University of Rochester

Administration & Finance

Finance Home

Travel & Conference Policies

Table of Contents

Introduction

This should serve as your guide to policies and procedures concerning University business travel and conference expense. It may help you simplify travel arrangements, improve your insurance protections, and at the same time minimize cost to your department and the University. The goal is to give you a clear understanding of how you can use the University's policies and procedures to your own and the University's advantage.

Travel and Conference Expense Policy

It is the University's policy to pay reasonable and necessary travel and conference expenses incurred as a result of official University business subject to appropriate documentation. The University traveler should neither gain nor lose financially.

Definitions

Reimbursable expenses. Reimbursable expenses. Expenses which are reasonable and essential to the conduct of the University's official business, and which have been paid by a University faculty or staff member. The University reimburses employees for such expenses incurred on travel which have been approved in advance by the person authorized to charge the account from which the reimbursement is expected.(See section titled Reimbursable Travel and Conference Expenses for examples.)

Conference expenses. Expenses incurred by a University faculty or staff member in meeting with non-University personnel on University business, whether at the University or elsewhere.

Official travel. Travel on University business from the University, i.e., one's normal place of employment, or one's home, to another destination inside or outside the Rochester area, between off-premises official University business appointments, and back again. Travel between the individual's home and the regular place of employment is not official travel.

Prepaid expenses. Expenses, such as conference registration fees or hotel deposits that must be paid in advance, should be paid with a University check made payable to third party, which is obtained by submitting a request for payment.

Personal travel. Travel that is not essential for University business is not reimbursable. That exclusion applies to personal travel which interrupts official travel, or precedes or follows a University business trip. (See section on Personal Travel for more specifics).

Personal expenses.Not reimbursable even when incurred while on a University trip. Examples of such excluded expenses are travel to and from a vacation site, pet care, house, or child-care expenses, hairdresser's charges, purchase or repair of personal luggage, personal telephone or postage expenses.

Travel & Conference Expense Report. University of Rochester Form F-3, on which a traveler summarizes and certifies travel and meeting expenses incurred on University business, and requests reimbursement if it is due. Receipts and other supporting documentation are to be attached to the T & C Expense Report.

Approvals

Approval for travel on University business and for disbursement of UR funds related to the travel, including reimbursement of expenses incurred by the traveler, is obtained from the official responsible for the account(s) to which the travel expenses will be charged. Except in unusual circumstances, travel should be approved by one's supervisor.

In some instances, foreign travel chargeable to a sponsored project (excluding Canada, which is not considered foreign travel) requires advance approval from the sponsor. Some contracts and grants may require other sorts of reviews or may be subject to particular limits. The Office of Research and Project Administration should be consulted concerning any such travel.

Personal Funds or Credit / UR-American Express Corporate Card

A University of Rochester traveler who travels on University business should apply for a UR-American Express Corporate Card. You can get the application for the UR-American Express Corporate Card on the web; applications can also be obtained from the University's Finance Department, located at Brooks Landing Business Center Suite 200. (275-0668). The intent of the UR-American Express Corporate Card is tofacilitate business travel for current UR employees. The traveler is free to use the UR-AMEX Corporate Card in making travel arrangements through the University's contracted agencies(The Travel Team and/or Town & Country Travel) which offers UR travelers a lowest fare guarantee and special discounts for booking airfares, hotels and car rentals. Through use of the UR-AMEX Corporate Card, the traveler can avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and is protected under the UR-AMEX Corporate Card travel insurance policy (refer to section on Travel Insurance).

Payment of Travel and Conference Expenses

University travel and conference expenses are paid in three ways.

Travel and conference expense items should be charged to the UR-AMEX Corporate Card or to a personal credit card. Travel expenses of individuals not eligible for their own UR-AMEX Corporate Cards (for example, expenses of trips to and from UR by visiting lecturers and by candidates for employment) may be charged to the UR-AMEX Corporate Card of the inviting or responsible officer, or to the Business Travel Account (See information below onBTA).

Expenses, of course, may be paid in cash. Most travelers, however, like to limit the amount of cash they carry, and so use cash only for smaller out-of-pocket expenses. The faculty or staff member may use his or her own cash, or may obtain a cash advance (see next section, Advances).

