down arrowMenu

Office of Business Operations

Travel Guidelines (Effective 3/28/16)


To define University of Northern Iowa travel guidelines and procedures for faculty, staff, and other persons traveling on behalf of the university (i.e. conference attendance, professional development, student trips, etc.).

Definition Statement

The university recognizes travel as an absence from the university. The Office of Business Operations (OBO) is the designated university office to administer travel reimbursement guidelines and procedures. Faculty, staff, and other persons traveling on behalf of the university who incur expense are encouraged to use the most economical and appropriate means of travel.

Authorization for Travel
Advance Payments for Travel Expenses - Conference Registration
Travel Advances - Cash, Deposits, or Prepaid Expenses
Clearing Cash Advances
Domestic Travel
Air Travel
Charter Air Travel
Personal Airplane
Personal Automobile
Mileage Reimbursement Rates
Rental Car
Rental Car Insurance
Parking, Bridge, and Road Tolls
Taxi or Local Common Carrier
Rail and Bus Travel
Lodging (Persons on University Business & Employees Sharing a Room)
Miscellaneous Reimbursements
Telephone, Internet, or Data
Baggage Handling and University Storage Expenses
Charges Not Allowed
Travel and Lodging Discount Programs
International Travel
Persons Other Then Faculty and Staff
Additional Resources

Authorization for Travel

All travel must be authorized prior to departure by the appropriate administrator (vice president, dean, director, or department head). Trips must be created in ProTrav and routed through workflow to obtain the appropriate approval(s). The workflow will systematically route the trip for approval, but it is the end users responsibility to ensure that proper approvals are received. Instructions on how to create a trip in ProTrav can be found in the ProTrav Travel Training Document located on the OBO website.

  • The approved create trip process secures the approval of the administrator for the travel.
  • Administrators may reimburse employee travel in accordance with university travel guidelines or may place dollar limits on a given trip.
  • More restrictive limits in bargained contracts, federal grant guidelines, and guidelines of other authorized agencies may take precedence over university policy.

Advance Payments for Travel Expenses - Conference Registration

Conference Registration should be paid by the UNI Procurement Card whenever possible. This is the most efficient form of payment in order to assure that registration deadlines are met. If they cannot be paid by the use of the UNI Procurement Card or the traveler may be reimbursed via a TEV upon completion of travel. Prior to the trip, travelers must complete and obtain appropriate approval for their travel within ProTrav.

If paid for with the UNI Procurement Card, the registration form, or an email/fax from the professional organization hosting the meeting must be attached to the PCV. Details of the conference or meeting agenda must be attached to the PCV. The documentation provided should clearly show which meals were provided as part of the conference registration.

If an individual personally pays for the conference registration, an official receipt must be obtained from the conference/professional organization and attached to their TEV in order to be reimbursed. A generic receipt (any receipt that does not have a preprinted or stamped conference/vendor name) is not sufficient as proof of payment. Expenses substantiated by a generic receipt will not be reimbursed unless accompanied by additional documentation. This may include one of the following but not limited to:

  • Copy of front and back of canceled check
  • Check Carbon Copy/Duplicate and bank statement
  • Credit card statement
  • Letter or new receipt from conference confirming payment

Fees paid for personal memberships, recreational activities, tours, or other social events are not reimbursable.

Travel Advances - Cash, Deposits, or Prepaid Expenses

Travel advances are available to faculty and staff for domestic travel exceeding 14 days. Team travel, international travel, student group travel, other group travel, or athletic recruitment would all qualify for advances.

  • Travel advances must be requested through ProTrav at a minimum of two weeks prior to travel.
  • Payment method will default to the traveler's identified non-payroll pay method (i.e. direct deposit or paper check).
  • The Office of Business Operations may grant exceptions for travel advances.

Clearing Cash Advances

Travel advances are reconciled by completing a TEV within ProTrav. Repayments of excess cash advances, if any, should be made within two weeks from the date of return. To clear travel advances obtained for group meal per diems, a document signed by each person in the group who received cash must be submitted to OBO.

According to Internal Revenue Service Regulation 1.62-2(g), substantiation of travel expense, when an advance is provided, must occur within 60 days of the end of travel. Funds remaining from a travel advance must be returned within 120 days of the end of travel. Repayment made after 120 days will be reported as income to the traveler in accordance with the Internal Revenue Service Regulation.

