Office of Sponsored Programs - 500.10 - Travel


Office of Sponsored Programs - 500.10 - Travel


The University offers this operating standard to provide clarification and guidance as to University practices regarding expenditure inquiries regarding travel, in conjunction with Federal regulations governing allowability.

Policy Statement

Reimbursement of travel expenses is based on the allowability of the expenditure as determined by the terms and conditions of the award, in accordance with applicable regulations.

Travel expenses are usually considered allowable if authorized and in direct support of the project. All travel reimbursements for University and non-University employees are subject to State and University travel policies, except when the funder allows for higher rates or in cases when more restrictive policies and limitations are imposed by a specific award.

Federal travel regulations will apply when required by Federal contracts. This includes, among others, adherence to the Fly America Act, which mandates the use of a U.S. flag air carrier for air travel related to projects supported by Federal funds.

Travel expense and stipend payments made to participants from third-party vendors must be documented by the administering department. Documentation from the third-party vendor may include travel receipts or records detailing any factors and variables used to calculate stipend amounts.

Combined business and personal travel must be adequately documented. Documentation must provide support that the personal travel did not increase the total airfare expenses above the expenses that would have been incurred if the traveler had only performed business-related travel.


State and Federal definitions of foreign travel sometimes differ. The State of North Carolina considers all travel outside the contiguous 48 states to be foreign travel. The Federal definition may be less restrictive.

I. Foreign Travel

To facilitate the review, justification, and approval of foreign travel requests, a copy of the meeting brochure or letter of invitation to travel must be attached to the request.

Some Federal agencies have delegated approval of foreign travel to the University. The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) can assist departments in identifying agency-specific requirements.

II. Travel Requiring Sponsor Prior Approval

Foreign Travel

Failure to adhere to the approved itinerary can result in delayed reimbursement, pending the sponsor's approval of the changed itinerary. If the change is not approved, associated costs will not be reimbursed to the traveler. Additionally, U.S.-flagged air carriers should be used whenever possible.

Travel by Individuals Not Paid For by Sponsored Funds

Without an explanation on file to establish the individual’s involvement in, and contribution to, the project, Federal auditors may question the propriety of such travel.

Related Requirements

Unit Policies, Standards, & Procedures

Contact Information

For questions regarding this operating standard and its related procedure, please contact

For questions regarding Pre-Award management or Post-Award administration, please contact the assigned Sponsored Projects Specialist (SPS).

For invoicing, reporting and other financial matters, please contact the assigned Sponsored Projects Accountant. OSP Staff assignments are found in RAMSeS or on the OSP website.


History Table
Date Description
07/01/2022 Revised to reflect new office name.
12/04/2020 Revised to clarify documentation requirements from third-party vendor payments and business/personal travel.
05/15/2018 Revised to coincide with the release of the new OSP Website.
03/12/2014 Revised to reflect that funders may allow higher rates for reimbursement than State and University travel policies.

The operating standards in the Office of Sponsored Programs Operating Standards & Procedures Manual supersede any OSP operating standards, procedures and appendices previously included in the University Business Manual, a publication of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Division of Finance.

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Article ID: 132314
Thu 4/8/21 9:28 PM
Thu 6/27/24 11:40 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research-Office of Sponsored Programs
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.
Vice Chancellor
Policy Contact
Person who handles document management. Best person to contact for information about this policy. In many cases this is not the Issuing Officer. It may be the Policy Liaison, or another staff member.
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
01/19/2025 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
01/19/2024 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
07/01/2022 12:00 AM
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.
07/01/2022 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
07/01/2008 12:00 AM
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level