In the few cases where, for example, advance registration payments or hotel deposits are required and the UR-AMEX Corporate Card will not be accepted, the University will prepay by check when the request is made to theFinance Department on a Request for Payment form (with sufficient lead time). This check will be payable to the conference registration agency or hotel, will be charged to the account specified on the check request, and will be sent by the Finance Department directly to the payee. This transaction is handled separately, and is not entered among the reimbursables in the T & C Expense Report.

BTA. When a significant discount on an airline ticket can be realized only if the ticket is purchased more than 30 days in advance of the trip, the traveler may purchase the ticket and have it charged to the "UR-Business Travel Account" (BTA). Travel being charged to the BTA must be in accordance with the University Travel Policy and must meet one of the following two criteria:

  1. The individual(s) is a UR employee who requires ticket issuance more than 30 days in advance of the departure date.
  2. The individual(s) is not a UR employee and the UR has pre-approved the payment of the travel. (Note: The above 30 day requirement is waived for non-employees.)

To have advance purchased tickets charged to the BTA, the traveler must use one of the University's contracted travel agencies (The Travel Team or Town & Country Travel) and provide the agency with the account number to which the travel is to be charged. This account number will be noted on the traveler's record. The traveler must complete a Request for Advance Travel Tickets (Form F-2) form and obtain the proper authorizations. This form can be obtained from either the Finance Department or the UR contracted travel agencies. The form must then be sent to the contracted travel agency within 5 days of ordering tickets. The tickets will be billed to the BTA number and held by the contracted travel agency until they are delivered to the traveler prior to departure.

When completing the Travel and Conference Expense Report (Form F-3)the amount of the advance tickets actually used on business must be included in the "Transportation" column to record the actual expenditure, and the total amount of advanced tickets must be recorded on the "Air of Rail Ticket Advances" line and deducted from the "Total Expense" figure before arriving at "Balance Due From University".

Advances

Large University cash advances will rarely be needed, because UR-AMEX Corporate Cardholders can charge to their AMEX card expenses for all airline tickets, auto rental, lodging at hotels and most restaurant meals. If needed, cash advances of up to $50 for the first day of a trip and $25 for each added day, up to $200 for a seven-day trip, can be obtained from the University and charged to the traveler's UR-AMEX Corporate Card.

For trips involving large expenses for which the AMEX Corporate Card cannot be used, and some trips abroad where the $50/25 per day cash advance can be shown to be insufficient, the University will issue larger advances. Approval for larger advances can be obtained by contacting the University's Associate Controller at extension 5-3476 or email jemorycl@finance.rochester.edu.

To obtain an advance, the traveler completes an AMEX charge slip to show the desired cash advance and the dates and reason for the trip. The traveler's original signature is required on the AMEX charge slip. The charge slip must also be signed by the traveler's supervisor or other individual authorized to charge the account.

Not more than five work days before the trip, the traveler, or another person authorized by the traveler to pick up money, presents the slip along with the UR-AMEX Corporate Card at the Bursar's Office on the River Campus, the Cashier's Office in the Medical Center, or the Business Office at Eastman School of Music. (If someone other than the traveler receives the advance, that individual must present his or her UR identification card and must also sign the charge slip to acknowledge receipt of the cash.)

Obtaining cash while on a trip. UR-AMEX Corporate Cardholders will have personal check cashing privileges at most hotels and motels, airline ticket counters, and at all American Express offices. Also, to obtain cash while on a trip, the cardholder who has applied to American Express for a Personal Identification Number (PIN) can use it with the UR-AMEX Corporate Card in automatic teller machines (ATM's) at most airports and many shopping centers to obtain cash, charged to the cardholder(s) personal bank account. To arrange for an AMEX PIN, UR-AMEX Corporate Card Corporate cardholders need merely call 1-800-CASH NOW to receive an American Express "Express Cash Enrollment Form."

Reimbursement

Reimbursement may be requested as soon as the traveler has made the expenditure and completed the Travel and Conference Expense Report (Form F-3). One need not wait for the American Express monthly bill.

The T & C Expense Report, accompanied by necessary documentation, is signed by the traveler and countersigned by an authorizing University official or supervisor who is aware of the business nature of the expense. Except in unusual circumstances, travel should be approved by one's supervisor.

