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Policies and Procedures

Policy 1310 – Transportation Expenses

Effective
September 1, 2005
Last Updated
October 10, 2017
Last Reviewed
April 26, 2017
Responsible University Officer
Director of Systems and Operations
Responsible Unit
Systems and Operations

Policy Statement

University faculty, staff and students may be reimbursed for transportation expenses incurred while traveling on University business. Official University business occurs when the employee or other person is traveling to attend approved job-related training, work on behalf of, officially represent, or provide a service upon the request of the University.

Travel that would not directly benefit the University will not be reimbursed. Costs of personal travel before or after days of business travel, excess costs, indirect routes, and services unnecessary, unjustified, or for the convenience or personal preference of the employee in the performance of official University business are prohibited.

Travel that combines University business and personal travel could require special handling. Prior to a trip, the traveler should describe the breakdown of business and personal components to their management for approval.  In order for the travel to be reimbursed, their management must confirm that the trip is primarily for business, and the justification must be included in the reimbursement request.

Transportation by private vehicle

Actual mileage is reimbursable. Mileage is measured from the closer of either the duty station or point of departure to destination (and return). University travelers are obligated to use a state-owned vehicle or vehicle that is leased through a state contract and reimburse for use of personal vehicles on a limited basis when the round trip exceeds 100 miles.

Effective Jan. 1, 2017, the business standard mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue service is 53.5 cents/mile for the first 100 miles per day of travel, and 17 cents/mile for each additional mile thereafter). Parking fees, tolls, and storage fees are reimbursable when the required receipts are obtained. For trips commencing in December 2016, rates of 54 cents and 19 cents/mile apply, respectively.

Accordingly, effective January 1, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service also reduced the moving expense rate from 19 cents to 17 cents/mile.

State Mileage Allowance Chart for Personal Vehicle Mileage Reimbursement
In the event that an employee does not use a state-owned vehicle or vehicle leased through a state contract, the following rates apply for trips on or after Jan. 1, 2017:

Round trip does not exceed 100 miles 53.5 cents per mile
Round trip exceeds 100 miles Total round trip mileage reimbursable at 53.5 cents/mile for the first 100 miles per day of travel, and 17 cents/mile for each additional mile thereafter.

 

At the employee's destination, a State car may be used prudently for travel to obtain meals, but may not be used for private purposes or for entertainment while off-duty. No common carrier or public transportation fares are reimbursable on a trip on which an employee uses a State car, unless it is shown that such transportation was more economical in a particular situation.

Rental vehicles may be used; however, rental vehicles are not to be used at University expense solely for the convenience or personal preference of the employee. A receipt and rental car justification is necessary for reimbursement. Travelers are encouraged to use one of the agencies on State contract when acquiring a rental car.

Transportation by air

Travelers on University business are encouraged to use commercial air transportation if possible. Travel in “coach” is recommended. First class or business class airfare is allowed in the following circumstances:

1) Domestic travel by business or first class is permitted if the traveler is accompanying a major donor or dignitary who is traveling by business or first class and if the funding source of the travel is an allowable funding source.

2) International travel by business class is allowable if the length of a non-stop segment is at least 8 hours in duration.

3) Other international travel by business class is allowable if the facts and circumstances of the travel warrant it.

4) The first class or business class airfare for senior University administrators must be approved in advance by the appropriate individual as described in Policy 1303 and by the department head for other University employees and substantiated by written documentation.

Reimbursement for travel between the employee's duty station and the nearest airline terminal and for appropriate parking may be made by using either a car service (one round-trip fare), a taxi (one round-trip fare), or by private car (two round trips each at the statutory rate with no parking charge, or one round trip with parking charges). Reimbursement for travel to and from the airline terminal at the employee's destination may be made for car service, bus, commuter train, subway or taxi with appropriate receipts.

Employees traveling by common carrier to conduct official University business, who travel to their destination earlier than necessary and/or delay their return to avail the University of reduced transportation rates, may be reimbursed subsistence if, in the opinion of the department head, the amount saved in transportation costs due to the early and/or delayed travel is greater than the amount expended in salary and additional subsistence. Prior written approval of the department head is required.

