Memorandum 35 – Travel Policies
Reviewed and approved February 2011
To help assure the responsible use of Norwich University’s assets by controlling and accounting for off-campus travel (“travel”) expenses associated with official Norwich University business. “Official University business” is defined as events or activities sponsored or sanctioned by the trustees or president of Norwich University and his or her designees. Its objectives are to
- Ensure that all employees have a clear and consistent understanding of policies and procedures for business travel and entertainment.
- Ensure that travel expenditures are as cost effective as possible.
- Maximize the University’s ability to negotiate discounted rates with preferred suppliers and thereby reduce travel expenses.
- Describe the types of expenditures that are and are not reimbursable by the University.
- Inform employees and department heads of their responsibilities relative to controlling and reporting travel and related expenses.
- Ensure that those traveling on University business are afforded a level of service and protection that will make traveling easier.
The University will reimburse individuals who incur ordinary and necessary business travel expenses.
Departmental budget managers will assure that reimbursements are reasonable and conform to University policies.
Note: the high cost of business travel is offset by revenue paid to Norwich for its employees’ use of the University’s corporate credit card; therefore, regular or unnecessary use of personal credit cards for business travel is prohibited. Violators may be required to cover their cost of travel.
- Travel expenses are to be charged to an employee’s University credit card, if provided. Only if a University credit card has not been issued, may an employee use a personal credit card and then be reimbursed. A travel advance can be issued for $100.00 or more. Requests should be submitted two weeks prior to the departure date in order to ensure payment in the University’s weekly check run. Anyone with an outstanding advance will not be issued any further advances.
- A travel expense record must be completed following the trip. Expenses will not be reimbursed without adequate receipts.
Employees should obtain prior authorization for all travel from their department head.
Travelers should make reservations as early as possible to take advantage of advance purchase discounts. Travelers’ departments may make their own travel arrangements for air and rail travel, lodging, and car rentals (see Car Rental Policy) and rail travel reservations, or they may book reservations through a travel agency, such as Accent Travel in Williston, VT. Unless there are unusual extenuating circumstances, the least expensive means for securing travel reservations should be used.
Class of Service
All air and rail travel must be in coach class. Employees are expected to use the lowest fare available. First and business class is acceptable only when it does NOT cost the University more than the lowest available coach fare. Upgrades are allowed at the traveler’s personal expense (by use of personal frequent flier mileage or personal credit card). Upgrades must NOT be charged on the corporate credit card.
Airline Frequent Flyer Programs
Traveling employees may retain frequent flyer program benefits. However, participation in these programs must not influence flight selection that would result in incremental cost to the University beyond the lowest available airfare.
Denied Boarding Compensation
Airlines occasionally offer free tickets or cash allowances to compensate travelers for delays and inconveniences due to overbooking, flight cancellations, changes of equipment, etc. Travelers may volunteer for denied boarding compensation only if:
- flying outside normal working hours
- the delay in their trip will not result in any interruption or loss of business
- the delay will not result in any additional cost to the University
Should an airline or rail line delay necessitate an overnight stay, the traveler must first attempt to secure complimentary lodging from the air- or rail line. (See Emergency Travel Assistance for additional information).
Cancellations/Unused/Voided Airline Tickets
When a trip is canceled after the ticket has been issued, the traveler or his/her department should seek reimbursement for the unused ticket. If a travel agent was used to make the travel arrangements, the traveler should contact the travel agency to process the transaction. Unused airline tickets or flight coupons must never be discarded or destroyed as these documents may have a cash value. Unused tickets must NOT be sent to the airlines. Travelers must NOT include unused tickets with their expense reports.
Lost or Stolen Airline or Rail Tickets
If your airline or rail ticket is lost or stolen, please contact the appropriate airline, rail line, or travel agency immediately.
Travel Payment Procedures
Travel costs should be paid using a credit card whenever possible. Norwich employees who have been issued a corporate credit card for travel should use their corporate card when traveling. Such travelers should use a personal credit card only in emergencies. Travelers who have not been issued a corporate credit card, may use either their personal credit card (and get reimbursed), obtain a travel advance from Accounts Payable, or utilize a departmental corporate card.
