Policies Index Comptroller Home UVA Documents Search Policies IndexComptroller HomeUVA DocumentsSearch

Policy: VI.G.1 x4 (inactive)

Issued: April 21, 2000

Owner: Director of Procurement Services

Latest Revision: January 9, 2004



For Current Policies:
Policy Table of Contents


1.0 Purpose

This policy describes the required approvals, spending limits, and other guidelines that must be followed by individuals seeking reimbursement for various expenses incurred while traveling on official business on behalf of the University of Virginia.

Some specific features of this policy do NOT apply to travel paid or reimbursed entirely from local funds or from Sponsored Program funds. These exceptions are noted throughout the text of this document.

This policy also does NOT cover non-travel meals. Reimbursement for non-travel meals is covered in Business Meals.

Ths policy also does NOT cover social event meals. Reimbursement for meals related to social events is covered in Social Event Meals.

Nothing in this policy prevents departments from establishing documentation requirements beyond those described in this policy and in Preparing Payment Vouchers -- Procedure 6-101. In addition, departments may determine for themselves whether to reimburse the full per diem amounts listed in tables 1 and 2 below or only the traveler's actual expenses (as documented with original receipts) within the overall per diem limit. Such documentation should be kept in departmental files and NOT be sent to Procurement Services.

Departments may also require employees to adhere to the specific spending limits for each meal as outlined in table 3 below and to produce all appropriate receipts. Again, such documentation should be kept in departmental files and NOT be sent to Procurement Services.

2.0 Policy [Top]


University faculty, staff, students, and special guests may be reimbursed for the reasonable and necessary expenses they incur while traveling on official University of Virginia business. All such trips must support the mission of the University of Virginia, receive the appropriate pre-approvals, and be carefully planned to ensure that expenditures are necessary, prudent, and as economical as possible. Upon completion of the trip, travelers must report and document claims for reimbursement following the guidelines described below and in Preparing Payment Vouchers, Procedure 6-101. The University will check travel workbooks and payment vouchers to ensure that expenditures were necessary, appropriate, and kept within the prescribed limits. Travelers will have to account for any discrepancies. Falsifying expense claims constitutes fraud and will be so treated.

The University of Virginia is a public institution governed by the Commonwealth of Virginia. As such, all expense records, regardless of fund source, are open to the public under the Federal and State Freedom of Information Acts.


Travel costs may be paid from State, Local, or Sponsored Program funds. Expense limits and procedural requirements for various travel related expenditures may vary depending on the source of funds.

State Funds: Expense limits for State funds vary depending on travel location. Consult the guideline tables below (under 2.5.2, 2.5.3, and 2.5.4) for exact travel expense limits by location and type of expense.

Local Funds: Lodging costs up to a limit of $250 daily, regardless of purpose or location, may be paid from local funds. The $250 limit includes all taxes and fees. Actual meal costs, up to a limit of $110 daily (with no single meal exceeding $65) may be paid from local funds. This limit is not a per diem, so the cost for each meal must be provided and receipts are required for any meal over $25. Any exceptions require the approval of a Dean or Vice President to be processed.

Sponsored Programs: Sponsored Programs is defined as "programs funded by revenue derived from grants and contracts." Most of the state limits apply to payments and reimbursements made from these sources. Exceptions are noted in the text of this policy or may be included in the terms of the grant or contract in question.


2.3.1 Pre-Approvals

Individuals planning to travel overnight on any state funds must obtain specific approvals before the trip is undertaken or any travel-related purchases are made. The "Pre-Approval of Proposed Travel Estimate" sheet in the Travel Workbook must be signed by the traveler's Dean, Vice President, or Designee prior to the trip. This document must include the total cost of lodging, meals, conference registration fees if applicable, and any other anticipated expenses. The "Pre-Approval of Proposed Travel Estimate" form is part of the Travel Workbook which may be found on the Procurement Services website and on the UVA Forms Directory.

2.3.2 Documentation

In the case of lost receipts, contact the hotel or rental agency and request a copy. Lost receipts for smaller expenditures may not require replacement.