Travel advance privileges may be rescinded until the delinquent advance has been cleared or repayment has occurred.

Domestic Travel

Individuals should submit a Travel Expense Voucher (TEV) within 120-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. Individuals not on University-related business may accompany, at their own expense.

Itemized receipts are required for airfare, rental vehicle, train or bus, hotel, registrations, and any other expenses of $75 or more. 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.

Out-of-pocket travel expenses will be paid via direct deposit to employees or mailed to the individuals' home address, campus address or held at the Cashier's window for pickup in accordance with preferences identified within the supplier record of the employee or on the TEV for non-employees. To sign up for direct deposit, travelers should access their MyUNIverse account via the UNI home page: On the MyPage tab, select Direct Deposit Sign-Up.


Transportation should be by the most economical means available, giving consideration to time, distance and work requirements. Any person authorized to travel on University business may choose to use his or her personal automobile, but does so at his or her own risk and is personally responsible for all costs of operation, including repairs to the automobile, access charges for lost keys, parking fines or missed toll charges, and for public liability and property damage.

Mileage reimbursement will be made to the owner of the vehicle only, based on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mileage rate, which constitutes the primary rate. The actual mileage driven (shortest or most convenient route directly to and from business destination) must be stated in the description column of the TEV. Mileage is calculated from home or business, whichever is the shortest to destination. Mileage expenses that exceed $300.00 will require additional documentation which will include but not limited to: a justification and an airline quote showing the cost it would have been to fly vs. drive.

Air Travel

University travelers are reimbursed for round-trip coach-class fare. Travelers are expected to obtain the lowest available fare that reasonably meets their business needs. To obtain the lowest fare, tickets should be purchased at least 14-21 days in advance of travel whenever possible.

Airline tickets can be purchased using the UNI Procurement Card when travel is for university-related business. An itemized receipt must be attached to the Procurement Card Voucher (PCV). The itemized receipt must include the name of the traveler and the ticket number.

If the traveler personally paid for the cost of the plane ticket, the itemized receipt should be attached to the TEV. The original ticket/receipt or electronic itinerary with the proof of payment is required for reimbursement. When a ticket is exchanged, the original ticket, the exchange (new) ticket, and the Refund/Exchange Notice must all be submitted with the travel voucher. Justification for the exchange or cancellation must be provided on the TEV.

Special accommodations when traveling by air need to be requested through OBO prior to booking travel.

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. For more information on the Fly America Act visit their website.

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 Purchasing for Charter Agreement details.

Personal Airplane

Persons authorized to travel on university business may use a personally/privately owned airplane. A person piloting his/her personal airplane does so at his or her own risk and is personally responsible for all costs of operations. The traveler who uses a personally or privately leased aircraft is responsible for payment of all costs of operation, including but not limited to: licenses, fees, FAA certificates, fines, rental charges, storage costs, fuel, repair costs, and aircraft/passenger liability insurance. Travelers may wish to confer with their personal insurance representative prior to travel.

Reimbursement is based on the General Services Administrative (GSA) rate for airplanes. Reimbursement may not exceed cost of coach class commercial airfare to the nearest airport and ground transportation to and from business destination. Reimbursement includes all costs of operation, landing fees, fuel, etc. These costs may not be claimed in addition to the mileage reimbursement.

Personal Automobile

Any person authorized to travel on university business may choose to use his or her personal automobile, but does so at his or her own risk. Individuals are responsible for all operation costs (i.e. repairs, service, lost keys, parking fines, tolls, property damage, etc.). Operating costs will not be reimbursed. When driving a personal vehicle for university related business a current auto insurance policy must be in place that covers the vehicle in operation. Refer to section on Excess Liability of policy 9.63 for clarification of university provided insurance coverage. Mileage reimbursement is based on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mileage rates. 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.

Maps, Directions (link to

Mileage Reimbursement Rates

Travelers will be reimbursed at the following rates, based on travel circumstances, refer to the table below for specific rates and effective dates:

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 (see Note below) or
  • Use of a motor pool vehicle is not feasible or reasonable for example when faculty or staff members are not located in an area served by motor pool; in situations when an individual must use a substantially modified or specially equipped privately owned vehicle the Assistant Director of Business Operations should be consulted to assist in determining the appropriate reimbursement rate. 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. If an airport other than Waterloo is selected additional justification is needed. Travelers will need to provide a flight price comparison.

