Travel Policies and Procedures
This page provides you with a high level overview of the travel policies and procedures at UNC. For more detailed information regarding travel questions, please contact your Administrative Assistant, Business Manager, Accounts Payable, or refer to Chapter 5 of the University's Fiscal Rules.
Since travel is a sensitive area of expenditure that is often scrutinized by the public, all UNC travel should be made with the highest level of integrity and all expenditures - whether state appropriated, grant, auxiliary or other funds for which UNC is accountable - should be made in compliance with the spirit and letter of UNC's policies and procedures.
- Travel Authorization (Required before any travel expenses are incurred)
A Travel Authorization ("TA") form must be completed for all UNC travel, regardless of whether UNC funds will be expended for the trip. If UNC funds will be expended, the TA must be completed before any expenses are incurred. This form requires that you identify the purpose of the trip, the expenses to be paid for by UNC, and that you obtain the necessary approvals for travel.
The required approvals for a TA will vary depending on the location of travel and your college or department on campus. Below is a general guideline of what approvals are required, but please check with your Administrative Assistant regarding any special approvals or process that are required for your college or department. Please note that in addition to the approvals listed below, the traveler must sign the TA to certify that the information provided on the TA is correct to the best of his/her knowledge.
- Same Day In-State Travel:
- No TA Required.
- In-State Overnight Travel or any Out-of-State Travel (regardless of overnight stay):
- College Faculty and Staff Travelers: All Fund Approvers and the Dean or School Director (see your Administrative Assistant for college specific requirements)
- Athletics: Complete all paperwork through the Athletics' Business Office.
- All Other Staff Travelers: All Fund Approvers and the area Vice President or Senior Vice President
- International Travel:
- College Faculty and Staff Travelers: All Fund Approvers, the Dean or School Director (see your Administrative Assistant for college specific requirements) and the Provost.
- Athletics: Complete all paperwork through the Athletics' Business Office. In addition to the normal process, the TA must also be signed by the Senior Vice President of Finance & Administration.
- All Other Staff Travelers: All Fund Approvers and the area Vice President, Senior Vice President or their approval delegate.
- Travel paid for by the Provost Office or the Office of Sponsored Programs ("OSP"):
- If a traveler has been awarded travel funds from the Provost's Office or OSP, a copy of the travel award letter needs to be attached to signify the fund approval. Since the letter is attached to the TA, a Fund Approver's signature is not needed (but all other signatures are still required).
Non-UNC Employee Travelers
Non-UNC employee travelers are generally search candidates, students, guest speakers or other individuals who are not UNC employees and are not being paid as independent contractors. Travel-related expenses for independent contractors must be added to the total lump-sum payment to the individual and separate travel reimbursements are not paid out to individuals in this category.
The same travel policies and procedures for UNC employees must be followed for non-UNC employee travelers. In addition to completing a travel authorization form, non-UNC employee travelers must complete and submit a W-9 form and a direct-deposit authorization form so that they can be set up in the financial system to receive reimbursement for their travel expenses.
Please note that any incomplete TA's will be returned to your College or Department via Xtender for correction. All corrections must be made before travel funds can be made available to the traveler. Travel-related expenses for independent contractors must be added into the total payment for the individual.
- Allowable Travel Expenses
A person traveling on behalf of UNC may only charge expenses to UNC which are allowable under UNC’s Fiscal Rule and that have been approved by the appropriate Fund Approver(s). Allowable travel expenses include, but may not be limited to:
- Air travel must be completed using the most economical means available which satisfactorily accomplishes the University’s business.
- Upgrades are not allowed unless prior approval has been obtained by the traveler for things such as security, health or a disability/special need.
- Chartered flights require prior approval by the Purchasing & Contracts Office
- Baggage fees for one bag are allowable. Charges for a second bag require pre-approval by the Fund Approver.
- Meals and Incidental Expenses (see the Per Diem section for additional information)
- Ground Transportation (see the Ground Transportation section for additional information)
- Mileage for use of personal vehicles
- DIA parking rates are limited to $15 per day
- Non-Allowable Travel Expenses
The following expenses may not be charged to a UNC VISA card and will not be reimbursed to a traveler:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Entertainment Expenses
- Personal expenses above the incidental expense allowed by the Per Diem Rate
- Travel expenses incurred for political activities
- Traffic fines and parking tickets
- Meals for one day travel
- Travel insurance for domestic travel
Note: Travel insurance for international travel may be purchased if pre-approved by the Fund Approver.
