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Coronavirus - Travel Guidelines
- Can I still get a T# approved?
- Can I still purchase airfare (International or Domestic)?
- Can I travel by vehicle to regional campuses or alternate work locations in Ohio relative to my employment?
As per the Coronavirus Travel Guidelines, all travel that has been scheduled through December 31, 2020 must be cancelled and no new travel may be booked until further notice. The university will periodically reassess the opportunity for travel as appropriate to public health.
- These restrictions apply to university-sponsored travel (via flight, train or vehicle) for students, faculty, staff, guests and recruits.
- All international and domestic travel (including driving within the state of Ohio) will be limited to business essential travel and will be approved on a case-by-case basis. See Updated Travel Process.
I would still like to travel in spite of the Coronavirus Travel Guidelines, does my travel meet the business essential criteria?
- Business essential travel is defined as travel that is absolutely necessary to the mission of the university, can only be completed by the traveler’s physical presence and does not create an unacceptable health hazard. Conference attendance and speaking engagements are not generally considered essential travel.
- If you believe your travel meets the definition of business essential and poses no health risks, see Updated Travel Process.
If my travel is approved as business essential, do I need to use the university’s contracted travel agencies to purchase airfare?
All airfare purchases associated with travel that has been approved as business essential must be purchased through the university’s contracted agency (no exceptions) to ensure duty of care visibility.
My business travel is expected to occur this fall, when should I submit my travel request for approval?
Due to the evolving impacts of COVID-19 and the assessments need to confirm eligibility to travel, requests for approval should be submitted 8-10 weeks prior to the departure date for International travel and 4-6 weeks prior to the departure date for domestic travel.
If your travel was previously approved, it is subject to re-assessment of safety conditions of the destination and the health of the traveler. If either of those conditions are impacted by the current state of COVID-19, the trip may need to be cancelled.
See Updated Travel Process, for that approval.
If I am approved to travel under business essential criteria, what else should I consider when reserving travel related expenses?
If you have been granted approval for business essential travel; you must consider the possibility of cancellation with short notice due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
- When securing airfare, consider refundable ticket purchases that ensures a full refund in the event of cancellation.
- When securing hotels, carefully review the cancellation terms to ensure ability to cancel without penalty. Use of online booking sites (e.g. Expedia) for hotels may be not offer refunds and are not recommended. Airbnb is not recommended due to cancellation terms that typically do not permit refunds.
Caution should be taken with any travel expenses that require payment in advance of travel. Consult the Travel Office for guidance.
If I am approved to travel under business essential criteria, what health and safety travel requirements should I consider?
If you have been granted approval for business essential travel, you must consider the health and safety requirements set by the CDC, the university and those established at your destination.
Prior to the submission of your travel request or the payment of travel expenses, consider the following:
- Check the U.S. Department of State COVID-19 Country Specific Information to verify if your international destination has current entry restrictions, specific bio-test result requirements, mandatory self-isolation/quarantine or mobility restrictions due to lockdowns or curfews. While there, be sure to enroll your travel in the U.S. DOS STEP notification system.
- Travelers to domestic locations can consult the CDC listing of State & Territorial Health Department websites for information on state or local ordinances.
- All international travelers should schedule a pre-travel medical consultation for students or staff 10-12 weeks prior to intended travel. Travelers with higher risk for severe illness should schedule an appointment with their personal physician prior to domestic or international travel.
- Adhere to established guidance on mitigation and social distancing.
- Verify accessibility of hospital resources, specifically ICU capacity, at your destination. In general care for a positive COVID-19 diagnosis occurs on site and will not qualify for a medical evacuation. Contact your insurance provider to verify coverage and payment options. Consider if a power of attorney should be arranged in the event of critical care.
- Know the U.S. entry restrictions on specific travelers returning from certain international destinations.
- Be aware that all travelers returning from international locations with a CDC Warning Level 3 Travel Health Notice will be required to self-isolate at home for 14-days prior to returning to any Ohio State campus or participating in university activities. University protocol or Ohio Department of Health public health orders may also require self-isolation or quarantine for returning domestic travelers.
If I have travel that was approved prior to the release of the Coronavirus Travel Guidelines, can I still travel?
With the extension of the travel suspension to December 31, 2020, all previously approved travel must be cancelled. Any travel that is being considered in spite of the extended suspension must be resubmitted to be reviewed for business essential and health assessment requirements. No changes that incur additional cost are permitted against a previously approved T# without being resubmitted for review/approval through eTravel.
