Ohio University

Travel Policy & Procedures

Traveling for OHIO

OHIO Travel Policy: University Policy No. 41.121 - Reimbursement for Official Travel and Entertainment

OHIO has contracted with Christopherson Business Travel (CBT) for all of our travel needs. CBT's services can be accessed through Concur or via phone/email.

Airfare

Airline tickets must be paid for on a university card unless prior exception has been approved. The Central Travel Card (CTA) is available in CBT for all employees to utilize when booking air travel for themselves, other employees, students and guests. This card provides life insurance for all travelers. A PCard or travel card should only be used when booking airfare for the cardholder as this is the only individual who will be covered under the life insurance policy.

Personal Card for Airline prior to funding approval

If you are booking travel and you are unsure if University funding will be available, you should request an exception to put the airline ticket on a personal card prior to booking to simplify reimbursement if funding is received. To get an exception, send an email detailing the reason for the request to FinanceCustomerCare@ohio.edu.

Basic Economy

These are the cheapest fares but they are highly restrictive. Each airline has different restrictions, but these tickets are not changeable or refundable. If you cannot take your scheduled flight, you will have to purchase a new ticket. If you do not have a legitimate business purpose or medical emergency as defined by OHIO sick leave policy, you will need to reimburse the University for the original flight.

Economy/Coach

This is the standard fare to use for University travel. Upgrades are not allowed, except in the following circumstances:

  • Flights longer than 5 hours (less than first class only)
  • The traveler has an approved accommodation through the Office of University Accessibility

Economy Plus (Premium)

This is considered an upgraded fare and is not allowed except in the circumstances listed above. Economy Plus would be considered a “less than first class” fare for international travel.

Business Class

This is considered an upgraded fare and is not allowed except in the circumstances listed above. Business Class would be considered a “less than first class” fare for international travel.

First Class

As good stewards of public funds/student tuition, the University does not pay for first class tickets.

Early Bird Check In (Southwest)

This is an allowed fee for Southwest Airlines to help ensure our travelers can obtain overhead bin space.

Airport Parking

Employees are eligible for a discount parking rate at the Columbus Airport for business or personal travel through our preferred supplier, the Parking Spot. Show your OHIO ID when paying to receive this discount. You can also reserve parking through the Parking Spot website.

Requesting Travel Accommodations

If you need an accessibility accommodation to upgrade travel, contact the Office for University Accessibility at 740-593-2620 or email access@ohio.edu for information on how to register.

Rental cars

The University has contracts through the state with Enterprise/National Rental Cars. These can be booked outside of the Travel Management Company (Christopherson Business Travel) but you may want to check rates within the booking tool. CBT has contracts that may provide better rates in some circumstances. As long as you are booking through CBT, you are meeting the “preferred provider” requirement to be in compliance with the A&E Mandate.

If booking Enterprise or National car rentals through CBT, the car will be paid for via the CTA card. All other car rentals through CBT will require a personal card or a PCard/travel card upon car pickup.

If you are renting directly from Enterprise or National, our contract provides additional insurance coverage. If you are booking with another rental car agency, you will need to purchase additional insurance. Please refer to Risk Management website to ensure proper insurance coverage is provided.

Personal Vehicle use

Use of a personal vehicle is reimbursed on a mileage basis at the federal mileage rate in effect at the time of travel. You may not purchase gas for a personal vehicle on a PCard. Mileage reimbursements rates are determined at least annually and announced by the IRS. These rates are loaded into Concur. The mileage rates for current and prior years is available at https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/standard-mileage-rates.

Lodging

You may pay for hotels with your PCard, travel card or personal card. You will be required to provide a credit card upon check-in to cover incidentals.

Conference hotels can be booked outside of CBT and do not require an A&E Exception. Travelers should check with in Concur first to see if they may have better than conference rates. If you want to book your conference hotel through CBT, you can add a comment to your booking indicating the conference rate, and they will obtain that for you if it is still available. There will be an agent assist fee associated with this transaction.