Approved T & C Expense Reports calling for reimbursements of up to $300 may be submitted (and cash received immediately) Mondays through Fridays at the Bursar's Office on the River Campus (normal hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or at the Cashier's Office in the Medical Center (8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.). Cash reimbursements up to $50 may be obtained at the Cashier's Window at the Eastman School of Music (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.). (One exception: T&C Expense Reports reflecting the use of advance purchased travel tickets must be submitted to University Finance Department, Towne House, Suite 260).

T & C Expense Reports calling for reimbursement amounts larger than those receivable in cash should be sent to University Finance Department, Box 278958. The reimbursement will be made by check within five working days of receipt of the T & C Expense Report in Accounting.

Documentation

The traveler can assist in assuring prompt and full reimbursement by taking care to save receipts and to attach them to the Travel and Conference Expense Report with clear explanations where needed,(denoting, for instance, personal expenses which are on an invoice but for which UR reimbursement should not be requested.) American Express charge record slips, along with original, dated receipts or bills - which are required for hotel, car rental and airline expenditures and for any other item of expense exceeding $25 - are to be turned in with the Travel and Conference Expense Report. Other out-of-pocket expenses should be listed by date, type, and purpose on the traveler's T & C Expense Report.

If a required receipt is lost or unavailable, a written explanation of the circumstances must accompany the reimbursement request.

Reimbursable Travel and Conference Expenses

Conference Expenses

Reimbursement of conference expenses will be limited to those reasonable, necessary, approved expenses which are reported in a Travel and Conference Expense Report with supporting receipts or documentation. Notations should include the names and organizations of persons whose meals or beverages are being claimed for reimbursement. (in the case of local conference expenses, receipts should be obtained, wherever practicable, to cover all expenditures - not just those of $25 or more.)

Approved conference registration fees, charges for meal meetings which are parts of an organized convention or conference program, and costs of a copy of the published proceedings are reimbursable. Meal meetings involving only UR personnel are not normally reimbursable. Exception: If the meeting is held, for reasons essential to University business, away from the University (for example, one or all of those attending are on official travel status), the department head or other responsible officer may approve its being charged as a University expense. An exception may also be made in the case of a special meeting called by a dean or vice president to enable personnel from different schools and colleges to meet on University business.

Expenses of meetings involving meals will be reimbursable only when the purpose of the meeting is to discuss University business which normally must include non-University people. The expenses of both guests and University participants may be covered.

Transportation

Travelers are expected to use the most economical mode of travel that is suited to the itinerary and the purpose of the trip. Tourist, economy, coach or "standard" accommodations for air travel are to be used whenever practicable. When possible, travelers should take advantage of discount rates.

Use of personal or rental automobile is allowable where itinerary, number of travelers, accompanying equipment or baggage, or the like support the choice. If itinerary is altered for personal reasons, the traveler is expected to pay any additional costs incurred. If first class air travel or luxury car is used instead of a less expensive alternative, written justification must be provided with the request for reimbursement or reimbursement will be limited to the cost of the less expensive mode of travel.

Automobile travel: Private automobiles or rented cars should be used only where the itinerary or other special aspects of the University business make auto travel the most practical means. Expenses incident to mechanical failure or accidents to personal cars are not reimbursable, nor are fines for parking or traffic violations. Parking fees and tolls are reimbursable as miscellaneous travel expense.

 Private Automobiles: A traveler may wish to use his or her own automobile to save time, to transport equipment, or to reduce the cost of travel for a group to a given destination. An allowance of 56.0 cents per mile, which is based on current IRS reimbursement rate (not to exceed the equivalent of coach air fare) is provided to cover all vehicle operation costs. As noted above, tolls and charges for parking at off-campus meeting sites and stopovers are reimbursed in addition to the mileage allowance.

Rental cars: When University business travel requires the use of a rental vehicle, the least costly available vehicle and rental arrangement which are suited to the trip are to be used, taking into account the number of passengers, luggage or equipment, etc. Whenever practical, cars are to be rented from agencies with which the University has negotiated corporate rates. When a more costly rental is employed, justification must be included in the travel report, or reimbursement may be limited to the cost of the less expensive rental. When the traveler uses a rental car also for a personal side trip, he or she is expected to pay the appropriate portion of both the per-diem and the mileage expense.

