Policies & Procedures


Section 1

Business and Financial Affairs

Travel and Transportation

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


Responsible Office: Assistant Vice Chancellor - Accounting & Fiscal Services
Revised: January 2019 (Travel Executive Directive issued August 2020)

References / Resources

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

A. Purpose and Scope

Official University travel by all UCI employees and non-employees, including students, visiting scholars, prospective employees and independent contractors, shall 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 Restictions
    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.
  2. Travel Reservations
    1. Individuals who travel on official University business are expected to utilize the most economical means available.
    2. UCI's Preferred Suppliers are:
  3. Lodging Meals and Incidental Expenses
    1. For travel assignments of less than 30 days within the continental United States (CONUS), the reimbursement of daily subsistence expenses shall 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.
    2. The M&IE cap for CONUS travel under 30 days shall 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 should be required to submit itemized meal receipts.
  4. Transportation

    Transportation expenses shall 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 vehicle, when renting would be more advantageous to the University than other means of commercial transportation, such as using a taxi.
        • For insurance information see Rental Car Insurance.
        • UC negotiated 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 shall 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, and Taxis: Taxi fares, Lyft, and Uber, 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 shall be used. This policy applies to all travel (domestic or foreign, or any combination thereof) regardless of the purpose or fund source.
      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 (i.e. Southwest Airlines Early Bird Check-in)
        • economy-class seat selection fees.

        * Units may adopt more restrictive policies at their discretion.
      3. Business or First Class: Use of business or first-class 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, e.g., when, because of scheduling difficulties, traveling by air coach would require an unnecessary hotel expense, circuitous routing, or an unduly long layover when making connections;
        • c) An itinerary involves overnight travel without an opportunity for normal rest before the commencement of working hours; 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 shall be obtained in advance from an administrative official with authority to approve higher-cost air travel services (see Part C.3. below). The traveler shall submit such authorization with the travel expense claim.
  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
      The corporate travel card is 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. Cash Advances
      1. Issuance of Cash Advances: Cash advances must be issued within 30 days of when an expense is to be paid or incurred in order to satisfy IRS regulations and to meet the University's cash management objectives. The amount requested on the Travel Advance Request form shall not exceed a reasonable estimate of the out-of-pocket expenses needed for the trip.
      2. Cancelled or Postponed Trips: A cash advance must be returned immediately if an authorized trip is cancelled or indefinitely postponed.
      3. All cash advances must be accounted for within forty-five days after a trip is completed.
    3. Reimbursement
      1. Travel Expense Claims must be submitted within forty-five days after the end of a trip.
      2. Documentation of any approvals of exceptions to policies must be included in the Travel Expense Claim.
      3. 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.
      4. Submissions for reimbursement over one year after the fact may be processed through payroll as taxable income.

C. Authorities and Responsibilities

  1. Authority to Travel
    • IDA324 specifies that campus officers and administrators have the authority to authorize and approve travel.
  2. Travel Claims
    1. Should not be approved by a person who reports directly or indirectly to the traveler.
    2. Persons delegated the authority to approve travel shall not approve their own travel.
    3. Travelers may not approve the travel of a near relative, e.g., spouse or domestic partner, child, parent, etc.
    4. Reimbursement for travel paid for with gift cards will not be approved.
  3. Approvals of Exceptions to Policy
    1. Exceptions to G-28 and this policy can only be authorized by the officials specified in IDA070, IDA324, and redelegations under IDA324.
    2. Any request for an exception must document the circumstances and need for the exception.
  4. Special Approvals