Regardless of the mode of transportation, the Coronavirus Travel Guidelines are intended to cover travel for the health and safety of its employees/affiliates. Driving versus flying would not be permitted without being approved as business essential travel. See Updated Travel Process, for that approval.
Airfare purchased through Corporate Travel Planners (CTP/Concur) for individuals can be cancelled with the following options:
- Contact a full-service agent by phone (855) 784-9282 or email (email@example.com)
- Cancel directly in Concur (see resource guide for step-by-step process)
Airfare purchased through STA Travel (for Group) must be cancelled directly with a Group Travel Expert (877) 821-8668 or see your Itinerary documentation sent via email for additional options.
Airfare purchased through Anthony Travel (for Athletic team/individuals) must be cancelled directly with an Account Manager or see your Itinerary documentation sent via email for additional options.
Airfare purchased through a non-contracted agency must be cancelled in the manner offered.
Note: Credits issued by the airline must be used for future business travel if seeking a reimbursement. If you are unable to use airfare credits, contact the Travel Office for eligible options.
The itinerary cancellation notice from the agency/entity should be used as documentation of the cancellation of the trip. This must be uploaded to the T# in eTravel, along with descriptive comments.
- Airline rules will dictate the value of cancelled airfare. This is not determined by the contracted travel agency in any circumstance.
- Basic economy fares will have no residual value upon cancellation (unless the airline has made an exception during this unusual circumstance).
- Most airlines do not offer full refunds for airfare cancellations on non-refundable fares. Review the airline’s rules associated with your purchase.
- Many airlines are offering a residual credit that (in some cases) have extended deadlines for use and may (in some cases) waive change fees. Credits earned from business travel can only be used for future business travel and should not be used personally. If you are unable to use airfare credits, contact the Travel Office for eligible options.
Can I be reimbursed for a flight purchased with my own credit card if a credit is issued by the airline for future use? What if I will not be traveling for the university in the future?
Every traveler (including guests) should be reimbursed for appropriate expenses extended for airfare – except purchases made after the release of the Coronavirus Travel Guidelines and that were not approved through the Updated Travel Process.
Travelers must remember that upon reimbursement for airfare, any credit associated with the reimbursed airfare available in their name is subject to university’s discretion for business purposes (e.g. transfer to another employee). If you are unable to use airfare credits, contact the Travel Office for eligible options.
If the credit is used for a personal trip, the value of the credit must be returned to the university.
My upcoming business travel included some personal travel time. Due to the Coronavirus Travel Guidelines, can those expenses be reimbursed?
No, the university does not reimburse for personal expenses. The university will only reimburse expenses related to business travel.
The eTravel system should be used for all travel-related reimbursements regardless of whether a trip was cancelled or not. This includes all conference registration payments made for business travel. Travel expenses should not be reimbursed through Prep or eRequest.
Am I entitled to a full reimbursement for travel expenses that have been extended for an upcoming trip that has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus Travel Guidelines?
Any appropriate business travel expenses extended personally by the traveler is eligible for reimbursement by traveler's home college/unit – except purchases made after the release of the Coronavirus Travel Guidelines and that were not approved through the Updated Travel Process. The traveler (or arranger) should make every effort possible to cancel travel bookings in a timely fashion to ensure the university is not incurring higher than necessary costs (e.g. conference or hotel cancellation deadlines to be considered). Airfare that is reimbursed may have residual value (determined by the airline rules and class of fare). If airfare is reimbursed in full to the traveler, the credit will remain in the traveler’s name, but must be used for future business travel only. If you are unable to use airfare credits, contact the Travel Office for eligible options.
Many conferences have moved to virtual alternatives as a result of COVID-19 risks. If you have a travel request (T#) associated with a conference that required travel dates within the travel suspension, it should be cancelled in the eTravel system (adding comments and applicable cancellation documentation).
If the conference host has offered a virtual conference with a fee, you should:
- Consult with your senior fiscal officer for budget approval, since the university has set a moratorium on spend – limiting expenses to essential
- Submit through eRequest.
The Travel initiative requires university-wide utilization of Ohio State's travel partners (also known as university contracted agencies) for business travel expenses such as airfare and rental car to support the strategic focus on operational excellence and resource stewardship.
- Airfare for individual business travel must be purchased through Corporate Travel Planners, using its full service agent assist or online booking tool (Concur). People may continue to directly arrange local flights within countries where booking through outside travel agencies is impractical. See the details.
