Printed on: 01/17/2021. Please go to for the most current version of the Policy or related document.
University of Minnisota  Administrative Policy

Traveling on University Business

For the most recent University information related to COVID-19 and the impact on University travel, please visit the Employee Travel Costs and COVID-19 page.
Responsible University Officer(s):
  • Controller
Policy Owner(s):
  • Director of Purchasing Services
Policy contact(s):
  • Beth Tapp
Date Revised:
Jun 14, 2019
Effective Date:
Dec 1, 1995

Policy Statement

Travelers (employees and non-employees) are responsible to ensure that travel expenses are for valid University business-related purposes; are in accordance with University policies and procedures; and are a prudent use of public and University funds. Individuals traveling on University business are expected to choose the least costly method of transportation that meets the traveler's scheduling and business needs.

External research sponsors may have more or less restrictive rules than the University. Individuals traveling on sponsored funds should follow the most restrictive applicable policy (University policy or sponsor rules). However, if the sponsor has given prior written approval, expenses generally not allowed on non-sponsored funds may be allowed on sponsored funds.

Travelers must substantiate and document all travel expenses in accordance with University policy and applicable federal and state laws (note: receipts are not required for meals and incidentals, which are reimbursed via per diem payments). In circumstances where the University (via PCard, reimbursement, etc.) and a third party pay for the same travel expenses, the traveler must ensure that the duplicate reimbursement is returned to the University within 60 days of completion of travel.

Travel expenses must be approved by a person who has been authorized to approve or deny reimbursement of travel expenses. Normally, the authorized approver is one level senior to the traveler, but it may be another person(s) in the department or unit who is not one level senior, but has delegated authority to approve or deny travel expenses. Under no circumstances should the delegation of approval authority create a situation where an employee is approving the expenses of their supervisor. Departments have the discretion to require their employees to obtain preapproval for travel.

Approvers are responsible for validating that all expenses: comply with University policy; are a prudent use of public and University funds; are appropriately documented; and are submitted and accounted for in a timely manner. Travel expenses incurred on sponsored funds must also follow certified approver program rules and guidelines.

Departments, colleges, campuses, and units are prohibited from establishing their own separate policies in lieu of this University-wide policy. Where budget constraints, compliance risks, or other factors warrant variations from this University policy, the college, department, campus or unit should work with the appropriate central offices (Budget & Finance, Office of the Vice President for Research, Controller, etc.) to develop local procedures which address the circumstances.

All travelers going to an international destination for University business must pre-register their trip information. See Procedure: Registering International Travel (Faculty and Staff).

Travelers wishing to visit countries subject to U.S. embargoes must consult with the University's Export Controls Officer prior to departure. See the GPS Alliance: Export Controls website for more details.

Travelers should use the University's preferred travel suppliers whenever possible. For a list of preferred suppliers visit the Travel Services website and click on Reservations. Note that the website must be accessed from the Travel Services website in order to receive the University discounts.

Travel Documentation/Reimbursement Request

Travelers must provide adequate documentation to substantiate the travel, and must submit non-sponsored travel reimbursement requests within 60 days of the conclusion of travel. For travel on sponsored projects, travelers must submit travel reimbursement requests within 60 days of the conclusion of the trip or before the end date of the grant, depending on which deadline is sooner. Travelers must process expenses incurred near the end of the fiscal year in accordance with the year-end accounting calendar to ensure reporting in the correct accounting period.

Departments, colleges, campuses, and units may receive requests not meeting the requirements for documenting and requesting reimbursements in a timely manner. Travel and expense reimbursement requests which are not adequately documented in accordance with Administrative Policy: Documenting Financial/Accounting Transactions, or are not submitted within 60 days, should be denied. In rare circumstances, there may be travel reimbursements which cannot meet the requirements for adequate documentation or submission within 60 days, due to legitimate extenuating circumstances which impaired the traveler from meeting the requirements. In those situations,after consultation between the traveler's unit and the Chief Financial Manager for the college or vice-presidential unit, the reimbursement should be approved, and the rationale for determining that the circumstances warranted approving the request should be documented.

