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Office of Business Operations

Travel Guidelines


To define University of Northern Iowa travel guidelines and procedures for faculty, staff, and other persons traveling at university expense.

Definition Statement

The university recognizes travel as an absence from the University. The Office of Business Operations is the designated university office to administer travel reimbursement policies and procedures. Faculty, staff, and other persons traveling at University expense are encouraged to use the most economical and appropriate means of travel.

Authorization for Travel

All employee travel must be authorized prior to departure by the appropriate administrator (vice president, dean, director, or department head). Employees must complete a Travel Authorization form, sign it, and obtain the signature of the appropriate administrator. Travel Authorization Forms may be obtained from the forms repository in MyUniverse or in departmental offices. The signatures of all officials providing travel funding should be obtained. Depending upon the traveler’s departmental office procedures, the Travel Authorization form will be retained by either the department secretary or the traveler. The Travel Authorization form should be submitted to the Office of Business Operations with the Travel Reimbursement form.

  • The Travel Authorization form secures the approval of the administrator for the travel and ensures that funds are available for travel reimbursement.
  • Administrators may reimburse employee travel in accordance with university travel policies or may place dollar limits on a given trip. Administrators who intend to place a dollar limit on the trip should state the limit on the Travel Authorization form.
  • More restrictive limits in bargained contracts, federal grant guidelines, and guidelines of other authorized agencies shall take precedence over university policy.

Advance Payments for Travel Expenses - Airline Tickets

  • Can be purchased using the UNI Procurement Card when travel is for university-related business. Shorts Travel Service, the university's preferred travel agency, can maintain a travel profile for travelers, which includes the traveler’s departmental procurement card information.
  • An itemized receipt must be attached to the Procurement Card Statement. If the traveler uses a personal credit card, upon completion of travel, an itemized receipt for airline tickets must be attached to the Travel Reimbursement form.

Advance Payments for Travel Expenses - Conference Registration

Fees should be prepaid by using departmental Procurement Cards or by Request for Payment if credit cards are not accepted.

Advance Payments for Travel Expenses - Hotel Deposits

Make deposit by personal credit card.

Travel Advances - Cash, Deposits, or Prepaid Expenses

Travel advances are not normally granted to faculty and staff for domestic travel, but advances are available for international travel, student group travel, and other group travel.

Travel advances should be requested by using the Cash Advance Request form stating the name of the traveler, the proposed amount of the advance, and the source of repayment. Travelers should include the dates of travel, destination, and purpose of travel.

  • Cash advances may be picked up at the Cashier's Office two working days prior to the start of the trip.
  • The Office of Business Operations may grant exceptions for travel advances

Clearing Cash Advances

Travel advances must be reconciled by completing a Travel Reimbursement Form. Repayments of excess cash advances, if any, should be made within two weeks from the date of return. Travel advance privileges can be rescinded until the delinquent advance has been cleared or repayment occurs. To clear cash travel advances obtained for group meal per diems, a record signed by each person in the group who received cash must be submitted to the Office of Business Operations.

According to Internal Revenue Service Regulation 1.62-2(g), substantiation of travel expense must take place within 60 days of travel. Funds remaining from a travel advance must be returned within 120 days. Repayment delinquent over 120 days will be reported as income to the traveler in accordance with the Internal Revenue Service regulation.

Reimbursement for Domestic Travel

Individuals should submit a Travel Reimbursement Form within 60-days of travel. Travel expenses must be certified by the claimant and approved by the administrator.

When an employee combines vacation with business travel, reimbursement will not be granted during vacation days.

Credit card receipts are not acceptable as proof of payment. When no other receipt is provided, duplicate check copies are acceptable only if presented with a bank statement showing the check number as a cleared item.

Reimbursements are mailed to the individual's home address, campus address or held at the Cashier's Office for pickup in accordance with instructions provided by the traveler on the Travel Reimbursement Form.


Transportation should be by the most economical means available, giving consideration to time, distance, and work requirements. If driving a personal vehicle, mileage reimbursement is normally limited to round-trip air transportation (priced at least 30 days in advance) plus round-trip ground transportation. The method of travel should be indicated in the description column of the Travel Reimbursement Form. Actual round-trip transportation costs are allowed for travel by common carrier.

