University of Minnesota  Administrative Policy

Traveling on University Business

Policy Statement

Travelers (employees and non-employees) must ensure that their 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. Travelers are expected to choose low-cost options that meet their scheduling and business needs. Departments have the discretion to require that travelers obtain approval prior to travel.

External research sponsors may have more or less restrictive rules than the University. Travelers traveling on sponsored funds must follow the most restrictive rules/requirements (University policy or sponsor rules). If the sponsor has given prior written approval, expenses generally not allowed on non-sponsored funds may be allowed on sponsored funds.

All travel to an international destination for University business must be registered prior to the trip. See Administrative 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.

Travel expenses must be reviewed and approved in accordance with Administrative Policy: Processing, Documenting, and Approving Financial and Accounting Transactions. Someone one level senior to the traveler or another person who has been delegated approval is required to approve travel expenses.  

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 vice presidential units are prohibited from establishing their own separate policies in lieu of this University-wide policy.

International Travel

All travelers 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 destinations for any State Department Travel Advisories in advance of international travel. Units cannot require an unwilling employee to travel on University business to a location that is subject to a Travel Advisory Level 3 or Level 4.

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.

University faculty or staff planning to send or take students overseas must:

  • Ensure students complete requirements covered in Administrative Procedure: Preparing for Education Abroad Opportunities.
  • Ensure that students complete the student travel registry process.
  • Ensure that students planning travel to a location that the U.S. State Department has labeled a Level 3 or Level 4 Travel Advisory receive approval in advance of travel from the International Travel Risk Assessment and Advisory Committee (ITRAAC) by completing the application process outlined on the GPS Alliance Travel Approval. Refer to Administrative Procedure: Travel Approval (ITRAAC) for more information about the ITRAAC approval process.

Export Controls

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

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 seqThese 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 U Travel: Fly America Act website.

Paying for Travel

Travelers should use the University Travel Card for travel expenses. See Administrative Policy: Using the University Travel Card.

Traveler should not pay for or request reimbursement for expenses incurred by another traveler, including meals. 

In cases where the traveler has incurred an expense that is unallowable (either through Travel card, PCard purchases, advances, or otherwise), the funds will be recovered from the traveler by one of the following methods:

  • Travel Card: before submitting the expense report for approval, the traveler will be prompted to select a one-time payroll deduction or receive a bill by email.
  • Out-of-pocket reimbursements or PCard: the department should follow the Administrative Procedure: Creating a Bill.
  • In cases where the employee does not submit payment as required above, the employee and the Controller’s Office will establish a payment plan under which the Controller’s Office will work with the Office of Human Resources to have the amount owed deducted from the employee's paycheck.
  • For amounts deemed uncollectable (for example, the traveler is no longer a University employee), the Controller’s Office may seek legal remedies against individuals who do not repay improper charges and reimbursements 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.

In circumstances where the University 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. Where situations arise and the third party is slow to pay for their portion of the trip, the traveler should consult with the unit’s Chief Financial Manager as soon as possible.

Where budget constraints, compliance risks, or other factors warrant variations from this University policy, the Chief Financial Manager should work with the appropriate central system wide office(s) to address the circumstances.

Cash advances may be available in specifically defined circumstances. See Administrative Policy: Cash Advances.

In some situations, departments provide a set dollar amount for travel or “lump sum”, irrespective of the total cost of the trip. Travelers must still comply with this policy and the limits within.

Currency Exchange (International Travel)

When expenses are incurred in foreign currencies, travelers must:

  • Submit foreign expenses in U.S. dollars using the exchange rate provided in Chrome River on the date of the expense.
  • For purchases made with a personal credit card, use the exchange rates provided by the credit card company. Include documentation indicating the exchange rates used to make the conversions.
  • When using the University’s Travel Card, exchange rates are handled by the bank.

Documenting Travel Expenses

Travelers must substantiate and document all travel expenses in accordance with the Administrative Policy: Processing, Documenting, and Approving Financial and Accounting Transactions.  Receipts are not required to request per diem for meals and incidentals. Receipts are required for all other expenses greater than $25

Travelers must submit their expense report by the specified deadline(s) below:

  • Travel Card – 60 days from expense date
  • Procurement Card – 30 days from expense date
  • Out-of-pocket expenses – 60 days from end date of trip
  • For travel on sponsored projects, travelers must submit reimbursement requests before the end date of the grant.
  • All expenses should be processed in the fiscal year in which they occurred, irrespective of whether sponsored funds or non-sponsored funds are used.