Hotel Selection Guidelines
Travelers are required to use lodgings in the moderate and economy categories or accommodations where a travel agency (if used for travel reservations) has a negotiated rate, as long as such accommodation does not exceed equally convenient, moderately priced lodgings). An exception to this policy occurs when a Norwich traveler is attending a conference or a similar gathering. In such cases, the traveler may take a room in the hotel that is hosting the conference or in a comparable hotel nearby, if rooms are unavailable in the hosting hotel.
Each traveler may stay in a separate room with a private bath and may accept room upgrades to suites or executive floor rooms, if the upgrade is at no additional cost to the University or is required to fulfill the business purpose of the travel.
Hotel Spending Guidelines
Travelers will be reimbursed for actual and reasonable hotel room costs, as approved by the department head. Tips for hotel staff are reimbursable if reasonable, as determined by the services required and received. Refer to the Expense Reporting section for guidelines on tipping.
Unless otherwise instructed, all rooms will be guaranteed for late arrival with a Norwich University corporate credit card or the traveler’s personal credit card.
Hotel Cancellation Procedures
If hotel accommodations need to be canceled, travelers must assure that this happens. Travelers will be held responsible and will not be reimbursed for “no-show” charges, unless there is sufficient proof that the billing is in error. Travelers should request and record the cancellation number in case of billing disputes. Travelers should note that cancellation deadlines are based on the local time of the property.
Hotel Payment Procedures
Hotel costs should be paid using a corporate credit card or personal credit card, in emergencies or if the traveler has not been issued a corporate credit card, or from a travel advance.
Hotel Frequent Guest Programs
Many hotels have frequent guest programs that reward travelers with free accommodations in exchange for a given number of paid room nights at the hotel. Awards from such programs may be retained by travelers. However, participation in these programs must not influence hotel selection, which would result in incremental cost beyond the University’s policy on hotel selection (see Hotel Selection Guidelines). Any membership fees associated with joining these programs are not reimbursable.
Rental Car Guidelines
Travelers should rent a car when it is less expensive than other transportation modes, such as privately owned vehicles, taxis, airport limousines, and airport shuttles.
Rental Car Instructions
In order to take advantage of negotiated rates and insurance coverages, please observe the following instructions when renting a car to travel on Norwich University business, unless an alternative is approved by the CFO/Treasurer in advance of your travel:
- Rent a car from Enterprise or National rental car companies (both owned by Enterprise Holdings, Inc.), with whom Norwich has a master
- Norwich employees who travel on university business need to become a member of The Emerald Club before renting a car. This will connect you to the Norwich University account with Enterprise/National and will provide faster service and membership benefits. To register, go to: https://www.nationalcar.com/offer/Norwich. You will need to have your travel card and driver’s license handy.
- Enterprise/National will mail you a package which will outline your membership benefits.
- Do NOT take any extra insurance. It is already built into the daily rental price of your car.
- Continue to use your NU Travel Card to pay for your rental car. If you do not have a travel card, you may pay with a travel advance or your own personal credit card, and NU will reimburse you.
- When you travel more than 100 miles, it typically costs Norwich less if you rent a car versus using your own vehicle. Travelers are expected to use the option that incurs the lowest expense for the University.
- Locally rented cars can be delivered without charge to the university Monday through Friday. (Delivery is not available on the weekend.) However, when you return, you must return your car to the local Enterprise/National business office.
- For a onetime fee of $10, you may pick up a car during the last hour of Enterprise’s business day, if you plan to begin your trip before Enterprise opens the subsequent day. For example, if you are leaving early Friday, you may pick up your rental during the last hour of the business day on Thursday for a charge of $10 (covered by Norwich). Remember that Enterprise’s Barre office is closed on Sundays.
- Please remember to check your rental for scrapes, scratches, and dents both before you leave the rental lot and when you return.
- Any accidents should be reported to Enterprise and to Anne Lewis in the Office of the CFO (x2040). You no longer need to contact MasterCard.
- If you rent from a National office, they will email you a receipt. If you rent from an Enterprise office, you may obtain a receipt online by visiting www.enterprise.com.
