Understanding Travel Policies

When traveling on business, it is the responsibility of the traveler to understand UCSF travel and entertainment policies in order to be reimbursed in a timely manner and understand which expenses will and will not be covered by the University.

Traveler Responsibilities

  • Read the University of California travel and entertainment policies prior to travel.
  • Understand if there are any funding sources or departmental restrictions on paying for travel and entertainment.
  • California law Assembly Bill 1887 prohibits travel funded by State funds to certain states. Read more about CA AB 1887.
    • Demonstrate good stewardship of University resources; spending decisions will not be extravagant or lavish. Travel only when necessary. Every travel expense has an authorized approver and if an expense is not approved, it will not be reimbursed. You may not approve your own travel reimbursement.
  • Purchase travel through Connexxus when possible. Connexxus offers discounted airfare and the convenience of a “one-stop shop” for booking air/hotel/car, the flexibility of two travel agencies, and other options such as SWABIZ for Southwest Airline tickets. Another benefit of travel booked through the Connexxus Travel Agencies (except for Southwest SWABIZ site) is automatic coverage by UC’s Business Travel Accident Insurance. If travel arrangements are made outside of Connexxus then the traveler is required to register their trip.
  • Do not purchase vacation packages through the internet for business related travel. Such packages generally do not provide itemized documentation, and therefore are not reimbursable by the University.
  • University travelers normally shall not be reimbursed for expenses paid on behalf of other persons. For more information, please see G-28.
  • All expense reports must be complete, accurate, and submitted within 45 days of the End of Trip/Last Purchase Date to ensure timely reporting of expenses and to avoid IRS tax implications. Late expense reports may be reported as taxable income and subject to applicable payroll taxes.
  • Respond promptly if further details or documentation are requested. Travelers are responsible for cancelling reservations in compliance with the cancellation terms of the hotel, airline, etc. in the event of a canceled trip.
  • Report business related expenses and note when business travel status begins and ends if combined with a personal trip. Never use University resources to pay for personal expenses.
  • Return unused University resources immediately if your trip has been cancelled or within 45 days after the completion of a trip (e.g. unused prepaid airline tickets, travel advances)
  • Use a Corporate Travel Card for business activities and submit expense reports in MyExpense for the expenses so the university can pay the account balance by the due date. 

Supporting Documentation

  • Each expense report must have documentation attached that fully describes the business purpose of each day of travel, including:
    • Meetings - documentation must specify the meeting dates, times, locations, general meeting topics, attendees, and organizational affiliations
    • Conferences - agendas, brochures, event announcements for conferences and professional events much be attached
    • Confidential meetings (ex: research subject travel) - provide as much information as possible to justify the business purpose
    • Complex travel itineraries such as a research project that involved extended travel with multiple destinations - include documentation such as a brief narrative, explaining why the traveler needed to go to each location


  • Only airfare that is exclusively business-related (e.g., not mixed with personal travel) can be directly charged to the University.  Direct Bill to the University is only available when booking airfare using Connexxus with BCD Travel or UC Travel Center. Airfare for trips that combine business-related and personal travel must to be paid personally by the traveler. To be reimbursed for the business portion of the ticket, you must obtain a comparable airfare at the time of booking using dates you would have traveled if the trip was strictly for business.
  • Ancillary fees (e.g. seat assignments, excess baggage) may be reimbursed with a reasonable business-related justification. Ensure that your fund sources allow these charges. 
  • Business or first class airfare tickets are generally not allowed. Exceptions for special circumstances may be considered with proper justifications, documentation, and approvals (e.g., business or first class is the only service offered between two points, coach class would be more expensive, reasonable accommodation for a disability or medical need from a doctor).

Dry Cleaning

  • Dry cleaning and laundry expenses may be reimbursed for trips in excess of six consecutive business days.


  • You must be at least 40 miles from the headquarters location or home, whichever is closer, to be reimbursed for an overnight stay.
  • Your receipt must be itemized. Personal amenities (e.g. movie rentals, spa) that show up on your receipt will not be reimbursed.
  • Lodging with friends or relatives while on official business for the University is allowed and a non-cash gift, such as flowers, groceries or a restaurant meal, may be provided to the host up to defined limits. Receipts are required for gifts costing $25 or more and only one gift per stay may be provided to a host.
  • See Bulletin G-28 for details on applicable reimbursement methods and maximum rates for domestic and foreign travel.

Meals and Incidental Expenses

  • For travel more than 24 hours and less than 30 days, reimbursement of meal and incidental expenses is based on actual costs incurred, subject to daily maximum reimbursement allowances.
  • See Bulletin G-28 for details on applicable reimbursement methods and maximum rates for domestic and foreign travel.

Personal Telephone Calls

  • Travelers may be reimbursed for one reasonably brief, non-emergency, personal call home per day while on travel status.


  • Reserve a rental car using Connexxus to ensure it is on a UC negotiated contract and automatically covered by UC’s rental car insurance for business travel. Vehicles rented from an agency with which the University has an agreement are not covered by insurance when they are rented for personal use.
  • Rental cars are covered up to an intermediate size car. Larger vehicles must provide a business justification with exceptional approvals.
  • A detailed receipt is required for reimbursement.
  • Reimbursement for mileage at the effective IRS rate will be made to employees using private automobiles for business travel. Gasoline, routine repairs, tires or other automobile expense items are not allowed since they are included in the mileage reimbursement rate. When two or more persons on University business share a private vehicle, only the driver may claim reimbursement for the mileage. The mileage rate for business-related travel is 56 cents per mile for 2021.
  • The mileage rate for medical-related travel is 16 cents per mile for 2021.
  • A vehicle may be rented when renting would be more advantageous to the University than other means of commercial transportation, such as using a taxi.

Travel Advances

  • Employees who are required to travel for business and who do not possess a corporate travel card, may request temporary cash advances to cover a reasonable estimate of expenses involved. Requests can be submitted via MyExpense under the “CASH ADVANCE” tab. Dates of travel, purpose of trip, and destination should be listed. Unused travel advances must be returned to the University.