All other hotels must be booked through CBT. When booking hotels, a pop-up will show terms and conditions. It is important to read these terms prior booking your hotel to check cancellation policies and pre-payment/deposit requirements.

Booking non-traditional lodging and transportation

University dorms (domestic and international) and any vendors on the pre-approved list may be booked directly with the establishment. Other non-traditional lodging, such as hostels, field stations, camp grounds, and owner rentals must be approved by your planning unit (CFAO or designee) utilizing the Lodging Safety Questionnaire prior to booking. This type of lodging will also need to be booked directly with the establishment once approval is received as they will not be available through CBT. An A&E exception is not required for these non-traditional lodging options.

Uber, Lyft and traditional taxi services have been pre-approved by Risk Management for transportation needs. Uber and Lyft will need to paid for personally and reimbursement will be processed through Concur after travel. You may not use a university travel card or Pcard to pay for these services because the companies store card information, which violates OHIO policy.

Cancellation and change fees

Cancellation and change fees for airline tickets or charges for unused rooms or airline tickets are only allowable if there is a business purpose for the change or a medical emergency for the traveler or immediate family. (See Ohio policies 40.013, 40.030 and 40.029 for definitions of immediate family.)

Some examples of business purpose:

  • You are needed back for an important meeting and must leave your conference early
  • You are visiting recruits and one of your recruits has decided on another school
  • Your son has been sent to the hospital

Examples of purposes that would require reimbursement:

  • The conference is not that interesting
  • You want to go home early for a family gathering
  • You decided to fly out immediately after the conference though your original flight was booked to leave the next day

Same Day travel

Per IRS guidelines, we do not pay Per Diem for same day travel unless it includes a hotel room for extended rest before returning to campus.

Per Diem (Meals and Incidentals)

Per Diem is a rate set by the GSA for personal meals and incidentals (tips, etc.) and is a flat rate based on where you are travelling. The University allows up to the standard GSA rate for all travel with the first and last day of travel reduced to 75% of the GSA rate. This in consistent with IRS requirements. If meals are provided, you are still entitled to the incidental expense allocation. Concur will calculate this for you when you mark your meals as provided.

No receipts are required to claim Per Diem.

Planning units may be more restricting on the amount of per diem allowed for your trip. Please check with your planning unit to determine if restrictions exist prior to your travel.

Please note that business meetings are reimbursable based on actual expenses. Attendees must be listed in your travel report and any employees in attendance must reduce any per diem claims for the included meal.

Please see the Concur Per Diem QRG located at https://www.ohio.edu/finance/quick-reference-guides.

Tipping

Tipping should be limited to what is customary in the area you are traveling/meeting.

In the US, customary tipping is 20%. Please note that per diem includes tips for personal meals, bell hops, etc. These expenses should not be claimed separately. If you have purchased a business meal, tip can be added to the payment/reimbursement at a maximum of 20% in the US.

Many countries do not consider tipping standard practice. You should research the standards for the area to which you are traveling. Some resources that may help are https://www.gocompare.com/travel-insurance/how-much-should-you-tip/ and www.lonelyplanet.com.

General substantiation

Any non-lodging travel expense of $75 or more requires a receipt to be attached to your travel expense report. Examples of expenses that do not require a receipt if they are under $75 include taxis, trains, subways, baggage fees, agent booking fees, parking.

All other University card transactions requires a receipt. The cardholder/traveler will be required to reimburse any transactions not properly substantiated with a receipt.

Receipts

A receipt must include the vendor name, the date of the transaction, what was purchased or paid for, an itemization of expenses, and the total paid including tips if applicable.

Conference and meeting travel must include an agenda, itinerary or similar document detailing the dates and location of the event, the business conducted or topic, meals provided and any other pertinent information.

Remember that each report in Concur must stand alone. If you have more than one report that pertains to a particular trip that information should be provided with each report. Itineraries are not required to be attached to the airline ticket for travel but all reports documenting the actual must include this supporting documentation.