Auto insurance: Domestic Travelers on University business are protected by special travel insurance and thus should not buy the extra accident or the collision insurance offered by rental companies. The cost of such added insurance is not reimbursable.International Travelers are not protected under the UR special travel insurance and should buy the additional car insurance offered by the rental companies. The cost of such additional insurance will be reimbursable. In the event of damage to a rental car, the traveler should pay the deductible (chargeable to the UR-AMEX Corporate Card) and include it as an expense on the Travel and Conference Report. The accident report should be sent promptly to the Insurance and Risk Management Office, located in the Administration Building on the River Campus. (See also section on Travel Insurancefor information about life and accident insurance.)

Air and rail travel: To take advantage of any negotiated U of R airline discounts, it strongly suggested that reservations be made and tickets obtained from the University's contracted travel agencies. (Travel Team and Town & Country) If particular circumstances dictate, (savings opportunities, etc.) reservations and tickets can also be obtained from any other travel agency, or directly from the carrier. Tickets can charged to the traveler's UR-AMEX Corporate Card.

Where a significant discount or substantial savings to the University and the department can be realized by advance purchase of airline tickets, travelers can utilize the advance ticket purchase process. Under this process tickets are purchased in advance through the U of R contracted travel agencies and charged to the UR-Business Travel Account (BTA).  (see section on Payment of Travel and Conference Expenses — BTA).

Private Aircraft: Use of private aircraft for business is prohibited unless approval is obtained in advance and on a yearly basis from the University's Office of Insurance and Risk Management.

Food and Lodging

Lodging, meals, tips, and related miscellaneous expenses while a faculty or staff member is on travel status for the University will be reimbursed in their actual, reasonable amounts when properly documented. Accommodations are expected to be comfortable and appropriate to the particular purpose of the trip-not luxurious or extravagant. Wherever available, educational discounts should be used, and the University's New York State sales tax exemption should be claimed when applicable. Tax exemption certificates are available from the Bursar's Office, Medical Center Cashier and the E.S.M. Business Office.

University policy requires the separate itemization of each meal if the total for all meals on a particular day is in excess of $25. Receipts must be submitted for individual meals costing $25 or more.

Lodging deposits, prepaid by the University, should not be requested for reimbursement on the T&C.

Miscellaneous Travel Expenses

Examples of miscellaneous travel expenses that are reimbursable are the following:

Expenses Not Reimbursed

Expenses that are not reimbursable include:

  • Lost or stolen tickets, cash, or personal property.
  • Fines.
  • Accident insurance premiums.
  • Costs resulting from failure to cancel transportation or hotel reservations.
  • Child- or house-sitting expenses.
  • Penalties or fees for cancellation or change of discounted tickets when the cancellation or change came about from personal rather than University choice.
  • In-room movie rental.
  • Dry cleaning.
  • Registration Fees

    Registration fees that cannot be charged to the American Express Corporate Card can be handled through use of a Request for Payment made payable to a third party. A check will be prepared by the Finance Department, charged to the account specified on the check request form, and will be forwarded directly to the payee by Finance. Such expenses prepaid by University check are not to be listed in the Advance section of the Travel and Conference Expense Report.

    Joint Expenses

    When two or more UR travelers incur business expenses jointly that will be charged to the same account, one person may pay some or all of the joint expenses and file the travel report covering them. The report should mention the names of all UR people whose expenses are included. If charges are split, travel reports must be cross referenced, and should be submitted together if possible.

    Expenses in Foreign Currency

    UR-AMEX Corporate Card individual receipts will reflect the currencies in which purchases are made, but the AMEX bill will convert those to U.S. dollars. The Travel and Conference Report should request reimbursement in U. S. dollars at the exchange rate that applied to the actual payment by the traveler. For expenses paid in foreign cash, the exchange rate at which the traveler bought-the foreign currency applies, and a receipt for the purchase of that currency should be kept. For expenses paid on the UR-AMEX Corporate Card, the rate used on the AMEX bill will be the proper one for the traveler's reimbursement. If there is a difference between the traveler's conversion and AMEX's, a follow-up travel report adjustment to the American Express conversion rate should be filed.