Requests for travel on non-commercial aircraft may be proposed for approval based on the circumstances of the trip. Non-commercial aircraft includes the following forms of travel:

1) Travel by a senior University administrator or other University employee on a Medical Air Operations plane is permitted, but is subject to the Medical Air Operations Use Policy, related NC AHEC policies and this policy. In addition, travel on a Medical Air Operations plane should not be used in any instance that would involve “deadhead” miles. Approval is required in the same manner as transportation by other means.

2) Travel by a senior University administrator or other University employee on a donor-owned plane does not require pre-approval under these policies; however, such travel shall be reported for information only to the individual responsible for approving the senior University administrator’s or other University employee’s travel.

3) Travel by a senior university administrator or other University employee by private charter is strongly discouraged but may be proposed for prior approval in unusual circumstances. At a minimum, documentation shall include confirmation that a commercial flight is not available or not appropriate for the size of the party traveling or the destination airport, the use of a charter flight is more economical than a commercial flight, and the use of a charter flight is necessary because of unusual travel circumstances. Approval by the Chancellor or the person designated to do so by the Chancellor is required.

Transportation by other means

University business travelers may be reimbursed for traveling by train at the “coach” fare. The actual cost of Pullman fare is reimbursable when overnight travel is required. The individual must provide justification showing the travel by train was the least expensive method of transportation.

The actual cost of taxi and car service fares is reimbursable when required for travel on University business. Receipts are required when one-way trips exceed $20.00.

Requests for reimbursement of taxi fares should identify each trip by point of origin, destination, and purpose. Taxi fares are not reimbursable for intra-city transportation, except in emergencies when no less expensive mode of transportation is available within a reasonable period.

No common carrier or public transportation fares are reimbursable on a trip on which an employee uses a state-owned vehicle, unless it is shown that such transportation was more economical in a particular situation.

Reason for Policy

This policy is to ensure compliance with State travel regulations.

Exclusions

None

Special Situations

Reimbursement may not be made for commuting between an employee's point of departure and his duty station.

Penalties and charges resulting from the cancellation of airline reservations (or other travel reservations) shall be the department's obligation if the employee's travel has been approved in advance and the cancellation or change is made at the direction of and for the convenience of the department. If the cancellation or change is made for the personal benefit of the employee, it shall be the employee's obligation to pay the penalties and charges. However, in the event of accidents, serious illness, or death within the employee's immediate family, or other critical circumstance beyond the control of the employee, the department will be obligated to pay the penalties and charges.

Procedures

None

Additional Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I am attending a conference in Richmond, Virginia and will travel 310 miles over a three-day period of time to a conference.  How do I calculate my mileage?
A:  You can be reimbursed at the 53.5 cents per mile rate for 100 miles for every day of travel, and any additional miles at the 17 cents rate.  So, if you traveled over a three-day period, you can claim 300 miles (3 days x 100 miles) at the 53.5 rate, and the additional 10 miles at the 17 cents rate.  If, however, you traveled the entire 310 mile trip in a one-day trip, you can claim 53.5 cents per mile for the first 100 miles, but the remaining 210 miles would be reimbursed at 17 cents per mile, as travel occurred all on the same day.

Travel days are defined as the number of days within, and including, the departure and return dates.

Q: I have a medical condition that causes me extreme discomfort when I sit for long periods. May I be reimbursed for upgraded airfare?
A: Yes, if you provide a doctor’s note to your EEO ADA office for workplace accommodation for authorization prior to booking your airfare.

Q: I prefer to get a rental car at the airport to drive to my hotel which is also the conference site. Having the rental car will allow me to get out at night and take meals away from the hotel. Will I be reimbursed for the rental car expense?
A: A reimbursement for rental car expenses will be not made to anyone whose lodging receipt indicates the person roomed at the same hotel in which the conference was being held. A reimbursement will not be made without written justification to explain the benefit the University derived from the rental of a car.

Q: I rented a car for my business trip, and the agency added insurance. Why is this not reimbursable?
A: As a University employee, you are covered by the State’s master policy. Additional insurance costs are strictly prohibited by state regulation.

Q: What if I am leaving from or returning to an airport other than the one closest to my primary workstation?
A: You will need to submit both the cost of the actual airfare and the airfare to/from your duty station.  The University will pay the lesser.