- Rental Car Insurance except a policy for Loss of Use (see the Ground Transportation section for additional information)
- How to Pay for Travel Related Expenses
Whenever possible, a UNC VISA card should be used for all allowable travel expenses (except meals) that have been approved to be paid from University funds. Please see the Allowable Travel Expenses section, above, for a list of what are considered allowable expenses. UNC will provide travelers with a per diem for meals at the rate approved on the TA (see the Per Diem section for additional information).
For those travelers that choose not to use a UNC VISA for allowable expenditures, please be aware that the reimbursement request may be delayed up to 30 days.
For all approved expenses that cannot be charged to the UNC VISA card, a Travel Reimbursement Form should be submitted to Accounts Payable within 60 days of returning from your trip. Any reimbursement forms that are received after the 60th day will be considered a taxable reimbursement per the IRS Accountable Plan (see the Definitions Section below for additional information).
As of January 1, 2017, UNC will reimburse mileage at a rate of $0.48 per mile.
- Per Diem
The University provides travelers with a per diem to cover meal and incidental expenses. In most cases, per diem is paid at the rate outlined on the GSA per diem schedule (a link to this schedule can be found under the Helpful Links section). A college or department may establish a lower per diem rate, so please check with your Administrative Assistant or Business Manager if you have questions regarding the correct per diem rate.
For the first and last day of travel, per diem is paid at 75% of the per diem rate. Additionally, per diem will be reduced to reflect any meals provided to the traveler by the conference or host entity.
Per diem will be deposited in the traveler's personal bank account approximately 5 business days prior to the scheduled departure date. Please be aware that per diem is paid based upon the information provided on the TA form, so per diem will not be paid in advance if the TA form has not been completed and submitted to Accounts Payable.
- Ground Transportation
When traveling on behalf of UNC, a traveler should use the most cost effective mode of ground transportation. This is often a shuttle service to and from the airport. When planning your transportation to and from Denver International Airport, SuperShuttle offers a direct shuttle service from Denver International Airport to UNC's campus at a discounted rate. Enter Group Discount Code UNC01 to receive the best rates!
If it is determined that a rental car is needed, a traveler should rent a car from Hertz, Avis, Budget Truck, and Enterprise as UNC received discounts from these agencies based on contracts negotiated by the State of Colorado.
The UNC Visa card should be used on all rental cars as it provides primary collision damage insurance on all vehicles except trucks, SUV's, and 15-passenger vans. As secondary insurance, UNC provides coverage for liability and physical damage. In addition to the insurance provided by the UNC VISA card and UNC's insurance policy, Enterprise and Hertz also provide damage waiver insurance at no cost as part of the discounted rate. The traveler may consider purchasing Loss of Use insurance as that is not covered by any of the policies mentioned above.
In order to receive the discount and insurance benefits, you must use the contract codes at the time of rental. The discount codes are:
- Avis: A514100
- Budget: T143828
- Enterprise Rental Car: XZ12450
- Hertz: 65579
Please note that these same discounts and benefits are available to UNC employees for personal use by using the discount codes provided above.
- Helpful Links
- CONUS: The contiguous United States, including the District of Columbia
- Fund Approver: The person or persons that have authority to approve an expenditure of UNC funds from a specified account string.
- International Travel: Travel outside of the CONUS, Alaska, or Hawaii.
- IRS Accountable Plan: IRS guidelines for what is and is not a taxable reimbursement to a traveler. In order for a reimbursement to be non-taxable, the travel must be for business purposes, the reimbursement must be completed within 60 days from the date the traveler returns from his/her trip, and any excess reimbursements or advances must be returned to UNC within 60 days from the date the traveler returns from his/her trip. If these guidelines are not met, then the reimbursement will be considered taxable income and will be reported to the IRS as such. The determination of what is taxable and non-taxable is guided by IRS Regulation CFR 31.3121(a)-3(c), IRS Sections 62(a)(2) and 62(c), IRS Revenue Ruling 2006-56, and the IRS Employee Reimbursement Plan guidelines.
- Out-of-State Travel: Travel outside of the state of Colorado either within the contiguous United States, or in Alaska or Hawaii.