Travel Authorization and Reimbursement

University Policy: 
Executive Summary: 

With the completion of the Travel Manual, Business Affairs has developed this Policy Statement on Travel Authorization and Reimbursement to serve as an overarching statement regarding the purpose and scope of the travel manual, and the responsibilities of University employees while in travel status as well as the responsibilities of individuals and offices that participate in the travel authorization and reimbursement process. This is the University’s initial policy statement and procedure manual related to University travel, and it documents in one place the related federal, state, and University requirements.

I. Purpose

The University intends to ensure fair and equitable reimbursement of University business travel expense as well as compliance with all applicable laws and regulations related to travel.

This Policy implements the State of North Carolina’s travel regulations and complies with the Internal Revenue Service requirements for an Accountable Plan. To be reimbursable, University business travel must be performed in the most economical manner consistent with mission requirements; all expenses must be incurred while in travel status; expenses must be reasonable, necessary and (except for meal per diem) actual; and expenses must not exceed the limitations imposed by the State or the University. 

II. Scope

This Policy and the accompanying Travel Manual apply to all UNC Charlotte faculty, staff, students, organizations, and any other individuals and members of organizations that travel at University expense (hereinafter “Travelers”).  

III. Responsibilities

Travelers are responsible for performing their travel duties in conformity with the provisions of this Policy and the Travel Manual and for providing expenditure documentation that is legitimate and complete to support their travel reimbursement claims.  Unauthorized excess costs, including those involving circuitous routes, delays, or luxury accommodations and services unnecessary or unjustified in the performance of official business are not reimbursable or otherwise to be paid using University funds. Travelers are responsible for unauthorized costs and any additional expenses incurred for personal preference or convenience.

Supervisors and senior approving officials are responsible for authorizing travel in advance and for reviewing and monitoring all travel expenses they approve. Such approval must certify that the travel was necessary and the expenses were authorized and incurred while on official business of the University. Supervisors also are required to deny reimbursement in situations where there is reason to believe the expenditures are inappropriate, extravagant, unjustified, or unreasonable. 

The Office of Grants and Contracts Administration is responsible for establishing procedures to provide an appropriate review of travel authorizations and reimbursements that charge sponsored grants or contracts for which it has oversight responsibility. 

The Controller is responsible for administering and overseeing the provisions of this Policy and for providing guidance to Travelers through the Travel area of the Disbursements Department.

The Athletic Business Office is responsible for authorizing, reviewing and processing travel authorizations and reimbursement requests for the Athletics programs in accordance with this Policy and the accompanying Travel Manual.

IV. Policy

The University will reimburse reasonable and approved business-related travel expenditures incurred by Travelers for the conduct of University business according to this Policy and the accompanying Travel Manual, which applies to all departments, regardless of the source of funds, and to all affiliated and related organizations.

No duplicate claims or commuting expenses are reimbursable.

This Policy applies to all grant funds, except when the sponsor’s guidelines are more restrictive than University policy, in which case the sponsor’s guidelines apply.  Principal investigators and others traveling on grant funds are expected to be familiar with the allowability of the cost on the sponsored program. Travel expenses that do not conform to both this Policy and the sponsor’s guidelines will not be reimbursed to the Traveler or expensed to the grant fund.

Each administrator is responsible for ensuring that reimbursements from programs or to persons under their authority are reasonable and appropriate for the purpose and charged to a program appropriate to that purpose. An administrator may set lower reimbursement amounts for persons or programs under their responsibility.

Reimbursement claims must be signed by the person seeking reimbursement, the immediate supervisor, and the person responsible for the fund paying the claim, if different from the supervisor.  Individuals may not approve their own reimbursement or that of a superior. It is recommended that Travelers retain photocopies of expense reports and related receipts for their own records.

Receipts showing the date of service are required for reimbursement of all expenditures except for meal per diems and incidental expenditures such as tips.  Every reimbursement request must include a statement of business purpose that covers the entire travel period.

Travelers who do not comply with this Policy or with the Travel Manual will either not be reimbursed or their reimbursement will be treated as taxable income.

V. Travel Procedure

The Travel Authorization Form (Travel Forms Package, tab 1) published by the Controller’s Office must be completed and submitted to the Travel area of the Disbursements Department no less than two weeks before the travel start date.

The Travel Reimbursement and Expense Report (Travel Forms Package, tab 2) published by the Controller's Office must be completed and submitted to the Travel area of the Disbursements Department no later than 30 days after travel return date.

All Travelers are obligated to comply with the Travel Manual supplemental to this Policy.

VI. Administration Of Policy

The Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs is responsible for establishing and enforcing supplemental procedures related to travel to ensure compliance with all applicable federal and North Carolina laws. These procedures are available online at the Travel area of the Disbursements Department web page.

Revision History: 
  • Initially approved October 20, 2009
  • Updated January 12, 2016
  • Updated July 1, 2016
  • Revised November 8, 2017
  • Updated July 19, 2021

Authority: Chancellor

Responsible Office: Business Affairs

Related Resources: