January 2022 Updates to International Travel for Employees

Effective January 1, 2022 UAB will begin relaxing its international travel restrictions for UAB Employees based primarily on Department of State ratings. Currently, International Travel for UAB Employees continues to be discouraged.

  • Resume essential international travel activities to locations residing at a DOS level 1 and 2 for Covid-19.
  • Resume essential international travel activities to locations residing at a DOS level 3 if analyses completed in advance clear the specific location within the destination country.
  • Countries with a DOS level 4 for Covid-19 or DOS level 3 for any other reason must be pre-evaluated for the specific location or go through an appeals process. Exceptions granted must be on file in the Office of Export Control and International Compliance (Marilyn Thomas).
  • Countries with a DOS level 4 for reasons other than Covid-19 must go through an appeal process and demonstrate compelling interest.
  • Employees must comply with and complete the international travel registration policy and process.
  • To be effective January 1, 2022 for Employee International Travel. International travel requests prior to January 1, 2022 can go through the process set up through Office of Export Control and International Compliance for exceptions to the current UAB business travel prohibition.

The UAB-Related International Travel Policy was revised effective August 1, 2021, to include a change in the definition of International Travel to now mean “…travel outside of the United States and the District of Columbia.” The U.S. Territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands, are considered to be International Travel locations, and not Domestic locations for the purposes of this policy.

Passports are not considered a reimbursable expense. However, the cost of visas or immunizations required for UAB business purposes may be allowable.

Approval Requirements

All UAB-related employee foreign travel requires the following prior written approvals:

  • Foreign Travel Request Form
  • UAB President (or his/her designee)
  • Sponsoring agency (applies to most federally-sponsored grants and contracts — contact the Office of Grants & Contracts Administration for specific instructions)

Foreign travel approvals must be obtained prior to requesting any commitments or payments applicable to the trip (including the booking of airfare through the UAB Travel Center).

Receipts

Receipts are not required for reimbursement of actual costs of meals up to the amounts below:

  • $25 for breakfast
  • $50 for lunch
  • $75 for dinner

Itemized meal receipts are not required and should not be imaged into Optidoc unless required by the college/school/department dean’s office or VP. However, travelers will be reimbursed for actual costs greater than these amounts when an itemized receipt is provided to document the expense.

The traveler should convert foreign currency to U.S. dollars and state the exchange rate on the travel voucher.

Accounting

Object code 8301040 should be used for all expenses related to foreign travel with the exception of conference registration fees, if any, which should be coded as 8301050.

If travel is to be charged to a federally sponsored account, additional care should be exercised to comply with Federal, as well as University, regulations. For example, all federally sponsored foreign travel must be on a U.S. flagship carrier, unless specific exceptions exist. IE: The Fly America Act.

  • Hotel

    For authorized out-of-state employee travel, with appropriate documentation, reimbursement for the actual cost of the traveler's hotel room is authorized by State law (rather than a per diem).

    For reimbursement of out-of-State hotel room costs, a final itemized lodging receipt is required. The receipt is usually in the form of the final hotel bill. It must also substantiate that the bill was indeed paid and that the reimbursement amount being requested was not paid by UAB. A traveler choosing to utilize the hotel's express checkout procedure should have the hotel mail the final bill to be attached to the travel voucher.

    UAB will reimburse the traveler for the hotel based on a single room rate. If the traveler occupies a hotel room with family/friends, UAB will reimburse only the single/standard room rate. In such cases, notation of the single room rate must be included on the travel voucher. If the traveler occupies a hotel room with another UAB employee(s) who is also traveling on UAB business, the name of each employee and the payment request number should be noted on the travel reimbursement request of the employee who paid the bill and is claiming the reimbursement. The other employee(s) who shared the room but did not pay the bill should note on their travel reimbursement request the name of each employee who shared the room and indicate on whose travel that reimbursement is being claimed along with the related payment request numbers. Also, to allow for the necessary review, the paying employee's department must submit all of the affected travel reimbursement requests at the same time.

    UAB is prohibited from making direct payments for hotel accommodations as travel expenses for employees. Almost all hotels accept a credit card number to guarantee a reservation and will only charge the card if the traveler fails to arrive on time without properly canceling the reservation. Therefore, employees are expected to handle the room reservations with a credit card. However, for employee out-of-state travel, UAB will occasionally place an advance deposit in order to secure a room if it cannot be handled any other way with the hotel. UAB will not reimburse an individual in advance of the trip in any circumstances. Normally, such deposits would be limited to the single occupancy rate for one night. Evidence that the hotel will not accept a credit card guarantee and contractually requires an advance deposit should be attached to the requisition. Any such deposits prepaid by UAB must be clearly disclosed on the travel reimbursement request.

  • Meals

    For authorized out-of-state employee travel, with appropriate documentation, reimbursement for the actual cost of the traveler's hotel room and meals is authorized by State law (rather than a per diem). It is expected that reasonably priced accommodations and reasonably priced meals will be used.

    Meal costs (including applicable tips) must be documented on the certified travel reimbursement request. The traveler must include the actual cost incurred for his/ her breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Itemized meal receipts are not required and should not be imaged into OnBase unless required by the college/school/department dean's office or VP. Maximum reimbursement limits (including tax and tip) are:

    • $25 for breakfast
    • $50 for lunch
    • $75 for dinner

    Meals with Non-UAB Individuals

    Meal expenses that include persons outside UAB would be considered entertainment and should not be claimed as part of the travel expense. The entire meal (including the traveler) must be processed as Entertainment under a separate payment request on a non-grant account (unless allowed by the sponsor).

    Note: Additional documentation may be required to further clarify unusual expenses.

    Employee Groups

    If one employee pays for meals for a group of other UAB employees in travel status because the restaurant does not wish to issue separate checks, an itemized receipt is required and the paying employee's travel reimbursement request must include a notation as to who was covered by that bill and the payment request numbers of those individuals. The other employees' reimbursement requests should include a notation that this cost was covered by the paying employee's reimbursement request with a notation of the related payment requests. Also, to allow for the necessary review, the paying employee's department must submit all of the affected travel reimbursement requests at the same time. In cases where the restaurant will not split a check when multiple UAB employees are dining together, the traveler can either be reimbursed up to $75 without a receipt OR can submit the itemized receipt to document the amount being requested (up to $75 per person).

    Overnight Stays

    According to federal income tax regulations, meals reimbursed if an overnight stay was not required must be included in the traveler's taxable income and will appear on IRS Form W-2 Wage and tax statement. Taxable meals must be charged to Oracle object code 8301030.

    Meals Included in Registration Fees

    Where an employee's meal is included in the conference/seminar registration fee, no additional expenses for that meal are allowable (including any transportation to/from the meal). Any additional cost incurred for the traveler's meal at an official banquet is allowable when attendance is required. The traveler must include as documentation for meal expenses a copy of the conference itinerary, outlining the conference meeting dates, identifying the meals provided, identifying any extra banquet meals for which the traveler paid directly, etc.

    Food Allergies

    If the traveler has food allergies and cannot eat the meal that is being provided by the conference, a doctor's statement with a listing of the allergies of the traveler and a copy of the menu from the conference must be submitted to be considered for reimbursement.

    Alcohol

    Per the State Examiners, alcoholic beverage or related costs can never be paid for or reimbursed by UAB. Some examples of alcohol-related costs include: corkage fees, taxes on the alcohol, tips directly attributable to the alcohol (such as tips to a bartender for alcoholic beverage service, tips to a wine steward or sommelier, the applicable portion of a percentage meal tip or service charge, etc.). The traveler is responsible for ensuring that all alcoholic beverages or alcohol-related costs have been excluded from payment requests prior to submission, whether or not receipts are submitted with the payment request. Where a receipt is provided as supporting documentation for the payment request, the traveler should clearly note such exclusions on the receipt to make it clear what is included in the reimbursement request.

  • Transportation

    Airline Tickets

    Employees, prospective employees, prospective employee spouses, volunteers, and guest speakers (but not independent contractors) should purchase airline tickets via the UAB Travel Portal using a UAB P-Card for all UAB business travel.

    If an employee chooses to purchase an airline ticket for UAB-related travel outside of the UAB Travel Portal, the employee must purchase the ticket personally and then apply for reimbursement after the trip. Employees should not personally purchase tickets for someone else.

    First/Business class airfare is generally unallowable, unless documentation is attached justifying that it was necessary for medical reasons or because reasonable alternatives were clearly not available.

    If the UAB Travel Portal is not used, travelers must include the following documentation when submitting the employee travel reimbursement request:

    • Original receipt demonstrating that the traveler, not UAB, purchased the ticket
    • The airline's or travel agency's trip itinerary confirmation or invoice indicating the traveler's name and the fare/cost along with the applicable flight numbers, departure and destination cities, dates, and times.

    Note: If UAB has already funded an employee's airline ticket, then the employee must not request reimbursement for that fare on the travel voucher form. In such cases, the employee should list the cost of the ticket as part of accounting for the total cost of the trip, indicate that it was acquired with a UAB P-Card, and show that amount as a prepaid cost.

    Personal airline or railroad travel insurance (such as life insurance, disability insurance, ticket cancellation, etc.) are unallowable costs.