- Vehicle rental for university business must be reserved through the agency website for most reservations or through Concur when reserving rentals associated with airfare.
In the vast majority of cases, flights booked through CTP full service agents or its online booking tool (Concur) cost the same or less than they would through third-party websites. While exceptions may exist, these typically involve unacceptable conditions for business travel, such as nonrefundable fares, “hidden” fees that explain the cost differential, or restrictions that are impactful to meeting the core needs of business travel.
In side-by-side comparisons of total costs, the university has confirmed that fares offered through CTP full service agents or its online booking tool (Concur) are usually comparable or less expensive than those advertised on third-party (reseller) sites.
If you believe that you have found a fare that has a better advertised price than through a quote from a CTP full service agent or the online booking tool (Concur), please complete the CTP Airfare Price Match Request form for assistance. If the exact itinerary and fare is not available, CTP will provide comparable options that meet the core needs of the business travel. Maintaining status with a particular airline should not be cause for selection when comparable options are provided that meet the needs of the business travel.
See related questions:
Corporate Travel Partners (CTP) provides access to more than 1,000 domestic and international airlines through its full-service agents and the online booking tool (Concur).
If you cannot find the airline you are seeking within Concur, try these options:
- Refer to the Resource Guides to ensure the appropriate search/filter techniques are applied to optimize your results. Particularly if you are booking an international flight, you may want to try your search again after unchecking the “Flights w/ no double connections” box in Concur to see all options.
- Contact the Concur help desk (877-727-5188; hours 8:00am - 7:00pm EST) for assistance with system rules or technology issues that may be affecting your search results.
- Contact a CTP full service agent for assistance. Agents often can assist in cases when the airline is not listed in the online booking tool (Concur).
Most established airlines are available through CTP/Concur, but there are exceptions. These include airlines that have been deemed by the university, to lack a record of consistent service, no-frills airlines that make up for low-cost fares with a variety of “hidden” fees, and some international airlines that have payment processes that conflict with university policy.
The university has an obligation to ensure a certain level of service among the carriers used for business travel. If you believe that an airline has been improperly excluded, please contact the university Travel Office.
What if I find advertised fares that appear less expensive than my search with a CTP agent or Concur?
If you believe you have found a better fare, submit a Price Match Request Form to CTP.
The agency will determine whether the advertised fare is actually available. If it is, CTP will provide the opportunity to buy it. (Advertisements at web resellers are not refreshed against availability. CTP and its online booking tool are tied to the federally regulated global distribution system (GDS) that has real-time information about availability.
In the event the exact match is not found but comparable options are available, CTP will provide two options. (Maintaining status with a particular airline is not a valid reason to refuse comparable options meet the needs of the business travel.)
If no match or comparable options are available, the Travel Office will work with the requester to determine the best solution.
Airfare: All individual business travel airfare should be booked through the university-contracted travel agency, but we recognize that there are circumstances where that may not be feasible. CTP/Concur should be consulted first along with the submission of the Price Match Request Form when fares are located with an alternative source that appear less expensive. The university recognizes that local (in country) travel within some countries requires the use of small airlines that are best booked on location and on short notice. People may continue to book these flights directly but travelers must provide documentation that clearly demonstrates the specific limitations that prevent purchase through CTP/Concur to justify any reimbursement and for compliance review. To expedite the reimbursement process in these cases, consult the Travel Office for a pre-authorized exception before purchase.
Rental Car: All individual business travel rental car expenses should be booked through one of the university contracted rental car agencies, but we recognize that there are circumstances where that may not be feasible. When possible, Enterprise, National or Hertz should be consulted first. Exceptions may be granted in cases where locations do not have available fleet. Travelers must provide documentation that clearly demonstrates the specific limitations that prevented purchase through Enterprise, National or Hertz to justify any reimbursement and for compliance review.
If you purchased airfare outside of CTP/Concur after Aug. 1, 2018, you ultimately will not be reimbursed for that cost.
In the first two instances that you buy airfare outside of the policy, the travel office will send an email to you, your supervisor and the fiscal officer in your area that reiterates the policy. In the third instance, the university will not reimburse you for the cost of your airfare.
The Travel Office offers a variety of training options, from in-person workshops to online courses, as well as a number of self-service guides. In addition, the Travel Office can schedule custom sessions with colleges or units that request them.
Yes. In cases when personal time is added to university business travel, any cost variance in expenses such as airfare, vehicle rental, and/or lodging must be clearly identified and documented in eTravel to validate that the personal time does not add additional cost to the university. At time of airfare purchase, CTP's full service agents can split the transaction between the business payment method and a personal credit card for the additional cost due to personal time (exceptions may apply with select airlines).
Yes. In the instances when you wish to secure adjacent booking/seating for spouse, kids, other family members or others, you will need to contact a full service agent with CTP by phone/email who will service the business portion of your trip (collect T# and validate employee credentials) and then service the portion for your spouse/family/other – ensuring that seating assignments are as requested and have similar itineraries. An agency fee is applicable to travelers without a T#.
Yes. A personal credit card can be used when booking business airfare with CTP's full-service agents or in the online booking tool (Concur). Personal funds used for travel expenditures, including airfare, will not be reimbursed until after completion of the trip and approval of the Travel Reimbursement Form by the designated approval authority.
Yes. International flights for individual business travel can be booked through CTP’s full-service agents or the online booking tool (Concur).
These capabilities apply to flights to and from the United States and within many countries. CTP provides access to more than 1,000 domestic/international airlines and is available 24/7 and 365 days a year.
Note: The university recognizes that local travel within some countries requires the use of small airlines that are best booked on location and on short notice. In these cases, where use of an outside agency would be impractical, there is an exception process.
No. Airfare must be purchased through a CTP full-service agent or Concur using the preloaded cards applicable to sponsored or non-sponsored travel. Department Cards and Travel Cards issued to Ohio State employees cannot be used to purchase airfare from any source and will be audited to the same compliance review as airfare purchase. Failure to comply may result in the revocation of the PCard.
Yes. All fares, including basic economy ones, that are listed in Concur are eligible for purchase.
The warning is provided to inform you that there are limitations with Basic Economy fares, including that there would be no refund in the event of cancellation. If the fare meets your business need and you are willing to accept the risks, simply acknowledge that you understand the restrictions and continue with the purchase. If you are an arranger and booking on behalf of a traveler, be sure they understand the restrictions that may impact their travel.
No. University employees are encouraged to purchase guest (non-employee) airfare through Ohio State's travel partners, but doing so is not required.
No – the initiative will have a variety of benefits by approaching universal use of our university-contracted travel agencies.
Some are financial. Ohio State has negotiated discounts through airlines that are not being fully utilized, and these benefits will grow if we all book travel in a consistent manner.
But universal use of these contracts has non-financial benefits too. For instance, the university can better support travelers during emergencies if we all book through a single travel agency.
No. The initiative applies to airfare and rental car expenses purchased after Aug. 1, 2018.
The travel initiative does not apply to lodging. Travelers may reserve lodging through any source using the PCard or personal credit card. However, CTP and its online booking tool (Concur) provide access to more than 70,000 discounted hotel rates.
Ohio State has used a preferred agency for individual business travel for years, and so have many other universities.
- Last year, Ohio State travelers booked more than 10,900 flights through Corporate Travel Partners, either through CTP agents or the online Concur tool.
- More than 550 higher education institutions, including more than half of the Big Ten institutions, utilize Concur.
- CTP provides access to more than 1,000 domestic and international airlines.
In preparation for the travel initiative, the university conducted two pilots. Collectively, the pilots included travelers in four colleges (Engineering, Food, Agriculture and Environmental Science, Law and John Glenn-Public Affairs) and five administrative units (Academic Affairs, Advancement, Business & Finance, Human Resources and Student Life).
In October-November 2017 (pilot I) and April 2018 (pilot II), 591 trips were booked by travelers in the pilot groups. Both pilot groups were surveyed about their satisfaction. In pilot I, 93% of users reported satisfaction with agent-assisted travel and 79% with online bookings. In pilot II, satisfaction rates were 90% for agent-assisted and 80% for online bookings.
In addition, the Travel Office responded to 10 individuals who directly provided feedback during the pilots to present questions, concerns or compliments.
The traveler or their designated arranger will continue with the normal process of first generating a T# for budget approval and authorization to travel. From there, either the traveler or his/her arranger will book the airfare (and other expenses). The only distinction is they must purchase the airfare with CTP/Concur and must have an approved T# at the time of purchase.
Determine if the host/3rd party requires use of their contracted agency.
- If yes, documentation is required to demonstrate requirement that prevents use of the university's contracted agencies.
- If no, OSU employees must procure airfare through the university contracted agencyies to be reimbursed by the host/3rd party.
Prior to your travel request being approved, the eTravel System assigns an “R” number to the travel request for tracking purposes. The “R” number is not an authorization for any payment.
Upon approval, all travel requests in the eTravel system are assigned a unique “T” number. The “T” number is used to authorize use of the university procurement methods (e.g. PCard or PO or through the travel system) for advance payments and reimbursements associated with travel.
Yes, any travel related expense made with a university procurement method (e.g. PCard, PO) must be preceded by the initiation and approval of a T Number.
A “T” Number must be approved in the travel system by a designated approval authority prior to the trip in order to process any payment using university procurement methods (e.g. PCard, PO or through travel system).
- Advance Payment (also referred to as prepayments) is a payment made in advance of the trip with university procurement methods (e.g. PCard, PO or travel system), for a travel related expense. Common examples include airfare and registration payments.
- Direct Bill is a process in which the travel agency (or other travel entity), advances payment on behalf of the university upon completion of the expense and bills the university for that payment. The travel expenses are typically not billed to the agency until after the stay, service or use has been completed. Common examples include hotel and rental car payments.
- Cash Advance is funding disbursed to the traveler’s personal account (or by check when applicable) before the trip to pay certain travel expenses while in travel status. Eligibility for a cash advance is based upon criteria associated with student and/or international travel. Funding must be specifically documented with receipts and excess amounts returned within 30 days of the trip. Common travel expenses supported by cash advances include student group meals, museum entry fees, etc.
Do I need an original, itemized receipt to reimburse for a traveler’s meals if less than the Per Diem allowance?
No receipt is required as long as the amount reimbursed is within the Per Diem allowance of the applicable city location. However, a general description of what was purchased must be documented for auditing purposes (i.e. Breakfast on 6/22, and Dinner on 6/23).
Travelers may combine vacation time with a business trip, but should consult with their supervisor before initiating arrangements. When arranging travel in these instances, travelers must ensure that arrangements are made in such a way that stewardship of university resources and administrative time is the priority. Travelers incurring additional costs by taking vacation in conjunction with business travel must pay for the costs of travel and other expenses with personal funds and request reimbursement for the business travel costs after completion of the trip. Travel expenses to and from alternate vacation destinations occurring before, during, or after university business travel are not eligible for payment with university procurement methods. In cases when vacation time is added to university business travel, any cost variance in expenses such as airfare, vehicle rental, and/or lodging must be clearly identified and documented in eTravel, to validate that the vacation time does not add additional cost to the university.
If I use my personal vehicle for business travel, should I contact my insurance company before the trip?
Yes. Use of a personal vehicle for business purposes may be excluded on the average private insurance policy. Additional coverage may need to be purchased to cover specific circumstances and requirements. Employee and guest travelers are advised to check with their insurance company for provisions and rates to cover such activity.
For more information visit Risk Management.
Best Practice Tip: Consider using one of the university's contracted rental car agencies in lieu of personal vehicle for business travel. Costs are considerably less expensive and the required insurance is included in the rate.
Yes, lodging is limited to one of two rate options, whether being reimbursed or paid by university resources (e.g. PCard or PO).
- When attending a conference, the conference rate should be considered as the primary option, given that the conference hotel provides the meeting environment, room discounts, meals and eliminates transportation costs from other locations.
- When a conference rate is not available, lodging selection must be compared to the federal lodging rate published by the General Services Administration. The rate is capped by the threshold of up to twice the federal lodging rate for the business travel location. Note: If the lodging expense falls within the range of 1.5 to 2 times the federal lodging rate, additional justification is required to demonstrate the reasoning for the higher lodging rate selection over comparative locations. The least expensive option must always be considered as long as it meets the business needs of the travel. This threshold is inclusive of the nightly rate only and does not include tax or other hotel specific fees (e.g. resort fees).
Best Practice Tip: If your lodging reservation is 1.5-2 times higher than the federal lodging rate, research your justification comparisons before you travel to ensure you are within policy. Take screenshot images of the comparison locations, provide safety concerns details or additional cost considerations to properly justify the selection.
Yes. In accordance with the State of Ohio Ethics Commission rulings, university travelers can only redeem frequent flyer miles for university related business travel (no personal benefit is permitted). It is the traveler’s responsibility to track accrual/usage of these benefits for auditing purposes.
How a mileage reimbursement is calculated when my normal home to work commute includes alternate destinations?
The travel policy limits reimbursable miles to the number driven in excess of the number of miles involved in the individual’s daily commute (round trip) for work. This calculation applies even in cases where the individual does not normally drive to the primary work location. This calculation does not apply if the individual drives to a place other than the usual work site on a non-normal workday.
