Travel & Entertainment Reimbursement Guidelines

For more information, please review the following University of California policies:

Policy BFB-G-28 describes rules and procedures governing business-related travel.

Policy BUS-79 addresses reimbursements for business meals and entertainment.

As outlined by UC Policy G-28, the following expenses are not allowable:

  • Third party expenses (e.g., buying ticket and paying hotel/airfare and other expense on behalf of others).
  • Meals when travel is less than 24 hours and does not involve hotel stay.
  • Travel packages purchased from any outside vendor without prior approval from Travel Accounting.

I. SUBMISSION DEADLINE

a. All travel reimbursement requests should be submitted within 30 days of the conclusion of travel or event. For late submissions, the amount of the travel or event expenses may be imputed as income to the employee on the employee’s W- 2. In all cases, if the submission is made more than 6 months after the end of the trip or event, income will be imputed on the employee’s W-2.

II. APPROVALS

a. Exceptions should be approved prior to incurring the exception.

b. Faculty members who would like exceptions to policy for these guidelines should seek approval from Travel Accounting. These approvals should be attached to the reimbursement request.

III. AIRFARE

a. The UC Travel Center's Direct Billing System should be used for airline tickets purchased for Business Travel. Use of the Direct Billing System eliminates the need for the Traveler to pay out of pocket and then be reimbursed.

b. UCLA will only pay for or reimburse economy fares (See Policy BFB-G-28, pg. 17 for allowable exceptions).

c. Employees who wish to purchase an upgradable business class ticket (i.e., a ticket that provides the option to upgrade from business class to first class) must pay any increase in price from a non-upgradeable business class ticket. Documentation of ticket prices from the date of purchase must be attached to the travel reimbursement form.

d. Only U.S. air carriers shall be used for all travel reimbursed from federal grants and contracts, including NIH grants (See Policy BFB-G-28, pg. 17& 18 for allowable exceptions).

e. If vacation days comprise over 50% of international trips longer than one week in duration, UCLA will prorate airfare and other general expenses between vacation and work days. In order for UCLA to pay for even a prorated portion of the airfare, the primary purpose of the trip must be UCLA business, not personal.

f. Travelers should seek advance approval for trips longer than 30 days.

g. It is important to note that travel packages from internet vendors (i.e., Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz) typically do not itemize expenses. Therefore, no business-related travel should be booked as a package through such vendors unless the traveler confirms in advance that airfare, hotel, and rental car will be itemized separately. Individually purchased airfare, hotel and rental car through such vendors is acceptable.

h. The UC Travel Center can assist with all airfare tickets and advise travelers on how to comply with University policy and campus guidelines. Travel Center staff is trained in providing appropriate documentation for ticket costs, including trips that involve exceptions to policy. Contact UC Travel Center

IV. HOTELS

a. Daily domestic and international hotel rates should not exceed the federal per diem guidelines.

b. For domestic travel for less than 30 days lodging, meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) will be reimbursed based on actual amounts incurred and shall not be treated as per diem. Lodging and M&IE reimbursement shall be limited to the actual reasonable costs incurred; M&IE subject to daily maximum
reimbursement cap of $74.

c. Travelers should obtain advance approval (i.e., prior to the hotel stay) of hotel fees in excess of these guidelines.

V. ENTERTAINMENT

a. Always submit itemized receipts regardless of amount.

b. Events with light refreshments should be distinct from events with meals. In other words, meals that include appetizers will be reimbursed at the limit for meals, not meals plus light refreshments.

c. Tips should not exceed 20% of the meal costs. Any excess tip amount is responsibility of the event host.

VI. GROUND TRANSPORTATION

a. Travelers are advised to use economical methods of ground transportation, such as taxis, shuttles or other or similar. When a driver is needed, an adequate business justification specific to the event is required.

b. Tips should not exceed 20% of the transportation costs. The traveler may be asked to pay the difference between a 20% and larger tip.

c. Car Rental:

  • UC Travel Policy requires that an economy, compact or intermediate model be requested. These models should be used unless a no-cost upgrade is provided. Justification is required for cars larger than a mid-size when submitting for reimbursement.
  • The University has preferred agreements with five rental car agencies for travelers on University business. The agreements include the highest level of Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) and Liability insurance. Travelers or arrangers must book using the UCLA ID number to get the negotiated rate and decline all optional insurance, as this is already included in the negotiated price. If the traveler purchases additional insurance when booking through UCLA, this cost will not be reimbursed. Cars may be booked through the UC Travel Center, online or via telephone direct to the rental agency. See car rental contract rates for more information.

VII. BUSINESS JUSTIFICATIONS

a. Each travel and entertainment expense reimbursement request must be accompanied by a written business justification. The justification should meet the particular circumstances of the travel or expense. Inadequate business justification increases the risk that the expense will appear inappropriate and therefore rejected.

b. The business purpose of a University traveler may include activities that contribute to any one of the University’s major functions of teaching, research, patient care, or public service, or to any other substantial and bona fide University business expense.

c. The individual incurring the expense is required to affirm the appropriateness of the business justification by manually or electronically signing the reimbursement request.