    Expenses Reimbursable by Other Organizations

    If a traveler's expenses will be reimbursable in part by one or more other organizations, costs of the trip should be equitably distributed among the sponsors, and the formula or ratio should be indicated in the UR T & C Report.

    The traveler is responsible for seeking reimbursement from sources outside the University. When UR is to reimburse a part of the total expenses, original documentation should be provided and UR will provide a letter to the other organization(s) stating total amounts and amounts already reimbursed, and confirming that original documentation has been received.

    Travel Under Sponsored Projects

    Special limitations or requirements may apply to travel in connection with projects supported by outside sponsors. Written advance approval of the sponsoring agency may be required, especially for foreign travel ("foreign travel" may be defined differently by different sponsors). More information may be obtained from the Office of Research and Project Administration. (ext. 5-4031, River Campus PO Box 270140).

    Group Travel

    Group travel services can generally be obtained through UR's contracted travel agencies (Travel Team and Town & Country). Substantial discounts can be obtained when group travel is arranged, and people do not necessarily have to travel on the same plane to take advantage of these discounts. For group travel of non-UR employees see BTA procedures.

    Travel Insurance

    The University covers all regular UR employees under a travel-accident insurance policy which provides 24-hour protection in the event of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling on University business. Coverage is in the amount of $50,000 for accidental death from any cause ($100,000 if involving aircraft).

    Accidents on licensed charters or air taxis are covered, but those involving private or UR-operated aircraft are generally not covered.

    The beneficiary of the employee's coverage under the UR's insurance is the same as under the regular UR group life insurance policy, unless the employee has filed with Personnel a different beneficiary designation for this travel insurance.

    Because of this travel insurance, the University does not reimburse premiums for personal trip accident insurance. Questions about UR travel insurance, including insurance for University property and equipment when taken on a trip by a UR traveler, should be directed to the University Office of Insurance and Risk Management.

    Workers' Compensation also applies in the case of injury or death arising out of and in the course of University employment.

    In addition, the University faculty or staff member whose airline or other common carrier tickets were purchased on the UR-American Express Corporate Card is automatically covered by a $200,000 24-hour door-to-door travel accident insurance policy provided by American Express. Moreover, use of the American Express Corporate Card automatically provides baggage insurance that will pay up to $500 over and above coverage provided by the common carrier (or up to the amount of the claimed loss, whichever is lower) for checked baggage. Carryon baggage is covered up to $1250. Copies of the AMEX travel insurance policies may be obtained from the UR Travel Reimbursement Coordinator in the Finance Department.

    Personal Travel

    The UR-American Express Corporate Card is intended to support and assist in UR business travel, but it is recognized that at times there may be personal expenses for which the card may be used as a matter of convenience.

    For example, a spouse may accompany a faculty or staff member who is making a trip on University business, although the spouse's travel is not a UR expense or reimbursable. The AMEX Card may be used to cover both the reimbursable and the non-reimbursable expenses. (Only the UR traveler's air ticket, for example, and the single occupancy hotel rate should be claimed for reimbursement on the Travel and Conference Expense Report.)

    Similarly, if a UR traveler interrupts a business trip to make a side trip for personal reasons, expenses for the personal travel and hotel bills during that period may be charged on the UR-AMEX Corporate Card, but all expenses not necessary to the UR business must be borne by the traveler. Both the official and any personal charges on a UR-AMEX Corporate Card are included in AMEX's regular management reports to UR. These reports provide summaries of cardholders' total charges over specified periods of time for various categories of expenses and vendors, but do not show detailed individual charges.

    AMEX Cards and Credit Reports

    As indicated in the application for the UR-AMEX Corporate Card, the information provided by the applicant (and only that information) will be subject to verification from UR files and the University has agreed to supply AMEX with an employee - cardholder's current address and to inform AMEX if an employee-card holder leaves the UR. No other personnel file information will be released without the individual's explicit permission.

