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
- It's easy to follow travel guidelines when you book with Connexxus. The system has built-in guidance for compliance with UC G-28 travel regulations.
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, and trip insurance fees. Package deals often do not separate the cost of the hotel, air and car costs.
- Ancillary charges: Provided they are allowed by the funding source, the following airline charges are reimbursable under UCI policy:
- Checked and carry-on bag fees
- Early check-in (i.e. Southwest Airlines Early Bird Check In)
- Economy-class seat selection fees
- 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
- Per Diems are authorized in these situations; for all foreign travel, travel within Alaska, Hawaii and United States possessions (OCONUS) and domestic assignments of 30 or more. The Per Diem is based on a published rate for a specific location for meals, lodging and service tips. Travelers should be reimbursed for their actual expenses up to the per diem rate.
- For specific rates, refer to these calculators:
- Receipt requirement: None, should not exceed the daily per diem.
Cash Advance Requests
Cash advances are for estimated expenses (typically meals and lodging only) expected to be incurred during a business trip.
- Corporate Card Holders: Travelers are required to use their corporate card to obtain cash advances for expenses incurred in connection with official University business travel.
- Non-Corporate Card Holders: Travelers who cannot obtain a cash advance through a corporate card may request a cash advance from the University in accordance with procedures established by the campus. UCI Accounts Payable policy:
- Only active employees with a TEM profile may request and receive a cash advance.
- Create a Travel Authorization document to request a cash advance.
- Reconcile the Travel Authorization document with a Travel Reimbursement upon completion of the UCI business trip.
- Unused cash advance must be returned to the University.
- Cash advances must be accounted for within 45 days after the trip is completed.
Travel to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria
- Contact the campus Export Control Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org) before traveling on university business to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, or Syria.
- More information can be found on the Economic and Trade Sanctions (OFAC) page of the Office of Research website.
International Travel - Information Security Guidance
- There are special rules for bringing electronic equipment, research, intellectual property, and encryption technology abroad. See the International Travel - Information Security Guidance webpage from UCI Information Security & Privacy for more information.