Air Travel

University travelers are reimbursed at tourist class rates. If the traveler personally paid for the cost of the plane ticket, the itemized receipt should be attached to the Travel Reimbursement Form.

Tickets can be purchased using the UNI Procurement Card for university-related business.

Recognizing that most airfares are lower if the traveler stays over Saturday night, the university will reimburse the extra hotel and meal expenses needed to realize these savings. However, expenses in excess of airfare savings will not be reimbursed.

If a Federal grant provides funding for foreign travel, this travel should be in accordance with the “Fly America Act” which normally requires that employees use U.S. flag air carriers for international air transportation.

Charter Air Travel

Chartered Air Travel may be authorized by the administrator when it is in the best interest of the university. Decisions are based on savings including transportation, lodging, meals, and time limitations. Contact the Purchasing Department for Charter Agreement details.

Personal Airplane

Persons authorized to travel on university business may use a personal airplane. A person piloting his/her personal airplane does so at his or her own risk and is personally responsible for all costs of operation. Reimbursement is at the lesser of personal automobile reimbursement rates or round trip airfare priced at least 30 days in advance.

Personal Automobile

Mileage should be computed from home or permanent work address, whichever is less. Travel should be by the most direct route. Any substantial deviations from distances on maps need to be explained on the reimbursement request. Individuals driving their personal automobile on university business are responsible for all operating costs (e.g. car washes, repairs, road service, and etc.). Operating costs will not be reimbursed.

Maps, Directions

Mileage Guide – Iowa

Mileage Guide - Out of State

Mileage Reimbursement Rates

Travelers will be reimbursed at the following rates, based on travel circumstances, refer to the table below for specific rates on relevant time periods:

  • The standard business mileage rate established by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), for travel when
    • The round trip distance is more than 100 miles and a motor pool vehicle is requested 48 hours in advance and is not available or
    • use of a motor pool vehicle is not feasible or reasonable (i.e. faculty or staff members are not located in an area served by motor pool) or
    • an employee is traveling less than 100 miles round trip or round trip travel to/from designated airports is greater than 100 miles and the lower airfare cost justifies the use of the designated airport. Designated airports are Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.
    Note: The reimbursement must include a statement from the Motor Pool indicating a vehicle was not available 48 hours prior to the departure date. Travel Reimbursement Forms submitted without the requisite statement will be reimbursed at the University rate. The Purchasing and Payables Manager may make exceptions when there is a bona-fide reason for not reserving a vehicle at least 48 hours in advance of departure.

    Note: Mileage reimbursement for non UNI employees and students is at the discretion of the account manager, but may not exceed the IRS standard business mileage rate.
  • The Government Fleet Vehicle (GFV) rate as established by the U.S. General Services Administration in the Federal Travel Regulations, for travel if a motor pool vehicle is available, but the employee chooses to use his/her own vehicle.
  • In situations when an individual must use a substantially modified or specially equipped privately owned vehicle the Purchasing and Payables Manager should be consulted to assist in determining the appropriate reimbursement rate.
For travel beginning:IRS Business RateUniversity RateMoving Rate

January 1, 2016

54.0 cents

27.0 cents

19.0 cents

January 1, 2015

57.5 cents

28.75 cents

23 cents

January 1, 2014

56.0 cents

28.0 cents

23.5 cents

January 1, 2013

56.5 cents

28.25 cents

24 cents

Rental Car

Rental cars may be reimbursed if local transportation is not feasible by common carrier and if approved by the administrator.

The original invoice, from the rental car agency, must be submitted for rental car reimbursement. The rental amount should be listed in the transportation column of the Travel Reimbursement Form. Gasoline costs not included on the rental invoice should be itemized in the transportation column of the Travel Reimbursement Form by date of purchase. Gasoline receipts should be attached to the Travel Reimbursement Form.

The current purchasing contract for rental cars can be accessed on the purchasing page and ensures the best rates for the University.