Best Practice Examples:
Example A: Joe generally drives 13 miles to and from his usual work site on Main Campus in Columbus for a normal round trip commute of 26 miles. Today, however, Joe needs to drive from his home to the Mansfield Campus to attend an early morning meeting (66 miles). After the meeting, he continues to his primary work location (69) where he completes his work day and then drives home. As a result, today Joe drives 148 miles – from home to Mansfield to his office and back to his home. Joe can request reimbursement for 122 miles today. This represents the number of miles that he drove in excess of his usual round trip commute (66+69+13-26=122).
Example B: Sue drives to her Main Campus office on Monday morning, leaves to attend a required function in Newark, and returns to the office. She can request reimbursement only for those miles driven in excess of her normal commute, in this case, the drive to Newark and back to Main Campus.
Example C: Jake usually drives 14 miles round trip to his work site on Main Campus. His normal work schedule is Monday through Friday. On Sunday evening he drives 27 miles to Columbus Airport to catch his flight to an out-of-state conference. Jake can request reimbursement for all 27 miles driven this day, since it is not a normal work day and he is not going to his normal work site. (If, however, he had needed to work in his office on that Sunday, his 14 mile round-trip commute would not have been reimbursable.)
Is there a pre-approval distinction between traditional business trips and trips from one’s headquarters to accomplish what are typically considered “normal workday activities”?
An area’s approval authority can reasonably designate which types of trips constitute “normal workday activities.” These trips are generally distinguished by having expense eligibility limited to miscellaneous reimbursements such as parking and tolls – and would not be considered business travel status with its required preapproval.
Is the refueling option through the rental car agency an allowable business expense when returning a rental vehicle?
Generally, the traveler should refuel the rental vehicle at a gas station to incur the lowest reasonable costs. However, the refueling option through the rental car agency may be considered when reasonable circumstances occur (e.g. timing issue). The business reason for the use of this option should be clearly documented.
Traveling with computers, web enabled cell phones, advanced GPS units, scientific equipment, proprietary information or unpublished data may require an Export Control License. The travel system will automatically notify the Office of Research Compliance when International travel is initiated in order to coordinate specific restrictions and guidance with the traveler.
Travelers should book the lowest cost Economy or Coach Class airfare that fits the business needs of the trip. The best practice for travelers would be to consult with the university preferred travel agency for airfare bookings. The preferred agency is aware of OSU’s policy regarding airfare purchases, and provides the industry expertise to help travelers navigate the booking process.
Approval for university business travel and estimated costs must be documented prior to the trip. This approval may be noted by an internal form, email, approved T Number or other equivalent documentation that would be available for audit and review. Preapproval for business travel is required regardless of whether university procurement methods are being used for advanced payments.
Best Practice Tip: It is a recommended best practice to initiate a T Number (travel request) for all travel, regardless of payment sources, to ensure the traveler can be tracked in the event of emergency circumstances.
University travel policy requires that any rental car used for university business have Liability Insurance, as well as Damage Waiver or Collision Damage Waiver or Loss Damage Waiver (DW/CDW/LDW). When utilizing OSU’s contract through Enterprise, National or Hertz, these insurances are automatically included in the contract rate. Additional supplemental insurances, such as Personal Liability Insurance (PAI), or Personal Effects Protection (PEP) are not required by the university, nor eligible for reimbursement.
Who is responsible for submitting travel reimbursement expenses within the 90 day window established by the university’s accountable plan?
According to the IRS Accountable Plan publication 463, the traveler is responsible for adequately accounting for travel expenses within the university’s established accountable plan window of 90 days after the expenses were paid or incurred. To meet the university’s requirement, the traveler must submit receipts and other related reimbursement documentation to the appropriate unit processor within 90 days of completion of the trip.
A traveler has multiple small dollar receipts for miscellaneous expenses related to business travel – is a receipt required?
Miscellaneous expenses considered necessary for business travel (e.g. taxi fares, baggage fees, parking, tolls, internet connectivity, Visas, immunizations, etc.) may be reimbursed without a receipt for each individual expense that is $50 or less. However, a detailed description (e.g. “taxi fare to and from JFK airport”) and associated business purpose for the expense must be documented for auditing purposes. Individual expenses in excess of $50 require an original, itemized receipt.
