General Travel Information
All University travel must be approved in advance. Approval requirements vary among University divisions.
Faculty Professional Leave or Travel Authorization
An Authorization for Professional Leave or Travel must be submitted to the appropriate Department Chair and Dean (or to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs or Vice President for Health Affairs for individuals reporting directly to that position) prior to making any travel arrangements. Permission to be absent from campus or other approved work site for one-half day or more to engage in professional activity during regular periods of contracted employment can be granted under professional leave. For further information on faculty professional leave, please refer to the Faculty Handbook and Exhibit A.
College of Medicine Travel Authorization
The USA College of Medicine Request to Be Absent from Work form ( Exhibit B) must be submitted to the appropriate Department Chair and Dean prior to making any travel arrangements. This form is required for domestic or international travel, regardless of whether or not the University will bear the responsibility for the cost of the trip. If the University will bear the financial responsibility for the trip, the traveler should document the anticipated total cost, broken down by the type of cost: transportation, lodging, meals, registration, other (including all prepaid costs). If the travel is to be outside of the country, the traveler must also follow the requirements related to international travel.
Hospital Travel Authorization
An Authorization for Professional Leave ( Exhibit C) must be submitted to the appropriate Administrator/Assistant Administrator prior to making any travel arrangements, including requests for payment of registration fees. Once this form is approved by Administration, it will be returned to the department. The department should then submit a direct pay form to Accounting for prepayment of registration and/or other fees. The original Authorization must be attached with the requisition in order for payment to be made. A copy of the Authorization should be retained and attached to the request for reimbursement of travel expenses.
The Hospital Administrator must approve Authorizations involving travel outside of the southeastern area. The southeastern area includes the states of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Travel Outside the United States (Including travel to Alaska and Hawaii and all U. S. Insular Areas)
As more fully discussed in the “International/Foreign Travel” section of these regulations, prior to making travel arrangement, all University-related international/foreign travel must be approved by the appropriate department head, dean/administrator, Vice-President/Senior Vice President and President.
Additionally the traveler is required to complete the International Travel Review Process form (except for U. S. Insular Areas, as defined in this document) and submit that form to the Office of International Education.
Student Travel Authorization Form
Students wishing to travel should complete and submit the Student Travel Authorization Request (Exhibit M). The travel form should include the specific purpose of the student’s travel and any anticipated expense along with approvals from the Department Chair, Dean and Vice-president under whose auspices the student is traveling. If the travel is to be outside of the country, the traveler must also follow the requirements related to international travel. Travel expenses for students should be submitted following regular University out-of-state travel regulations regardless of whether the travel is in-state or out-of-state.
Although approval procedures vary among University division, all travel approvals must take place PRIOR to the actual purchase of tickets, conference registration, etc. as well as participation in the planned travel activity whether it is domestic travel or international travel. Please check with your appropriate administrative units for the timely filing deadlines that my apply for pre-approval of such travel.
Receipts, other than meals, and any other documentation of the total costs of the trip (including any prepaid expenses) must be attached to and submitted along with the travel reimbursement form. Documentation must include information detailing meals included in a registration fee. This would normally be the complete conference agenda or similar conference registration information that, at a minimum, includes daily meeting schedules. To help insure receipts are not lost, it is suggested that small credit card and other receipts be taped to an 8½ by 11 sheet of paper and then attached to the travel reimbursement form.
Federal Grants and Contracts
These travel regulations apply to all funds of the University including federal grants and contracts, and are in addition to federal regulations and/or limitations imposed by granting agencies. Travel forms that include costs charged to grants or contracts must include the signature of the principal investigator.
Length of Stay
In order to adequately document the length of stay, a copy of the agenda of the meeting or conference being attended should be attached to the travel reimbursement form. Employees should limit their length of stay to the minimum amount of time necessary. Lodging and meal expenses for extra days of travel caused by use of a personal automobile will not normally be reimbursed.
Extended Travel to Save Costs
The additional expenses associated with travel that is extended to save costs, such as a Saturday night stay, may be reimbursed when the cost of airfare would be less than the cost of airfare if the traveler had not extended the trip, and provided that those expenses were incurred in compliance with all other travel regulations. Such expenses, which include lodging, car rental, meals and incidental expenses, shall not exceed the amount the University would have paid if the traveler had not extended the trip. An employee must document, at the time airline tickets are tentatively reserved, the airfare as if the trip had not been extended, and submit this documentation with the travel reimbursement form. The employee should also attach to the travel reimbursement form a calculation comparing the cost of the extended trip to the cost had the trip not been extended.
Travel forms should be filed within sixty (60) days of the trip. The University reserves the right not to reimburse expenses on travel forms submitted 60 days or more after a trip is made. Reimbursements made where the travel forms are filed subsequent to 60 days after completion of the trip will be treated as income subject to withholding in a subsequent payroll according to federal income tax regulations section 1.62-2. Taxable travel should be charged to account code 730100.