When travel reimbursement requests do not meet the requirements for documentation or timely submission, and there are no extenuating circumstances, but denial of the request would impose a financial hardship to the traveler, the reimbursement request may be approved as a taxable reimbursement to the traveler. The amount of the taxable reimbursement should be reported to Payroll, for inclusion in the traveler's calendar year taxable compensation. Additionally, these reimbursements may not be charged to sponsored projects, because they do not meet the University's policy requirements for documentation and timely submission. Taxable reimbursements should be rare and infrequent, and should be approved only after consultation between financial management in the traveler's unit and the Chief Financial Manager for the college or vice-presidential unit.

Combined Business and Personal Travel

Travelers must remove non-business related expenses before submitting a reimbursement request, when they combine personal and business travel. Reimbursement for airfare may not exceed the lowest available cost of a direct or uninterrupted route. If the traveler uses an indirect route or interrupts travel for personal convenience, any additional expenses incurred are the sole responsibility of the traveler and should be documented. Further information with sample scenarios about lodging and meal rates is available in the Appendix: Per Diem – Lodging, Meals & Incidentals. Further information with sample scenarios about mileage reimbursement is available in Appendix: Mileage Reimbursement.

Currency Exchange (International Travel)

When charges in foreign currencies, travelers must:

  • Submit foreign expenses in U.S. dollars using the exchange rate in effect during the dates of travel;
  • Include documentation indicating the exchange rates used to make the conversions; and
  • For purchases made with a credit card, use the exchange rates provided by the credit card company for purchases made with a credit card. (The OANDA website provides current exchange rates and can be used for all other out-of-pocket expenses.)

Reimbursement Requests for Non-Travel Expenses

See Administrative Policy: Business Expenses.

Repayment of Unsubstantiated/Unallowable Expenses

In cases where the University pays for travel expenses (either through P-card purchases, advances, or otherwise) that are not allowable according to this travel policy, sponsored project requirements, or are not appropriately substantiated, the funds will be recovered by one of the following methods.

  • The traveler pays the University via personal check or money order (not cash). The traveler must include the payment with the related Expense Report or PCard transaction documentation and justification. All payments and documentation due to their department must be submitted within 60 days of the determination that the expenses are unallowable or when submitting PCard documentation in accordance with processing guidelines.
  • In cases where the employee does not submit payment as required above, the employee and the University will establish a payment plan under which the University will deduct the amount owed from the employee's paycheck.
  • For amounts deemed uncollectable (i.e., the traveler is no longer a University employee), the University may seek legal remedies against individuals who do not repay improper charges and reimbursements, and/or report the amount due to Payroll as taxable compensation to the individual.

Situations resulting in the traveler owing the University should be avoided and not recurring.

Cash Advances

Travelers may, for a very limited number of business reasons be issued a cash advance. Please refer to the Administrative Policy: Cash Advances.


Travelers are expected to choose the least costly method of transportation that meets the traveler's schedule and business needs.

Air Transportation

Travel by air is limited to the lowest, non-refundable, coach/economy class fare available at time of booking. Travelers may select their seat to another seat within coach/economy (exit row, aisle seats or "extra leg room") on any flight, when no other coach/economy seats are available or it better meets the traveler's needs.

When the total flight time, excluding layovers, from departure to arrival is 8 or more hours (including connecting domestic legs), travelers may, with preapproval from their unit, upgrade from coach to the next most economical class of travel over coach (business class in most cases, first class in cases where business class is not offered).

Travelers may not travel using a private plane or non-approved air charter unless the University Risk Management Office grants an exception in advance of the travel. If the traveler does not obtain an exception, the University will not reimburse the unapproved transportation expenses.

Employees are prohibited from piloting personal or leased aircrafts while on University business travel. If they choose to do so, the University will not consider the traveler to be acting in an official capacity of the University nor will the University reimburse the traveler for any related expenses.

It is recommended that no more than 20 University faculty, staff, or Regents fly on the same plane at the same time.

Accrual and Use of Frequent Flyer Miles

In accordance with Minnesota State Statute, 15.435, frequent flyer miles or any other benefit issued by an airline must accrue to the benefit of the University whenever University funds are used to pay for airline travel, regardless of the origination of those funds (e.g., from state or federal grants, contracts, or appropriations, or private donors.) University employees may not use these miles for their personal travel.