Rental Car Categories
Travelers should book only the following rental car categories:
Rental Car Upgrades
Travelers may book a class of service one-level higher:
- when the traveler can be upgraded at no extra cost
- when cars in authorized category are not available
- when weather dictates
Rental Car Insurance – Domestic
The University has made provisions for insuring cars against damage when rented from Enterprise/National. Therefore, travelers should decline all additional insurance coverage.
Rental Car Insurance – International
Travelers should accept all insurance coverage when renting cars in a foreign country.
Rental Car Cancellation Procedures
If auto reservations need to be canceled, travelers must contact the company through which they reserved the rental. Travelers should request and record the cancellation number in case of billing disputes.
Returning Rental Cars
Every reasonable effort must be made to return the rental car:
- to the original rental city unless approved for a one-way rental
- intact (i.e., no bumps, scratches, or mechanical failures)
- on time, to avoid additional charges
- with a full tank of gas, if required by the car rental company
Rental Car Payment Procedures
Unless otherwise instructed, rental cars must be paid using:
- traveler’s corporate credit card or, in emergencies or if the traveler has not been issued and corporate card, a personal credit card.
- car rental voucher
Rental Car Accidents
Should a rental car accident occur, travelers should immediately contact:
- the rental car agency
- local authorities, as required
- the CFO/Treasurer’s office (802.485.2040)
Rental Car Club Membership
In addition to The Emerald Club, travelers may participate in rental car club membership programs that are free of charge or at their own expense.
Personal Car Usage Guidelines
Employees may use their personal car for business purposes:
- if it is less expensive than renting a car, taking a taxi or alternate transportation
- if the driver complies with the Norwich University Vehicle Operator Policy
Reimbursement for Personal Car Usage
Travelers will be reimbursed for business usage of personal cars on a fixed scale of the most current published IRS allowance. Employees will not be reimbursed for any repairs to their personal car even if these costs result from business travel. To be reimbursed for use of their personal car for business, travelers must provide on their expense report:
- purpose of the trip
- date and location
- receipts for tolls, parking
- mileage log
Meals and Entertainment
Personal Meal Expenses
Personal meals are defined as meal expenses incurred by the traveler when dining alone or with another employee on an out-of-town business trip. Travelers will be reimbursed for personal meal expenses according to actual and reasonable cost. All meals MUST have a receipt. Expenditures for alcoholic beverages will not be reimbursed.
Business Meal Expenses
In order to protect the University from loss of the deductibility of the expense for tax purposes, and to prevent the employee from being charged with taxable income, proper documentation of the business purpose of the meals is essential. This documentation should include the name, title and University affiliations of the individual(s) attending the meeting along with the topic of discussion and the name of the restaurant or other establishment at which the meeting was held. You must have a receipt of all meals. Business meals are taken with clients or prospects during which a specific business discussion takes place. Employees will be reimbursed for business meal expenses according to actual and reasonable cost. Expenditures for alcoholic beverages will be reimbursed only if the Norwich employee is entertaining a person who is unaffiliated with Norwich at an occasion whose purpose is to conduct Norwich business and if the consumption of alcohol is minimal.
Entertainment expenses include events such as nightclubs, theater and sporting events immediately before which, during which, or immediately after which a business discussion takes place. Travelers will be reimbursed for entertaining customers:
- if the person entertained has a potential or actual business relationship with the University
- if the expenditure directly precedes, includes, or follows a business discussion that would benefit the University
Documentation and IRS Requirements
In addition, for business meal and entertainment expenses, the following documentation is required by the IRS, and must be recorded on the expense report:
- names of individuals present, their titles and University affiliation (i.e., potential donor)
- name and location of where the meal or event took place
- exact amount and date of the expense
- specific business topic discussed
- in the case of entertainment events, the specific time the business discussion took place (i.e., before, during or after the event)
Receipts are required.
Entertainment expenses must be approved in advance by your department head.
Required Use of Corporate Card
If a corporate credit card has been provided, travelers must use this credit card to pay for all:
- air travel
- rail travel
- taxis (when possible)
- hotel accommodations
Annual fees for all corporate credit cards will be absorbed by the University.
Personal Use of Corporate Card
Corporate cards may NOT be used for personal expenses.
