Travel & Business Expenses

Guidance for Travelers

The current Washington University Travel Advances & Travel Expenses Policy Statement along with many other travel related forms can be found at Financial Services. The detailed policy statement is also available as a PDF.

Travel Advances

Travel advances are intended to cover either up-front costs, such as airfare or registration fees paid months in advance, or out-of-pocket expenses expected within 30 days before or during travel. For more information on WashU's travel advance policy and guidelines see Financial Services – Travel Advances.

To submit a travel advance, complete a Travel Advance Form (PDF) along with any necessary documentation to Seth Davis.

Travel Reimbursement

University policy requires travel expense statements to be completed in a timely manner after the completion of the trip. Statements submitted more than 60 days after trip completion require exception approval.

The current Travel Expense Statement Form may be downloaded from Financial Services Forms (under T). There are three versions of the form; please choose the appropriate one based upon 7-Day US$, 14-day US$, or (if all expenses are in a foreign currency) 7-day Foreign currency. 

The amount of any prepaid expenses, including University ProCard purchases, must be listed on the bottom portion of the statement. If an advance exceeds actual expenses, the University is owed money, and a check or money order made out to Washington University must be included with the travel report.

The travel expense statement must be completed and signed. The traveler must supply the fund source(s) to be charged.

Supporting Documentation

Generally, supporting documentation is required for individual expenses of $50 or more. Exception approval will be required if missing receipts are $75 or greater per day. Receipts should provide purchasing details including date, price, and proof of payment. An electronic copy or legible picture of the original receipt which is printed is acceptable supporting documentation.

Special Rule for Sponsored Projects: Some sponsors require actual receipts for all transactions to be submitted with a request for reimbursement to the University. In these cases, it is necessary for the traveler seeking reimbursement to obtain and attach all receipts regardless of dollar amount to the travel report.

Attention to the following is appreciated:

  • If using a University ProCard: Include a list of all transactions showing the date, vendor, purpose, and amount. Further, mark “ProCard” on any receipt where the ProCard was used.
  • If claiming per diem for meals: The traveler should print out the location and per diem rate(s) from the government’s website as documentation. The University per diem policy requires an overnight stay, and travelers may only claim 75% of the per diem rate on the first and last day of travel. No meal receipts are required when using the per diem rate. However, if claiming per diem, no other expenses may be included that include food. For example, if a registration fee includes an evening banquet included in the registration, then that travel is ineligible for per diem. Generally, meal receipts must be submitted for any meal greater than $50, and each meal must be itemized for any day whose expenses exceed $75.
  • If claiming mileage: A printed map showing the actual miles should be printed and accompany the report.
  • For foreign travel: Either submit documentation showing the exact amount paid in US$, or submit documentation of currency conversion using www.oanda.com. If you have questions on how to query OANDA for the correct currency conversion documentation, please email or meet with Seth Davis.

We request that all supporting documentation be taped (not stapled) to an 8 ½” x 11” sheet of paper, single side only. When possible, please leave space on the upper right-hand corner of every submitted page for the Travel Report number. The number will be stamped on to every page, including supporting documentation.

Alcoholic beverages, in any quantity, whether consumed with meals or between meals, are not allowable charges to any Federal grant or contract. University funds require the Chairman’s approval for this expense.

The University will not reimburse the cost of insurance on rental vehicles, unless the vehicle will be operated in unusually hazardous conditions (like driving into field terrain), or if travel is outside the United States. The University will pay for any repairs if the vehicle is damaged. A traveler involved in an accident should file a police report and get the proper information from any individual(s) involved. This would include name, address, telephone number of the individual, and the address, phone number, and policy number of their insurance carrier. Upon return, Robert Gemignani will file the necessary paperwork with the Office of Insurance and Risk Management.

Reimbursements will be faster if expenses are not shared among travelers. If sharing expenses with others (e.g., lodging, meals, and car rental), travelers should be advised that no report can be approved until ALL traveler expense statements have been turned in. Shared expenses must be cross-referenced, with the names of the individuals involved and, if sharing dinner expenses, all individuals will need to be named on the receipt.

Airfare Reimbursement

Airfare is to be purchased at the lowest available commercial coach/economy fare available that meets the business purpose of the trip (e.g., Southwest Airlines “Wanna Get Away” fare). Multiple commercial air carrier sites should be researched prior to booking a ticket to ensure the lowest available airfare is selected and not biased by frequent flier affiliation. Additional fees for standard coach/economy upgrade options that do not change the flight class, such as seat choice and early check-in are permitted. Such upgrades must be reasonable considering the facts and circumstances of the expense, and should be charged to the traveler’s discretionary funds if available. 

Guidance specific to Sponsored Projects travel can be found on the SPA website.

The University will not reimburse Business/Business Select Class without exception approval except for individual flight segments of 5 or more hours or when there is a medical need of an employee. Written documentation, no older than 12 months, from a doctor must be submitted with the travel expense statement. For flight segments greater than 5 hours a one class upgrade from coach/economy flight class will be reimbursed. The University only permits first class airfare with written approval from the Chancellor or with exception approval by the CFO or Controller when it is not a one class upgrade.

Your itinerary should be attached to the travel expense statement. The document should include the agency used to make the reservation, date(s), class designation and price of flight(s).

International Travel & Business

The Fly America Act requires travelers funded by the U.S. government to use an American carrier service to/from the United States. Foreign carriers may be used between two points outside the U.S., if American carriers are not available, or if American carriers would cause long delays. Foreign air carriers can be used under certain circumstances according to Open Skies Agreements. Travel arrangements involving open skies agreements should be discussed with Robert Gemignani or Seth Davis to get confirmation from Sponsored Projects beforehand.

When planning international travel involving students, travelers should consult the Global Engagement Resources website for information regarding the International SOS Emergency Travel Assistance Service plan, the International Travel Registry and the International Travel Policy.

Key Points

If you have any questions concerning travel policies, please contact Robert Gemignani or Seth Davis. The main things to keep in mind:

  •  Keep all receipts (especially airline tickets).
  • Ask questions before you leave or make any arrangements.
  • Try to avoid sharing expenses.

More questions?

Please refer to our FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions