Travel forms + policy
The KU Center for Research (KUCR) travel policy covers travel that is paid for with research funds. This page contains forms and general information about travel, including:
- Travel expense reports
- Other travel-related forms
- Allowable expenses
- Unallowable expenses
- Other travel policies
Additional information specific to international travel can be found on the International Travel page.
This travel expense report should be returned to the KUCR Business Office or your departmental travel coordinator within 60 days of travel.
KUCR follows the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) standard mileage rate: 56 cents per mile. The optional standard allowance for round trip travel from Lawrence to KCI Airport is 110 miles @ .56 = $61.60. Documented actual mileage may be claimed in lieu of the approved standard allowance. Two round trips are allowed if no KCI parking charges are claimed.
Use CONUS rates
- Cash advance (.pdf)
Request up-front cash for use with official research-related travel.
- Department advance reconciliation request (.pdf)
- Employee emergency evacuation and repatriation insurance for business travel
- Expense reimbursement, out-of-pocket (.pdf)
- Fly America Waiver Checklist (.pdf)
Required if using federal or federal flow-thru funds and not using a U.S. air carrier.
- Internal Revenue Service forms and information
Publication 463, Publication 535, and Circular E are the most commonly needed business and travel policies.
- Per diem exceptions (.doc)
Use this form if the per diem requested is lower than the standard published per diem rate for KUCR, either at time of proposal if lower rates are included in the budget or prior to travel.
- Travel Fund for faculty/staff research development
KUCR has committed funds for faculty and staff to travel to potential sponsoring agencies to meet with appropriate program officials about their mutual research interests. For this purpose, KUCR will provide up to $750 for an annual trip to fulfill the purpose of seeking additional research funding. This funding is not meant for trips to professional meetings that sponsoring program officials may attend. The purpose is for focused meetings at a sponsor's office.
KUCR travel policy
- Schedule most economical and direct route.
- Ticket receipt and itinerary must be submitted with travel expense report. Change or cancelation allowed according to circumstances, for business purpose only.
- For a Saturday stay-over the traveler is responsible for documenting fare savings. Additional lodging charges, per diem and other expenses will be reimbursed only up to the amount of the savings on the airfare.
- Exception: Tickets purchased with frequent flyer miles, as well as airline club membership fees are not reimbursable.
- Consultants are not eligible to charge airfare, but may request reimbursement. Before leaving, review the requirements of the Secure Flight Program at the Transportation Security Administration federal website.
- Change or cancelation allowed according to circumstances, for business purpose only. As of March 2020, non-refundable travel costs and travel cancellation fees for travel canceled due to public health concerns related to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) are allowable on sponsored projects, as long as planned travel was allowable on the project; and appropriate documentation is provided to show an attempt to obtain refund.
Reasonable airline charges for checked bags are reimbursed. Physically disabled travelers may claim reimbursement for special assistance such as gratuities to baggage handlers. Cost of transporting equipment and supplies directly related to project activities is reimbursed if valid business purpose is documented. Tips are not allowed except when required for a disabled traveler or special circumstances.
Allowable if other transportation is not available or is too costly. Mid-size vehicle is recommended. Sharing of vehicles is encouraged if multiple travelers from KU are traveling to the same destination. Fee for waiver of physical damage to rental vehicle is an allowable cost. No other insurance charges will be reimbursed.
Cash advances for travel will be issued no more than 30 days prior to the trip. Expenses related to cash advances shall be documented with unspent amounts returned within 30 days of the date the expense is incurred. Unsubstantiated expenses and un-returned cash advances are reported as compensation and are subject to income taxes in accordance with IRS code. Exception: Non-KU employees are not eligible for cash advances. Note: Arrange for prepayments whenever possible to reduce the amount of cash advance.
Convert to U.S. dollars on travel report. Use rates applicable on the date of expense. Document currency conversion calculation with receipts or credit card statement.
Rental vehicles used for business purpose only. Exceptions: On personal vehicles, fuel is not reimbursed on top of mileage rate reimbursement.