Note: Travel related expenses that are specifically noted in the Procedure Section of the Travel Policy (e.g. airfare, hotel, rental car, et al) have specific documentation requirements and should not be included as a miscellaneous expense.
Can I purchase an upgraded seat instead of the business class airfare permitted with an international flight that meets the five consecutive flight hours criteria?
Business class airfare purchases are only permissible with international flight times in excess of five consecutive hours (excluding layovers), however a lower priced economy seat with a seating upgrade may be purchased in lieu of the business class flight as long as the cost does not exceed the business class option quoted at the original purchase.
!Note: An upgraded economy seat instead of a business class seat may be considered an adequate option for an International flight that is more than five consecutive hours. In many cases, the cost of the upgraded economy fare is less expensive than the business class fare that is eligible with an international flight of more than five hours. Comparison quotes should be collected at time of original booking to ensure the upgraded economy fare is less than the most reasonable business class option that meets the business needs of the traveler. A screenshot image of the comparison fares and relevant details should be taken to properly justify the selection.
If I am unable to rent with National, Enterprise or Hertz, and gain the benefits of our contract, what insurances should I purchase?
OSU travel policy requires that any rental car used for university business have Liability Insurance, as well as Damage Waiver or Collision Damage Waiver or Loss Damage Waiver (DW/CDW/LDW). The traveler must provide documentation demonstrating the required insurances were included in the rental on the receipt documentation.
If a trip’s total expenses exceed the original approved estimate by 20% or more, do I need to record that trip as an exception?
No. If the total expense amount is appropriate, yet exceeds the original estimate by 20%, the arranger can make applicable adjustments to the expense lines and document the details in the comment section of the travel request for auditing purposes. The designated approval authority must authorize the increased amount on the Travel Request.
What documentation is needed to document meals or other travel expenses that are included in the conference registration fee?
Conference documentation, such the agenda, program or itinerary are critical resources in determining eligible payment for meals or other travel expenses incurred while on travel status. Travelers should provide all available resources to assist with the accurate processing of travel payments and reimbursements.
No. Economy plus, seating upgrades, and/or pre-boarding options are not permitted to be purchased with university resources and will not be reimbursed for coach fares.
! Note: When applicable, requests for reasonable accommodations for a disability will be considered by units in consultation with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator. To determine eligibility, travelers must submit a Reasonable Accommodations Request that identifies the personal need and provide related documentation to support the request (e.g. letter from physician) for expenditures outside of policy. Requests should be submitted prior to the scheduled trip and allow sufficient time to gather required documentation.
For more information, contact the ADA Coordinator’s Office at 614-292-6207. Submit request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
What documentation is required in order to be reimbursed mileage for business travel using a personal vehicle?
For one-time trips between two primary destinations, an online map source (e.g. MapQuest or Google Maps) is the best source of address-to-address documentation. When traveling to multiple destinations, or travel covering a wide range of dates (for the same business purpose), a log including odometer readings and address-to-address locations are required to document for audit review.
The university will not make advance payments or reimburse travel expenses that have been or will be reimbursed to a traveler by a third party. A third party may include a supplier, host institution or other source assuming responsibility for specific expenditures associated with the travel. Amounts to be paid by the third party entity must be referenced in the travel system for auditing purposes.
Would a traveler be entitled to the full Per Diem allowance if a meal were included in the conference fee, served on the plane or provided by other documented circumstances?
Full meal allowances while on travel status will not be paid if provided through other travel-related purchases (e.g. continental breakfast built into the hotel room rate). The allowance must be adjusted by deducting the appropriate meal percentage (25% – breakfast; 25% – lunch; 50% – dinner) from the full Per Diem allowance for the applicable city location.
When combining a vacation with business travel, only those expenses directly related to the business travel can be paid/reimbursed by the university. Travelers must ensure that all business related and vacation expense variances are clearly documented and available for audit review. It is best practice to keep all business related expenses separated when possible; this ensures that documentation is as clear as possible. When this cannot be done (e.g. Airfare), cost comparisons should be done to show the pricing differences as if only business time was included. Cost comparisons should be conducted at the same time the expenditure of funds occurs and must be clearly documented and available for audit review. Expenses such as parking and Per Diem will be prorated and limited to only the business travel date/time.
In the event an injury or accident occurs during business travel status, while in a private vehicle (OSU non-owned), the vehicle driver’s insurance company assumes primary liability for personal injury or property damage incurred by the accident. Primary insurance coverage follows the vehicle’s owner. If this occurs during business travel, injuries to employees may be covered by Worker’s Compensation. Injuries to other parties would fall under the driver’s insurance policy or other insurance such as health insurance of the individual injured. Any private insurance used will have its own deductibles. The University policy may be excess to the owners policy.