University employees, rather than departments, are responsible for tracking miles earned with University funds, and providing records of such tracking upon request. When they have accumulated enough frequent flyer miles to earn free travel, employees must use the miles for University travel.

Infrequent travelers (those who take no more than 2 trips per year) are not required to track frequent flyer miles.

Ground Transportation

Travelers should use the least expensive method of ground transportation that meets the traveler's schedule and business needs (e.g., airport shuttles, taxis, car rentals, train or bus travel, etc.).

Travelers should rent vehicles only when necessary, or when doing so reduces overall transportation charges to the University. If it is necessary to rent or lease a vehicle, departments are encouraged to use Fleet Services for local rentals or rent through one of the Big 10 contracted suppliers (Enterprise or National Car Rental). See Administrative Policy: Using Vehicles for University Business for information and rates related to renting or leasing vehicles for local use.

When renting a vehicle for domestic and international travel, two types of insurance are required:

Physical Damage: Covers damage to the rental vehicle. This insurance:

  • Is NOT provided by the University;
  • Is provided automatically when renting vehicles from the Big Ten contracted rental suppliers; and
  • Must be elected when using any other supplier.

Liability: Covers damages to other parties arising from the use of the vehicle. This insurance:

  • Is provided by the University for vehicle rental in the US. Travelers do not need to purchase this coverage separately at the time of auto rental.
  • Is NOT provided by the University for rental outside the United States. International travelers should purchase liability insurance from the rental supplier to ensure full protection and compliance with local law and practice.

See Appendix Reimbursable/Non-reimbursable Travel Related Expenses for the types of insurance that are reimbursable.

Departments may reimburse travelers for the cost of vehicle rentals and gas charges, but not mileage. Travelers should confirm whether an international driver's license is required when renting a vehicle outside of the United States.

Travelers may use their personal vehicle in the course of required University travel in accordance with the Administrative Policy: Using Vehicles for University Business. Travelers may request reimbursement for domestic or international mileage at the domestic mileage rate. See Appendix Mileage Reimbursement for the current mileage reimbursement rate for personal vehicle use.

Chartered Transportation

The University requires charter carriers, such as charter airlines, helicopters, buses, and boats, to demonstrate a specified level of insurance coverage when they are providing services to the University. Departments arranging charter services from a supplier not on a University-Wide Contract must have the insurance reviewed by Risk Management and the contract reviewed by the University's Office of the General Counsel (OGC) prior to making the arrangements.


Travelers are expected to choose lodging that meets the traveler's schedule and business needs. Receipts are required for all lodging.

Non-Conference – Domestic or International lodging: Departments will reimburse travelers for actual expenses up to 150% of the lodging nightly rate (before taxes) for the destination city, as referenced on the US Government General Services Administration (GSA) website for domestic lodging and the U.S. Department of State website for international lodging. In situations where a non-conference domestic lodging rate falls outside of the University guidelines, the traveler must obtain pre-approval from the appropriate authorized approver by completing the Request for Lodging Exception form. If the traveler does not obtain prior approval, the supervisor/manager may deduct the overage from the reimbursement request.

Conference – Domestic or International lodging: The lodging rate limit does not apply to conference travel, where the traveler is paying a pre-negotiated rate offered by the conference. In cases where conference facilities are completely booked, travelers should obtain lodging based on the non-conference guidelines provided above.

Local Lodging – Employees traveling locally typically do not require an overnight stay. However, in certain circumstances, such as when a department or college hosts a multi-day conference or event on/near a University campus an employee may stay overnight at a hotel that is in the same city or town as their residence, only when the department or college has preapproved the stay. The traveler must document the business purpose of the local stay.

Meals and Incidentals

Travelers are reimbursed up to the Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) per diem (specific for the destination city and time of year of their travel) according to the GSA website for domestic travel or the U.S. Department of State website for international travel. Travelers do not need to provide receipts (under any circumstances) for reimbursement of travel meals or incidental expenses included in the daily per diem. Maximum meal rates include tax and tips. See Appendix: Per Diem – Lodging, Meals & Incidentals.


