Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual - Policy 4030: Travel
Date Originally Issued: 03-01-1989
Revised: 02-25-1991, 09-25-1992, 04-01-1994, 05-19-1995, 02-05-1996, 09-19-1997, 08-23-1999, 08-28-2000, 09-25-2002, 07-01-2003, 08-12-2003, 07-01-2004, 05-22-2006, 01-01-2008, 06-19-2009, 07-01-2010, 01-01-2012
Subject to Change Without Notice
Authorized by UNM Regents' Policy 7.7 "Travel Reimbursement and Per Diem"
Process Owner: VP, HSC/UNM Finance/University Controller
University faculty and staff are reimbursed in accordance with this policy for reasonable and allowable costs incurred when traveling on official University business. When travel is reimbursed from external sources that have specific travel reimbursement policies more restrictive than those defined herein, the external agency policies shall be applicable. The traveler's department may use unrestricted funds, if available, to reimburse the traveler the difference between a more restrictive agency policy and this policy. Employees will not be reimbursed in excess of the limits of this policy, regardless of the sources of funds. This policy is intended to establish maximum reimbursement levels; however, colleges and departments may establish reasonable reimbursement policies that define lower limits than those defined herein. In all cases, travelers are urged to use good judgment when incurring travel expenses.
The University of New Mexico Board of Regents and other non-salaried public officers of the University may elect reimbursement under this policy or under the regulations of the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration. Students traveling on University business are reimbursed in accordance with this policy. Students traveling on behalf of a UNM student organization are reimbursed according to the applicable student organization's policies and procedures, but at no time will they be reimbursed in excess of the limits of this policy, regardless of the source of funds. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has specific requirements for reimbursing foreign nationals, which are described in "Foreign Nationals" Section 5.1. Policy 2180, UBP.
To be eligible for travel expense reimbursement other than mileage, travelers must be on official University business at least twenty (20) miles away from their assigned work location. All travelers seeking reimbursement of travel costs incurred by using personal funds should submit required documentation to the departmental employee authorized to complete a Direct Pay Approval (DPA) Form using the Banner form FZADPEZ. A detailed description of the UNM business purpose of the travel must be included. The department must print the completed DPA Form, attach required documentation, and obtain the signature of the traveler and his or her dean, director, or department head. A principal investigator (PI) is required to sign in lieu of the dean director or department head for individuals traveling on the PI's contract or grant. If the traveler is a dean, director, department head, or PI, the DPA Form must be signed by the traveler's supervisor. The completed DPA Form and attachments must be sent to the applicable Financial Services accounting office for approval as soon as possible, but no longer than twenty (20) business days after completion of the travel. To expedite processing of requests for travel reimbursement, travelers should thoroughly explain their travel claims and attach original itemized receipts and supporting documentation which verifies that the expenses were paid by the person being reimbursed. This is important for processing and to satisfy internal and external reviews and audits. If original receipts are unavailable, the traveler must attach a signed statement certifying that no other reimbursement claim will be submitted to any other entity. The statement must also be signed by the dean, director, or department head and indicate that the department assumes responsibility for duplicate payment.
4. Prior Approval
4.1. Travel Within the United States
Colleges and departments may establish procedures for requiring prior approval of travel within the United States. The University will process claims for reimbursement signed by deans, directors, department heads, or PIs and assume prior approval was or would have been granted.
4.2. International Travel
Faculty and staff traveling on international business should receive the prior approval of their dean, director, department head, or PI. In the case of a dean, director, department head, or PI, the approval must be made by the person who is in a position of authority over the traveler. Where the traveler has continuing business overseas, such approval may cover multiple trips. Traveling on restricted contract and grant funding may require prior written approval for each international trip from the sponsoring agency.
UNM employees are required to comply with all export control laws and regulations. Information about how these laws and regulations affect international travel is available on the Vice President for Research's export control website.
5. Travel Time Defined
For purposes of computing the appropriate per diem allowances, travel time includes the time required to travel to and from the business destination. Travel time may not include normal commuting time which is defined as the normal time required to travel from the traveler's principal residence to and from the place of employment. Commuting is not considered University business regardless of whether work is performed during the trip. If required due to the start and end times of the business event, travel time on the day before and/or after the event may be allowed. Travel time does not include time spent for personal business or time required to travel by car which exceeds travel time via commercial transportation, unless travel by car is necessitated by the nature of the trip.
5.1. Commercial Transportation
When traveling via commercial transportation, the following may be added to the scheduled departure or arrival times for the purpose of determining allowable meals:
- Domestic travel: one and a half (1 1/2) hours for domestic travel
- International travel: two (2) hours for international travel
Arrival: one (1) hour
Any departure or arrival times that do not coincide with the ticket must be explained in writing on the DPA Form.
