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Travel Guidelines

Obtaining Prior Approval  |  Paying for the Trip  |  Planning the Trip  |  Getting Reimbursed  |  Household Moves

Travel using University of Washington budgets or funds is governed by the State of Washington, and the rules of the State and University are summarized on the UW Travel home page. The School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, and the Division of General Internal Medicine have established additional polices that must also be followed. This site is organized to direct travelers and administrators to the proper information regarding University and State policies, and to inform travelers of the required departmental policies.

Travel status is defined as:

  • on behalf of the University/State
  • three hours beyond your normal work hours, and
  • more than 50 miles one way (most direct route) from either your official station or your official residence, exclusive of commuting between your official station and official residence

Obtaining Prior Approval

When is prior approval required?

  • For all international travel, even if it is named in a grant
  • For any travel not specifically named in a grant

The Department of Medicine has granted blanket approval for out-of-state travel on UW related business (including research conferences/meetings) that is consistent with the requirements of full-time (>50% FTE) faculty members and administrative personnel.  Specifically, faculty or staff attending national meetings, serving on national committees, and serving as a Visiting Professor. Out-of-state travel is considered traveling outside the states of Washington, Oregon, or Idaho. A copy of the blanket approval memo is on file in the Division office for audit purposes. 

Travelers should request pre-approval when travel is not specifically named in a grant (note: sponsor must allow travel). The PI can approve travel for staff; for the PI’s travel, please email Michelle Lynch the following information for Division approval:

  • Name of traveler
  • Purpose of trip & description of benefit to the grant
  • Travel destination
  • Dates of travel
  • Budget number to be charged

All foreign travel requires prior approval by the PI and in addition, faculty must have prior approval from the Division Head. A Request for Foreign Travel Approval form should be completed and approved prior to the trip.

More on this topic: UW Travel Policy site

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Paying for the Trip

Travel may be paid for with an Individual Travel Card, personal funds or credit card, per diem advance, or a Central Travel Account (CTA).

The traveler may choose to have a UW Individual Travel Card, which is issued to the individual and can be used to make all purchases relating to UW travel. The travel card purchases are to be paid for by the individual who must submit all receipts for reimbursement (GIM recommends that all receipts are kept, but if you are unable to obtain a receipt for an item under $75, the University will not require it). This card should only be used for UW travel related expenses. If you need to make a purchase for a non-travel business related item, please see your unit/section administrator. See the Getting Reimbursed section below regarding reimbursement.

Alternatively, a traveler may pay by requesting a per diem advance, an especially useful method for those who do not travel frequently or will be traveling to a site (developing country) that may not readily accept credit cards. Please review the per diem advance guidelines and submit a Per Diem Advance Request Form.

Please note that a Central Travel Account (CTA) is the preferred method for purchasing airfare. If your group does not have a travel card, please contact your fiscal or section administrator, who will in turn put you in contact with the administrator of a Central Travel Account.

Travelers are responsible for following UW and state policies while in travel status. If you have specific questions, please contact your unit/section administrator or Michelle Lynch.

More on this topic: UW Policy on Receipts | UW Travel Office | Department of Medicine Intranet


Please turn in documentation that shows the flight time and payment.

  • Traditional tickets: please keep the passenger receipt, which breaks down the legs of the flight and the price.
  • Ticketless travel: please attach the itinerary provided by the travel agent. You can also provide the second page of your Visa travel card statement.
  • E-ticket: print the payment confirmation and provide a copy of the itinerary (this often comes as a confirmation email).

More on this topic: UW Air Travel Policy

Conference Registration:

To pay for a conference registration using University funds, the division recommends  either using a Procurement Card or your individual travel card. The Procurement Card is the ideal method, as the fee is paid directly from the funding source and no reimbursement is necessary. Please see the administrator of your unit or section for information regarding payment by Procurement Card. If the conference registration includes lodging, please use the individual travel card. Reimbursement for conference registration can be made prior to the trip by submitting the registration form and the original receipt (or your original credit card statement) to the person who completes your eTravel expense report.

More on this topic: UW Policy on Conference Registration


Keep a copy of the hotel folio that you receive when checking out.

See Lodging Allowance information regarding per diem rates, as well as Exceptions to Lodging Allowance.

More on this topic: UW Policy on Lodging


Meals are reimbursed at the per diem rate - no receipts are necessary. One will be reimbursed for continental breakfasts at hotels and airline meals, but not for meals provided as part of a conference. While in travel status, one should not purchase meals for other people. "Hosting" or "business" meals are not allowable costs.

More on this topic: UW Policy on Meals

If you have a question about an expense, please contact your unit/section administrator or Michelle Lynch.

