General Travel Information
Approvals Required Prior to Travel
All University travel must be approved in advance. Approval requirements vary among University divisions.
Faculty Professional Leave or Travel Authorization
An Authorization for Professional Leave or Travel must be submitted to the appropriate Department Chair and Dean (or to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs or Vice President for Health Affairs for individuals reporting directly to that position) prior to making any travel arrangements. Permission to be absent from campus or other approved work site for one-half day or more to engage in professional activity during regular periods of contracted employment can be granted under professional leave. For further information on faculty professional leave, please refer to the Faculty Handbook and USA's request for Professional Leave or Travel form. (click here for the Professional Leave or Travel Form).
College of Medicine Travel Authorization
The USA College of Medicine Request to Be Absent from Work form (click here to access the College of Medicine Request to Be Absent from Work Form) must be submitted to the appropriate Department Chair and Dean prior to making any travel arrangements. This form is required for domestic or international travel, regardless of whether or not the University will bear the responsibility for the cost of the trip. If the University will bear the financial responsibility for the trip, the traveler should document the anticipated total cost, broken down by the type of cost: transportation, lodging, meals, registration, other (including all prepaid costs). If the travel is to be outside of the country, the traveler must also follow the requirements related to international travel.
Hospital Travel Authorization
An Authorization for Professional Leave (click here to access the Authorization for Professional Leave form) must be submitted to the appropriate Administrator/Assistant Administrator prior to making any travel arrangements, including requests for payment of registration fees. Once this form is approved by Administration, it will be returned to the department. The department should then submit a direct pay form to Accounting for prepayment of registration and/or other fees. The original Authorization must be attached with the requisition in order for payment to be made. A copy of the Authorization should be retained and attached to the request for reimbursement of travel expenses.
The Hospital Administrator must approve Authorizations involving travel outside of the southeastern area. The southeastern area includes the states of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Travel Outside the United States (Excluding travel to Alaska and Hawaii)
As more fully discussed in the "International/Foreign Travel" section of these regulations, prior to making travel arrangement, all University-related international/foreign travel must be approved by the appropriate department head, dean/administrator, Vice-President/Senior Vice President and President.
Additionally the traveler is required to complete the International Travel Review Process form and submit that form to the Office of International Education.
Student Travel Authorization Form
Students wishing to travel should complete and submit the Student Travel Authorization Request (click here to access the Student Travel Authorization Request form). The travel form should include the specific purpose of the student's travel and any anticipated expense along with approvals from the Department Chair, Dean and Vice-president under whose auspices the student is traveling. If the travel is to be outside of the country, the traveler must also follow the requirements related to international travel. Travel expenses for students should be submitted following regular University out-of-state travel regulations regardless of whether the travel is in-state or out-of-state.
Although approval procedures vary among University division, all travel approvals must take place PRIOR to the actual purchase of tickets, conference registration, etc. as well as participation in the planned travel activity whether it is domestic travel or international travel. Please check with your appropriate administrative units for the timely filing deadlines that my apply for pre-approval of such travel.
Receipts, other than meals, and any other documentation of the total costs of the trip (including any prepaid expenses) must be attached to and submitted along with the travel expense report. Documentation must include information detailing meals included in a registration fee. This would normally be the complete conference agenda or similar conference registration information that, at a minimum, includes daily meeting schedules. If an individual is seeking reimbursement using the University travel reimbursement form then, all receipts must be taped to an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper and included with the travel reimbursement form. Individuals seeking reimbursement using Concur must attach the applicable receipt to each expense on the travel expense report. All receipts must be legible and readable when submitted.
All reimbursement is made to employees by accounts payable direct deposit in accordance with the employees' deposit information supplied to the University.
Federal Grants and Contracts
These travel regulations apply to all funds of the University including federal grants and contracts, and are in addition to federal regulations and/or limitations imposed by granting agencies. Travel expense reports that include costs charged to grants or contracts must include the signature of the principal investigator.
Length of Stay
In order to adequately document the length of stay, a copy of the agenda of the meeting or conference being attended should be attached to the travel reimbursement form. Employees should limit their length of stay to the minimum amount of time necessary. Lodging and meal expenses for extra days of travel caused by use of a personal automobile will not normally be reimbursed.