Taxable Reimbursements

Out-of-pocket travel reimbursement requests not submitted within 60 days of the trip end date must route to the Chief Financial Manager and should be denied. If rare and extenuating circumstances exist, the Chief Financial Manager may determine that the expenses may be reimbursed and has the authority to determine when the reimbursement will be reported as taxable income. A taxable reimbursement must be reported to Payroll for inclusion in the traveler's calendar year taxable compensation.  Sponsored funds may not be used for these taxable reimbursements, regardless of whether or not the travel was related to the grant/contract.

Combined Business and Personal Travel

Travelers may choose to combine personal travel with University business travel. Travel must be primarily for business purposes to receive a reimbursement of transportation expenses tax-free. Travelers are prohibited from using University funds for their personal travel. At the time travel is booked, obtain a price comparison for the trip that does not include personal travel and include the price comparison with the expense report. This includes situations where the traveler has selected an indirect route or interrupts travel for personal convenience.

Reimbursement Requests for Non-Travel Status Expenses

The Administrative Policy: Business Expenses covers situations, such as same day/extended day travel or local mileage (between campuses where the trip there/back took place in one day).

Air Transportation

Travel by air is limited to the lowest, non-refundable, fare class available at the time of booking that meets the requirements listed below and meets the traveler’s needs.

  • Basic Economy
    • Not recommended because seat assignments are not assigned until check-in and ticket changes or upgrades are not allowed
  • Economy- allowed for all flights
  • Premium Economy – allowed for flights 4 or more hours with no additional approval
  • Business – allowed for flights 8 or more hours (including connecting domestic legs).  Travelers should obtain pre-approval from their supervisor.  Supervisors may deny a portion of the airfare if the traveler does not obtain pre-approval for the upgrade.
  • First – not allowed

Each airline may have different designations for fare/seat classes than those listed above.  Contact Purchasing Services if the traveler is unsure what fare class to book.

Additional Fees:

  • Fees to reserve coach/economy seats ahead of check-in are allowed.
  • Baggage: The first piece of baggage within the airlines’ weight and size limits is allowable. Costs for additional baggage beyond the first piece and overweight or oversized baggage may be allowable with a valid business justification.

As a best practice to mitigate risk, no more than 20 University faculty, staff, or Regents should fly on the same plane at the same time.

 Accrual and Use of Frequent Flyer Miles

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 (for example, from state or federal grants, contracts, appropriations, or private donors). Travelers may not use these miles for their personal travel. See Minnesota State Statute, 15.435.

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

Infrequent travelers (those who take no more than two 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 (for example, airport shuttles, taxis, car rentals, app-based ride services (such as Uber or Lyft), train or bus travel).

Travelers should rent vehicles only when necessary, or when doing so reduces overall transportation charges to the University. Additional ground transportation expenses will not be reimbursed during the time a traveler has rented a vehicle (for example, cab fare or app-based ride services).

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 vehicle rental outside the United States. International travelers must 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.

Personal Vehicles

Travelers may use their personal vehicle in the course of required University travel in accordance with the Administrative PolicyUsing Vehicles for University Business. Travelers may request reimbursement for domestic or international mileage using the IRS standard mileage rate. Mileage to and from location of employment is not a reimbursable expense.

If a traveler elects to drive a vehicle in lieu of flying, a price comparison for airfare must be done by the traveler prior to the trip and submitted with the expense report. Any additional expenses, such as lodging, car rental fees, mileage, or parking, up to the amount of the lowest economy airfare that would have met the traveler’s needs is what is typically allowable.

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 must have the contract reviewed by the University's Office of the General Counsel (OGC) prior to making the arrangements.

Travelers must not travel by private plane or air charter services, regardless of cost, without a signed contract that has been reviewed and approved by the Office of General Counsel.

Travelers 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.


Itemized receipts are required for all lodging. For lodging examples, see Appendix: Mileage, Lodging, Meals & Incidentals Examples.

Travelers may choose to stay with family, friends, or colleagues while in travel status, but lodging and other related costs are not allowable.

Non-Conference Lodging

Expenses may not exceed 150% of the lodging per diem nightly rate (before taxes) for the destination city. Actual nightly rate lodging expenses (excluding taxes and fees) for the trip may not exceed the cumulative total allowable lodging per diem. 

Location of TravelPer Diem Rates
Domestic TravelU.S. General Services Administration (GSA)
Hawaii and Alaska

Department of Defense

  • The University uses the Maximum Lodging, Local Meals and Local Incidentals.
International TravelU.S. Department of State

Travelers may use vacation rental sites (for example, Airbnb, VRBO) if there is a cost savings over traditional lodging and other related travel expenses. When entering into a contract for a vacation rental, the contract should be in the name of the traveler.  In cases when the contract is under the name of the Regents of the University of Minnesota, travelers must follow the Administrative Policy: Entering into Contracts.