Rental Car Insurance

The Board of Regents Motor Vehicle Insurance Program provides collision, comprehensive, and liability coverage on vehicles owned by or rented by the university or UNI’s representatives.

The purchase of additional insurance on a rental car by University of Northern Iowa representatives will not be reimbursed except for insurance purchased on vehicles rented in foreign countries.

Types of coverage offered by rental car companies that will not be reimbursed include: liability insurance (LIS), Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), theft of personal effects (PAI), credit cards (PEC) and health/life insurance etc. This list is not intended to be all inclusive of the types of insurance the company may attempt to sell the UNI representative and are not reimbursable.

Guests, job candidates, speakers, consultants etc, who are not UNI representatives, will be reimbursed for insurance on rental vehicles.

Parking, Bridge, and Road Tolls

Parking, bridge, and road tolls will be reimbursed if properly itemized on the Travel Reimbursement Form. Parking, bridge, and road tolls should be itemized by date. In general, receipts are not required; however receipts are required for single fees in excess of $25.

Taxi or Local Common Carrier

Taxi or local common carrier fares, including a reasonable tip, are allowable expenses. Itemize by date and indicate points of travel in the description. Receipts are required for fares in excess of $25.

Taxi rides from the traveler's place of lodging to a restaurant, entertainment etc. are considered personal expenditures and are not reimbursable.

Rail Travel

Rail travel charges including pullman car and parlor car rentals are allowable. The cost of travel by rail will be limited to the cost of round trip airfare booked at least 30 days in advance plus applicable ground transportation. Rail travel should be itemized by date. Receipts are required for fares in excess of $25.

Lodging - Persons on University Business

Reimbursements for lodging will be limited to the single room rate plus applicable taxes. When accompanied by a person or persons not on University-related business, reimbursement of 90 percent of the charge will be made unless documentation of the single room rate is provided. Acceptable documentation includes an original room schedule provided by the conference or hotel that indicates the single room rate or a statement from hotel management on the hotel's business stationery indicating the single room rate.

Travelers are strongly encouraged to request state, government, or corporate rates.

Staff staying with friends or relatives will not be reimbursed for lodging.

In-room movies, athletic facility use, laundry, dry cleaning, pressing, and other personal items are not reimbursable.

The traveler should enter itemized hotel charges by date in the column provided for this purpose and attach the original itemized hotel bill to the Travel Reimbursement Form.

Lodging - Employees Sharing a Room

Under the Code of Iowa Section 18.75 paragraph 8, the University of Northern Iowa is required to report annually to the State of Iowa an accounting of the name of all State of Iowa employees’ travel and subsistence for the previous fiscal year. Employees who share a room and obtain separate receipts from the hotel should submit separate Travel Reimbursement Forms for each person’s portion of the room.

If separate receipts are not provided, the employee paying for the lodging should submit a Travel Reimbursement Form for the entire cost of the room. In the Account Code Information/Charge Account section of the Travel Reimbursement Form a line must be entered for each traveler with one-half the cost of the lodging and their employee number listed.


The traveler must be in travel status during the following time frames to qualify for individual meal reimbursements. Travel status is defined as the time the traveler leaves his/her home or office until the time the traveler returns to his or her home or office.

 Must Leave Prior toMust Continue Past
Breakfast6:00 am8:00 am
Lunch11:00 am1:00 pm
Dinner5:30 pm7:30 pm
  • If guest meals are included, the guest(s) must be named, the time and place of the meals must be listed, and the business purpose of entertaining the guest stated. A receipt is required any time an employee pays for another individual's meal.
  • Meal costs reimbursed to faculty and staff for non-overnight trips will be subject to withholding and reported as taxable income in accordance with Internal Revenue Service regulations.
  • State policy does not permit reimbursement for alcoholic beverages.
  • Banquet meals included with conference registrations may be reimbursed above these limits with appropriate documentation (a copy of the conference brochure or the banquet ticket.)
  • Reimbursement will not be made for meals included with air fares or conference fees.