Departments will reimburse the travelers for meals on the first and last days of travel at 75% of the per diem rate.
Travelers will not be reimbursed for:

  • Meal expenses exceeding the maximum meal rate for their destination city; or
  • Any portion of the per diem that covers meals which are also provided as part of a conference or event, unless there is a business or health reason for an alternate meal.

Extended Day Travel

An employee may qualify for an occasional meal allowance when traveling without an overnight stay, as a non-taxable de minimis fringe benefit, if the travel causes an employee to work in excess of 12 hours. If this occurs, the employee may be eligible for a non-routine, non-regular single meal allowance equal to the dinner per diem rate published by the General Services Administration at the discretion of their department head. See Administrative Policy: Business Expenses.


Gratuities for baggage carriers, porters, and hotel staff (bellhops and house cleaners), as well as ATM fees, bank fees, and check cashing charges are included in the daily incidental amount. Laundry and valet expenses are included in the daily incidental amount for International travelers. Travelers should not submit or request reimbursement for any of these items.

Travelers may request reimbursement for laundry for domestic travel lasting seven (7) or more consecutive days.

Note: Refer to Administrative Policy: Hospitality and Entertainment of Non-Employees for special expenses, such as meals in conjunction with business entertainment and alcoholic beverages.

International Travel

All employees on University business must register their international travel in advance of the trip, regardless of funding source. There is no central authorization for international travel; authorization remains at the local collegiate or departmental level. See Administrative Procedure: Registering International Travel (Faculty and Staff).

Travelers are responsible for checking their destination’s Travel Advisory in advance of international travel. Units cannot require an unwilling employee to travel on University business to a location that is subject to a USDOS Level 3 or 4 Travel Advisory.
Travelers are responsible for understanding their international insurance options including any coverage provided by the University, and needs that may exceed current coverage and require purchase of additional insurance. See Appendix: Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance Coverage.

Travelers planning to send or take students overseas are responsible for ensuring students complete requirements covered in Administrative Procedure: Preparing for Education Abroad Opportunities. Faculty and staff must ensure that students sign a standard Student Release & Waiver - Education Abroad Opportunities by Colleges, Department or Faculty and obtain mandatory travel, health, and security insurance. Faculty and staff must also ensure that students planning travel to a location designated by the U.S. State Department as a Level 3 or 4 Travel Advisory receive approval in advance of travel. Refer to Administrative Procedure: Suspending Education Abroad Opportunities for more information about the approval process.

Export Controls

The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury prohibit unauthorized financial and other transactions, such as travel, with (a) embargoed countries, and (b) entities identified on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. A list of embargoed countries can be found here.

Travelers wishing to visit any of these countries must first consult with the University's Export Controls Officer, who will assess the relevant regulations, advise travelers of permitted and prohibited activities, and obtain any necessary licenses. The process of obtaining a license to travel to an embargo country can take as long as two to three months, so travelers are advised to contact the Export Controls Officer as soon as possible.

Travelers to all international destinations must comply with U.S. export control laws and regulations, including, without limitation, the Export Administration Regulations (13 CFR Parts 730-774), the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (22CFR Parts 120-130), and the Foreign Assets Control Regulations (31 CFR Parts 501-598). Please direct all questions about these laws and regulations to the Export Controls Officer.

Fly America Act

Air travel paid for with federal sponsored funds must be consistent with the Fly America Act regulations, 41 C.F.R. §§ 301-10.131, et seq. These regulations provide a requirement that states that generally travelers may not spend federal funds on flights operated by foreign flag air carriers. In other words, unless an exception applies, travelers may only use sponsored funds that originate with a federal agency for travel on U.S. flag air carriers. For more information on Fly America Act requirements and exceptions, see the University's Travel Services: Fly America Act website.


This policy applies to enrolled University students who travel on behalf of the University for official University business either as students or as University employees if the University financially supports their travel. Students are also responsible for adhering to Administrative Policy: Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences: Twin Cities, Crookston, Morris, and Rochester or the UMD Academic Affairs Policy on Excused Absences.

This policy does not apply to students using personal resources to fund their travel. However, if the travel is for University purposes, students must adhere to the other relevant policies. Students traveling abroad, regardless of funding source, are responsible for adhering to Administrative Policy: Student Travel and Education Abroad: Health and Safety.

