FIN-004: Travel, Meals, and Entertainment Expenses Incurred on Behalf of the University

Date: 01/01/2017 Status: Final
Last Revised: 05/29/2019
Policy Type: University
Oversight Executive: Vice President for Finance
Applies To:

Academic Division and the College at Wise.

Reason for Policy:

The University is committed to sound fiscal stewardship of funds and compliance with applicable federal and state laws. Requirements have been established for University employees and non-employees who are traveling or entertaining on behalf of the University.

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Catering:

    The activity of providing food and drink for a group of people, typically with services such as setup, staffing, and cleanup included.

  • Employee (4):

    Faculty, staff, and others (including students) identified as an employee in the University’s Human Resource system. Also known as the Expense Owner.

  • ExpenseUVA:

    The University’s electronic expense management system used for reimbursing employees for out-of-pocket travel and non-travel business expenses and reconciling Travel and Expense Card transactions.

  • International Travel:

    Travel to outside of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia. NB: travel to U.S. territories and other possessions of the U.S. is considered international travel and is thus subject to the requirements of this policy.

  • Non-Employee:

    Individuals that are not paid through the University’s Human Resource system, such as contractors, students, visiting scholars, guests, and job candidates.

  • Official Purchase:

    All purchases of goods, services, and travel expenses made with University funds which are necessary, reasonable, and directly related to the goals and mission of the University.

  • Reimbursement:

    Repayment to an employee for expenses incurred on behalf of the University using personal funds.

  • Sponsored Program:

    Any externally funded research, public service, or scholarly activity (including hosting or attending conferences) at the University that has a defined scope of work often including a set of specific programmatic objectives and/or deliverables, and line-item-based budget, providing the basis for sponsor expectations and awardee accountability (i.e., a reciprocal transfer of something of value). Sponsored programs are funded through agreements that usually include terms and conditions for the disposition of tangible properties and outcomes (e.g., equipment, records, specified technical reports, theses, or dissertations) or intangible properties and outcomes (e.g., rights in data, copyrights, and inventions). Note: The terms sponsored program, sponsored project, and/or sponsored activity are often used interchangeably.

  • University Travel and Expense Card (T&E Card):

    A credit card issued to an authorized individual to make official purchases of goods and services, travel, meals, and entertainment (that do not require competitive bidding) quickly and directly.

  • Vendor:

    Any entity that supplies goods or services.

Policy Statement:

All purchases of goods, services, and travel expenses made with University funds must be necessary, reasonable, and directly related to the goals and mission of the University. Anyone who incurs an expense on behalf of the University must report and document claims for payment or reimbursement through ExpenseUVA. Expenditures will be reviewed for compliance in that the expenses were necessary, appropriate, and within prescribed limits.

[Note: If the individual is using a T&E Card for expenses, refer to policy FIN-044: Use of the University Travel & Expense Card for more detailed information, restrictions, and guidelines for using this purchasing method.]

  1. Reimbursements:
    Reimbursements for travel expenses must be submitted upon completion of travel, not before, and within 30 days of the date of return. For all non-travel transactions, expenses must be submitted within 30 days of incurring the expense. All T&E card transactions, regardless of type, must be submitted within 30 days of incurring the expense. Justification and approval from the employee’s supervisor are required in cases where the expense report submission exceeds 30 days.

    The University will not reimburse expenses that have been or will be paid by other payers. The University will not reimburse any expenses that were charged directly to a T&E Card and, consequently, already paid by the University.

    The reimbursement received by an individual from all sources must not exceed the total expenses incurred by that individual.

    1. Travel Paid by a Vendor:
      When travel expenses for an employee will be paid in whole or in part by a vendor, the University, not the traveler, may seek reimbursement of these expenses. (For more detailed information, see policy FIN-019: Acceptance of Gifts and Special Benefits from Vendors; Section 3, Vendor Paid Travel, and associated procedures.)