Original receipts sent with the Travel Workbook must be retained by Procurement Services for a minimum of 3 years plus the current fiscal year. Departments must retain copies of these documents in their files for a minimum of three years plus the current fiscal year.

Refer to Procedure 6-101, "Preparing Payment Vouchers" for details on the documentation requirements.

2.3.3 International Travel

International travel has been redefined to include Alaska and Hawaii.

On state funds, international travel involving more than three University faculty, staff, or students to a single destination must be approved in advance of travel purchases by the state Secretary of Education.

On local funds, international travel involving more than three University faculty, staff, or students to a single destination requires written approval from Dean, Vice President, or Designee prior to travel purchases. The approval document must be retained with Payment Voucher documentation in departmental files. Prior approval of a pre-trip estimate is not required, however, if expenses are paid entirely from local funds.

2.3.4 Training Travel on State Funds

University departments that wish to purchase essential training for five or more employees must first perform a comparison of the cost of bringing the trainer on site rather than authorizing employees to travel to an off-site location. Comparative costs must be documented and included with the Pre-Approval of Proposed Travel Estimate sheet in the Travel Workbook. Departments should also explore the practicality of fulfilling the desired staff development goals through the use of studio and video teleconferencing where these options may be more cost effective.

2.3.5 Internet Travel Purchases on State Funds

Prospective travelers must prepare a cost comparison before making travel-related purchases over the Internet to ensure that it is cost beneficial to the University. Travelers must submit the following additional documentation with the Travel Workbook when travel-related purchases were made over the Internet:


Travelers may seek reimbursement for their expenses only after the completion of their trip. To request reimbursement for expenses incurred while traveling on University business, travelers must fill out the Travel Workbook, include all supporting documentation, and submit the package to their supervisor or Department Head. The Travel Workbook may be found in the University Procurement Services and the Forms Directory web site.

If payment or reimbursement for overnight travel expenses is sought from state funds, the traveler must include the "Pre-Approval of Proposed Travel Estimate" sheet in the Travel Workbook. This form must be completed and signed by the traveler's Dean, Vice President, or Designee BEFORE any overnight travel-related purchases are made. If the traveler's actual expenses recorded on the Travel Workbook are not more than 10% over the approved estimate, the Travel Workbook requires only the approval and signature of the traveler's supervisor or department head. If the approved estimates were exceeded by more than 10%, the traveler must obtain the approval and signature of the Dean, Vice President, or Designee.

If the traveler requests reimbursement for the expenses of another person or persons, these individuals must be identified and a justification for payment must be included. The traveler shall not claim M&IE reimbursement for anyone other than himself.

Travelers have five working days from the completion of their trip to submit the Travel Workbook and all supporting documentation for the approval of his or her supervisor.

In the case of continuous travel, the traveler submits the voucher to his or her supervisor within five working days of the last day of travel for which reimbursement is sought.

The traveler's supervisor or department head should approve the voucher and submit it to Procurement Services within three working days of receipt from the employee.

By signing the Travel Workbook, the traveler is certifying the accuracy of all of the information and the legitimacy of the travel. The signature of the traveler's supervisor certifies that he or she agrees that the travel was necessary and the requested reimbursements are proper.

University employees or students seeking reimbursement for travel expenses must sign the Travel Workbook. Non-University employees are not required to sign the Travel Workbook.

Departments must send a signed and dated hard copy of the Travel Workbook to Procurement Services.


2.5.1 Overnight Meals and Lodging

Individuals traveling overnight on University business may be reimbursed for meals and lodging. The dollar limits may change, based on location and on source of funds. Travelers may be reimbursed the per diem rate up to maximum applicable guidelines. Although more expensive lodging and restaurants may be used, reimbursement must be limited to the guideline amounts. Consult the Lodging, Meals, and Incidental Expenses rate charts to determine an allowable travel budget.

With regard to lodging, the traveler's Dean, Vice President, or Designee is authorized to make advance approval for reimbursement on state funds of up to 50% over the rates described below when circumstances warrant. A written explanation of the circumstances requiring the traveler to exceed the state limits must be included with the Travel Workbook. Lodging costing more than 50% over the state limits can only be reimbursed on local funds.