The traveler’s supervisor must approve lodging expenses that exceed the allowable limits or use of vacation rentals. In these instances, travelers should obtain pre-approval prior to making lodging reservations by:

  • Creating a Pre-Approval in Chrome River; or
  • Completing the Request for Lodging Exception (DOCX) form and attaching it to the expense report when submitting lodging expenses for approval.

Conference Lodging 

Lodging expenses do not need to follow the lodging per diem nightly rate, since 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 and obtain pre-approval if the rate exceeds 150%.

Local Lodging

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, only when the department or college has pre-approved the stay. The employee must document the specific circumstances that require the local stay.

Room Sharing

When traveling on University business, travelers are prohibited from sharing rooms or bedrooms with students, minor children who are not related to the employee, or subordinate employees.

Travelers cannot be required to share a room or bedroom.

If travelers choose to share rooms, each room must be within the maximum allowable lodging per diem. Each traveler should pay for their own lodging and request their own itemized receipt. In instances where one traveler pays entire lodging expenses and receives one itemized receipt, the traveler who pays should prorate the room costs, if practical, to properly reflect each traveler’s share of the lodging expense.  This allows for a more accurate cost split, especially for travelers funded by multiple sources.

Meals and Incidentals

Travelers are responsible for using personal funds to pay for meal and incidental expenses. The University will reimburse these expenses using federally established per diem rates for the destination city of their travel. Travelers may use one location (for example, lodging location) for per diem for each day of travel.  Actual per diem rates are pre-loaded and calculated in the expense system.

Location of TravelPer Diem Rates
Domestic TravelU.S. General Services Administration (GSA)
Hawaii and Alaska

Department of Defense

  • The University uses the Maximum Lodging, Local Meals and Local Incidentals.
International TravelU.S. Department of State

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 M&IE per diem rates include meal tax and tips, ATM fees, service tips, etc. See Appendix: Per Diem – Lodging, Meals & Incidentals.


First and last days of travel meal per diems are calculated at 75% irrespective of the time of day that the traveler leaves or arrives back home.

Travelers will not be reimbursed for:

  • Meal expenses exceeding the maximum meal rate for their destination city; or
  • When a traveler’s meal is part of a conference or event, the traveler should deduct the appropriate meal from their meal per diem for the day.


Travelers should not submit or request reimbursement for any of these items, as they are included in the daily incidental amount.

  • Gratuities for baggage carriers, porters, and hotel staff
  • ATM fees, bank fee, and check cashing charges
  • Laundry and valet expenses (international travel)

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

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


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, are required to follow this policy.

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.

If students miss any classes due to traveling on University business they are 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.

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 through financial aid (for example, if a student is traveling to present research to obtain their degree and the University is supporting the travel). Consult with the Office of Student Finance for proper handling of payments to students. For additional information on paying students, see the Tax Management Office Guidelines #8 Payments to Students.

Non-Employee Travel

Non-employees and persons of interest (POIs) who travel on behalf of the University may be reimbursed for travel-related expenses. Best practice is for the University to arrange and pay directly for non-employee lodging and airfare. Meals and lodging must be reimbursed as actual expenses, not to exceed the per diem limits in this policy. Receipts are required for all non-employee 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 and 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 the expenses conform to the acceptable conditions outlined in Administrative Policy: Hospitality and Entertainment of Non-Employees.

Professional Service Providers

Contracts with professional service providers should include specific language that covers travel expenses that comply with this policy. See Administrative Policy: Purchasing a Professional Service.

Conference Attendees

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. An official supplier record should be established. Departments must ensure that the non-employee is not being reimbursed for an expense that the University paid for directly with another supplier. Payments must comply with University accounts payable policies and procedures A Contract for Professional Services is not required to pay stipends to non-employees.


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 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 activities 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.


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

Reason for Policy

This policy provides standards that ensure safe and economical University travel while maintaining 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.