    Per a ruling by the State Attorney General, UAB may reimburse an employee for a ticket purchased in anticipation of UAB business travel but not used, when the reason for advance purchase was to secure an airline discount, if and only if the trip could not be completed due to conflicting UAB business or a compelling personal reason, i.e., illness or death in the employee's family. Similarly, if a trip's itinerary must be changed due to conflicting UAB business or a compelling personal reason such as illness or death in the employee's family, and as a result additional processing fees are charged, then and only then may UAB reimburse the employee for those processing fees.

    ALL travel arrangements being made through Adventure Travel MUST be pre-approved using the UAB Airline Ticket Requisition Form in Oracle.

    Airport Transportation

    UAB will reimburse transportation to and from the airport up to 10 miles one way. If there is an Uber or taxi to the airport, the total cost cannot be more than the sum of both the round trip miles and the cost of parking at $12 per day.

    Personal Vehicles

    Travel by private automobile will be authorized only when it is advantageous to UAB. The use of private automobiles may be justified when more than one person for whom UAB is responsible is transported or when there is no other reasonable way to meet the timetable required. This reimbursement should not exceed the sum of the coach air fare to the destination plus airport ground transportation costs and airport parking.

    Employees may be reimbursed for local private car mileage at the authorized rate per mile while on official UAB business within their base area. For employees based at the main Birmingham campus, the base area is defined as the corporate city limits of the City of Birmingham, Alabama.

    State law allows mileage reimbursement equal to the IRS standard mileage rate.

    Current and Past Rates

    Current and past business mileage reimbursement rates, medical/moving rates, and charitable rates can be found on the mileage rates page.

    Note

    UAB private car business mileage reimbursement is allowed from the point of origin to the point of destination including reasonable local mileage (but not for commuting between home and office) for all official travel by private automobile. There is no provision under State Law which allows one's home to be treated as the point of origin or the point of return. However, when business trips originate or terminate at the employee's home because of convenience to the employee, mileage reimbursement to the employee must be the lesser of: (a) an amount based on the distance between home and destination; or (b) an amount based on the distance between office and destination. This will be applicable when the official travel occurs regardless of time of day (including non-business hours), day of week (including weekends), or official holidays. Similarly, reimbursement for taxi fare to or from the home airport is limited to the lesser of: (a) an amount based on a trip between home and airport; or (b) an amount based on a trip between the office and the airport.

    Gas cost for private auto usage is already included in the mileage reimbursement rate and is otherwise unallowable.

    Rental Vehicles

    The cost of renting automobiles may be allowed for UAB business purposes if public transportation is not available or is impractical to utilize.

    UAB expects that rental vehicles normally be compact, intermediate, standard, full, or economy class cars. Therefore, reimbursement for the additional cost associated with rental car upgrades is normally not allowable, and should not be included on travel reimbursement requests. However, there may be legitimate UAB business reasons which are legitimate exceptions to this rule (e.g. if more than two UAB employees are traveling together) and with appropriate justification might be allowable.

    The original detailed receipt/agreement should be attached to the reimbursement request.

    Note: The State mileage allowance does NOT apply to rental vehicles.

    Upgrades

    SUVs, minivans, cargo vans, luxury vehicles and trucks are rarely justifiable as the most economical means of travel when you consider the total cost (higher daily rental costs, no unlimited mileage deals, and higher fuel cost due to the lower mpg rating).

    Reimbursement requests for rentals are therefore subject to special scrutiny, and the amount of reimbursement will be limited to the amount which would have been reimbursed for a compact, intermediate, standard, full or economy class vehicle.

    Travel reimbursement requests for "upgrade" rentals must include documentation to justify why a compact, standard, or economy class vehicle was not sufficient to meet the UAB business need.

    In the case of SUVs, the reimbursement request must also include documentation to demonstrate that the SUV was indeed cheaper than a minivan rental (by including mini-van rate quotes).

    Rental Car Extras

    Reimbursement for special rental car features such as Satellite Radio, OnStar Navigation, or equivalent options are not considered an allowable travel cost and should not be included on travel reimbursement requests. If a rental vehicle has Satellite Radio, OnStar Navigation, or equivalent options, it is the traveler's personal responsibility to ensure that these services are turned off.

    Rental Car Insurance

    Automobile rental companies usually offer renters the option of purchasing various types of liability and physical damage insurance to address situations in which the rental car is involved in an accident or in which the rental car is stolen or vandalized and roadside assistance packages. Whether renters would be reimbursed by UAB for such insurance depends upon:

    1. whether the car is being rented strictly for UAB business purposes, and
    2. whether the travel is occurring inside the United States vs outside the United States.