Reimbursements for out-of-pocket travel expenses are processed through Concur on TR reports. Reports are processed daily in Finance once departmental approvals have been obtained.

Travel expense reports must be submitted to your approver within 15 days of return from travel. If you extend your trip for personal travel, you have 15 days from the end of the business portion of the trip to submit your report in Concur for all business expenses. Failure to timely substantiate your travel expenses creates a risk to our accountable plan, which allows us to reimburse/pay for expenses for our employees on a non-taxable basis.

Any transactions submitted for reimbursement more than 12 months after the expense date will be denied.

Advances

Travel advances are available when traveling with students requires you to provide daily Per Diem to them or when pre-travel issue of funds is justified by the circumstances of travel and when the University card cannot meet the needs of the trip. The Cash Advance Request form is located at https://www.ohio.edu/finance/forms.

There is a Travel Advance Quick Reference Guide available to assist you. Please request your advance as soon as you have identified the need to allow Accounts Payable sufficient time for processing. We will issue the advance 7 business days prior to travel.

We do not issue cash advances for employee per diem unless travel is greater than 15 days.

University Cards and International Travel

If you are traveling internationally and will be using a university card, contact JP Morgan at the number on the back of the card to notify them where you will be travelling. If you do not contact the bank, international transactions may be considered fraudulent and your card may be suspended by the bank.

Also send an email with your dates of travel to financecustomercare@ohio.edu to make the Card Administrator aware as well.

Booking Personal Travel

You will be able to book personal travel through CBT in order to access contracted rates. You will need to enter a personal credit card for payment.

Spousal Travel / Expenses

Spousal travel / expenses requires a business purpose and must be pre-approved by the Planning Unit Head. This approval process will be developed by the Planning Unit Head but must provide documentation to be attached to the Concur report.

Booking Business and Personal Travel as One Trip

When booking airline tickets combining personal and business, CBT can apply a split payment if the airline is United, Delta or American. If it is another airline, you will need to receive an exception through financecustomercare@ohio.edu to pay for the airline ticket with a personal card and be reimbursed. This exception must be requested prior to booking the airfare and reimbursement will not be processed until after travel has occurred. Please note that without a prior exception, requests for airline reimbursement may be denied.

Personal Transactions in Concur

OHIO Policy #55.070 prohibits personal use of University PCards. Repeat violations may result in your card being permanently closed. Once closed, a card will not be reinstated.

If a transaction is found to be personal in nature, the following process should be followed.

  1. The check-box titled “Personal Expense (do not reimburse)” should be checked. The system will change the object code to 718355. Object Code 718350 is only used for disputed or fraudulent transactions or those due from a third party.
  2. The cardholder must refund the personal amount unless sufficient per diem or reimbursement amounts are due to the cardholder on the same report to cover the personal amount. Complete the PCard Refund Form located at https://www.ohio.edu/finance/forms. The refund must be posted to the same accounting string as the charge, using the 718355 object code. (Note that marking a transaction or portion of a transaction “personal”, converts that transaction or portion to the accounting string listed on the report header. Also note, personal purchases should not be charged to a grant account. Place the refund information in the comments section of Concur to provide an audit trail. Include the refund form and the refund deposit receipt with the other report receipts.)
    1. If the funds charged were operating, the refund is taken to the cashier’s office in Chubb Hall with a completed Refund Form
    2. If the funds charged were Foundation, the refund must be taken to the Foundation Office in WUSOC with the completed refund form.
  3. Once the personal amount has been refunded, scan the receipt of deposit into Concur with the report receipts.
  4. Submit the report for processing.
  5. If a processor in Finance finds a transaction marked personal and there is no deposit receipt scanned into Concur, the report will be returned to the cardholder with the notification that proof of reimbursement must be scanned into Concur prior to processing reports.
  6. Departments will be responsible for correcting any accounting errors on personal transactions.