6. Travel Insurance
Travel insurance for international travel is available through the University Safety and Risk Services Department. This coverage will help an employee who becomes sick or injured while traveling in a foreign country locate medical care. While this coverage is available, it is considered an optional, personal expense, and therefore cannot be paid for with University funds, including grant funds. Please contact the Safety and Risk Services Department for more information regarding the coverage provided under the travel insurance policy.
Transportation expenses are the ordinary and necessary expenses of getting from the traveler's place of employment to another work site while on University business. Per federal regulations (FAR 52.247-63), transportation paid by a federal contract or grant must use American carriers whenever possible.
"Commuting" is not considered University business regardless of whether work is performed during the trip. "Commuting" is defined as traveling from the residence to the place of employment. An employee may be reimbursed the cost of parking at the airport. In lieu of parking, the employee may be reimbursed the cost of transportation to and from the airport (such as by taxi) if it is less than the cost of parking at the airport. The employee will be reimbursed for such transportation expenses with proper documentation.
7.1. Commercial Airlines
The University will pay the cost of commercial airline travel, including luggage fees, at the lowest available rate at the time of the reservation based on a reasonable flight schedule. Travelers are encouraged to plan their travel far enough in advance to be able to receive the lowest available airfares.
7.1.1. Frequent Flyer Mileage
All frequent flyer mileage or other incentives earned by the individual while on University business may be retained by that individual for University or personal use. Further, the method and routing of travel must not be arranged solely to take advantage of such incentives. The use of frequent flyer miles and other incentives for University business are not reimbursable by the University, as these are not actual out-of-pocket expenses that have been incurred by the traveler.
7.2. Chartered Transportation
Chartered transportation will be reimbursed in full when there are financial savings associated with this type of travel or where there are unique time constraints that favor chartered transportation. Otherwise, chartered transportation will be reimbursed at the lower of the cost of commercial travel at the lowest available rate at the time of the reservation or the actual charter expense.
7.3. Automobile Rental
Travelers are encouraged to use cost effective public transportation when available, but are authorized to rent automobiles when necessary. The business need for the rental car must be fully explained on the reimbursement request. Reimbursement for expenses incurred when traveling by a rented automobile in lieu of air travel for out-of-state travel may not exceed the cost the traveler would have otherwise incurred if the traveler had flown. Due to the increased risk of rollover accidents associated with fifteen (15) passenger vans, these vehicles may not be rented for University business. Travelers should use the services of those vendors with which the University has contracted for favorable terms. These rates can be viewed on the Purchasing Department website. However, if a different vendor has more favorable rates, that vendor may be used.
For insurance purposes, the State of New Mexico Risk Management Division treats rental cars rented by University employees or students for UNM business as if they were UNM vehicles. Consequently, no additional insurance should be purchased from the rental car vendor. For liability purposes, UNM is covered by the Tort Claims Act. For physical damage, UNM’s damages would be capped at $1,000 ($250 paid by the renting department and $750 paid by Safety and Risk Services). The State of New Mexico Risk Management Division will pay any damages over the $1,000 cap.
For international travel, contact Safety and Risk Services for a determination as to whether insurance needs to be purchased.
7.3.2. “Global Positioning System” (GPS) Feature
Generally, the GPS feature offered by rental car companies is not considered an “ordinary and necessary expense” and payment for this feature with University funds is not normally authorized. However a dean, director, or department head may authorize payment for the use of a GPS feature if he or she decides it is in the best interest of the University. This authorization must be made prior to the trip, be in writing, include a justification, and be submitted with the travel reimbursement form.
7.4. Personal Automobile
Per the New Mexico State Per Diem and Mileage Act use of a privately owned vehicle for official University business may be reimbursed up to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) standard mileage rate in effect for the time specified in the New Mexico Per Diem and Mileage Act. Refer to the “Mileage Rate Allowance for Usage of a Privately Owned Vehicle" page in the "Travel” section of the Financial Services Unrestricted Accounting, Main website for the current allowable rate. Each department should decide and communicate if they will reimburse at a lesser rate. Employees can be reimbursed only for miles actually driven while conducting University business. The rate is intended to cover all costs associated with owning the automobile, including gasoline, maintenance and repairs, insurance, etc.
7.4.1. In-State Mileage
Mileage reimbursement for in-state travel between cities will be based on the official mileage chart (Exhibit A.). Additional mileage reimbursement for conducting University business while at the business destination will be allowed when explained.
7.4.2. Local Mileage
Mileage reimbursement may be allowed for the use of a personal automobile while on University business within the local area, excluding mileage normally associated with commuting from the residence to the place of employment. Mileage must be recorded on a log, using odometer readings to the nearest tenth of a mile.
