Policies & Procedures


Section 1

Business and Financial Affairs

Travel and Transportation

Sec. 715-01: Policy on Travel Authorization and Approval


Responsible Office: Division of Finance and Administration
Revised: March 2022

References / Resources

Contact: Travel Accounting at (949) 824-3662
               Risk Services at (949) 824-3257

A. Purpose and Scope

Official University travel must be properly authorized, reported and reimbursed in accordance with UC Business and Finance Bulletin, G-28, this policy, related UCI Delegations of Authority, and UCI Travel Accounting Procedures.

  1. Certain UCI department/unit travel policies may be more restrictive than the University regulations and should be reviewed prior to making travel arrangements.
  2. This policy applies to all official University travel, including travel funded under federal grants and contracts. Pursuant to Section 200.474 of the Office of Management and Budget’s 2 CFR Part 200, costs incurred by employees and officers for travel must be considered reasonable and allowable only to the extent that such costs do not exceed charges normally allowed by the institution in its regular operations as a result of an institutional policy and the amounts claimed under sponsored agreements represent reasonable and allocable costs.
  3. The terms set forth in an extramural funding agreement govern only when such terms are more restrictive than University travel regulations.

B. Policy

  1. Travel Restrictions
    1. Fly America Act.
    2. California State Law (Government Code Section 11139.8, enacted pursuant to AB 1887), effective January 1, 2017, prohibits state-funded travel to a state that has passed a law after June 26, 2015 that (1) authorizes discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, or (2) voids or repeals existing state or local protections against such discrimination. The law also prohibits state agencies and UC from requiring employees to travel to such states. The State Attorney General must develop, maintain, and has posted online the current list of states where these travel restrictions apply.
    3. Personal travel expenses may not be charged to, or be temporarily funded by, the University.
    4. Limited Circumstances: G-28 allows Chancellors to permit reimbursement of dependent-care provider and dependent travel expenses of both existing employees and prospective employees in limited circumstances. At UCI, the Chancellor has delegated authority regarding these approvals and reimbursements in IDA632 in circumstances such as:
      1. Two UC employees with joint dependent care responsibilities are on University business (e.g., conference, meeting, training, etc.).
      2. An employee on University travel status has a dependent who requires twenty-four hour care.
      3. Prospective faculty on the final interview needs to bring their dependent(s) to the interview.
  2. Travel Reservations
    1. Individuals who travel on official University business are expected to utilize the most economical means available.
    2. UCI's Preferred Supplier is Connexxus.
  3. Lodging Meals and Incidental Expenses
    1. Lodging one day prior to the meeting/conference date and, if needed, an overnight stay after the event is reasonable and is reimbursable. In order to reimburse extra days, an explanation of a bona fide UCI business travel purpose is required.
    2. For travel assignments of less than 30 days within the continental United States (CONUS), the reimbursement of daily subsistence expenses will be based on the reasonable and actual amounts incurred for lodging (see daily lodging maximum) and for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE), subject to the maximum per day M&IE reimbursement cap.
    3. The M&IE cap for CONUS travel under 30 days must not be treated as a per diem. If it appears that travelers are treating the cap as a per diem by routinely claiming the full M&IE amount, they will be required to submit itemized meal receipts.
  4. Transportation

    Transportation expenses must be reimbursed based on the most economical mode of transportation and the most commonly traveled route consistent with the authorized purpose of the trip.

    1. Automobile
      1. Personal Vehicles: Travelers may use their private vehicle for business purposes if it is less expensive than renting a car, taking a taxi, or using alternative transportation, or if it saves time. The standard reimbursement rate per mile applies. For insurance information see Risk Services.
      2. Rental Cars: A vehicle may be rented, up to an intermediate-size car, when renting would be more advantageous to the University than other means of commercial transportation, such as using a taxi or a rideshare service.
        • For insurance information see Rental Car Insurance.
        • UC negotiated discounted rates (available only through Connexxus) provide significant savings and include the insurance and a free vehicle upgrade when available.
    2. Other Ground Transportation
      1. Rail or Bus: Rail or bus transportation may be used when required by the destination or by business necessity. If a traveler's destination is served by a regularly scheduled airline, however, the use of rail transportation must be reimbursed in accordance with the procedures specified in G-28 Section V.D.1.e., Surface Transportation Used in Lieu of Air Travel.
      2. Local Public Transportation, Shuttle Service, Rideshares, and Taxis: Taxi and rideshare fares, including tips, are allowed when the use of alternative transportation is impractical or not available. The cost must be reasonable in relation to personal car use costs, including parking, tolls, etc. When traveling to and from the airport from the home location travelers should be good stewards of the University’s resources and be mindful of the costs associated with the transport method selected.
    3. Air Travel
      1. The most economical class must be used. This policy applies to all travel (domestic or foreign, or any combination thereof) regardless of the purpose or fund source.
        • Coach/economy class or any discounted class must be used in the interest of economy for domestic and international travel.
      2. Ancillary Charges: Provided they are allowed by the funding source, and their business purpose is explained, exceptional approval is not required for reimbursement of the ancillary charges listed below:*
        • checked and carry-on bag fees
        • early check-in (for example, Southwest Airlines Early Bird Check-in)
        • economy-class seat selection fees for an aisle or window seat (but not optional upgrades).