Accounting for Student Travel Expenses

Units must follow the Office of Student Finance guidelines and policies when determining the proper accounting for student travel expenses. For additional information, see the Academic Support Resources website.

Travel expenses for University students not performing services for the University may be paid or reimbursed as a fellowship or scholarship (e.g., if a student is traveling to present research to obtain their degree and the University is supporting the travel) through financial aid. Consult with Student Finance for proper handling of payments to students. Also, see the Appendix to Administrative Policy: Accounts Payable - Single Payment Supplier Payment Types Allowed.

Non-Employee Travel

Suppliers, consultants, speakers, lecturers, visiting professors, and visiting students (scholars) who are providing professional services to the University, may have their travel and other related expenses reimbursed in accordance with negotiated Contract for Professional Services terms and conditions and supplier payment procedures. See Administrative Policy: Purchasing a Professional Service for more information.

Travel and other related expenses for non-employee participants attending conferences, workshops, etc. as part of a sponsored project or non-sponsored activity may be paid to the participant as a stipend via normal accounts payable processes. Departments may issue stipends to non-employee participants to cover any expenses not paid directly to a supplier. These payments are subject to established University policies and procedures pertaining to compliance with IRS requirements. A Contract for Professional Services is not required to pay for stipends to non-employees.

Non-employees such as community members and volunteers, not already covered in the previous two paragraphs, who travel on behalf of the University, may be reimbursed for travel related expenses if the travel qualifies as a bona fide hospitality expense. Expenses must be supported by adequate documentation that substantiates the business purpose of the expense. See Administrative Policy: Hospitality Entertainment of Non-Employees to ensure proper policy application and approval.

Spousal/Guest Travel

Expenses incurred by a spouse or personal guest are not reimbursable expenses, unless they conform to the acceptable conditions outlined in Administrative Policy: Hospitality and Entertainment of Non-Employees.

Other Liability Insurance

General Liability

University general liability coverage insurance covers employees for liabilities they may incur that directly arise from the course and scope of their employment activities, including those activities undertaken while traveling with a university program.

University general liability coverage insurance covers students for liabilities they may incur that directly arise from engaging in activities essential to and required by their course of study, including those activities undertaken while traveling with a University program. University general liability insurance does NOT cover students engaged in optional travel not required to fulfill University requirements.

Contracts or agreements will specify coverage for non-employees or for volunteer workers.

Personal Property

University insurance does NOT cover student or employee personal property or effects.

Special Situations

Some employees may have unique circumstances (such as an out-state location) that require frequent travel (more than on an occasional basis). If these trips occur during normal business hours, these employees may not be in either extended day travel or overnight travel status. If those circumstances exist frequently and cause a financial hardship to the employee, managers are encouraged to provide additional, incremental compensation to those employees in the form of a taxable salary augmentation. Contact Payroll Services at for the applicable pay code.


This policy does not govern Hospitality expenses or other non-travel related expenses. Refer to Administrative Policy: Hospitality and Entertainment of Non-Employees.

Reason for Policy

This policy provides standards that ensure safe and economical University travel while maintaining the necessary controls, accountability, compliance with applicable federal and state laws, and administrative efficiency. The international travel reporting requirement allows travelers to receive pre-travel resources and reduce expense in locating and assisting University travelers in the event of an in-country crisis.

This policy is intended to ensure compliance with the accountable plan rules of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Treasury Department.




Frequently Asked Questions


Subject Contact Phone Email
Primary Contact(s) Beth Tapp 612-624-5255
Travel Using Sponsored Funds Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) 612-625-3860  
Export Controls Officer Pat Briscoe 612-625-3860
University Fleet Car Rental Fleet Services 612-625-3033
Plane Charters Purchasing/Travel Services 612-624-2828  
Housing on Campus Housing Services 612-624-2994  
Contracts Purchasing/Travel Services 612-624-2828  
Accident Reporting, Extra Hazardous Insurance Risk Management and Insurance Office 612-625-0062
Travel Training Training Services 612-626-1373
Travel Payment Processing University Financial Helpline 612-624-1617
Financial Policy and Procedures University Financial Helpline 612-624-1617
Student Finance / Financial Aid Office of Student Finance Students
612-624-1111 or 1-800-400-8636