Conference registration fees paid personally by a participating University employee are reimbursable after the conference is attended. To claim reimbursement, conference brochures or other literature documenting the expenses, plus a registration receipt or other proof of payment, must be submitted along with the travel form.
Taxi and Limousine Service
Taxi and limousine fares used in connection with official University business will be fully reimbursed. These expenses should be itemized in the miscellaneous section of the travel form with an explanation for each fare. Receipts are required for taxi fares costing $25 or more. Taxi fares to and from meals are considered to be personal expenses and will not be reimbursed. The following example indicates an appropriate way of reporting taxi and limousine fares on travel forms:
Long Distance Telephone Calls
The costs of long distance telephone calls for official University business will be fully reimbursed to the traveler. Documentation should include the date of the call and the name, position and/or office of the person called. An itemized hotel bill, the employee’s itemized personal telephone bill, or other suitable documentation should support the costs of the calls.
A format similar to the following example should be used:
Called Dr. Jane Doe, HHS Regional Office in Atlanta regarding grant proposal
Called departmental office at the University regarding University business
Team and Other Student Group Travel
For travel involving student athletic teams, the coach or instructor will be responsible for submitting a travel reimbursement form and other appropriate documentation covering applicable expenses. For travel involving other student groups, the faculty or staff sponsor will be responsible for submitting a travel reimbursement form and other appropriate documentation covering applicable expenses. Allowable expenses are those described under the out-of-state travel regulations, even though the travel may be totally within the State of Alabama.
Except for intercollegiate athletic team travel and other student group travel, advance payment for lodging, meals and other expenses is not allowed. Conference registration fees can be paid in advance directly by the University; however, if the traveler pays such fees directly, the traveler can only be reimbursed after the travel has occurred.
Travel of Students, Consultants, and Prospective Employees
The per diem limitations of the in-state travel regulations do not apply to students, outside consultants, or prospective employees. Travel expenses for students, outside consultants, or prospective employees should be submitted following regular University out-of-state travel regulations regardless of whether the travel is in-state or out-of-state.
The State of Alabama has determined that it is acceptable for travelers to accept “points” or “miles” from airline and hotel incentive programs for personal use. However, when an employee is traveling with a group or team and pays the expenses for the entire group, any incentive points earned in connection with such trips should be used for University purposes only.
Travel of Spouses
The University will not reimburse costs associated with the travel of spouses or children of employees. Further, the University assumes no liability or responsibility for travel of spouses or children.
Travelers Claiming Reimbursement for Expenses of Other Employees
Employees should not claim reimbursement for travel expenses of other employees. Each traveler should file a travel form for his or her own travel expenses and the form should include necessary receipts.
Travel of University Employees for Outside Organizations
In cases where an outside organization is paying for the travel expenses of a University employee, the airline ticket expenses and other advance expense payments should be made by the employee or the sponsoring organization, not the University.
Base Area and Employee Work Base
The base area for the University generally consists of the city limits of Mobile. The base area for the USA Baldwin County campus generally consists of the city limits of Fairhope.
Further, each employee has a designated “work base.” An employee’s work base is his or her primary location of work (Main campus, Children’s and Women’s Hospital, etc.) If an employee works at more than one University location (e.g., a faculty member with a teaching load at USA Baldwin County and the main campus), the University will determine which location is deemed to be the employee’s work base. Questions regarding an employee’s work base should be directed through the employee’s department head to the Travel Office.
All travel should be by the most economical route practical. The mode of transportation used should be the most economical and practical one obtainable under the circumstances of the travel involved and in the best interest of the University. Any person traveling by another route or originating a trip from other than the base area, without adequate justification, shall assume any additional expense. Where there is interruption of travel or deviation from the direct route for the traveler’s personal convenience, the allowable reimbursement will not exceed that which would have been incurred for uninterrupted travel.
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Personal automobile usage by the most direct route is authorized in accordance with state law at the standard mileage rate allowed by the Internal Revenue Service for business use of an automobile, generally not to exceed the total amount of the 14-day advance coach/economy air fare to the destination plus airport ground transportation. Currently, the standard mileage rate is 56.5¢ per mile. Notice will be sent to departments and posted on the Travel Office website as this rate changes. The traveler must detail, on the travel form, the calculations used in determining the transportation reimbursement. The information used in the calculations must be obtained when other arrangements are being made for the trip. When personal automobiles are utilized for official travel and the traveler is reimbursed at the standard mileage rate, gasoline purchases are not reimbursable to the traveler.
Given the current environment within the airline industry, it is understood that some travelers prefer to drive to a destination rather than flying. As a general rule, when the driving time to a location is 10 hours or less, no justification is required in order to drive. When the driving time to a location is over 10 hours, the traveler should document the cost of driving verses flying and the rationale for doing so. This documentation should be approved in advance by the Travel Office and attached to the travel reimbursement form.
