1504 - Policy on Transportation Expenses Including Mileage Rates

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Transportation Expenses Including Mileage Rates



This policy communicates statutory regulations for transportation expenses and mileage rates for all UNC travelers on official business.

Scope of Applicability

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


Policy Statement

University faculty, staff and students may be reimbursed for transportation expenses incurred while traveling on University business. Official University business occurs when the employee or other person is traveling to attend approved job-related training, work on behalf of, officially represent, or provide a service upon the University's request. Travel that would not directly benefit the University will not be reimbursed.

Transportation by Vehicle

University travelers are encouraged to use a state-owned vehicle or a vehicle that is leased through a state contract. If a state-owned vehicle or vehicle that is leased through a state contract is not available, the university supports the cost of ground transportation expenses. Travelers should use the least expensive method of ground transportation to meet their business needs.

Rental Vehicles

When renting a vehicle, the traveler should choose a standard vehicle; any size over the standard size requires prior approval. Rental vehicles are not to be used at University expense solely for the convenience or personal preference of the employee. In addition, rental vehicle add-ons such as a GPS or satellite radio are considered personal expenses and will not be reimbursed.

Travelers should choose the most economical means of refueling the rental vehicle, including self-refueling the rental vehicle before returning it to the rental agency. Prepaying for fuel as part of the rental contract is acceptable when self-refueling the vehicle is not a viable solution due to time or safety constraints. Gas receipts for refueling the rental vehicle from a commercial gas station or rental agency are required for reimbursement. Mileage is not reimbursable when a traveler rents a vehicle.

Rental Vehicle Insurance

Within the United States:

When proof of insurance is needed, travelers should obtain a rental car insurance card from their department or by contacting Risk Management Services.

The following insurance expenses related to car rentals are not reimbursable to the traveler by the University:

  1. Collision Damage Waiver/Loss Damage Waiver - Since the State of North Carolina Motor Vehicle Insurance Policy provides rental physical damage coverage as noted above, this insurance coverage is not required for state employees. The University will not reimburse a traveler choosing to pay for this type of coverage.
  2. Personal Accident Insurance - Acceptance of this insurance by the traveler will result in an additional fee or surcharge and is considered personal insurance. The University will not reimburse choosing to pay for this coverage.

Outside of the United States:

When traveling outside the State of North Carolina Motor Vehicle Insurance Policy Coverage Territory (United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and other territories/possessions of the United States of America) the employee may purchase Collision Damage Waiver/Loss Damage Waiver coverage and departments may reimburse the traveler for the cost of this insurance coverage.

Mileage reimbursement for driving a personal vehicle

Mileage is measured from the closer of either the duty station or point of departure to the final travel destination (and return).

When driving a personal vehicle for business purposes, mileage reimbursement rates are set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM). Business standard mileage rates are located on the UNC Finance Travel Allowances website.

Reimbursement for travel between the employee's duty station and the nearest airline terminal and for appropriate parking may be made by using either the car service (one round-trip fare), a taxi (one round-trip fare), or by private car (two round trips each at the statutory rate with no parking charge, or one round trip with parking charges). Reimbursement for travel to and from the airline terminal at the employee's destination may be made for car service, bus, commuter train, subway, or taxi with appropriate receipts.

Personal mileage reimbursements to an employee from university funds for business mileage within or between campus departments or between state/federal local agencies in the same locality as the employee's workstation are only available as follows:

  1. For EHRA and SHRA employees, when the round trip exceeds 20 miles; or
  2. For SHRA employees, when the employee is asked to drive their personal vehicle in an activity that is routine and reoccurring part of the employee's work assignment.

Reimbursement is not made for commuting between an employee's point of departure and their duty station as part of a daily commute.

Other ground transportation (taxis, train, etc.)

The actual cost of taxi and car service fares is reimbursable when required for travel on University business.

Requests for reimbursement of taxi fares should identify each trip by point of origin, destination, and purpose.

University business travelers may be reimbursed for traveling by train at the "coach" or "economy" fare. The individual must provide justification when submitting their expense report showing that travel by train was the least expensive method of transportation.

Transportation by Air

Travelers on University business are encouraged to use commercial air transportation and are limited to actual coach/economy fare, substantiated by receipt.

Business class airfare is allowed in the following circumstances:

  1. Domestic travel by business or first class is permitted if the traveler is accompanying a major donor or dignitary who is traveling by business or first class and if the funding source permits.
  2. International travel by business class is allowable if the length of the nonstop international segment is at least eight (8) hours in duration.
  3. The first class or business class airfare for senior University administrators must be approved in advance by the appropriate individual as described in 1501 - Policy on Business Travel and by the department head for other University employees and substantiated by written documentation.