Expenditures will be reimbursed at the rate for one person. If multiple business travelers share accommodations, the actual cost will be split between them. Advance written justification is required for lodging in excess of $300 per night, unless the traveler is staying at the conference hotel. Not reimbursable: In-room movies and room service are personal expenses, which are covered by per diem. "No show" charges will not be reimbursed except for emergency situations not controlled by the traveler. If traveler is accompanied by spouse or non-business traveling partner, costs in excess of single room rate will not be reimbursed to traveler.
Meals and tips
Use per diem calculation for standard business travel. Meals and tips are generally covered by the per diem allowance. Exceptions: Meals furnished to a group and paid by the traveler require documentation that includes the business purpose of the meal, names and business relationship of attendees, and an itemized receipt. Gratuity charges for group business meals require a receipt. Meals provided in the conference fee or by third parties will be subtracted from the per diem claimed. See KUCR Travel Rate Schedule.
No overnight stay: Departments may allow employees one meal on same-day trips provided the travel is more than 30 miles from traveler's workstation AND exceeds 11 hours. Each reimbursement must identify the date, departure time, arrival time, destination, trip purpose and meal requested. No receipts are required. If the actual cost of the meal exceeds the reimbursement amount, the difference is not reimbursed. One breakfast, lunch or dinner may be reimbursed based on 15%, 35% or 50% (breakfast, lunch or dinner) of the daily M&IE rate.
Meetings, seminars and conferences
The meeting agenda is required documentation for the report of travel expenditures. Meals provided in the conference fee or by third parties will be subtracted from the per diem claimed.
Reimbursed at the IRS rate in effect on the date of travel. See the Travel Rates Schedule. Based on the shortest available route unless other documentation is provided which supports an acceptable alternate route. Mileage to and from the workplace from the traveler's residence will not be reimbursed. See "Point of Departure" below.
Mileage vs. airfare: If a personal vehicle is used in lieu of air travel, the reimbursement for mileage, per diem, lodging and other expenses resulting from the additional travel time will be compared to the cost of air travel. Traveler is responsible for documenting comparable airfare costs based on 14-day advance purchase plus other expenses pertinent to air travel.
Passport and visa fees
If necessary for completion of the business purpose of the trip.
Telephone and internet
Telephone, internet and other communications charges will be reimbursed for business purposes only. Exceptions: Telephone card expenses are not reimbursed.
Check cashing fees
Driver is personally responsible for traffic and parking violations, as well as towing fees related to violations.
Fees for personal insurance, such as personal liability, personal effects coverage, life insurance, etc. are not reimbursable. University of Kansas employees traveling on KUCR authorized business are automatically covered by a travel insurance policy which includes life insurance, medical evacuation and repatriation. For policy on rental vehicle insurance, see "Car Rental.” Trip Protector/Flight Cancelation Insurance is a personal expense and not allowable for reimbursement.
The per diem allowance covers this expense. Exceptions: Reasonable laundry expenses for extended travel (over seven days).
Personal expenses: gifts
Additional lodging and travel expenses due to being quarantined are not an allowed expense on sponsored project funds and alternative funds will need to be used.
Spouse or other non-business travel partner expenses
Traveler is responsible for identifying and separating personal costs from business costs. Exceptions: Reimbursable if there is a business purpose for partner to travel.
Theft or accident: personal
Traveler files claim with personal insurer, hotel or carrier for theft, damage or loss to personal effects.
Transportation: parking, taxi, shuttle, bus and subway
During official business travel time only. Obtain receipt if possible. Tips allowable for taxi and airport shuttles.
Toll charges for turnpikes and bridges
Authorization and reporting
Traveler is required to report and substantiate travel expenses within 60 days of the date of travel or travel will be treated as taxable benefit. Requests for travel reimbursement submitted more than 90 days after date of travel or after the end date of a sponsored agreement may be denied. KUCR’s Cost Accounting Policy requires that all travel on sponsored projects be reviewed to ensure allowability under sponsor guidelines. Submission of a travel report for reimbursement indicates travel is necessary and applicable to the sponsored project’s scope of work.