        * Units may adopt more restrictive policies at their discretion.
      3. Business Class, First Class, or Higher Cost Air Fares:
        • Air upgrades for personal convenience will not be reimbursed.
        • Use of non-economy class (business or first-class including premium economy and the equivalent) may be acceptable under the circumstances listed below. Documentation of such circumstances must be provided on the travel expense claim.
        • a) Business or first-class is the only service offered between two points;
        • b) The use of coach class would be more expensive or time consuming, for example, when, because of scheduling difficulties,
              traveling by air coach would require an unnecessary hotel expense, circuitous routing, or an unduly long layover when making
        • c) An itinerary involves overnight travel without an opportunity for normal rest before the commencement of working hours;
          • Air upgrades on red-eye (overnight flights) and/or for work that needed to be conducted on the flight will not be reimbursed, unless bona fide University business is conducted immediately upon arrival at the destination; or
        • d) The use of business or first-class travel is necessary to reasonably accommodate a disability or medical need of a traveler.
      4. When a traveler chooses to use a higher class than one allowed for under this Policy, the traveler must pay the incremental cost of the airfare. If the traveler seeks reimbursement for the incremental cost in cases other than those described above, a written authorization must be obtained in advance from an administrative official with authority to approve higher-cost air travel services (see Part C.3. below). The traveler must submit such authorization with the travel expense claim.
      5. Private, Rental or Chartered Aircraft, Helicopters, and Chartered Boats: Use of private, rental or chartered aircraft, helicopters, and chartered boats is only permitted (no exceptions) if pre-approval is obtained from the Campus Risk Manager (see IDA107). Agreements for rental or chartered aircraft, helicopters, and boats must be reviewed and processed by UCI Procurement Services.
      6. Sanctioned Countries: Approval in writing to travel to sanctioned countries must be obtained in advance from the Office of Research, Export Control Officer: (949) 824-0445. Written or email approval must be included in backup documentation.
  5. Traveler Insurance
    1. UCI travelers must register all out-of-state and foreign country business trips to ensure coverage.
    2. Booking travel through Connexxus’ preferred travel agencies and supported online booking tools, with the exception of SWABIZ (Southwest) automatically enrolls the traveler in the insurance program for travel outside of California.
    3. Otherwise the traveler must register on the Risk Services website and complete the Traveler Insurance form before an out-of-state trip occurs.
    4. Registration is not required for travel within California as coverage is automatic.
  6. Payment
    1. Corporate Cards
      1. Can only be used for the cardholder’s own travel expenses, or for group travel expenses when the cardholder is officially designated the group leader.
      2. Are valid only while an individual is employed by the University, may be cancelled at the discretion of the University, and must be relinquished to the employee’s department upon termination of employment.
    2. Vendor Payments
      1. The vendor must be onboarded in KFS in order to be paid directly as detailed in Sec. 701-21.
    3. Cash Advances are for estimated expenses (typically meals and lodging only) expected to be incurred during a trip.
      1. Only active UCI employees with a TEM profile may request and receive a cash advance.
      2. Cash Advances will only be provided 10 days or less before travel departure date. The amount requested on the Travel Advance Request form must not exceed a reasonable estimate of the out-of-pocket expenses needed for the trip.
      3. Cancelled or Postponed Trips: A cash advance must be returned immediately if an authorized trip is cancelled or indefinitely postponed.
      4. All cash advances must be accounted for within 45 days after a trip is completed.
    4. Reimbursement
      1. All requests for travel reimbursements must include documentation that justifies each day on travel status such as: meeting agendas; event announcements; and for complex travel itineraries with multiple destinations, a brief narrative explaining why the traveler needed to go to each location.
      2. Reimbursements for:
        • Air travel require traveler’s receipt with airline ticket number and form of payment, such as a credit card.
          • a) Required Documentation examples for:
            • Medical, disability or special need conditions: An annually updated medical note from (and signed by) a licensed medical professional stating the need for the business/first class or higher cost air travel;
            • UC-related business meetings upon arrival at destination: an agenda or email/written invitation.
          • b) Private Aircraft: Transportation expenses for a flight carrying passengers will not be reimbursed if the University pilot
                does not possess the qualifications specified in BFB-G-28.
            • Anyone traveling in the aircraft other than the pilot is considered a passenger.
        • Expenses purchased or paid for in Foreign Currency must be converted into US dollars (notation must be made on receipts):
          1. a) Refer to your credit card statement; or
          2. b) Look up the rates effective on the purchase date and attach a copy of the conversion page from the website when
                submitting reimbursement request.
      3. When any personal leave is taken on official travel status, the number of personal days must be specified on the travel expense claim and/or the expenses associated with such personal days of travel.
      4. Travel expenses not eligible for reimbursement:
        • Equipment purchases during travel
          • a) Unless the equipment is useful to UCI, is returned to the UCI department/unit, and remains the property of the University.
        • Reimbursements will not be made for (no exceptions):
          • a) Traffic or parking tickets or violations.
          • b) Travel reserved using:
            • a transportation/hospitality company credit,
            • points earned under airline loyalty programs, or
            • points earned with hotel, ground transportation, and car rental loyalty programs.
          • c) Personal Items purchased. For example, clothing, toothpaste, toothbrush, suitcase, briefcase, cough medicine, etc. regardless
                of the funding source.
          • d) Purchase of TSA Pre-Check, Global Entry, or similar services.
          • e) Airline Club Membership or Airline Status Membership fees.
      5. Spouse/Domestic Partner Travel: When a spouse/domestic partner accompanies the UCI traveler on University business, in addition to prior approval (see Part C.4.b.vii), back-up documentation must include the letter or email invitation to the meeting or event that requested the spouse/domestic partner’s attendance.
      6. Documentation of any approvals of exceptions to policies must be included in the Travel Expense Claim. IDA632 specifies the UCI officials who may approve exceptions to policy.
      7. When the traveler submits their travel expense claim they are certifying:
        • That the amounts claimed are a true statement of the expenses incurred on official University business and that the original of all required receipts has been submitted, whether scanned or faxed.
        • The University is not being charged for any expenses already reimbursed by a third-party entity directly to the traveler, (any expenses charged to the University that are reimbursed by a third-party entity must be returned to the University by the traveler).
        • That the traveler incurred the expenses being claimed.