612-624-7304 or 612-624-2057
Faculty/Staff or
Tax Tax Management Office 612-624-1053
International Travel: Registration, Insurance and Policy Global Programs and Strategy Alliance 612-625-5107


Airline Frequent Flyer Programs
Programs offered by individual airlines that award credits towards free or reduced price tickets or other benefits based upon the purchase of an airline ticket. Most major U.S. airlines have frequent flyer programs including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines. Programs offered by non-airline entities, such as credit card companies, are not included within the definition of "Airline Frequent Flier Programs."
Cash Advance
Cash provided to an employee for travel purposes, for human subject payments, or to cover expenses related to athletic recruiting.
Chief Financial Manager (CFM)
The finance person who has the primary accountability for the financial activities in a Resource Responsibility Center. The CFM has a dotted-line reporting relationship to the University’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and is the primary point of contact at the Resource Responsibility Center level on financial matters for the CFO (and the office reporting directly to the CFO).
Travel between work and home.
Domestic Travel
Includes travel within the continental U.S. (CONUS), Alaska and Hawaii.

Note: Per diem rates for U.S. territories including American Samoa, Guam, Midway Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wake Island can be found at the U.S. Department of State’s website for Foreign Travel, in a separate section following the International per diem rates.

A legal obligation of the University to pay a supplier or reimburse an employee or for one department to pay another department, when the payee performs as agreed. The amount is set aside once the purchase document is finalized in the enterprise financial system.
Extended Day Travel
Travel that is at least twelve (12) hours in duration and does not require an overnight stay.
Extenuating Circumstances
Circumstances that are rare, and represent situations beyond the traveler’s control which prevent the traveler from complying with the policy requirements for documentation and timely submission. Examples include sudden medical conditions, or travelers stranded overseas due to geopolitical conflict.
Frequent Flyer Account
An account set up with an airline for an individual traveler for accruing miles to be redeemed for free or reduced-price airline tickets or for other benefits.
International Travel
Travel to any country (including Mexico and Canada) or territory outside the continental U.S. (CONUS), Alaska and Hawaii. Travel to the non-contiguous US locations of American Samoa, Guam, Midway Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wake Island are considered international travel for purposes of this policy and CISI insurance purposes.

Note: Per diem rates for U.S. territories including American Samoa, Guam, Midway Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wake Island can be found at the U.S. Department of State’s website for Foreign Travel, in a separate section following the International per diem rates.

Public Funds
All funds received by the University from any funding sources, regardless of whether those funds originated from private donors; state or federal grants, contracts, or appropriations; or any other source.
Sponsored Funds
Money received by the University from an external party to fund a sponsored project. Sponsored projects are governed by specific terms and conditions, and are separately budgeted and accounted for in accordance with OMB Uniform Guidance, University policies governing sponsored projects, and/or the terms of the sponsoring entity. Sponsored funds may include money received to fund grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements for research, training, and other public service activities.
Travel Advisories
The U.S. Department of State has issued a Travel Advisory on every country in the world with information about conditions, risks, and health and safety information that may be relevant to the security of U.S. citizens. Travel Advisories provide a numeric ranking for each country as well as specific risk type indicators for conditions potentially present in that country. A Travel Advisory may also provide information about the U.S. Government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens due to irregular embassy/consulate operations.
Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings
Travel Alerts, as defined by the U.S. Department of State, are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions, generally within a particular country, that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events are examples of conditions that might generate a Travel Alert.

Travel Warnings, as defined by the U.S. Department of State, are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.

Travel Status
An employee is in travel status when they are on business travel that requires an overnight stay. Travel begins when the employee leaves their home or office for their trip destination and ends when they return to their home or office from their trip destination.
A traveler is an individual (employee or non-employee) who has been authorized to travel on behalf of the University on official University business. All University travelers are required to comply with University policies and procedures. University funds pay for travel expenses.