    2. Travel Paid by an External Organization Other than a Vendor:
      When travel expenses for an employee will be paid by an external organization, the individual is responsible for seeking reimbursement from that organization. If an individual is taking a trip that will be paid in part by an external organization, the University will pay only the agreed upon share of the actual expenses necessary for University business. Any incremental expense (lodging, meals, airfare, etc.) above what would have been incurred solely for University business may not be submitted for reimbursement.

      Generally, expenses may be paid with any source of funds. However, additional restrictions may apply to the use of funds from sponsored programs (see RES-009: Solicitation, Clearance, Acceptance and Ongoing Management of Sponsored Programs). Restrictions also apply to the purchase of alcohol, which may not be purchased with state funds. Where a difference exists between University and sponsor restrictions, the more restrictive will apply.

  2. Export Controls:
    The University supports international travel to strengthen the University's partnerships in education and research. However, there are certain Federal regulations that must be adhered to and steps that must be taken to support a compliant trip. Requirements include, but are not limited to, obtaining prior approval for any University travel to sanctioned countries. (See FIN-043: Managing Export and Sanction Compliance in Support of University Activities for policy requirements and the University’s export control website for procedures and guidance.)

    Failure to obtain prior authorization for activities subject to export control or sanction regulations may result in serious personal liability and dis-allowance of charges by the University.

  3. Catering:
    Catering must be paid for with a purchase order or on the T&E Card. Use of personal funds for catering is not a reimbursable expense.

  4. Exceptions:
    Exceptions to this policy are authorized when necessary to provide reasonable accommodations for an individual with a disability. An individual who requires reasonable accommodations for travel should make such requests in advance of booking travel to the supervisor and/or HR professional with appropriate documentation. Such requests will be evaluated by University schools and departments in consultation with their HR Professional and the University’s ADA Coordinator in the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights at, 434-924-3200.

  5. Compliance with Policy:
    Compliance with this policy is the responsibility both of the person incurring expenses on behalf of the University, and those who certify compliance with these requirements by verifying funding availability and approving expenditures. Falsifying an expense report constitutes fraud and may be cause for legal action. In addition, failure to comply with the requirements of this policy and associated procedures may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination or expulsion in accordance with relevant University policies.

    Questions about this policy should be directed to Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services by emailing Travel & Expense Services (


Employee Travel Related Expenses
Non-Employee Travel Related Expenses
Companion Expenses
Food Purchases

Related Information:

Cash Advances are allowed under certain circumstances to cover travel expenses (see policy FIN-039: Obtaining a Cash Advance).
FIN-007: Locations Requiring Use of UVA Catering
FIN-014: Academic Honorarium Payments to Non-Employees Including Short-term, Non-Immigrant Alien Visitors
FIN-019: Acceptance of Gifts and Special Benefits from Vendors (for vendor paid travel)
FIN-039: Obtaining a Cash Advance
FIN-043: Managing Exports of Controlled Technology to Foreign Persons and Destinations in Support of Research and Scholarship, Section 4
HRM-006: Employee Recognition for Classified Staff
PROV-010: Student International Travel
RES-009: Solicitation, Clearance, Acceptance and Ongoing Management of Sponsored Programs
STU-001: Use of Alcoholic Beverages and Prohibition of Other Drugs

Major Category: Finance and Business Operations
Next Scheduled Review: 05/29/2022
Approved by, Date: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, 01/29/2016
Revision History: Updated Links 3/6/20; Revised 5/29/19; Updated 6/13/18; 4/16/18; 12/11/2017, 10/12/17; Revised 8/28/17, 4/17/17, 4/13/17, 1/1/17, 5/10/16.
Supersedes (previous policy):
FIN-004: Payment or Reimbursement of Business Meals (VI.G.2, Meal Expenses); FIN-009: Payment or Reimbursement of Social Event Meals (VI.G.2, Meal Expense); FIN-016: Individuals Authorized to Approve Local Fund Exceptions to State Policies and Self-Travel (VI.A.12); FIN-030: Payment or Reimbursement of Travel Expenses (VI.G.1, Travel Expenses); VI.F.2: Restrictions on Local Funds Expenditures.