Note: The reimbursement must include a statement from the Motor Pool indicating that a vehicle was not available 48 hours prior to the departure date. The TEV submitted without the requisite statement will be reimbursed at the University rate. The Assistant Director of Business Operations 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.

  • Mileage Reimbursement Rate Table
For travel beginning:IRS Business RateUniversity RateMoving Rate
January 1, 2016
January 1, 2015
54.0 cents
57.5 cents
27.0 cents
28.75 cents
19.0 cents
23 cents

Rental Car

University employees are expected to secure rentals when on business from university contracted vendors. Reasonable rental charges for standard/midsize vehicles are allowed. Upgrades are not allowed unless there is a reasonable business need. In the event of an upgrade, a justification must be provided on the TEV.

The rental amount will need to be entered on the TEV. The original itemized receipt or invoice, from the rental car agency, must be attached to the TEV for reimbursement. Gasoline costs not included on the rental invoice may also be claimed for business usage but should be itemized on the TEV by date of purchase and itemized receipts included.

If a rental car is needed locally for university purposes, Motor Pool should be contacted for arrangements.

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.

Liability insurance and collision damage waiver and free unlimited mileage are included with rentals at no additional charge.

In the event of any loss, National Car Rental insurance coverage is primary unless the vehicle was used by or for any of the following:

  • By a driver who is not an authorized driver
  • By any driver under the influence of intoxicants, drugs, or any other substance known to impair driving ability
  • For any illegal purpose
  • By anyone who gives a false name, address age or other false or misleading information
  • In any abusive or reckless manner or if convicted of careless driving
  • To tow or push anything
  • In any race, contest or training activity
  • On unpaved roads
  • Leaving the car rental vehicle and failing to remove the keys and the car rental is stolen
  • For any use in Mexico without the prior written permission of the renting location. All protection is void in Mexico. Your written permission must be purchased before entering Mexico.

In the event of a loss, while on business the University's self-insurance would apply in excess above National's coverage. In the event of loss during a personal rental the traveler's personal automobile insurance may be excess above National Car Rental. Prior to renting and using the vehicle for personal use the traveler should contact their personal automobile insurance carrier and determine if their personal automobile coverage would cover all damages including loss of use of the rental vehicle.

The purchase of additional insurance on a rental car by University of Northern Iowa representatives will not be reimbursed.

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 a rental vehicle.

Parking, Bridge, and Road Tolls

Parking, bridge, and road tolls are reimbursable if properly itemized on the TEV. Parking, bridge, and road tolls should be itemized by date. In general, receipts are not required; however receipts are required for a single fee in excess of $75.

Taxi or Local Common Carrier

Taxi or local common carrier fares, including a reasonable tip, are allowable expenses. Expenses should be itemized by date and indicate points of travel in the description. Receipts are required for fares in excess of $75.

Rail and Bus Travel

Rail travel charges including Pullman car and Parlor car rentals are allowable. The cost of travel by rail or bus will be limited to the cost of round trip airfare booked at least 30 days in advance plus applicable ground transportation. Rail and bus travel should be itemized by date. Itemized rail fare and bus ticket receipts are always required.


Persons on University Business

Reimbursements for lodging will be limited to the standard single room rate plus applicable taxes. Travelers are expected to seek standard, reasonable lodging accommodations that are convenient, comfortable, and meet the university business needs. When attending a conference, employees are expected to take advantage of conference negotiated rates when it is economical. Travelers are strongly encouraged to request state, government, or corporate rates. Lodging rates set by federal regulations will be used as a guide in determining whether a cost is reasonable. These rates are reviewed and amended periodically and are available on the GSA website.

When accompanied by a person or persons not traveling 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.

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. Room tips may be reimbursed based on a reasonable rate (not to exceed $2 to $5 per night).

The traveler should enter itemized hotel charges by date in the column provided for this purpose and attach the zero balance, itemized hotel folio with the Travel Expense Voucher.

