Advice and answers from the Expensify Team

Let SmartScan Do The Work For You!

Here at Expensify, we’re always dreaming of ways to make expense reports more lovable, and that also means making receipts less hateable. SmartScan is a super complex feature that turns your receipts into expenses with a single photo, and it’s a feature your employees will come to rely on.

The ideal way to use Expensify is to SmartScan your receipt by snapping a photo. Then you can toss it, burn it, eat it! Just don't you dare put that receipt back in your pocket. We'll take it from here! 

The easiest way to create expenses in Expensify is to:

  1. SmartScan digital receipts by emailing them to, or;
  2. SmartScan physical receipts with the Expensify mobile app

Every user gets 10 FREE SmartScans per month! Paid users with a Team or Corporate policy get UNLIMITED FREE SmartScans! 

After you SmartScan your receipt, we automatically create the expense entry associated with that receipt in your account. If your policy has Scheduled Submit enabled, your expenses will also be auto-reported upon completion and auto-submitted that same night. 

For the ultimate hands-free experience, we recommend The Perfect Setup — when you enable our suite of automated reporting features, your employees can forget about reporting all together. They SmartScan their receipt and receive their reimbursement in their account the very next day!  

Take a look at ACH Direct Deposit Reimbursement and Auto-Reimbursement to really begin feeling the awesome power of what Expensify can do for you!

How SmartScan Works:

You literally just take a picture of the receipt and we take care of everything else: SmartScan reads your receipt for you, and then extracts the date, amount, merchant name and receipt to create an expense in your account! 

So, you’re standing at the register with a receipt in your hand. What’s next?

  1. Open Expensify app and use the big green camera button to snap a photo 
  2. Leave a comment if you want to, or select a custom category or tag. 
  3. Put your phone back in your pocket and forget about the receipt entirely
  4. Toss your receipt in the trash... Or burn it!  We’ll take over from here! 

While you are enjoying your coffee, we’ll scan the information off the receipt with a higher accuracy than you typing it yourself. If you import a credit/bank card or connect your Company Cards, SmartScan will automatically merge the receipt image to the associated expense.  

SmartScan is a multi-layered system that works as follows:

  1. First it uses “optical character recognition” (OCR) on receipt images to extract the text from the image. Because we value accuracy over speed, Our OCR technology is over 95% accurate! 
  2. Then it analyzes that text to determine what portions correspond to the merchant name, amount, currency and date of the purchase. If it can't detect a specific currency symbol, it will default to the currency based on your current location. You can also write one in by hand if it's not noted!
  3. Finally, SmartScan consults your list of existing expenses to see if the newly processed receipt image corresponds to a purchase that has already been imported via a credit card connection. Different currencies? No problem. We'll still match 'em. 
  4. If necessary, the receipt can also be flagged for human review by one of our secure technicians. At the end of the day, nothing beats the human eye for ultimate quality.

SmartScan with your iOS or Android device

To SmartScan a receipt with your mobile app, tap the green camera button, point and shoot! 

Next you’ll see the word ‘Checking’. This means that the app is checking for an internet connection and searching for your account in the cloud. As soon as you see the word ‘SmartScanning’, you know we’ve received your receipt. Now it’s up to our bots to extract the data and create an expense in your account. 

SmartScan runs in the background, so there’s no need to keep the app open. Most SmartScans complete within one hour. As soon as one of our bots is free, it will create an expense in your account and attach the receipt. If we need more information from you, you’ll get a message from concierge letting you know! 

Upgrade for Unlimited SmartScan

SmartScan is automatically enabled for all accounts so that you can take advantage of the 10 free SmartScans per month. If you’d like to SmartScan more than the free monthly allotment, you can create a Team or Corporate policy and add a billing card. Users on Team and Corporate policies automatically get unlimited SmartScans!

Help SmartScan get the best results

SmartScan is trying to solve a very, very difficult problem. You can help simplify that problem and achieve the best possible results with the following simple tips:

  • Scan First. Don’t you dare stick that receipt in your pocket. Scan it right away so that it’s ready by the time you want to submit your report. 
  • Clean your lens. It’s obvious, but it’s amazing how easy it is to forget.
  • Enable auto-focus. This typically happens automatically, but just in case.
  • Enable your flash. The best way to get good lighting is to just turn on the flash.
  • Use a dark background. A white receipt on a dark background is the easiest to process.
  • Include background on all sides. To help us find the edges of the receipt, capture a bit of border all around.
  • No fingers on the receipt. If possible, lay the receipt out flat and don’t cover with your fingers.
  • No sensitive information. Don’t take a picture of anything you wouldn’t be willing to throw into the trash.

Why is SmartScan taking a long time?

Robots can guess quickly, but often they get it wrong the first time. Because our bots like to get it right, they need a bit of extra time to do that. So, when you SmartScan an expense, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours for your scan to complete, depending on the receipt quality and overall SmartScan volume at that time. If we still don't trust the bot, we have someone on our team check it with their real human eyes.

As long as you still see the word ‘SmartScanning’ on the receipt, it will eventually complete. During periods of high receipt volume, there may be delays. If you feel that there might be something wrong, don't hesitate to reach out to

Why did Concierge reach out about my SmartScan?

Your receipt was most likely missing one or more of these: merchant name, purchase date, or total amount. SmartScan requires these three data points to be present because it’s the only way to ensure it’s a traceable, legitimate receipt.


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