    According to UAB's Risk Management Department, UAB now has liability and physical damage coverage for business travel inside the United States, and, therefore, UAB will not pay or reimburse for such coverage from the rental car company for UAB business travel inside the United States. However, UAB will pay or reimburse for such coverage from the rental car company for UAB business travel outside the United States, and in such cases, failure to purchase such coverage for UAB business travel outside the United States may result in the traveler becoming personally liable.

    For UAB's insurance to apply, the vehicle must actually have been rented for UAB business purposes, and it must actually be in use for UAB business purposes at the time of the accident/loss. Therefore, if the vehicle is going to coincidentally be used for non-UAB-business purposes on the same trip, such as sightseeing or visiting relatives, the renter should consider purchasing such coverage personally at their own cost to cover non-business use.

    UAB will not pay or reimburse the traveler for other insurance which might be offered by the rental car company such as lost luggage, accidental death/dismemberment, trip cancellation, etc. If you have questions concerning UAB's insurance coverage or if you wish to submit a claim against UAB's insurance policies, please contact the UAB Risk Management Department directly at (205) 934-5382.

    Bus

    Bus travel generally follows the same guidelines as those established for airline tickets.

    Chartered Aircraft

    In the event air transportation is required, standard commercial airlines (operating under Part 135 of the Federal Aviation Administration regulations) should be used whenever possible. When private charters are necessary, as in the case of organ procurement, critical care transportation, and for certain athletic events, the aircraft shall be chartered with a crew and the charter operator must provide aircraft liability insurance. Limit of liability must be at least $25 million for aircraft with fewer than 40 seats and at least $200 million (with at least $2 million per passenger in voluntary settlement coverage) for aircraft with more than 40 seats. A certificate of insurance must be obtained from the charter operator showing UAB as an additional insured as respects any flights UAB charters. Borrowing aircraft for use on UAB business without a charter agreement or purchase order is prohibited. Under no circumstances should an aircraft be rented and piloted by UAB employees.

    Private Aircraft

    Use of personal aircraft (owned by an employee, friend, or family member, and operating under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Administration regulations) in the course of employment for UAB is expressly prohibited in the normal course of business. In the event an employee operates a personal aircraft on UAB business, UAB will not be responsible for and will not reimburse the employee for any resulting damages or operating expenses.

    Ground Transportation (Taxi, Limo, Shuttle)

    Request for reimbursement of public ground transportation costs (taxi, shuttle vans, limo services) are only allowable when the trip was necessary for official UAB business purposes and when more economical forms of public transportation were unavailable or impractical.

    For example: Free or lower cost airport shuttle vans should be used if possible, and transportation to/from meals is considered necessary only if meal service was not available in the traveler's hotel or within reasonable walking distance.

    Employees must provide justification for the necessity and reasonableness of public ground transportation costs if requested by the traveler's department, central administration, or auditors. Receipts for reimbursable public ground transportation costs should be maintained by the department or traveler and only submitted with the employee's travel reimbursement request when the cost exceeds $25 (including tips) per transaction. In addition, the traveler should list each trip on the travel reimbursement request with a brief description of the purpose of the trip (e.g. "shuttle van from airport to hotel", "taxi from hotel to meeting", etc.). If an employee pays the fare for multiple persons, the documentation should also include a notation specifying everyone who was covered by that fare and their relationship to UAB. If the individuals are UAB employees, the corresponding payment request numbers for all travelers should be notated.

    Railroad

    Railroad travel generally follows the same guidelines as those established for airline tickets.

    Parking/Tolls

    Actual parking and toll charges incurred during authorized travel by private automobile, rental car, or UAB-owned vehicle may be reimbursed. This would also normally include private auto parking fees incurred at home airports if the traveler was traveling by air, with an appropriate payment receipt. However, traffic violations or other fines cannot be reimbursed.

    Internet Travel Services (Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc.)

    When it would result in a lower cost to UAB, UAB travelers may choose to utilize internet travel services, such as Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. to make reservations for their own UAB business travel hotel, airline tickets, or vehicle rentals. However, the traveler will then become responsible for obtaining the following special supporting documentation and submitting it with the travel reimbursement request:

    • What was purchased?
    • If the travel agency website's final order statement does not provide sufficient detail of what was purchased, then the traveler must provide documentation from the internet travel agency showing the variables (such as number of people occupying the hotel room, airline ticket class, vehicle grade, etc., as applicable to the service ordered) used in placing the order.
    • Cost.

    The traveler must provide a printout of the travel agency's final order statement. If the final statement does not provide evidence that the purchase was actually completed, then a separate printout of the confirmation page or a copy of the traveler's month end credit card account statement should also be attached.

  • Other

    Internet Usage may be reimbursed with a documented UAB Business purpose.

  • Unallowable Costs