Certified Approver
For expenses on sponsored funds; reviews travel authorizations and expense reports for accuracy (including accounts being charged), appropriateness and compliance to applicable policies, procedures and Sponsor agreement. Takes action to approve, return, or deny travel authorizations and expense reports based on the review. For expenses to be denied or reimbursed as taxable, consults with department head, RRC Manager, or Policy Owner as necessary.
Chief Financial Manager
Provide oversight and management of the financial activities and financial management practices within their Resource Responsibility Center. Approve taxable travel reimbursements and reimbursements made under "extenuating circumstances", in consultation with departmental approvers and financial staff in the traveler's unit.
Deans, Directors, Department Heads, Vice Presidents, Chancellor
Designates and documents approval authority for staff business travel and for student travel as part of academic programs, including determination of reimbursements that should be denied or paid as taxable reimbursements.
Department Approver
Reviews travel authorizations and expense reports for accuracy (including accounts being charged), appropriateness, and compliance with applicable policies and procedures. Takes action to approve, return, or deny travel authorizations and expense reports based on the review. For expenses to be denied or reimbursed as taxable, consults with department head, RRC Manager, or Policy Owner as necessary.
Disbursement Services Travel Administrator
Administers University employee travel payment process. Reviews and approves cash advance requests. Maintains and updates travel policy, procedures, and communication.
Export Controls Officer
Advises travelers of U.S. export control requirements. Obtains export licenses or licenses to travel to embargoed countries. Approves or denies travel to embargoed countries.
Global Programs and Strategy Alliance (GPS Alliance)
Provides services and information to support international teaching, learning, research, engagement, and collaboration. Advises travelers on resources and policies related to international travel. Manages the online pre-registration of international travel and coordinates response in the case of a world or localized crisis that may impact University travelers. GPS Alliance also coordinates the UMN-CISI international travel, health and security insurance program and the petitions for travel to State Department Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4 locations (ITRAAC).
Follows procedure for creating Travel Authorizations and Expense Reports in the financial system.
Purchasing Services Travel Services Manager
Administers University travel programs, negotiate with travel suppliers to ensure the best travel values, and keep University employees and travel arrangers informed about policies, procedures, contracts, and industry conditions, as necessary. Maintains and updates travel policy, procedures, and communication.
Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA)
Unit responsible for administering sponsored funds and monitoring compliance with the terms of the grant or contract.
Complies with this policy and all related procedures. Chooses the least costly method of transportation that also meets scheduling needs. Selects lodging consistent with University policy. Submits required forms, documentation, and business justifications. Tracks frequent flyer miles. When required by their department, obtains permission to travel before expenses are incurred. Obtains approval for travel expenses. Accounts for cash advances and expenses in a timely manner. International travelers must centrally report their travel in advance of the trip. When traveling with students, ensures they sign a standard release and waiver, receive international travel, health, and security insurance in advance of travel, and obtain special approval to travel to a country with a DOS Travel Warning.