Primary Contact(s)Beth Tapp612-624-5255[email protected]
Travel Using Sponsored FundsOffice of Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA)612-624-0327 
Export Controls OfficerPat Briscoe612-625-3860[email protected]
University Fleet Car RentalFleet Services612-625-3033[email protected]
Plane ChartersU Travel612-624-2828[email protected]
Housing on CampusHousing Services612-624-2994 
ContractsPurchasing/Travel Services612-624-2828 [email protected]
Accident Reporting, Extra Hazardous InsuranceRisk Management and Insurance Office612-625-0062[email protected]
Travel TrainingFinancial Training612-624-1617[email protected]
Travel Payment ProcessingFinancial Helpline612-624-1617[email protected]
Financial Policy and ProceduresFinancial Helpline612-624-1617[email protected]
Student Finance / Financial AidOffice of Student FinanceStudents
612-624-1111 or 1-800-400-8636

612-624-7304 or 612-624-2057
[email protected] or [email protected]
TaxTax Management Office612-624-1053[email protected]
International Travel: Registration, Insurance and PolicyGlobal Programs and Strategy Alliance612-625-5107[email protected]
Responsible Individuals
Responsible Officer Policy Owner Primary Contact
  • Controller
  • Director of Purchasing Services
  • Beth Tapp
    Director of Purchasing Services


Accountable Plan

An accountable plan is where reimbursements and/or other expense allowance arrangements must meet certain IRS requirements related to business-connection and substantiation, and requires that amounts in excess of substantiated expenses be returned in a timely manner. Amounts paid under an accountable plan are excluded from the individual's income. Reimbursements made that do not meet the requirements of the accountable plan are taxable. A statement regarding your employer's accountable plan is available, should the IRS ask you for such a statement.

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."

Business Class Airfare

Airline seat class above economy (and premium economy), with upgraded amenities, service and seating.

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 for a campus, college, or administrative unit. The CFM has a dotted-line reporting relationship to the University’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and is the primary point of contact 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. See “international travel” definition for U.S. territories

Extended Day Travel

Travel that is at least 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.

First Day of Travel

Departure day – the day a traveler leaves their home or office, regardless of the time of day.

Fiscal Year

A one-year period used for financial reporting and budgeting. The University of Minnesota’s fiscal year is July 1 through June 30.

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.

Incidental Expenses

Gratuities for baggage carries, porters, hotel staff (bellhops and house cleaners), and staff on ships, ATM fees, bank fees, check cashing fees, and other minor fees or costs incurred while traveling. Laundry and valet expenses are included in the daily incidental amount for international travel.

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.

Last Day of Travel

Return Day – the day a traveler returns to their home or office, regardless of the time of day.

Non-Sponsored Funds

Funds available for use on activities that are not externally-sponsored research. For a list of non-sponsored funds numbers, see Chart of Accounts, Fund Types.

Public Funds

Those received from “public” sources, such as students, governmental entities, or taxpayers, and which are intended to support the primary mission of the University. As such, public funds should be used in a manner which would withstand the test of public scrutiny. Public funds include federal and state appropriations, tuition and fees, income generated from external sales activities, and all sponsored research funds. See Chart of Accounts, Fund Types.

Premium Economy

Airline seat class that is located in the main cabin with wider seats and more leg room and is purchased at a higher cost than a standard economy ticket. It is also referred to as economy comfort, comfort plus, main cabin extra, or main cabin select.

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 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.


Certified Approver

For expenses being charged to sponsored funds; reviews travel authorizations and expense reports for accuracy (including accounts being charged), appropriateness and compliance with 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 reimbursed as taxable, consults with department head, Chief Financial Manager, or Policy Owner as necessary.

Chief Financial Manager

Provide oversight and management of the financial activities and financial management practices within their campus, college, or administrative unit. Approve taxable travel reimbursements and reimbursements made under "extenuating circumstances", in consultation with departmental and certified approvers and financial staff in the traveler's unit.

Controller’s Office

Provide guidance and assistance to departments in evaluating and determining the allowability of expenses in various situations. Grant exceptions to the policy in situations where one is allowed and requested.

Deans, Directors, Department Heads, Vice Chancellors, Vice Presidents, Chancellors

Designate and document 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 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 reimbursed as taxable, consults with department head, Chief Financial Manager, or Policy Owner as necessary.

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 Pre-Approvals and Expense Reports on behalf of a traveler.

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.

U Travel Office

Administers University travel programs, negotiate with travel suppliers to ensure the best travel values, and keep University employees and travel preparers/delegates informed about policies, procedures, contracts, and industry conditions, as necessary. Maintains and updates travel policy, procedures, and communication.

Administers University employee travel payment process. Reviews and approves cash advance requests. Maintains and updates travel policy, procedures, and communication.



February 2021 - Comprehensive Review

  1. Updates language to be about what is allowable rather than what can be reimbursed
  2. Includes a section about paying for travel – moved language from other places in the policy into this new section
  3. Eliminates language about extended day travel and local mileage – can be found in Business Expense policy
  4. Updates information related to air transportation.
  5. Adds provisions in lodging for vacation rentals and room sharing, as well as approval requirements for lodging expenses over 150%.


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