Extended Travel to Save Costs
The additional expenses associated with travel that is extended to save costs, such as a Saturday night stay, may be reimbursed when the cost of airfare would be less than the cost of airfare if the traveler had not extended the trip, and provided that those expenses were incurred in compliance with all other travel regulations. Such expenses, which include lodging, car rental, meals and incidental expenses, shall not exceed the amount the University would have paid if the traveler had not extended the trip. An employee must document, at the time airline tickets are tentatively reserved, the airfare as if the trip had not been extended, and submit this documentation with the travel reimbursement form. The employee should also attach to the travel reimbursement form a calculation comparing the cost of the extended trip to the cost had the trip not been extended.
Travel expense reports requesting reimbursement of an expense should be filed within sixty (60) days of the date the expense is paid. The University reserves the right not to reimburse expenses on travel expense reports submitted 60 days or more after the date the expense is paid. Reimbursements made where the travel expense reports are submitted subsequent to 60 days after the date the expense is paid will be treated as income subject to withholding according to federal income tax regulations section 1.62-2. Taxable travel should be charged to account code 730100.
Conference registration fees paid personally by a participating University employee are reimbursable after the conference is attended. To claim reimbursement, conference brochures or other literature documenting the expenses, plus a registration receipt or other proof of payment, must be submitted along with the travel expense report.
Charges for social/recreational activities associated with business meetings or conferences will not be reimbursed.
Taxi and Limousine Service
Taxi and limousine fares used in connection with official University business will be fully reimbursed. These expenses should be itemized as Taxi expense on the Concur travel expense report or in the Other Expenses section of the travel form with an explanation for each fare. Receipts are required for taxi fares costing over $25. Taxi fares to and from meals are considered to be personal expenses and will not be reimbursed. The following example indicates an appropriate way of reporting taxi and limousine fares on travel forms:
10-08-10 Limousine-airport to hotel $16.00
10-09-10 Taxi-hotel to meeting site $ 9.00
10-09-10 Taxi-meeting site to hotel $ 8.00
10-10-10 Limousine-hotel to airport $16.00
Long Distance Telephone Calls
The costs of long distance telephone calls for official University business will be fully reimbursed to the traveler. Documentation should include the date of the call and the name, position and/or office of the person called. An itemized hotel bill, the employee's itemized personal telephone bill, or other suitable documentation should support the costs of the calls.
A format similar to the following example should be used:
10-09-10 Called Dr. Jane Doe, HHS Regional Office in Atlanta $3.25 regarding grant proposal
10-09-10 Called departmental office at the University regarding $2.75 University business
Team and Other Student Group Travel
For travel involving student athletic teams, the coach or instructor will be responsible for submitting a travel expense report and other appropriate documentation covering applicable expenses. For travel involving other student groups, the faculty or staff sponsor will be responsible for submitting a travel expense report and other appropriate documentation covering applicable expenses. Allowable expenses are those described under the out-of-state travel regulations, even though the travel may be totally within the State of Alabama.
Except for intercollegiate athletic team travel and other student group travel, advance payment for lodging, meals and other expenses is not allowed. Conference registration fees can be paid in advance directly by the University; however, if the traveler pays such fees directly, the traveler can only be reimbursed after the travel has occurred.
Travel of Students, Consultants, and Prospective Employees
The per diem limitations of the in-state travel regulations do not apply to students, outside consultants, or prospective employees. Travel expenses for students, outside consultants, or prospective employees should be submitted following regular University out-of-state travel regulations regardless of whether the travel is in-state or out-of-state.
Airline/Hotel Incentive Programs
The State of Alabama has determined that it is acceptable for travelers to accept "points" or "miles" from airline and hotel incentive programs for personal use. However, when an employee is traveling with a group or team and pays the expenses for the entire group, any incentive points earned in connection with such trips should be used for University purposes only.
Travel of Spouses
The University will not reimburse costs associated with the travel of spouses or children of employees. Further, the University assumes no liability or responsibility for travel of spouses or children.
Travelers Claiming Reimbursement for Expenses of Other Employees
Employees should not claim reimbursement for travel expenses of other employees. Each traveler should file a travel expense report for his or her own travel expenses and the report should include necessary receipts.