Related Information


June 2019 - Revisions made to accommodate changes to students traveling and education abroad policy.
January 2015 - Comprehensive Review. Minor Revision. Key policy changes: 1) Lengthens the time for submission of travel reimbursement requests from 30 days to 60 days. 2) Provides more specificity around the unit’s option to choose to deny late reimbursement requests, when extenuating circumstances for the delay do not exist. They may also choose to approve the late reimbursement request and report the amount to Payroll as taxable expense. 3) Allows for non-employees attending conferences, etc. as part of a sponsored project or non-sponsored activity, to be paid a stipend for their travel and other related expenses. 4) Recommends less frequent submission of reimbursement requests for miscellaneous out of pocket expenses (e.g., in town mileage to attend business meetings.)
December 2014 - Reference to A-21 changed to OMB Uniform Guidance in Definitions.
December 2011 - Major Revision, Comprehensive Review: Adds a new requirement that travelers to international destinations for University business must pre-register their trip information.
September 2011 - Major Revision, Comprehensive Review:
  • Extends the time frame for submitting travel expenses and accounting for cash advances from 15 days of the scheduled trip end date, to 30 days or the end of the fiscal year/grant end date, whichever is shorter. Reimbursements may not be approved if not submitted within the established timeframe.
  • Aligns the international allowable lodging rate with the domestic lodging rate (150% of the GSA (General Services Administration) or U.S. State Department. Receipts are now required for all hotel reimbursements. Incidentals for international travel will be reimbursed at the full per diem.
  • Incorporates the Frequent Flyer policy language, and eliminates the separate administrative policy: Frequent Flyer.
  • Specifies actions the University may take if traveler spends University funds on an expense that is found to be against policy or cannot be substantiated.
  • Stipulates that employees may not be reimbursed for expenses that have been or will be paid for or reimbursed by another source.
  • Removes the language on cash advances and places it in its own standalone policy.
  • Better describes the provisions governing travel by students.
  • More clearly delineates who may approve or deny payment of travel expenses.
  • Provides additional detail around meals and incidentals.
  • Specifies a new formula for reimbursement of partial day travel.
  • Added a new section on Other Liability Insurance.
July 2008 - Policy completely revised to address the Enterprise Financial System rollout. Procedures, Forms, and Appendices I and K revised. Added new procedure: Obtaining and Reconciling Cash Advances.
January 2007 - Dinner expenses are now covered for extended day travel.
December 2006 - Canada is now considered international travel. Domestic and International Travel definitions, Arranging Travel procedure, and Appendix D and I have been updated to reflect that. Aisle seat charges are not a reimbursable expense. Mileage rate updated for 2007.
July 2006 - Guideline on what is considered reasonable hotel expense has been added. A procedure and form (UM 1636) has been added to address exceptions to the guideline.
March 2006 - Updated International Travel definition. Added Instructions to the Employee Expense Worksheet to the Forms section. Rates section updated to include partial per diem table.
January 2006 - To change policy from reimbursing actual for travel meals to reimbursing per diem rates for travel meals. Frequent Flyer information moved to Policy 3.8.5 - Accrual and Use of Frequent Flyer Miles. The purpose of the changes is to establish that travel expenses require "one-up" approval and to disallow the establishment of or existence of different departmental policies. Most policy sections extensively revised.
December 2005 - Mileage rate updated.
October 2005 - Policy Statement language updated in the paragraph addressing travel using sponsored funds. Added Travel on Sponsored Funds questions and answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Updated Domestic Travel information in the rates section.
September 2005 - Updated mileage rate. Appendix I: Reimbursable/Non-Reimbursable Travel Expenses updated.
December 2004 - Updated mileage rates to include 2005 rates.
November 2004 - Added this sentence to Policy Statement: "Employees and non-employees will not be compensated for business use of personal Frequent Flyer miles, vouchers for bumping, discount coupons, or other personal reward/discount documents of value."
April 2004 - Policy Statement changed: "Travelers should obtain permission to travel before travel begins, from supervisory or designated authority" changed to: "Travelers must obtain permission to travel before travel begins, from supervisory or designated authority".
January 2004 - Added Common Audit Recommendations - Travel to appendices.
December 2003 - Updated Rates Section.
October 2003- Updated Rates section including the following; meal rates increased to match Federal Government's State Department Per Diem (daily allowance), added international travel, link for currency conversions, and policy clarifications. Procedure also updated.
August 2003 - Added link to Certified Approvers site and clarified that CA approval must be obtained for travel on sponsored accounts.
June 2003 - Added new form - Statement in Lieu of Receipt. Updated Rates section to state that gratuities on meals should not exceed 20%. Updated Appendix I to reflect this. Disbursement Services is now Responsible Office (in addition to Purchasing Services).
January 2003 - Mileage rates updated to $0.360. Wording updated in rates section.
January 2002 - Mileage rates updated to $0.365
January 2001 - Mileage rates updated to $0.345, Procedure updated to reflect current requirements for documentation and justification within the Employee Travel Reimbursement Forms.
August 2000 - Added Frequently Asked Questions Section.
July 2000 - meal rates changed to Federal Government's State Department Per Diem (daily allowances) rates.
January 2000 - mileage rates updated from $.31 to $.325 effective January 1, 2000.
March 1999 - mileage rates updated from $.325 to $.31 effective April 1, 1999.
January 1998 - mileage rates updated from $.315 to $.325 effective January 1998.
June 1997 - mileage rates updated to reflect 1997-1998 rates.
April 1997 - added clarification on Frequent Flyer accounts.
January 1997 - added meal rates for expensive cities to table & mileage rate change.
October 1996 - added Appendix N
March 1996 - added link to Travel Web (Appendix M)
December 1995
January 1993 Employee Business Related Expenses

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