Cardholder Employee Termination
Upon termination of employment, the individual leaving the University must return the corporate card to the Treasurer’s Office.
Cash Advance Request
Employees may request advance travel payment up to the amount of the employee’s estimated out of pocket expenses for the trip. Advance payment must be requested using the Application for Travel Allowance. Following travel, any moneys due to the University must be returned immediately.
Reimbursement will be made for actual expenses incurred while traveling on University business. All expense reports must be approved by the employee’s immediate supervisor or the next higher authority.
Expense Reports must be submitted no later than five (5) days after the completion of travel. No employee is authorized to approve his/her own, a peer’s, or a superior’s travel expense report. Each employee expense report will be reviewed by accounting for:
- approval signatures
- business purpose
- correct totals
- supporting documentation and receipts
- policy compliance
It is the responsibility of the traveler and the department head approving an expense form to ensure that it conforms to University policy and correctly accounts for and documents all reimbursable expenses being reported. Receipts for expenditures for all expenses MUST be attached. Actual bills/receipts must be submitted whenever possible; photocopies will be acceptable only with an explanation as to why the original is unavailable. Receipts must include the name of the vendor, location, date and dollar amount. One expense report must be submitted for each trip.
The University will reimburse employees for all reasonable and necessary expenses while traveling on authorized University business. The University assumes no obligation to reimburse employees for expenses that are not in compliance with University policies. When a traveler does not select the lowest airfare, rail fair, hotel rate or car rental rate offered, the traveler’s Cabinet member must approve the policy exception.
Group and Meeting Travel
Group Travel Definition
Travel agencies usually are able to negotiate special discounts for group travel. Group travel is defined as 10 people or more gathering in a common place for a common purpose.
This group travel policy applies any time travel arrangements of any kind (air travel, lodging or ground transportation) are made for 10 or more people, regardless of the actual site of the meeting or conference.
Sponsoring a Group Travel Event
Once group travel has been authorized, the meeting sponsor should contact a travel agency, such as Accent Travel in Williston, VT, for assistance on:
- site and hotel selection
- event development
- air travel and land negotiations
- meeting/conference coordination
- group air ticketing
- participant registration
- on-site meeting/conference operation
- final bill reconciliation and payment
Each meeting or conference will be assigned a registration number by the travel agency. This number will be forwarded to the travel coordinator and the event coordinator (SPECIFY internal accounting department) with information on the proposed meeting/conference, destination and budget. It is the responsibility of the meeting planner or meeting sponsor to inform all participants of the appropriate registration number.
General Travel Safety Tips
The following suggestions will provide a safer and more pleasurable trip for travelers:
- Plan to arrive at the airport at least one hour before domestic flights and two hours before international flights. To avoid having to stand in line.
- Do not leave luggage unattended or with someone you do not know.
- Never agree to carry anything on board or in your luggage for someone else.
- Put your name and University address on your luggage. For added security, use tags that conceal your name and address. You should avoid using your home address as this will alert would-be thieves to the fact that you are away from your residence.
- Remove all old destination tags to avoid misdirection by baggage handlers.
- Carry all medication, important business papers, some toiletries and a change of clothing in carry-on luggage in case the checked luggage is misplaced.
Upon Arrival at Your Destination
- Leave the airport as soon as possible after deplaning. Disturbances are more likely to occur in public airport lobbies.
- Beware of people claiming to be cab drivers in unmarked cars. Use licensed taxi or limousine services only.
- If renting a car, get maps in advance or from the rental car counter and clearly write out the directions from the airport to the hotel. Stop to ask for directions only in well-lit public areas. Keep the phone number of your destination with you.
- If unfamiliar with the local language, carry a card or matchbook with the hotel’s name and address. This can be shown to a cab driver or police officer should you become lost.
- In developing countries, try to reserve rooms on the third through the sixth floor of the hotel. Disturbances and burglaries are most likely to affect ground and second story levels. In some countries, fire rescue equipment does not reach above the sixth floor.
- Do not leave a sign on the hotel room door for maid service as it announces an empty room for would-be thieves.
- Accounts Payable: Ext. 2050
- Controller: Ext. 2043
- Office of Treasurer: Ext. 2040
- Purchasing Agent: Ext. 2150