With regard to meals and incidental expenses, there are no circumstances in which state funds may be used to reimburse travelers who exceed the per diem rates.

2.5.2 Day Trip Meals

Day trips are trips taken on University business that do not involve an overnight stay. Consequently, day trip meals are never reimbursable from state funds as travel meals, though they may be reimbursable from state funds as business meals if they qualify. The following regulations apply to day trip meals.

2.5.3 In-State Guidelines for Travel Lodging and Meals

See the State Funds Limits -- Virginia & the Washington, D.C. Area table on the Lodging, Meal, & Incidental Expense Limits page.

2.5.4 Out-of-State Guidelines for Travel Lodging and Meals

See the State Funds Limits -- Out-of-State Locations table on the Lodging, Meal, & Incidental Expense Limits page.

2.5.5 Meal & Incidental Expense Per Person Per Meal

In addition to daily expenditure limits, the Commonwealth of Virginia has also established limits on individual meals. See the Lodging, Meal, and Incidental Expense Limits tables.

Rather than giving travelers a flat per diem rate that can be apportioned among daily meals entirely at the traveler's discretion, departments may require travelers to adhere to the specific spending limits for each individual meal.

The Lodging, Meal, and Incidental Expense Limits charts should be used to calculate how much to deduct from the standard per diem reimbursement rates when no-cost meals are provided to the traveler. The number and type (breakfast, lunch, dinner) of no-cost meals must be recorded on the travel voucher. Persons traveling on official University business may NOT claim reimbursement for meals provided at no cost to themselves. Prorated per diems for departure and return days are now 75% of the appropriate per diem, regardless of the start or completion time of travel.


2.5.6 Foreign Per Diem Rates

Per diem rates for allowable expenditures during out-of-country travel can be found on the State Departmentís official web site at: http://www.state.gov/www/perdiems/. A copy of the corresponding rates for country or countries visited should be attached to the Travel Workbook as reference for reimbursement.

2.5.7 Important Lodging Information

If possible, the traveler should contact several hotels in the area traveled to obtain cost comparisons. Departments are strongly encouraged to make lodging arrangements through the University's contracted travel agencies.

See the Procurement Services web site for a list of frequently used contracts.

First Night Lodging: Travelers are sometimes asked to pay for first nightís lodging when they make their reservations. University employees may use their University Travel Card to pay this expense. However, these charges cannot be reimbursed until after the trip. If you need these charges to be prepaid from University funds, ask that the hotel invoice you for any first-night charges, then use the Payment Voucherís prepayment procedure to have a check issued. Advance payment for lodging is limited to one night.

When two or more people are staying in the same room the reimbursable amount allowed is the corresponding lodging rate plus the cost charged by the hotel for an additional person.

Travelers should cancel lodging reservations in a timely manner. Hotels can charge for non-canceled reservations and these charges will not be reimbursed if the traveler is negligent in canceling reservations.

Alternative Lodging: When the traveler uses lodging other than hotels/motels, e.g., apartments, private homes, etc. he/she must include a cost comparison and authorization by the Agency head or designee. The cost comparison must show the amount saved by using alternative lodging and be attached to the Travel Workbook.



2.6.1 Introduction

Transportation during travel, whether by public transportation, privately owned auto, state owned vehicle, or for hire conveyance, shall be over the most direct and economical route. Any deviations from a direct route must be explained on the travel voucher and reimbursement may be limited to costs using the most direct route. Travelers should also seek the least expensive mode of travel and the least expensive travel fares.

2.6.2 Air and Rail Tickets

ALL travel ticket purchases, both international and domestic, require advance written approval from the traveler's Dean, Vice President, or Designee. First class tickets may never be purchased with state funds and, in general, airline tickets may not exceed the rates charged for tourist/coach fare. Travelers may, however, purchase or be reimbursed for upgrades from coach to business class under any one of the following conditions:

The traveler must return any unused tickets or coupons to the travel agency or department. The department head or supervisor must certify that all travel expenditures are appropriate. Travelers should purchase nonrefundable tickets ONLY if the possibility of being rescheduled is minimal.

