Travel Policy Highlights: The Rules and Guidelines Everyone Should Know


UCI Travelers are required to comply with all policies related to travel and entertainment expenses. The highlights below represent the most commonly encountered rules and guidelines every traveler should be aware of.

The list below also includes information about what receipts are necessary for reimbursement. For more information on that topic, see the supporting documentation guide.

Consider Using Connexxus to Book Travel

Booking a Flight or Train Trip

  • Book only coach or economy-class tickets. Business, first-class or other higher-cost services (priority or early boarding, extra leg space, exit row seat, Plus seating) are typically ineligible for reimbursement. The Travel team recommends using Connexxus to book UC rates.
  • Do not use package deals. These are generally ineligible for reimbursement, as are early bird, seat assignment, and trip insurance fees. Package deals often do not separate the cost of the hotel, air and car costs.
  • Receipt requirement: Itinerary receipt showing payment, fare class, passenger name and ticket number.

Register for Free Travel Benefits

  • You Must Register: The University of California provides free travel benefits to all UC business travelers, including insurance for a wide variety of accidents and incidents, but you must register your trip with UCOP. This is done automatically if you book with Connexxus (with the exception of Southwest Airlines).
  • UC Away Website: If you book your trip outside of Connexxus or with Southwest Airlines, you should register your trip on the UC Away Website.

Renting a Car

  • Rent a car when it's more cost effective than other means, such as a taxi. Limit is intermediate size. Use Connexxus to book special UC rates available from Enterprise, Hertz, and National.
  • Insurance. Car bookings made with the three car rental companies mentioned above include insurance coverage, so turn down any additional insurance offered—LDW-Loss Damage Waiver, CDW-Collision Damage Waiver, SLI-Supplemental Liability Insurance. See the Renting an Automobile page for exceptions that apply outside the contiguous 48 states and for international travel.
  • Receipt requirement: Itemized receipt.

Using Private Vehicles

  • Using your personal vehicle. Use your personal vehicle if less expensive than renting a car, taking a taxi, or using alternative transportation, or if it saves time.
  • The mileage reimbursement rate can be found here and covers the overall cost for fuel/gas, lubrication, towing, repair, replacements, tires, depreciation, insurance, etc.
  • Receipt requirement: Provide a Mapquest or Google Maps route showing the mileage of your trip. Some units may require a mileage log sheet.

Surface Transportation Instead of Flying

  • If advance approval was obtained, you may use surface transportation for personal reasons even though the lowest available airfare is most economical. Total reimbursement cannot exceed the equivalent of lowest airfare plus local transport to and from terminals.
  • Receipt requirement: Comparison of costs.

Staying at a Hotel

  • Renting a Room: For trips shorter than 30 days that are within the continental United States, the lodging expense reimbursements are actual up to $275 per night before taxes and fees.  The lodging rate must be reasonable for the locality of travel. When the traveler is unable to secure lodging at $275 per night or less, the traveler must submit additional documentation such as price comparisons within the proximity of the meeting location. The price comparisons should be performed at the time of booking.
  • Reserve using Connexxus or your Corporate Travel Card. You may request payment to your Travel Card before the end of your trip to avoid late fees. Non-employees may request lodging to be prepaid by the University.
  • Upgrades are typically ineligible for reimbursement.
  • Receipt requirement: Itemized receipt (hotel folio).

Staying with Family or Friends

  • You may stay with a friend or family member on a trip, but you may not pay them. A non-cash gift such as flowers, groceries or a restaurant meal is allowed but may not exceed $75 (a receipt is required for any gift $25+). Limit is 1 gift per stay (not 1 gift per night).
  • Receipt requirement: Receipt for non-cash gift >$25 (includes tax).

Renting Rooms from Individuals

  • They must be set up as a vendor. You may be reimbursed for renting a room from an individual instead of a hotel, but the individual must first be set up as a vendor (W-9 required) with the university, even if the reimbursement will be made to you. Any lease must be between you and the lessor.
  • Receipt requirement: Receipt and W-9

Paying for Meals on Short Trips in the Continental U.S.

  • The Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) cap is the maximum amount that UCI travelers can claim daily for meals and incidentals (tips) during short-term business travel in the continental United States.
  • Claim only the actual reasonable costs incurred, not to exceed the current cap per day for travel lasting more than 24 hours and shorter than 30 days. Meal expenses cannot be reimbursed for day trips.
  • When are receipts needed? Departments should remind their travelers that only expenses actually incurred are reimbursable

Paying for Meals Outside the Continental U.S. or on Long Trips

Travel to States with AB 1887 Restrictions

  • Assembly Bill No. 1887 prohibits the use of state funds for travel to states that have passed a law after June 26, 2015, that (1) authorized discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression; or (2) repealed existing state or local protections against such discrimination. The list of the states where travel restrictions apply can be found on the State Attorney General's website:
  • More information can be found on the AB 1887 page.

Travel to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria

More Important Guidelines

  • Department Rules: Keep in mind that your department or unit may have stricter rules than listed on this page. 
  • 45 Days: Travel Reimbursements must be submitted, approved, and received by Accounting no later than 45 days after the end of trip date.
  • Paying for Others: You may share a room, shuttles, and cab rides with another traveler. Don’t pay for another person’s travel, including airfare, lodging, registration, meals, etc.
  • Business Purpose: Documentation supporting the business purpose may be required (conference brochure, invite, agenda, etc.)
  • Travel Arrangers: Working with your department travel preparer will help ensure any additional departmental requirements are met, including fund restrictions (e.g., alcohol), required receipts, and a speedy reimbursement.