Employees traveling by common carrier to conduct official University business who travel to their destination earlier than necessary and/or delay their return to avail the University of reduced transportation rates, may be reimbursed subsistence if the cost of subsistence does not outweigh the savings of the reduced transportation rates. Documentation of cost savings and prior written approval of the department head is required.

Fly America Act

All out-of-state and foreign travel funded by contracts or grants requires prior agency approval. According to the Fly America Act, federal contracts and grants require the use of U.S.-flagged airline carriers when leaving and returning to the United States unless otherwise approved by the sponsoring agency. You must travel on a U.S. carrier as far as possible. Additional cost for U.S. carrier flights is not sufficient justification to fly on foreign carriers. Please note that the same rules apply to a foreign visitor's flights when supported by federal funds.

Exceptions to the Fly America Act:

There are strictly limited circumstances in which an exception to the Fly America Act may apply and the use of a foreign carrier is allowable. For example:

For more information, see the U.S. General Services Administration's Fly America Act webpage and the City Pairs Program Fare Finder webpage.

Travel by Non-Commercial Aircraft

Requests for travel on non-commercial aircraft may be proposed for approval based on the circumstances of the trip. Non-commercial aircraft includes the following forms of travel:

  1. Travel by a Senior University Administrator or other University employee on a Medical Air Operations plane is permitted, but is subject to the UNC Air Operations Passenger Eligibility Policy, related North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) policies, and this policy. In addition, travel on a Medical Air Operations plane should not be used in any instance that would involve "deadhead" miles. Approval is required in the same manner as transportation by other means.
  2. Travel by a senior University administrator or other University employee on a donor-owned plane does not require pre-approval under these policies; however, such travel must be reported for information only to the individual responsible for approving the senior University administrator's or other University employee's travel.
  3. Travel by a senior University administrator or other University employee by private charter is strongly discouraged but may be proposed for prior approval in unusual circumstances. At a minimum, documentation must include confirmation that a commercial flight is not available or not appropriate for the size of the party traveling or the destination airport, the use of a charter flight is more economical than a commercial flight, and the use of a charter flight is necessary because of unusual travel circumstances. Approval by the Chancellor or the person designated to do so by the Chancellor is required.

Special Situations


Penalties and charges resulting from the cancellation of airline reservations (or other travel reservations) are the department's obligation if the employee's travel has been approved in advance and the cancellation or change is made at the direction of and for the convenience of the department. If the cancellation or change is made for the personal benefit of the employee, it is the employee's obligation to pay the penalties and charges. However, in the event of accidents, serious illness or death within the employee's immediate family, severe inclement weather or other critical circumstance beyond the control of the employee, the department will be obligated to pay the penalties and charges.

Frequent Flyer Miles

Frequent flyer miles earned by a state employee while traveling on state business at state expense are the property of the state. Frequent flyer miles accumulated by an individual state employee during previous state business trips should, to the extent possible, be used by the state employee that accumulated the frequent flyer miles while traveling on future state business trips.

Coupons or Certificates for Reduced Airfare

Coupons or certificates for reduced air fare, if acquired by a state employee while traveling on state business at state expense, are the property of the State and should be used, to the extent possible, by the state employee on future state business trips.


Please refer to 1501 - Policy on Business Travel for a list of common definitions.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

Fly America Act

Fly America Act Waiver Checklist

Open Skies Agreements

UNC Air Operations Passenger Eligibility Policy

NC Office of State Budget and Management Budget Manual

NC Department of Administration, Statewide Term Contracts - Vehicle Rental Services

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

1501 - Policy on Business Travel

1504.1 - Procedure for Multiple Day Trips

1504.2 - Procedure for Purchasing an Airfare Ticket

UNC Travel Services - Airfare Direct Billing

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Insurance for Rental Vehicles

Contact Information

Policy Contacts

Policy Contacts
Contact Telephone Fax Email
Travel Policy 919-962-0210 919-962-2356 travel_team@unc.edu
Concur 919-962-0210 919-962-2356 concur@unc.edu


Article ID: 131471
Thu 4/8/21 9:09 PM
Sun 4/25/21 11:07 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.
01/13/2021 2:18 PM
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.
01/13/2021 2:18 PM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
01/13/2021 2:18 PM
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