7.4.3. Out-of-State Mileage
Reimbursement for expenses incurred when traveling by personal automobile in lieu of air travel for out-of-state travel may not exceed the cost the traveler would have otherwise incurred if the traveler had flown. If the traveler drives due to personal preference, they must provide documentation of what the total costs would have been had they flown. This documentation should include at least three (3) airline quotes for the actual travel dates, the lowest of which should be used in the comparison, as well as documentation showing what the most economical local transportation would have cost. The reimbursement amount allowed will be the lower of the total air travel costs, or the mileage reimbursement. If the traveler fails to provide the required comparison information, the Financial Services accounting office will calculate the comparison and determine the allowable reimbursement.
7.5. Privately Owned Airplane
Use of personal aircraft will be reimbursed at the rate of eighty-eight cents ($.88) per mile or the lowest available airfare at the time commercial reservations would normally have been made, whichever is less.
7.6. Taxi Fares
Taxi fares may be reimbursed for travel to and from a business destination such as airport, hotel, conference site, or other location necessitated by the business trip. Taxi fares for travel to restaurants for personal meals or other locations of personal interest are not allowed.
7.7. Fleet Vehicles
The University Physical Plant Automotive Center provides a full-service rental service at competitive rates. Refer to “Use of University Vehicles” Policy 7780, UBP more information.
7.8. Zipcar Rental
Zipcar vehicles are available for rental for University business and reimbursement can be requested for miles actually driven while conducting University business. The rate is intended to cover all costs associated with operating the automobile including gasoline, maintenance and repairs, insurance, etc.
7.9. Other Types of Transportation
Occasionally a traveler may need to use alternate types of transportation, such as a boat. To request reimbursement, the traveler must attach a detailed receipt and explanation to the DPA form.
8. Procurement Procedures
Travel expenses, excluding meals, may be purchased with a University Purchasing Card (PCard). Refer to “Using the PCard for Travel” on the Purchasing Department website for specific procedures. Prepayment of conference or workshop fees should be made with a PCard or via the DP-EZ process paying the vendor directly. If a PCard is used to make travel purchases that are not in compliance with this policy, the cardholder must immediately reimburse the University for the disallowed expenses. When using a PCard to pay for travel expenses, care should be taken to use vendors who will issue refunds or allow for future use of services purchased in the event the travel does not occur. Individuals who do not complete travel plans for which expenses were paid on a PCard will be required to reimburse UNM for those expenses unless a valid reason is provided.
As an alternative to using the PCard a traveler may use personal funds to pay for the travel expenses and request reimbursement using the DP-EZ process after they return from the travel. The traveler must attach receipts to document that they incurred the expenses. A traveler’s per diem meal expenses must be paid for using personal funds which will be reimbursed using a DP-EZ upon completion of the travel.
8.1. Chartered Transportation
Chartered transportation for group or team travel must be processed through the Purchasing Department. Departments should submit Purchase Requisitions to the Purchasing Department a minimum of thirty (30) days before the intended travel in order to allow for completion of this process.
9. Lodging and Meals
Travelers may be reimbursed expenses for lodging and meals, subject to the limitations of this section. Per diem meal reimbursement includes the actual cost of food, beverages, gratuities, and incidental expenses. Receipts are not required for travel costs reimbursed on a per diem basis. Normally, the traveler will use the per diem rate for the location where the business event occurred. If the traveler uses a different rate, an explanation must be attached to the DPA Form.
- Reimbursement of meals to individuals who travel without an overnight stay may be requested using the DP-EZ process that generates a DPA Form. In accordance with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, such amounts are reported on the individual's W-2 form as additional compensation.
Travelers may be reimbursed for lodging and meal expenses by any one of the methods listed below.
9.1. Per Diem Allowance for International Travel and Travel within the United States
The per diem allowance for international travel and travel within the United States is defined in the New Mexico Per Diem and Mileage Act. Travelers may request reimbursement of eighty-five dollars ($85) for in-state travel and one hundred fifteen dollars ($115) for out-of-state and international travel. Per the provisions of Regents’ Policy 7.7, the higher rate listed in the Act may be allowed if the Regents, in a public meeting, determine that the noted rates are inadequate for travel to a particular destination. This per diem rate allowance is a payment in lieu of reimbursement for actual lodging and meal costs, and is intended for each twenty-four (24) hour period or for a period of less than twenty-four (24) hours if overnight lodging is required. In the latter case, the per diem is reduced for meal costs not allowed. Any reduction in or addition to meal per diem amounts will be calculated in accordance with Section 9.2. herein and will be based on the location where the business event occurred. This allowance is a payment in lieu of reimbursement for lodging and actual meal costs. If either lodging or meals are included in conference or program fees, reimbursement must be reduced by the applicable amount.