Q: How do I document my manager's confirmation that the trip is primarily for business?
A: The signed statement of confirmation or email from your manager (including the justification) should be uploaded into Web Travel or ConnectCarolina. If your department has an established travel form that shows managerial approval, that form may be used.

Q: What are examples of acceptable managerial primary proof of business?
A: Examples:
•    This business trip is always attended by a member of our staff yearly and this year [INSERT EMPLOYEE/FACULTY NAME] represented our department
•    This trip is required for UNC-Chapel Hill to maintain certification or accreditation.
•    The primary purpose of this trip is for [INSERT FACULTY NAME] to attend this conference, which contributes importantly to [INSERT FACULTY NAME]’s research agenda.
•    I am mandating this trip by [INSERT EMPLOYEE/FACULTY NAME] for the purpose of business.

Q: What constitutes management in the case of faculty?
A: Faculty should gain the approval of the department chair, or where there is no chair, the dean of the school.

Q: In the case of travel for Senior University Administrators that includes both business and personal elements, who confirms the nature of the travel as business?
A: Confirmation of travel as being business in nature is handled by the administrator’s supervisor or the person designated to do so, as is the case for the authorization of travel by Senior University Administrators under Procedure 1303.1.

Q: My business trip begins on Wednesday and ends the following Wednesday. I will not be working on the weekend. Do I need to get advanced management approval for the trip under this policy?
A: Usually, you do not. If the weekend days are necessary standby days that occur between business days, then they generally would not require advanced management approval under this policy. However, you should obtain advance management approval under this policy in either of the following circumstances:
1) The travel could be arranged without an intervening weekend; or
2) The weekend is part of your purpose for arranging the trip.
When in doubt, describe the travel to management in advance so that management can confirm that the trip is primarily for business.

Related Data

Travel Services Airfare Request
State of North Carolina Budget Manual, Section 5
Policy 1402
- Insurance for Rental Vehicles
NC Department of Administration Term Contracts for Rental Car

Contacts

SUBJECT CONTACT TELEPHONE FAX E-MAIL
Travel Provisions Travel Services 919-962-0210 919-962-2356 travel_team@unc.edu
Travel Policy Systems & Operations 919-843-5098 919-962-2356 operations_team@unc.edu

History

Revised:
October 10, 2017: Clarified FAQ on travel days and mileage rates to indicate that a one-day trip would only be granted 53.5 cents for the first 100 miles.
June 22, 2017: Added a FAQ concerning business meetings which require participant to stay over weekend and the need for, or exception to, advanced management approval.
May 17, 2017:  Removed personal vehicle mileage question.  Added definition of travel days to first FAQ.
May 17, 2017:  Updated Personal Vehicle mileage question, lowering the previous 34 cent mileage reimbursement of 2016 (if choosing to use a personal vehicle over state car) to 17 cents per mile at the appropriate 2017 medical/moving mileage rate.
April 26, 2017: Updated exclusions to include expenses paid by third party. Updated FAQs to reflect new example of such.
February 17, 2017:  Updated miles per day of travel stipulation to the mileage reimbursement sections and added a FAQ to illustrate how mileage rates should be applied.
February 2, 2017: Changed terminology from "State owned or Enterprise" to "state owned vehicle or vehicle leased through a state contract"
January 6, 2017:  Updated mileage reimbursement rates, dropping the mileage reimbursement from 54 cents a mile to 53.5 cents per mile, and from 19 cents per mile for every mile exceeding 100 to 17 cents per mile for every mile exceeding 100.
December 6, 2016: Updated mileage reimbursement rates by reducing round trip reimbursement for more than 100 miles without state vehicle to be 19 cents per mile from the previous rate of 34 cents a mile.
May 27, 2016: Added Airfare Request link.
January 11, 2016: Updated mileage reimbursement rates and round trip mileage.
April 2, 2015: Clarified point of departure in Travel by Personal Vehicle and Special Situations section.
January 8, 2014: Updated mileage reimbursement rate.
January 9, 2014: Updated mileage reimbursement rate.
May 1, 2013: Added information to Transportation by Air section and Special Situations for senior University officials.
January 4, 2013: Updated allowed mileage rate.
July 1, 2011: Rate change.
June 6, 2011