C. Authorities and Responsibilities

  1. Authority to Travel
    1. Department/unit heads have the authority to authorize and approve travel that conforms to this section and BFB-G-28 (subject to School/Division/Unit policies that may be more restrictive).
    2. Departments/units may determine if authorization is to be obtained prior to undertaking official University travel. Departments/units may determine travelers who do not obtain prior authorization may be personally liable for the expenses incurred.
  2. Travel Claims
    1. May not be approved by a person who reports directly or indirectly to the traveler.
    2. Individuals authorized to approve travel may not approve their own travel.
    3. Travelers may not approve the travel of a near relative (for example, a spouse/domestic partner, child, parent, etc.).
    4. Reimbursement for travel paid for with gift cards will not be approved.
  3. Necessary Approvals and Approvals of Exceptions to Policy
    1. Exceptions to G-28 and this Policy can only be authorized by the officials specified in IDA632.
    2. Any request for an exception must document the circumstances and need for the exception.
  4. Travelers are responsible for ensuring they obtain necessary approvals:
    1. Pre-Approval: Employee Travelers must check whether their department/unit requires them to obtain departmental/unit approval for travel before incurring expenses.
    2. Special Approvals: Employee Travelers must work with their department/unit to obtain, when relevant, the following special or exceptional approvals (some of which are pre-approvals):
      1. Meals at 200% over the published maximum rates may only be approved by the Chancellor (per BFB-BUS-79).
      2. Use of Private Aircraft requires approval from the UCI Risk Manager per IDA107.
      3. Approval of travel away from home in a single location that extends beyond two years.
      4. Air Travel in First Class, Business Class, or other higher cost air fares (per IDA632)
      5. Most economical mode/most commonly traveled route and minimum miles per day (per IDA632)
      6. Payment of expenses on behalf of others (per IDA632)
      7. The travel expenses of a spouse/domestic partner who accompanies a University business traveler are reimbursable under this Section, when pre-approved (per IDA632) provided it can be established that the spouse/domestic partner's presence serves a bona fide University business purpose.
        • A spouse/domestic partner who attends a function is considered to have a business purpose if they have a significant role in the proceedings or make an important contribution to the success of an event.
        • Allowable travel expenses of a spouse/domestic partner are not taxable.
      8. Reimbursement of dependent travel and dependent care expenses for a spouse/domestic partner, dependent-care provider, and dependents who accompany an employee on bona fide University business travel may be allowed in limited circumstances.
        • At UCI these expenses are reimbursable only when pre-approved by the positions identified in IDA632.
          1. a) Reimbursable dependent travel and dependent care costs must be the result of the travel. Normally incurred dependent
                care costs are not reimbursable.
          2. b) Allowable dependent travel and dependent care expenses are taxable.
          3. c) State and Federal funds may not be used for dependent care expenses or associated travel expenses.
        • At UCI Only the Chancellor, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, Associate Chancellor and Chief of Staff, and Associate Provost and Chief of Staff, may approve actual dependent travel expenses and dependent care expenses for spouses/domestic partners, dependents and dependent-care providers who accompany candidates on final interviews.
        • Requests for reimbursement of dependent travel and dependent care expenses must be made using the Dependent Travel & Dependent Care Reimbursement Pre-Approval Form.