To purchase air or rail tickets, you may use:

Only purchases made with the UPC can be prepaid. Purchases made with the Travel Card or with a personal credit card cannot be reimbursed until after traveling. Note: For air or rail ticket purchases exceeding the individual's established Purchasing Card transaction limit, see Use of the University Purchasing Card -- Procedure 7-105.

See also Policy VI.B.10, "American Express Travel Card."

See also Policy VII.C.3, "Use of University Purchasing Card."

The University has several contracts with travel agencies in place. Use of travel agency contracts is not mandatory, but it is strongly encouraged.

Travel Privileges or Unused Tickets: Any special privileges received from University travel, i.e., frequent flyer coupons, reduced rates, free services, free trips, free gifts, etc., or any unused portions of air or rail tickets, belong to the University and must be returned. These special privileges/unused tickets should be reported to the traveler's department and be used to reduce other appropriate travel expenses. Failure to report such privileges could result in disciplinary action.

Private or Chartered Air Travel (except University air charter service) is permitted when authorized by the traveler's Dean, Vice President, or Designee and and when a documented cost/benefit analysis is prepared and attached to the Travel Workbook. Without prior approval, the University reimbursement will be limited to the current cost of tourist or coach air fare for all passengers, but not exceeding actual cost.

2.6.3 Travel By Automobile

When travel is by vehicle, the total travel expense reimbursement, including meals and lodging, shall not exceed the cost of tourist or coach class air fares.

Use of Personally Owned Vehicles is allowed when it is cost justified or a motor pool vehicle is not available. Reimbursement for the use of personally owned vehicles will be allowed at the rate established in the current Appropriations Act, which is $.325 per mile. Reimbursement rates are reduced to $.13 per mile for travel in excess of 15,000 miles in one fiscal year. Prospective employees or consultants who originate their trip outside the Charlottesville area may be reimbursed at the approved state rate of $.325 per mile.

Use of University Motor Pool: Vehicles for in-state business travel may be obtained through the University motor pool. The motor pool is operated through a contract with a commercial car rental agency. For details on this agreement, consult the contract summary sheet on the Procurement Services web site.

For permanently assigned vehicles, see Policy VII.Q.1, "Parking and Transportation Services."

Out-of-Country Travel: In using personal vehicles for out-of-country travel, the University will reimburse the actual cost of operation of such a vehicle. (Out-of-country travel is outside the United States, its territories and possessions, Puerto Rico, and Canada). Travelers should make sure their insurance is in force outside of the U.S.

Transportation to Meals: Transportation between places of lodging (or business) and restaurants during overnight travel are considered reimbursable as part of the meals and incidental expense (M&IE) per diem, and are not reimbursable separately.

Vehicle Rental: University employees are strongly encouraged to rent any vehicles through agencies under contract with the University. The traveler should decline any additional insurance offered for any vehicle leased or rented within the continental United States, its territories or possessions, or Canada. Such insurance will not be reimbursed. Consultants and non-State employees are not covered under the State's automobile self-insurance plan. For these individuals, the University may reimburse car rental insurance. However, the University will only reimburse liability damage waiver (LDW) and collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance.

For vehicles rented outside the United States, its territories, or possessions, or Canada, the traveler is required to purchase the LDW and CDW insurance on the rental contract.

Refer to Policy VII.H.1, "Risk Management Program (Insurance Coverage)."

Travelers should verify that the proper government/corporate rate is used, both at the time of reservation and at pick-up. When the vehicle is rented, the traveler may be required to present:

Methods of payment include cash, personal credit cards, or the American Express Travel Card. University-issued traveler checks are discouraged.

See also Policy VI.B.10, "American Express Travel Card."

For rental vehicles, the University reimburses actual expenses rather than mileage rates. The traveler must include receipts for both the rental car and gas with the travel expense reimbursement voucher.

Refuel the rental vehicle before returning it. The rental agency's refueling charges are excessive and may not be reimbursable, unless properly justified for safety or time constraint reasons.

For trips originating in the Charlottesville area, University travelers may use a rental vehicle to their destination or to a regional airport when travel includes an overnight stay. Note: In this case, reimbursing the use of a personal vehicle is preferred to using a rental vehicle. A cost comparison or justification is suggested and should be attached.