Travel of University Employees for Outside Organizations
In cases where an outside organization is paying for the travel expenses of a University employee, the airline ticket expenses and other advance expense payments should be made by the employee or the sponsoring organization, not the University.
The base area for the University generally consists of the city limits of Mobile. The base area for the USA Baldwin County campus generally consists of the city limits of Fairhope.
Further, each employee has a designated "work base." An employee's work base is his or her primary location of work (Main campus, Children's and Women's Hospital, etc.) If an employee works at more than one University location (e.g., a faculty member with a teaching load at USA Baldwin County and the main campus), the University will determine which location is deemed to be the employee's work base.
All travel should be by the most economical route practical. The mode of transportation used should be the most economical and practical one obtainable under the circumstances of the travel involved and in the best interest of the University. Any person traveling by another route or originating a trip from other than the base area, without adequate justification, shall assume any additional expense. Where there is interruption of travel or deviation from the direct route for the traveler's personal convenience, the allowable reimbursement will not exceed that which would have been incurred for uninterrupted travel.
Personal automobile usage by the most direct route is authorized in accordance with state law at the standard mileage rate allowed by the Internal Revenue Service for business use of an automobile, generally not to exceed the total amount of the 14-day advance coach/economy air fare to the destination plus airport ground transportation. Click here for the current standard mileage rate. Notice will be sent to departments and posted on the Travel Office website as this rate changes. The traveler must detail, on the travel expense report, the calculations used in determining the transportation reimbursement. The information used in the calculations must be obtained when other arrangements are being made for the trip. When personal automobiles are utilized for official travel and the traveler is reimbursed at the standard mileage rate, gasoline purchases are not reimbursable to the traveler.
Given the current environment within the airline industry, it is understood that some travelers prefer to drive to a destination rather than flying. As a general rule, when the driving time to a location is 10 hours or less, no justification is required in order to drive. When the driving time to a location is over 10 hours, the traveler should document the cost of driving verses flying and the rationale for doing so.
When two or more employees travel in the same automobile, only one is eligible for mileage reimbursement.
The University provides no physical damage coverage for damage to personal vehicles used on University business. Your personal automobile liability insurance is your primary coverage when using your personal vehicle for University business.
When traveling by airplane, the lowest available discount coach airfare should be obtained except when such accommodations would (a) require unreasonable routing; (b) require travel during unreasonable hours; (c) excessively prolong travel or flight duration; (d) result in increased cost that would offset transportation savings; or (e) offer accommodations not reasonably adequate for the medical needs of the traveler. Please refer to the sections on Length of Stay and Extended Travel to Save Costs for additional information.
Official airline ticket documentation must be attached to the travel expense report even if the University prepaid the ticket. In cases where the airline ticket is the only expense incurred by the traveler, a travel expense report must still be submitted with the official airline documentation. All documentation regarding unused flights must be attached to the travel expense report or returned to the University or Hospital Travel Office. A written explanation concerning unused tickets must be attached.
Airline tickets may be purchased through Corporate Travel Planners (CTP) via Concur or phone, through Travel Leaders (formerly Springdale Travel), or through other sources (Internet, etc.). When tickets are purchased through CTP or Travel Leaders, the primary advantage for travelers is that no costs are incurred by the traveler and the traveler is provided with insurance coverage at no cost. When airline tickets are purchased through airline or other travel web sites, individuals are required to pay for the ticket at the time of purchase and cannot be reimbursed for that purchase until after their trip.
Some online booking entities (e.g., Expedia) allow travelers to bundle different components of travel (hotel, flight, rental car). In most cases, bundling saves the University cost and is in the best interest of the University. When the traveler chooses to bundle his/her travel, the documentation must include detail from the company as to what specific components were paid and how those components were paid. Documentation must include a receipt from the online agency that the expense was paid by credit card. Additionally, it is the traveler's responsibility to document that the totaled bundled cost was, in fact, less expensive than had the different components of the trip been purchased separately.