When two or more employees travel in the same automobile, only one is eligible for mileage reimbursement.
The University provides no physical damage coverage for damage to personal vehicles used on University business. Your personal automobile liability insurance is your primary coverage when using your personal vehicle for University business.
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When traveling by airplane, the lowest available discount coach airfare should be obtained except when such accommodations would (a) require unreasonable routing; (b) require travel during unreasonable hours; (c) excessively prolong travel or flight duration; (d) result in increased cost that would offset transportation savings; or (e) offer accommodations not reasonably adequate for the medical needs of the traveler. Please refer to the sections on Length of Stay and Extended Travel to Save Costs for additional information.
Official airline ticket documentation must be attached to the travel form even though the University prepaid the ticket. In cases where the airline ticket is the only expense incurred by the traveler, a travel form must still be submitted with the official airline documentation. All documentation regarding unused flights must be attached to the travel form or returned to the University or Hospital Travel Office. A written explanation concerning unused tickets must be attached.
Airline tickets may be purchased through the University’s contracted travel agency (currently Springdale Travel) or through other sources (Internet, etc.) When tickets are purchased through the travel agency, the primary advantage for travelers is that no costs are incurred by the traveler and the traveler is provided with insurance coverage at no cost. When airline tickets are purchased through airline or other travel web sites, individuals are required to pay for the ticket at the time of purchase and cannot be reimbursed for that purchase until after their trip.Some online booking entities (e.g., Expedia) allow travelers to bundle different components of travel (hotel, flight, rental car). In most cases, bundling saves the University cost and is in the best interest of the University. When the traveler chooses to bundle his/her travel, the documentation must include detail from the company as to what specific components were paid and how those components were paid. Documentation must include a receipt from the online agency that the expense was paid by credit card. Additionally, it is the traveler’s responsibility to document that the totaled bundled cost was, in fact, less expensive than had the different components of the trip been purchased separately.
Airline tickets purchased through the University’s contracted travel agency should be requisitioned through the University Travel Office. The Travel Agency provides $100,000 insurance coverage, at no cost, when tickets are requisitioned. If any other means are used to purchase tickets, reimbursement cannot be made until after the trip. Procedures for obtaining prepaid airline tickets are outlined as follows:
Airline tickets should be requisitioned through each Hospital Administration Office. Procedures for obtaining prepaid airline tickets are outlined as follows:
In the event the use of a rental vehicle is necessary at the traveler’s destination, the travel form must state the reasons why it was necessary to rent the vehicle. As a general rule, the University does not accept transportation to and from the airport, to and from meals, or sightseeing as justification for renting a vehicle. Prior written approval from the department head, with proper justification, must be obtained before you travel. Justification must include a comparison of the estimated total rental car costs (e.g., rental car, parking, and gas) with what the estimated transportation costs would be without using a rental car (e.g., shuttle between airport and hotel/motel and taxi between hotel/motel and conference site). The justification must be attached to the travel form. The type of vehicle rented should be appropriate for the business purpose. Normally, only economy rentals are reimbursed. The original receipt and rental agreement as well as any gasoline receipts must accompany the travel form. Expenses for rental car use at the destination should be reported in the “Other Expenses” section of the travel form.
When renting an automobile for business use, University employees are covered by the University’s automobile liability coverage while on official business trips; however, collision damage to the rental vehicle is the responsibility of the employee. The employee may be reimbursed for collision damage waiver coverage as part of the rental costs, if the employee’s personal automobile insurance is not considered adequate for the potential risk of damage to the rental vehicle. Other types of insurance on rental automobiles (such as personal effects or supplemental liability coverage) are considered to be personal expense and will not be reimbursed. (The University provides NO physical damage coverage to personal vehicles used on University business.
The University has entered into an agreement with Enterprise Rent-A-Car to provide rental cars for the University at discounted rates and is the preferred provider of rental cars for the University. The rental program with Enterprise is valid for both local and out of town rentals. The information needed to access this program can be found on the University’s web site at:
In the event an employee must stop in Alabama to transact official business while on the way to or from an out-of-state destination, the location of the employee's lodgings for the night will determine the amount of allowable reimbursement. For example, the employee has a two-day meeting in Montgomery followed by a two-day meeting in Atlanta. When the employee is lodged for the night within Alabama, reimbursement will consist of the $75.00 per diem allowance that is allowable under the in-state travel rules. When the employee spends the night outside the state, reimbursement will be according to the out-of-state travel rules.
In order to be reimbursed for travel expense, any individual who does not currently have a Banner “J number must submit a completed IRS form W-9 with the travel form. W-9 forms can be found on the IRS web site at: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf.
When completing a travel reimbursement form, the following accounting codes are the most common and should be utilized in the “Account” section of the FOAPAL:
Travel – general
Travel – student
Travel – local
Travel – registration fee
Travel – Team Away
Travel – post season
Travel – group
Travel – team home
Travel – taxable
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