9.2. Actual Lodging Expenses, Plus a Per Diem Meal Reimbursement
This method is allowed for both domestic and international travel. Actual lodging expenses paid with the traveler’s personal funds will be reimbursed when supported by itemized receipts showing payment in full. Travelers may request reimbursement for meals and incidental expenses at the federal reimbursement rates for travel to destinations outside of New Mexico. Reimbursement for meals and incidental expenses for travel within New Mexico is limited to the lowest federal meal per diem rate applicable to New Mexico; this per diem rate is applicable to all travel within New Mexico even if the U.S. General Service Administration designates a higher rate for a specific city in New Mexico. The meals and incidental expense per diem rate is determined by the U.S. General Service Administration and the U.S. Department of State. Links to the approved meals and incidental expense per diem rates applicable to this section are listed on the Financial Services Unrestricted Accounting, Main website. Travelers may request reimbursement of the federal rate for each full twenty-four (24) hour period subject to limitations discussed in Section 10. herein.
For partial day travel, either when overnight travel is not required or when the partial day precedes or follows an overnight stay due to a business reason, the following table should be used to determine the allowable meals.
Allowable if Depart at/or Before
Allowable if Return at/or After
% of Per Diem Allowed for Meal
For example, the breakfast portion of a $50 per diem rate is $10.00 (.20 x $50), the lunch portion is $12.50 (.25 x $50), and the dinner portion is $27.50 (.55 x $50).
When travel is reimbursed from external sources that have specific travel reimbursement policies more restrictive than those defined herein, the external agency policies shall be applicable. The per diem amounts shown above are the maximum that may be claimed, unless the traveler's meal qualifies as a conference meal (see Section 9.2.1. herein) or as an official University hospitality expense in accordance with Section 4.13. "Allowable and Unallowable Expenditures" Policy 4000, UBP.
9.2.1. Funding Sources Used to Reimburse Travel
The Division of Financial Services is responsible for ensuring the use of state funds as defined in Regents’ Policy 7.7 for reimbursement for meals shall not exceed the amount defined in the New Mexico Per Diem and Mileage Act. The difference between the state funded portion of the reimbursement and the amount allowed by federal meal per diem rates is to be reimbursed with institutional funds. Departments will reimburse all employees in accordance with this policy regardless of the source of funds.
9.2.2. Conference Meals and Lodging
A “conference meal” is defined as a meal that is offered for separate purchase by the conference. When travelers incur expenses for conference meals in excess of the per diem allowances set forth above, the University will reimburse the actual meal expense upon presentation of the appropriate receipt. When meals are included in conference fees, the per diem meal reimbursement must be reduced by the appropriate percentage of the per diem amount, per the chart in Section 9.2. herein. Continental breakfast provided by a conference does not require a reduction in per diem. Reimbursement for conference lodging costs which exceeds the cost of lodging as advertised for the conference must be explained. In order to determine the advertised lodging rate and whether any meals are included in the conference fee, travelers must attach a copy of the conference advertisement to the DPA Form.
9.3. Field Travel
When travelers are on field travel status, defined as travel for an extended period where normal accommodations either are not available or desirable, a per diem allowance for lodging and meals of $75 may be claimed in lieu of actual lodging and meals. An example of field travel would be camping in a tent while conducting research in a remote area.
10. Miscellaneous Expenses
Other necessary business expenses paid by the traveler using personal funds, such as ground transportation and associated tips, parking, business telephone calls, registration fees, copying charges, and Internet services will be reimbursed when itemized receipts are attached. Travelers may be reimbursed for one (1) long distance call home upon arrival at their destination not to exceed $10 per phone call. If the traveler is on extended travel (three (3) or more nights away), he or she may be reimbursed for one (1) call for every two (2) nights the traveler is away from home while on official travel not to exceed $10 per phone call. The traveler must provide documentation of the amount of the call(s).
The meal per diem rates discussed in Section 9.2. above also cover incidental expenses defined by the IRS to include fees and tips for persons who provide services such as luggage handling, laundry, cleaning, and pressing of clothing. In addition, meal gratuities are considered to be included in the per diem amount. Therefore, individuals being reimbursed meal per diem cannot also separately claim reimbursement for these incidental expenses. Incidental expenses that are not considered part of the meal per diem rate, as noted in the preceding paragraph, can be reimbursed as separate charges when supported by receipts.
11. International Exchange Rates
Travelers requesting reimbursement for expenses paid in foreign currency must use the exchange rate in effect for the payment date referenced on the receipt and must attach exchange rate documentation to the DPA Form.
12. Travel Advances
As noted in Section 8. herein, most travel expenses with the exception of meal expenses should be purchased using a PCard. Travel advances will only be considered and authorized on an exception basis. All travel advance requests must be thoroughly documented and are subject to final approval by Financial Services.
Exhibit A. - Mileage Chart