Procedures for Obtaining Prepaid Airline Tickets for University Travel Airline tickets purchased through the University's contracted travel agency should be booked via Concur or directly with CTP or Travel Leaders. The Travel Agency provides $100,000 insurance coverage, at no cost, when tickets are booked in this way. The University does not reimburse for any additional insurance expense. If any other means are used to purchase tickets, reimbursement cannot be made until after the trip. Procedures for obtaining prepaid airline tickets are outlined as follows:
The traveler or departmental secretary should contact the Travel Agency directly to obtain flight information and tentative reservations. Where travel is extended beyond the period required for business purposes please refer to the section on Extended Travel to Save Costs for documentation and calculations necessary to support the extension.
Procedures for obtaining prepaid airline tickets for Hospital Travel
Airline tickets should be requisitioned through each Hospital Administration Office. Procedures for obtaining prepaid airline tickets are outlined as follows:
- The traveler or departmental secretary will contact the Travel Agency directly to obtain flight information and tentative reservations. Where travel is extended beyond the period required for business purposes please refer to the section on Extended Travel to Save Costs for documentation and calculations necessary to support the extension.
- The Travel Agency will send an itinerary to the traveler that the traveler must sign, date and return to the Travel Agency within 24 hours.
- The traveler will furnish the Hospital Administration Office with a copy of the Authorization for Professional Leave, with appropriate approvals and business purpose or reason for travel indicated.
- Please Refer to the section above for selecting the type of airline ticket
In the event the use of a rental vehicle is necessary, the traveler must list the reason(s) why it was necessary to rent the vehicle. As a general rule, the University does not accept transportation to and from the airport, to and from meals, or sightseeing as justification for renting a vehicle. Prior written approval from the department head, with proper justification, must be obtained before you rent a vehicle. Justification must include a comparison of the estimated total rental car costs (e.g., rental car, parking, and gas) with what the estimated transportation costs would be without using a rental car (e.g., shuttle between airport and hotel/motel and taxi between hotel/motel and conference site, or personal car mileage). The justification must be attached to the travel expense report. The type of vehicle rented should be appropriate for the business purpose. Normally, only Compact or Midsize rentals are reimbursed. The original receipt and rental agreement as well as any gasoline receipts must accompany the travel expense report.
When renting an automobile for business use, University employees are covered by the insurance (collision and liability) provided with our Enterprise contract. Any additional insurance purchased by an employee for rental automobiles will be considered personal expenses and will not be reimbursed.
Enterprise/National Car Rental is the required provider of rental cars for the University. The rental program with Enterprise is valid for both local and out of town rentals. The information needed to access this program can be found at http://www.southalabama.edu/departments/financialaffairs/purchasingdepartment/enterprise.html
Combined Out-Of-State and In-State Travel
In the event an employee must stop in Alabama to transact official business while on the way to or from an out-of-state destination, the location of the employee's lodgings for the night will determine the amount of allowable reimbursement. For example, the employee has a two-day meeting in Montgomery followed by a two-day meeting in Atlanta. When the employee is lodged for the night within Alabama, reimbursement will consist of the current per diem allowance that is allowable under the in-state travel rules. When the employee spends the night outside the state, reimbursement will be according to the out-of-state travel rules.
Internal Revenue Service Form W-9 and Direct Deposit Form
All individuals who do not currently have a Banner J-number must submit a completed IRS form W-9 to the Purchasing Department. This form must be completed in order to be reimbursed for travel expenses. W-9 forms can be found at: https://www.southalabama.edu/departments/eforms/purchasing/ Direct Deposit is the mandated method of reimbursement for all individuals requesting reimbursement for travel. If an individual has not been previously reimbursed for travel expenses, a direct deposit form must be completed by the traveler. The direct deposit form may be found at: http://www.southalabama.edu/departments/eforms/travel/index.html This form must also be used if an individual chooses to use a bank account other than one currently in use.
When completing a travel reimbursement form, the following accounting codes are the most common and should be utilized in the "Account" section of the FOAPAL:
|Travel – general||730010|
|Travel – student||730020|
|Travel – local||730050|
|Travel – registration fee||730070|
|Travel – team away||730080|
|Travel – post season||730085|
|Travel – group||730090|
|Travel – team home||730095|
|Travel – taxable||730100|