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Planning the Trip

Air Travel:

A State of Washington contract travel agent or internet provider may be used when purchasing airline tickets (effective 6/7/12). The contract is available for use as a convenience. The state of Washington has contract airfares with certain carriers to specific destinations, and a department Central Travel Account or a UW Individual Travel Card must be used.

More on this topic: UW Air Travel Policy

Car Travel:

Personal Car: A traveler may chose to use their own car, and can be reimbursed for mileage up to the contract airfare to the destination and meal and lodging per diem for the first 24 hours. You are responsible for your own car insurance. 

Rental Car: Please see the UW Car Travel Policy.

  • For travel in the Puget Sound area requiring a rental car, use UW Fleet Services when possible. 
  • When renting a vehicle, be sure to keep the original rental car agreement indicating primary driver information and attach copy to ER when submitting for reimbursement.
  • The final rental agreement is required for reimbursement. The UW traveler must be listed as the driver on the rental agreement to ensure the car rental is used only for UW business. The entire car rental expense is not reimbursable if the person listed as driver is not on UW business or if an additional driver is not on UW business.   

Motor Pool: The University's Motor Pool should be used if the University traveler does not want to use a personal car and the trip is within 50 miles of Seattle OR if the traveler does not want to fly or use their own car and the trip is within Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or British Columbia, B.C. Under these circumstances, a rental car should not be used, and will not be reimbursed. Motor pool cars are not to be used for personal business or to travel between personal residences and the University campus or another University station.

More on this topic: UW Car Travel Policies

Other Forms of Transportation:

Other methods of travel, including shuttles, trains, and buses are covered by UW Other Transportation policy.

Foreign Travel

Please review the UW policies and procedures for traveling abroad. Prior approval to travel abroad is required per the specifications listed in the Prior Approval section above. Submit a Request for Foreign Travel Form (doc). This form needs to be signed off prior to the trip by the traveler, the PI of the grant and the Division Head.

If possible, keep copies of receipts from currency exchanges or use the OANDA Currency Converter upon your return to calculate foreign currency rates (use last day of business travel for conversion date). Please print out and label all conversions appropriately and attach them to the expense report.

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Getting Reimbursed

  1. The UW requires all original receipts over $75 for reimbursement, but do save and submit all receipts whenever possible. If an original receipt is not available, a copy of the receipt or credit card statement AND/OR a perjury statement must be submitted.
  2. Complete and sign the GIM Travel Reimbursement Request (pdf).
  3. Submit reimbursement request and receipts to the individual responsible for eTravel expense reports.
  4. Approval process:
    • Faculty: the Division Head must approve travel for faculty members in the Division of GIM - please add Michelle Lynch as an ad hoc approver in eTravel. NOTE: If grant funds are used to reimburse a trip and the traveler is not the PI, the PI must approve the request before it is sent to the Division Head. Please add the PI as an ad hoc approver in eTravel or attach a written approval from the PI to the expense report.
    • Staff: the PI or supervisor of the staff member should approve the eTravel expense report
  5. Your paperwork is submitted and you are reimbursed!

More on this topic: Department of Medicine Intranet

eTravel: Electronic Expense Reports (ER):

  • Title of expense report should include the name of the traveler, dates of travel, and location/conference name/purpose of travel.
  • Conference/meeting agenda must be attached to every expense report.

More on this topic: Department of Medicine Intranet

When are extra approvers required?

  • For all ERs (faculty, staff, non-UW): add Research Center Manager or Section Administrator before Compliance Approver
  • For faculty ERs: add Administrator (Michelle Lynch) before Compliance Approver
    • Division Head will be added as an approver by the Administrator after s/he has reviewed and approved.

Mileage – what is required for claiming personal auto mileage?

One of the following:

  • Reference the UW mileage chart in your comments.
  • PDF of directions with starting & destination points from Mapquest, Google maps or similar website. You may have multiple PDFs for multiple trips on one ER. Please ensure that the mileage number recorded in the ER exactly matches the mileage referenced in the PDF.
  • Mileage log (recommended for multiple mileage claims on one ER; e.g. multiple site visits for blood draw purposes). The mileage log must contain name of the traveler, dates of travel, odometer start/end readings, project names, descriptions of travel, and budget number(s).

Meals - per diem rates:

See the UW Travel website for meals per diem details.

Lodging - per diem rates:

See the UW Travel website for lodging per diem details.

Exceptions to lodging allowance available on UW Travel website.

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Household Moves

Household moves must be pre-approved and processed through the Division Office.

More on this topic: UW Policy on Relocation Expenses

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