Employees Sharing a Room

Employees who share a room and split the cost should obtain separate receipts from the hotel will submit separate TEV's for their portion of the room. For instructions on how to submit a TEV within ProTrav please visit the OBO website-ProTrav Travel Manual. If one person pays for the room, the employee paying for the lodging should submit a TEV for the entire cost of the room and split out the expense to the other traveler on the Voucher Editor Screen within ProTrav. Specific instructions on splitting a trip expense in ProTrav can be found in the ProTrav Travel Training manual found on the OBO website.

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 the names of all State employees who traveled for the previous fiscal year.


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 or her home or office until the time the traveler returns to his or her home or office.


Must Leave Prior to

Must Continue Past


6:00 am

8:00 am


11:00 am

1:00 pm


5:30 pm

7:30 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. An itemized 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 payroll 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, but paid separately 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 airfares or conference fees.
  • For partial days of travel, the actual amount for each meal will be reimbursed, up to the prorated per diem (prorated based on 20% breakfast, 30% lunch, and 50% dinner rates).
  • 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 space provided for this purpose. (Rates available on the GSA website)
  • Business meals incurred while in travel status should be consistent with Policy 13.07, Entertainment of University Guests.
  • Individual UNI academic and administrative units may reimburse at rates lower 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.
 In StateOut of State
Breakfast6.20Refer to GSA Website
Lunch9.30Refer to GSA Website
Dinner15.50Refer to GSA Website
Daily Total31.00Refer to GSA Website


Miscellaneous Reimbursement

Allowable charges including reasonable tipping should be noted in miscellaneous column (meal tips should be included with the total cost of the meal and not requested separately). Tips should not exceed more than 20%. The traveler should itemize each charge by date and explain the charge in the description field.

Telephone, Internet, or Data

Itemize University-related business calls, Internet or data fees by date.

Baggage Handling and University Storage Expenses

Baggage handling and University property storage expenses are reimbursable with an appropriate justification and itemization by date. Baggage fee's when traveling are reimbursable without a receipt if less than $75, anything above this amount requires an itemized receipt.

Charges Not Allowed

Charges that are not reimbursable include but are not limited to: personal insurance, airline/trip insurance, personal phone calls, baggage insurance, laundry, entertainment, valet, alcohol, airline club memberships, extended leg room accommodations on airlines, and airline seat upgrade or selection (unless required by airline). Exceptions to any items on this list would need to be justified and approved by the Assistant Director of Business Operations.

Travel and Lodging Discount Programs

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

International Travel

The U.S. Department of State provides guidance for reimbursement rates for meals and lodging. Travelers will be expected to follow these guidelines unless university departments or granting agency regulations are more restrictive. Individual UNI academic and administrative units may reimburse at rates lower 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 is listed on the U.S. Department of State website. Per diem allowances should be identified for the month travel was incurred

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 showing a zero balance due. 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, the per diem (or lower approved amount) will be prorated based on the percent of time the traveler was in travel status for that day.

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, justified, 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 TEV. The meal per diem (if allowed) will be prorated for meals not purchased, i.e. provided as part of conference.

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 with itemized receipts.

The TEV 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 local financial institution. Receipts for currency conversion transactions, if available, should be attached to the TEV. The exchange rate and source must be referenced on the voucher.

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

International travelers need to be aware of federal export control regulations which restrict the export or transfer of information, goods, equipment, technology, related technical data and certain services to foreign countries and nationals in order to protect national security and the domestic economy. For additional information please visit:

Persons Other than Faculty and Staff

Persons, other than faculty and staff, traveling on university business are subject to the same guidelines as faculty and staff. Meals will be reimbursed up to the above stated maximums. Itemized receipts are required for airfare tickets, rental vehicle, train or bus, hotel, registrations, and any other expense of $75.00 or more. Mileage reimbursement for non-UNI employees and students is at the discretion of the account manager within your department, but may not exceed the IRS Business rate.

Additional Resources

3.05 Student Domestic Travel Policy

Relocation Quick Reference Guide

4.77 University of Northern Iowa International Travel Safety Policy

8.01 Equipment Use/University Property

9.46 Cell Phone and Data Access

13.07 Entertainment of University Guests

13.14 Export Controls

ProTrav Travel training Manual