Public Transportation: Use wherever possible. Public transportation rates must not exceed tourist, coach class, or international business class. Retain all receipts for the Payment Voucher. First Class accommodations must not be used except in an emergency or when there are no other accommodations available. When first class accommodations are used, full justification must be attached to the Travel Workbook.

Parking and Tolls: Bridge, tunnel, or turnpike tolls and parking fees may be reimbursed. The location of the facility as well as the names and reasons for including a charge for passengers, where applicable, must be stated on the Travel Workbook. Receipts are required if the reimbursement claim is greater than $10 per item /location.

Commuting: Commuting to and from work for any reason is not considered travel status mileage and is not reimbursable.


Reimbursable travel expenses include:

Laundry expenses are reimbursable as part of the meals and incidental expense (M&IE) per diem. These expenses are not reimbursed separately.

Cash advance fees (Automatic Teller Machine access fees, traveler's check fees) incurred in using the University travel charge card are reimbursable.

Travelerís checks, passport, and visa expenses are reimbursable. Traveler's checks can be obtained only by using one's University Travel Card and only at the Bursar's Office, the Newcomb Hall Branch, and the Hospital Branch of the University Credit Union. The travel card does not operate traveler's check machines at other American Express locations. For additional information, see also Policy VI.B.10, "American Express Travel Card."

Funeral attendance expenses for one University representative are reimbursable, if travel is required outside the local area.

Prepaid conference registration fees may be paid by using a Payment Voucher form.

Registration fees for functions related to University business may be reimbursed when employees are expected to attend as part of their job duties. Receipts are required for reimbursement.

Telephone calls, telegrams, and facsimiles for official University business paid by the traveler can be claimed. For business related calls, state on the voucher the points and parties between which the calls/wires were made and the reasons.

Personal calls are reimbursed as part of the meals and incidental expense (M&IE) per diem, and are not reimbursed separately.

Business travel and vacation leave: The University reimburses only those expenses related to official business. The University is not responsible for any expenses for accidents or injuries when the employee is not on official business.

Non-reimbursable travel expenses include:

-Charges for non-canceled hotel reservations,

-Fees associated with social or non-mandatory activities at conferences such as tours, sports activities, etc.

-Lost or stolen articles,

-Alcoholic beverages (never allowable from state funds),

-Inordinately expensive meals and lodging,

-Damage to personal vehicles, clothing, or other items,

-Charges to gain entry to a locked vehicle,

-Movies charged to hotel/motel bills,

-All expenses related to the personal negligence of the traveler, such as fines (including parking fines, speeding tickets, etc.),

-Entertainment expenses,

-Towing charges,

-Travel expenses related to family members or companions (including child care), unless on local funds and approved, prior to the expenses being incurred, by the President of the University or the traveler's Dean or Vice President.

3.0 Definitions [Top]

4.0 References [Top]

This policy closely follows the State guidelines described in the Commonwealth Accounting Policies and Procedures (CAPP) manual which were last updated on October 1, 2002, Section 20335, State Travel Regulations (Adobe Acrobat pdf file).

See "Preparing Payment Vouchers" -- Procedure 6-101 for detailed instructions on preparing a payment voucher to reimburse travel expenses.

Also see "Expenditure Credits and Reimbursements" -- Policy V.B.3.

5.0 Approvals and Revisions [Top]

06/26/00 Updated Lodging and M&IE Limits and deleted section on "Travel Authorization".
Previous version in effect from 7/1/95 to 4/21/00 available in policy archive.
Previous version in effect from 4/21/00 to 7/02/01 available in policy archive.
Previous version in effect from 7/02/01 to 10/01/02 available in policy archive.
07/02/01 General update and revision.
08/09/01 Information on reimbursement for non-travel meal expenses moved to Meal Expenses -- Policy VI.G.2.
10/01/02 Per Diem Rates for Lodging, Meals and Incidental Expenses have been updated.
Previous version in effect from 4/21/03 to 11/24/03 available in policy archive.

Maintained by University Comptroller
© 2001 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia