TRAVEL PROCEDURES

SEFS forms

UW sites and forms

SEFS Travel Authorization Form UW Travel Policies & Procedures
Vicinity mileage log form Airfare/State Contract Airfares
SEFS Purchase Order Form Domestic Per Diem Rates
Travel Reimbursement Worksheet Foreign Per Diem Rates
Per Diem Advance Request
  Meal Reimbursement on Behalf of Others
  Mileage for Selected Locations
Other sources Receipts
Mapquest Customs Letter Request Form
Currency Converter (Oanda) Check Request form

 

Index of Topics

Travel Approval
Airfare
Personal Time While in Travel Status
Lodging and Meal Per Diem
Meals Paid on Behalf of Others
Conference Registration
Mileage
Other Transportation Expenses
International/Foreign Travel
Getting Reimbursed/Receipts

 

The use of funds to support travel is subject to many regulations from a variety of funding entities, such as federal, state, university, and grant and contract sponsors.  Travel expenditures are among the most closely scrutinized transactions that internal and external auditors review for compliance.  Staff in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences are committed to the correct and expeditious processing of travel expenditures, as well as all financial transactions, and invite travelers with questions to call or come by Anderson 216 for assistance.  All travel expenses must be work-related and obtained at the most economical price to the State and the UW.  Complete information about travel, including airfares, per diem, and mileage rates is posted on the UW Travel Office website, Policies and ProceduresThe following synopsis of travel guidelines is targeted to School of Environmental and Forest Sciences faculty, staff, and students.

Travel Approval
The State of Washington and the UW require that travel be reviewed and approved for all budgets and all destinations.  Travelers must fill out a SEFS Travel Authorization Form,obtain the budget owner’s signature (e.g., faculty principal investigator), and submit the completed form to SEFS Financial Services or your unit travel coordinator.  If the traveler is also the budget owner, the form must be signed by the Department Chair or designee. Written approval for in-state travel can be submitted along with the request for reimbursement after travel is completed.   Prior written approval is required for all out-of-state travel, which is defined as any destination outside of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. 

Airfare
State approved airfares are posted on the UW Travel webpage under Airfare/State Contract Airfares.  Airfare can be prepaid using a UW approved travel agency and the School’s Corporate Travel Account.  Travelers work with the agency to determine travel dates and times; the travel agent contacts SEFS Financial Services staff for approval to book the ticket; and the School’s Corporate Travel Account is charged the cost of the fare.  This process eliminates the need for a traveler to pay for the ticket in advance and later request reimbursement.

Suggested travel agencies:
Travel Meetings & Incentives                                           Global Express Travel                                 
5611 196th St SW                                                              1904 3rd Avenue                           
Lynnwood, WA 98036                                                        Seattle, WA 98101                       
888-633-5344                                                                      800-682-1988                               
After hrs: 888-901-5828                                                     Contact: Barb Rose                      
Contact: Jeanne Kick                                                          barb.gx@vacation.com                               
jeanne@travelmeet.com                                                  

Travelers can also purchase tickets directly from airlines or other ticket services if (1) the contract airfare is more expensive than a rate the traveler has found; (2) there is no contract fare for the flight; (3) there are no seats for the flight; or (4) no flights fit the traveler's required schedule. Airline tickets purchased directly by the traveler can be reimbursed by submitting a request for reimbursement in advance of the trip that includes a receipt showing itinerary and proof of payment.

Personal Time While in Travel Status
Adding personal time while on travel for a business trip is allowable when the following conditions exist:  (1) the primary purpose of the trip is official UW business; (2) approved leave is used, if applicable, during the personal portion; and (3) the UW does not incur any extra expenses beyond what it would normally incur.  Travelers must purchase airfare for the personal trip separate from the UW business trip if personal time is at a location other than the UW business location.  For more information, see Travel Responsibility.

Lodging and Meal Per Diem
Per Diem Rates for lodging and meals are posted on the UW Travel Office website.  In the UW Travel System, in-state per diem means state of Washington only.  For Travel Authorization, in-state means Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  The per diem rate is determined by the city where the traveler sleeps at night.  If the travel involves a conference that includes a meal, per diem cannot be claimed for that meal.  

Travelers are allowed meal per diem based on the time of day they go into travel status.  Travelers can go into travel status up to three hours before domestic flights and up to four hours before international flights.  Breakfast per diem is allowed for travelers starting at 8 a.m. or earlier; lunch is allowed for travelers after 8 a.m. and before 2 p.m.; and dinner is allowed for travelers in travel status after 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. 

The posted rates for lodging are before the addition of taxes and fees.  Itemized receipts are always required for lodging claims.  If the hotel cost is higher than the posted rate, travelers may claim a lodging exception if one of the following situations exists:

  1. maximum benefits achieved by staying in the conference hotel
  2. lower costs overall by staying at a less expensive but more distant location 
  3. a suite is required
  4. special event or disaster
  5. compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act or safety/health is a concern

Meals Paid on Behalf of Others
Itemized receipt(s) are required regardless of cost.  Reimbursement is at actual amount paid (exclude alcohol) and cannot exceed allowable meal per diem rate/per person according to location of travel.   Use worksheet Meal Reimbursement on Behalf of Others to submit a claim for this type of expense.