Per diem allowance covers meals, personal expenses and tips while traveling on business. Rates are published in the Travel Rate Schedule. Any deviation from standard per diem rates must be approved by KUCR in advance of the travel and be in compliance with the sponsor’s regulations. Requests for exceptions should be directed to the appropriate Post-Award grant officer.
Traveler may opt to claim actual expenses in lieu of per diem. However, the reimbursement for actual expenses may not exceed the per diem allowance. Only allowable expenses will be reimbursed. Traveler may not mix per diem allowance and actual expenses on the same trip. Receipts are not required for documentation of per diem allowance. Additional per diem compensation received due to "bumped" air flight or other situations outside the control of the traveler must be reported.
No overnight stay: If travel is more than 30 miles from workplace AND exceeds 11 hours, meals will be reimbursed up to the amount of one-quarter day per diem. Per diem is based on time of travel. Include the quarter day of departure. Exclude the quarter day of return.
Personal time mixed with business travel
Traveler is required to document a business purpose for the trip and verify which days are personal and which days are dedicated to business purposes. If personal days exceed business days, the cost of transportation will be treated as a personal expense and will not be reimbursed, per IRS regulations. Per diem, lodging, local transportation and other costs will be reimbursed for business days only.
Point of departure
If departure date is a weekend or holiday, the point of departure will normally be the traveler's residence. If departure date is during the traveler's normal workday, the initial point of departure will be the traveler's regular place of employment.
Receipts are required for reimbursement of all purchases of project supplies regardless of the cost. For lodging and transportation expenses, receipts are only required when the item needing reimbursement exceeds $50 and is not covered by per diem. Traveler must document the date, place and business purpose of the expense if a receipt is not submitted with the travel report. If a credit card is used, include the detail receipt with expense documentation.
Taxability of reimbursed expenses
The University of Kansas reimburses travelers under an accountable plan. This means all travel expenses must have a business connection, and all expenses for reimbursement must be submitted by the traveler within a reasonable period of time, which has been defined by the Internal Revenue Service as 60 days from the end of travel. Travel expense reports submitted more than 60 days from the traveler’s return date will be processed as a taxable reimbursement to the traveler. Required federal and state tax withholdings related to the reimbursement (e.g., federal and state income tax withholdings, FICA, etc.) will be deducted from a future paycheck.
Travel authorization number
Required for all KU employees regardless of funding source. See Travel Authorization & Request guidance on the KU Travel website.
KUCR policies regarding reimbursement for travel expenses incurred in the course of business are written with the goal of meeting the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) definition of an "accountable plan." Without a valid accountable plan, KUCR would be required to report all reimbursements as taxable income to the employee. There are five requirements of a valid accountable plan.
- Business connection: Expenses must be valid business expenses incurred by an employee in connection with the performance of services as an employee. The expense must qualify as deductible under Internal Revenue Code 162.
- Substantiation: Amounts paid under the plan must be documented by the employee within a "reasonable period of time" after the expense is incurred. KUCR policy requires substantiation of expenses within 60 days of the date the expense is incurred.
- Allowance reasonably calculated to cover expense: Any expense advance must be calculated not to exceed the amount of anticipated expenses and paid within a "reasonable" period of time prior to the date of the anticipated expense. KUCR policy allows payment of the advance within 30 days of the anticipated expense.
- Specific identification: The reimbursement of expenses must be identified separately from payment of wages. KUCR does not mix payroll and reimbursement payments.
- Plan must require return of unspent allowances: The employee must be required to return to the employer within a "reasonable period of time" any part of the allowance that exceeds unsubstantiated expenses. KUCR policy requires the substantiation and return of any unspent advance within 60 days of the date the expense is incurred. Unsubstantiated expenses and failure to return advance amounts that exceed substantiated expenses will be reported as compensation and be subject to withholding of FICA and federal income tax.
For the purpose of the KUCR travel policy, "employee" is defined as University of Kansas employees. The KUCR travel policy applies to consultants, research participants, employees of the state of Kansas, employees of KUCR and any other persons traveling for the benefit of KUCR or its research programs unless other contractual terms are approved by KUCR.