    Management reports. American Express will provide management reports to the University that summarize the charges to all UR corporate cards showing which hotels, airlines, car rental agencies, and the like are used by UR travelers. This information can be valuable to the University in negotiations with service providers for special rates for UR travelers by showing total charges within categories and by vendor, but will not show the detail of an individual's charges.

    Taxability of Reimbursements

    In general, where the individual supplies a detailed accounting of bona fide business expenses to the employer, the amounts reimbursed are not taxable income to the traveler. It is in the travelers interest, therefore, to follow carefully the University's procedures for reporting and documenting expenses.

    Assistance Available

    Assistance is available from the following sources to those who travel on University business and to those who authorize such travel or make arrangements for it.

    Department Heads and Business Officers

    The first source of basic information on University travel matters is the department head or business officer in the area concerned. Department heads are, of course, involved in authorizing travel on University business, and in approving applications for American Express Corporate Cards.

    Finance Department

    The Finance Department Travel Coordinator who is located at Brooks Landing Business Center, Box 278958 can be reached on extension 5-0668. He/she can provide answers to questions about the University's travel and conference expense policies and procedures. Questions on reimbursability of specific expenditures may be discussed with him/her, and he/she can help with advice on how best to complete the travel and conference report in situations that seem to depart from the norm.

    Office of Research and Project Administration (ORPA)

    ORPArepresentatives are located on the River Campus in Hylan 515 and can be reached at extension 5-4031. They can provide counsel in questions concerning University travel that is to be funded from external sponsors. Any University faculty or staff member planning such travel will be wise to consult ORPA for assistance well before the planned departure date, to avoid any potential problem in reimbursement of travel expenses.

    Purchasing

    Purchasingis located in 70 Goler House and can be reached on extension 5-2002. Helpful guidance to UR travelers about car rental, general travel, travel agency and hotel matters can be offered.

    Insurance

    The University's Office of Insurance and Risk Management, located on the River Campus in the Administration Building can be reached at (585) 758-7606. Answers to questions concerning the University's travel accident insurance and the protection it affords UR travelers should be directed to this office. Any accident involving a rental car should be promptly reported to this office so that arrangements for reimbursement of deductible charges paid by the UR traveler can be initiated.

    American Express

    American Express travel services offices are located throughout the world. American Express membership gives travelers access to these offices, and to the toll-free telephone number, 1-800-528-2122, for an American Express Representative who can answer billing questions and provide information about services and protections to which the cardholder is entitled. Call 1-800-528-2122 to report a lost or stolen card.

    UR Contracted Travel Agencies

    These travel agencies can provide a full range of bookings and information about carriers, schedules, accommodations, auto rentals, etc. Group travel arrangements, discounted hotel accommodations and auto rentals are also available through these agencies. Tickets issued by these agencies can be charged to a traveler's UR-AMEX Corporate travel Card, the University advance ticket-Business Travel Account (BTA), or paid for on the individual's personal credit card. These agencies are the only travel agencies authorized to access the University BTA account for purchase of advance tickets, (see section on BTA)and are also the only agencies able to offer UR's negotiated discounts on airfares in place with major airlines.

    UR contracted travel agencies can be reached as follows:

    The Travel Team 
    Shopper's World Plaza
    15 Park Ave. 
    Clifton Park, NY 12065
    Toll fee: 1-800-338-8898 8:30am – 5:00pm 
    Fax: 518-371-7928
    Email: corpalb@thetravelteam.com

    Town & Country Travel
    732 Pittsford-Victor Rd
    Pittsford, NY 14534
    (585) 381-2850 fax (585) 381-1987

    Other Travel Agencies

    The UR traveler is free to use the services of any travel agency in obtaining information, arranging reservations and purchasing travel tickets. Virtually all travel agencies will honor the UR-American Express Corporate Card. However, these non-contracted travel agencies are unable to utilize the University's BTA account for advance ticket purchase and will not be able to offer UR's negotiated airline discounts.

    Important American Express phone numbers

    Lost/stolen card and billing questions: 1-800-528-2122

    Global Assist : 1-800-554-AMEX (in U.S.),  for outside U.S., call collect (312) 554-2639

    Membership Rewards Program: 1-800-545-4449

     

     

    Page updated 12/3/2012
    Maintained by the University Controller's Office. Problems with this site? Please contact our webmaster.