set this up below.

Who should use this workflow?
Organisations with complex approval workflows.  This could be based on manager approvals or where a reports over a certain size required additional approvals.


User: This is a member of the policy and can be a submitter, approver, Auditor, Policy Admin or a combination of these.

Submits to: The first approver of a User's own reports.  This is the person who receives reports submitted by the User.  In the example below, when Employeesubmits their report it will go to Employee's Manager for approval.

Approves to: If the User is an approver, this is the next approver of a report the Userapproves.  In the example below, when Employee submits their report it will go to Employee Manager for approval.  After Employee Manager approves the report it will go to Finance.  This field allows you to create an approval chain as long of as required. If a User is not an approver or only a single level of approval is required then this field should be blank.

Approval Limits

If your reports have to go through an extra level of approval when they're over a certain amount, you can set a report total dependent approval limit.

An example of when you would use this is if the submitter's manager can approve any report up to a certain limit, lets say $500, and forward it to accounting. But a report over the limit ($500) has to be also approved by the department head before being forwarded to accounting. 

To set this up click on the blue cog next to the manager's email and set the "If Report Total is Over" and "Then Approves to" fields.

3 Person Approval Chain + Approval Limit Example

Alice submits her reports to Bryan. If the report total is over the limit ($500.00) then Bryan approves and forwards the reports to the Department Head. The Department Head then approves and forwards the reports to Lucy. Lucy final approves and reimburses.

Enforcing Workflows

When this setting is disabled, submitters and approvers will have the option to override their "Submits to" and "Approves to" settings. When enabled, submitters and approvers must adhere to the set approval workflow (recommended).  This setting does not apply to Policy Admins.

Example Workflows

For a super detailed run down of multi-approval workflows, please take a look at our Advanced Approval Detailed Example help page.

3 Person Approval Chain Example

Alice submits her reports to Bryan, Bryan approves and forwards the reports to Lucy. Lucy final approves and reimburses.

4 Person Approval Chain Example

Bryan submits his reports to Jim, Jim approves Bryan’s reports and forwards them to Kevin. Kevin approves the reports and forwards them to Lucy. Lucy final approves and reimburses Bryan’s expense report.

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