1501 - Policy on Business Travel



This policy was created to ensure compliance with state and University regulations; establish guidelines for approval, control and accounting for employees and others who travel on University business; and ensure fairness for both the traveler and the University.

Scope of Applicability

This policy applies to all employees (faculty, staff, employed students, senior University administrators) and non-employees (non-employed students, independent contractors, University affiliates, and guests).


Policy Statement

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public institution governed by the State of North Carolina.

All business travel must support the mission of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receive the appropriate approvals, and be carefully planned to ensure that expenditures are necessary and prudent, and that costs are held to a minimum. A University employee traveling on official business is expected to exercise the same care in incurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business and expending personal funds. Excess costs, circuitous routes, delays or luxury accommodations and services unnecessary or unjustified in the performance of official business are not acceptable under this standard.

Faculty, staff and employed students may have their travel expenses reimbursed by the University, subject to the limitations contained in these regulations. Students, who are not University employees, may be reimbursed subject to these limitations, provided approval by the department head was obtained in advance. Non-University employees traveling on University business whose expenses are paid or reimbursed by University funds are subject to all University travel regulations, including statutory subsistence allowances. Requests for reimbursement shall be filed within 30 days after the travel period ends for which the reimbursement is being requested.

Personal Travel

Costs of personal travel before or after days of business travel, excess costs, indirect routes, and services unnecessary, unjustified, or for the convenience or personal preference of the employee in the performance of official University business are prohibited.

Travel that combines University business and personal travel could require special handling. Prior to a trip, the traveler should describe the breakdown of business and personal components to their management for approval. In order for the travel to be reimbursed, their management must confirm that the trip is primarily for business, and the justification must be included in the reimbursement request. If personal time is attached to the trip, in addition to the traveler obtaining prior approval from management or a department head, you must provide a comparison quote from the same airfare provider for a direct flight on the business dates and attach it to the travel reimbursement.

Documentation of cost savings and prior written approval of the department head is required. If personal time is attached to the trip, you must provide a comparison quote from the same airfare provider for a direct flight on the business dates.


All travel by University employees on University business should be pre-authorized by the agency head (Chancellor) or Chancellor's delegate. Travel by Senior University Administrators, per the Definitions section of this policy, except for in-state day travel, requires pre-authorization and should follow:

  1. Travel by the Chancellor shall be authorized by either the Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost or the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations or their designees.
  2. Travel by Vice Chancellors and others who report directly to the Chancellor shall be approved by the Chancellor or a person designated to do so by the Chancellor.
  3. Travel by Deans and others who report directly to the Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost shall be authorized by the Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost or a person designated to do so by the Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost.

Individuals who are designated to approve travel shall ensure that an alternate approver is available in cases where the principal approver is unavailable.

For employees who are not designated as a Senior University Administrator, department heads or comparable administrators have been given this delegation.

For international travel, employees are required to register in advance on the UNC Global Travel Registry and are required to enroll in advance for coverage in the travel insurance program established by the UNC System Office. More information on International Travel Insurance can be found in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Insurance for Study and Travel Abroad.

To comply with auditing guidelines, all University travel advance/reimbursement requests must be certified as true and accurate by the traveler. To accomplish this, a travel acknowledgement form must accompany each travel requests and the travel acknowledgement form must be personally signed and dated by the traveler. Any request missing the traveler's signature will be deemed incomplete and will not be processed.


Student Travel can be charged on the department's P-Card by request.

Travel expenses to be reimbursed by a third-party organization are not subject to UNC-Chapel Hill regulations.

When senior University administrators travel on official business on behalf of a third party (e.g., AAU, NACUBO, NCAA, etc.), travel expenses may be funded by this third-party organization. Although pre-approval by Travel Services for such travel is not required, such travel shall be reported for informational purposes only to the individual responsible for approving the senior University administrator's travel.


Domestic Travel - Travel within the continental United States (CONUS), Alaska and Hawaii.

Duty Station - An employee’s official duty station is where he or she regularly works, as determined by the University.

Employee - a person employed for wages or salary.

  • Types of Employees:
    • Employed Student - Undergraduate or graduate students employed by the University.
    • Faculty - Any employee whose primary appointment is one of the specified faculty ranks:
      • Professor
      • Associate Professor
      • Assistant Professor
      • Instructor
      • Professor of the Practice
      • Teaching Professor

Senior University Administrator

  • Chancellor and direct reports to Chancellor
  • Deans
  • Members of Cabinet who report directly to the Chancellor, except for the President of the General Alumni Association
  • Vice Chancellors

Staff - Non-faculty employees, excluding students.

Federal Funds - Funds received from federal government agencies for support of programs on the state level. Federal funds are received through block grants, entitlement programs, and specific grants.

Group Travel - In travel, a 'group' is usually defined as three or more University students, employees or non-employees traveling together on the same itinerary.

International Travel - Travel to any country (including Mexico and Canada) or territory outside the continental United States (CONUS), Alaska and Hawaii. Travel to the non-contiguous U.S. locations of American Samoa, Guam, Midway Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wake Island are considered international travel for purposes of this policy and CISI insurance purposes.

Itemized Receipt - A receipt that shows all the items, fees, and taxes that were purchased on a receipt.

Non-Employee - All persons other than paid employees.

  • Types of Non-employees:
  • Affiliate - Anyone who is working in collaboration with the University, requiring University Services, and is not a student and not paid by UNC Payroll. Affiliates have a UNC PID. They include, but are not limited to:
    • Visiting Scholar
    • Research Collaborator
    • Contractors and temps (not paid by UNC payroll)
    • Summer Groups
    • UNC Retirees
    • Volunteers

Guest -Includes, but not limited to speakers, student recruits (athletic or academic), job candidates, study subjects, family of other customer types.

Contractor - Contractor: A vendor or independent contractor who is engaged by the University to provide a service.

Non-employed Student - Undergraduate or graduate students who are not employed by the University.

Per-Diem - Literally meaning 'per day' - is a daily reimbursement rate the University is allowed to refund UNC travelers for meals and minor items during business trips. Per Diem rates are set by the State.

Receipt - A bill of sale confirming that the seller received money from the purchaser. The receipt typically includes the date and a description of the item the purchaser bought. It also includes a description of the item the buyer purchased

Tips and Gratuity - A sum of money customarily given by a client or customer without obligation to a service worker in addition to the basic price for some service rendered.

Third-Party Lodging - An establishment rented out by a third party (an agency other than UNC or a designated business hotel - such as Airbnb or VRBO) or an establishment treated as an apartment building by state or local law.

Travel Advance - Funds given to students before a trip to help with out-of-pocket expenses. Travel advances can also be given to faculty/staff who are traveling internationally to help with out-of-pocket expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Policy on Business Travel Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Policy Contacts
Subject Contact Telephone Fax Email
Travel Provisions Travel Services 919-962-0210 919-962-2356 travel_team@unc.edu
Travel Policy Travel Services 919-843-5098 919-962-2356 travel_team@unc.edu


Article ID: 131466
Thu 4/8/21 9:09 PM
Fri 7/23/21 12:30 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
08/03/2021 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Travel and Payment Card Services Manager
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
08/05/2019 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
08/05/2019 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
08/02/2019 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Finance and Budget