Reimbursement will be made for the actual meal cost, including a reasonable gratuity, subject to the following maximums:

 In StateOut of State
Daily Total31.0040.00
  • For partial days of travel, the actual amount for each meal will be reimbursed.
  • For a whole day of travel, the total amount for each day applies and allows individual meal flexibility.
  • Receipts are not required for meals.
  • The traveler should itemize meal costs (including tips) by day, showing the cost of each meal in the columns provided for this purpose.

Miscellaneous Reimbursements

Allowable charges including reasonable tipping should be noted in the miscellaneous column. The traveler should itemize each charge by date and explain the charge in the description column.

Telephone, Internt, or Facsimile

Itemize University-related business calls, internet fees and facsimiles by date.

Registration Fees

Registration fees should be itemized in the description column. Receipts are required for registration fees. Fees paid for personal memberships, recreational activities, tours, or other social events are not reimbursable.

Baggage Handling and Storage Charges

Baggage handling, storage charges, and related tips will be reimbursed only for University property.

Unreimbursable Charges

Charges for personal insurance, baggage insurance, laundry, entertainment, valet, alcohol, and similar items cannot be reimbursed.

Travel and Lodging Discount Programs

University employees may participate in certain travel and lodging discounts extended to the university, but do so subject to the understanding that any volume rebates or other concessions are the property of the University.

Reimbursement - International Travel

Policies approved by the U.S. Department of State will be applied. Rates for meals and lodging approved by the US State Department will be the maximum permitted unless granting agency regulations are more restrictive. Individual UNI academic and administrative units may reimburse at rates lower than than those established by the U.S. Department of State or not at all so long as written notice is provided to the traveler before they incur the expenses. Written notice may be by a printed document, a web page, or an email. The maximum travel per diem allowances for foreign areas are listed on the U.S. Department of State per diem rates. Per diem allowances can be found by the month travel was completed.

If a traveler requires paid lodging, she/he may claim the full lodging per diem (unless a lower amount or no amount is established by their unit as described above) for that city. A receipt is required. The actual cost to the traveler need not be calculated. If a traveler does not require paid lodging, no lodging per diem is allowed.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, lodging for the entire trip must be at per diem rates or actual cost. Selected days cannot be at actual cost while others are at per diem rates. Some federal agencies restrict reimbursements for lodging to the lesser of actual or per diem rates.

For partial days of travel, one-fourth of the rate for a full day will be reimbursed (unless a lower amount or no amount is established by their unit as described above) for each six-hour period or the fraction thereof that the traveler is in travel status.

The traveler may be reimbursed at up to 150 percent of the per diem rate approved by the U.S. Department of State when requested in advance of travel and justified to and approved by the appropriate University officials. Exceptions to advance approval may be considered and authorized only after careful review and consideration of any unanticipated costs. The traveler must provide an explanation of the extenuating circumstances and original receipts supporting all lodging and meal expenditures. Reimbursements in excess of the U.S. Department of State rates will not be approved if prohibited by granting agency regulations.

When using per diem rates for lodging, the actual city name must be shown for each day on the Travel Reimbursement Form.

The meal per diem (if allowed) must be prorated for meals not purchased.

A traveler may claim a meal per diem (unless a lower amount or no amount is established by their unit as described above), even though he or she does not claim lodging.

Passport and visa charges are reimbursable.

Travel Reimbursement Forms must be completed in U.S. currency by date and item showing the rate of exchange used for conversion. Rates of exchange may be obtained from the website or a financial institution. Receipts for currency conversion, if available, should be attached to the Travel Reimbursement Form.

The cost for traveler’s checks is an allowable item unless prohibited by federal regulations when using a grant account financed with federal funds. Call the Grants and Contracts office for information regarding specific grants.

Federal grant regulations normally require that employees use U.S. flag air carriers for international air transportation.

Reimbursement - Persons Other Then Faculty and Staff

Persons, other than faculty and staff, traveling on university business are subject to the same regulations as faculty and staff.

Meals will be reimbursed up to the above stated maximums. Receipts are not required.

Mileage reimbursement for non UNI employees and students is at the discretion of the account manager, but may not exceed the POV rate.