Per Diem Advance
UW employees who do not have a UW individual corporate travel card or are traveling to remote locations where a charge card may not be accepted may request a per diem advance before the trip to pay for per diem and miscellaneous expenses.  The criteria for requesting advance funds are:  traveler must be a UW employee with no outstanding advance(s); the amount must be based on allowable per diem rates of location and period of travel and cannot exceed 90 days; and the request must be for at least $300.  Submit a Per Diem Advance Form at least 10 business days prior to departure.

Conference Registration
Conference organizers are moving more and more to on-line registration, with an increasing number of personal choices to be made, choices which are most efficiently made by the conference attendee. Accordingly, we are asking individuals to take care of their own registrations, filling out the Expense Reimbursement Form to send to Financial Services in 216 Anderson Hall. The typical turnaround time from submission of the completed reimbursement paperwork to deposit of the funds in the employee’s bank account is 3-4 business days, so if the paperwork is turned in promptly, the reimbursement will be deposited before the bill has even been received.

Mileage
If the traveler's personal vehicle is used for UW business, reimbursement is at the applicable mileage rate for each mile driven from the official duty station.  Most travelers will have Seattle as their official duty station.  Three methods are available for claiming a mileage expense.  Point to Point: use “MapQuest” or other similar program to establish the distance between two points; print and submit the report with the request for reimbursement. Vicinity: mileage in which the traveler maintains a log to record beginning and ending odometer readings between several destinations (Vicinity Mileage Log).  The UW also maintains a list of standard mileages between certain cities commonly used by travelers (Mileage for selected locations).  Using the standard rate eliminates the need to also submit a mileage log or MapQuest printout for reimbursement. 

Other Transportation Expenses
Expenses for trains, buses, shuttles, taxis, parking, and tolls are considered miscellaneous transportation expenses.  Gratuities and tips are considered business expenses and will be reimbursed along with the item cost.

International/Foreign Travel
Guidelines for international travel are posted to several locations on the UW Travel Office website and there is no single location for travelers to consult.  General guidelines are provided here, but travelers are advised to work with SEFS Financial Services staff well ahead of travel to avoid unpleasant surprises. 

For any leg of international air travel originating out of or returning to the U.S., the federal government requires the traveler to purchase airfare through a U.S. domestic airline (directly or through a travel agent).  Note that non-U.S. airlines “operated by” and ticketed through U.S. domestic airlines are okay.  Foreign Per Diem Rates are available here and on the UW Travel Office website.

Travelers planning to take a computer along must submit a Customs Letter Request. The purpose of a Customs Letter is to facilitate re-entry to the U.S. of UW/State of Washington owned equipment. This is for reasons of national security and to avoid any unnecessary duty charges by providing proof of prior purchase and government ownership. The UW will not reimburse duty fees for anyone not carrying a Customs Letter.   Please allow three working days’ processing and campus mail time to complete the process.

When preparing a request for reimbursement for foreign travel, receipts not expressed as U.S. Dollars must be converted and entered on the forms as U.S. Dollars.  Credit card statements and some receipts show transactions in U.S. Dollars.  Other expenses must be converted to U.S. Dollars using the Oanda Converter and using the exchange rate for the last day of business travel; this rate will used for the entire length of the business trip.

Getting Reimbursed/Receipts
Travelers who prepay certain travel expenses can request reimbursement prior to travel by using a Check Request Form.  Typical prepaid expenses are conference registration and self-paid airfare.

After returning from travel, the traveler should prepare and submit a request for reimbursement with all required receipts attached to the request.  Original receipts are required for expenses over $50. Original receipts are also required for the following items regardless of cost:  lodging, car rental, laundry, and meal reimbursement on behalf of others.  If the traveler attended a conference, a copy of the conference flyer must be submitted with the worksheet. 

Hotel folio
Airfare itinerary
Car rental
Mileage log or Mapquest
Conference flyer
Expenses over $50

SEFS uses the Travel Reimbursement Worksheet to collect reimbursement information. This form can be filled out and saved to a desktop for easy retrieval.  Travelers can either submit a hard copy with receipts or attach the reimbursement form to an email and deliver travel receipts to SEFS Financial Services.  Travelers must choose one of two options for receiving their check: either pick up the check in SEFS Financial Services in Anderson 216 or have their check sent to their home via U.S. Mail.

Using the information contained in the Travel Authorization and the Reimbursement Worksheet, SEFS staff will prepare and submit an on-line Expense Report (ER).  ERs go through three approval processes: budget approval, compliance approval, and traveler approval.  Each of these processes generates an email message from Ariba Administration.  Travelers can disregard messages except for emails with the subject line, “ACTION REQUIRED.” Open the email, click on OPEN, and click on the green APPROVE button to complete the process and move the transaction through the system.

Staff in SEFS Financial Services are happy to assist with travel needs.  E-mail sefsfin@u.washington.edu with any questions.