Using a Personal Vehicle for Travel or University-Related Business

Car odometer showing mileage

University employees may use their personal vehicles for travel or University related business, but are subject to certain limitations and guidelines.

The means of transportation you use should be determined by the most economical mode and most commonly traveled route consistent with the authorized purpose of the trip. If it’s more economical to drive, reimbursement for mileage may be claimed according to the established rate published by the Internal Revenue Service at the time of vehicle use.

Mileage Rates are listed here.

What You Can be Reimbursed For

You can be reimbursed for mileage for your entire trip if driving is the most economical mode of transportation (for example, if you were attending a conference in Santa Barbara) or when the business purpose for the trip requires you to drive (for example, if your research materials cannot be taken on an airplane). Mileage reimbursement between residence and primary workplace (commute) is excluded.

To and From the Airport

Mileage expenses may be allowed between the traveler's residence and the common carrier or destination if University business travel originates or terminates during a regularly scheduled day off.

When a traveler is authorized to drive a private vehicle to or from a common carrier terminal, mileage may be reimbursed as follows:

  • One round trip, including parking for the duration of the trip; or
  • Two round trips, including short-term parking expenses, when an employee is driven to a common carrier.
You Must Factor in Your Normal Commute

Mileage claimed should only be that in excess of normal commute, the general rule is:

Mileage Claimed = Total Mileage - Normal Commute

If an employee goes to their primary work location first and then drives to a secondary work location and back, then they can claim the round trip from their primary location to the secondary location.

If an employee is required to stop at a secondary work location on their way to or from work, mileage above their regular commute can be claimed For example, if your normal one-way commute is 20 miles, and you drive 15 miles from home to give a presentation at an off-site location and then 15 miles to work, then you could only claim the additional 10 miles as mileage.

If you drive to a secondary work location for an entire day, you may claim any mileage greater than your regular commute For example:  Your normal round-trip commute is 40 miles. If the round trip between home and a secondary location is less than or equal to 40 miles, no mileage should be claimed. Anything over 40 miles can be claimed.

If business travel or duties requires you to report to an off-site work location or the airport on your regularly scheduled day off, the entire mileage amount can be claimed without subtracting the normal commute.

Additional Considerations

  • When Flying is Cheaper: If a traveler chooses to travel by personal car when air travel is more economical, they should only be reimbursed for mileage up to a reasonable estimate of lowest coach fare that could have been purchased plus transportation costs to and from the terminals.
  • Fuel and Rental Cars: Mileage may not be claimed for rental cars, but fuel can be reimbursed when purchased for a rental car. Mileage must be claimed in a personal car, traveler does not have the option to have fuel reimbursed.
  • Insurance: Traveler must carry liability insurance on the personal vehicle in order for mileage to be claimed.
  • Ownership: It is not required that the car used is owned by the traveler.
  • Driving to Mexico: All drivers traveling into Mexico must obtain minimum liability and property damage insurance before crossing the border.