Access to view one’s own travel history is available to all university employees using name.#/password – go to www.etravel.osu.edu. Specific administrative access roles are determined by the college/vp area for the initiation/approval of travel requests (T#) and payments.
Note: Training is available at https://carmen.osu.edu.
The eTravel system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a weekly maintenance window on Thursday nights from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Occasionally, the eTravel system may be down on Saturday from midnight to 5:00 a.m. for maintenance. See the OCIO System Status Page for information regarding unscheduled downtime.
Contact your department to identify your travel arranger or use the notification section of the travel request to search for travel arrangers by name or Org. These individuals can enter travel requests for Ohio State faculty, staff, students and guests.
Travelers and travel arrangers can make changes to certain fields in a travel request after it has been approved; some changes may require re-approval.
! Note: Modifications to certain core fields alter the fundamentals of the travel request and cannot be changed after it has been approved. For more information, refer to Travel ASSIST.
- UNIV/OSUMC: Enter your payment request and submit it as normal. Then email a copy of your completed conference registration form to email@example.com. Be sure your registration references your T#. AP will then match your check up to your registration form and mail them together.
- OSP: Enter your payment request and submit it as normal. Attach a copy of your completed conference registration form to the payment request. OSP will pull the form and mail it with your check.
- Closed status – trip has occurred; no further payments are expected to be processed against the “T” number; this action can be changed by University Travel Office.
- Cancelled status – trip did not occur. This action can be changed by the University Travel Office.
How do I pay for a conference registration if my conference is not listed as a Vendor in the system?
Under the Vendor Maintenance section, select “Add” from the Vendor Action drop down. Fill in the payee/vendor information and process your payment as usual. For conference registrations, the Vendor Setup Form is generally not needed and your payment will automatically be released as a one-time vendor payment. If for some reason the setup form is needed, a representative from AP or OSU Purchasing will reach out to you.
Refer to the route log in the pending travel request or payment request to identify the approver(s). Contact the approver and request that they approve the pending travel request or payment request. If traveling for a sponsored project, contact the Office of Sponsored Programs Travel Office to alert them to any emergency booking requirements.
The Blanket Travel Request checkbox should only be selected when a traveler has a series of in-state trips where expenses are generally limited to transportation expenses (e.g. mileage or parking) within a fiscal year period.
Note: Due to expenses authorization thresholds and duty of care tracking, Blanket Travel Request should not be used or selected when there are multiple out-of-state travel destinations. A separate and unique travel request (T#) must be created for each individual trip.
A registration prepayment is entered as a payment request in the eTravel system by the applicable payment requestor.
I need to confirm a payment has cleared that was issued through the travel system; where can I look to determine the status of the payment?
- For payment requests with a business unit of UNIV or OSUMC: UNIV Accounts Payable processes all UNIV/OSUMC payments; refer to the Financials system and search for the voucher by the business unit of UNIV.
- For payment requests with a business unit of OSURF – OSP Accounts Payable processes all OSURF payments: refer to the Financials system and search for the voucher by the business unit of OSURF.
Group Travel should only be selected when the trip is comprised of 10 or more individuals that are traveling together to a common place for a common purpose, sharing the same travel itinerary (e.g. all travelers commuting on the same flight). Selecting the Group Travel checkbox, will limit the travel agency selection associated with airfare estimates to the University’s preferred agency. A list of the traveler names should be provided as an attachment or noted in the comments.
! Note: Group Travel should not be selected for any less than 10 travelers, except when an associated advisor/employee must depart/return by alternative transportation means or schedule, but is still specifically tied to the group trip. Group Travel checkbox selection will allow the single traveler’s transportation to be coordinated with the group by the same travel agency.
Reconciliation of cash advance funds should be completed upon return from trip. Cash advance payment reconciliation should be noted in the originating payment request by selecting the reconciled box and indicating any repayment amount.
For UNIV and OSUMC payment requests, OSU Central AP will process the payments. For payments on Sponsored Projects, the Office of Sponsored Programs AP area will process the payments.
A cash advance is entered as a payment request in the eTravel system by a payment requestor. After meeting the criteria established in policy, the traveler must certify/sign the cash advance form (generated in the eTravel system) before payment is issued.
The payment requestor may set-up one or more payment requests to reimburse the traveler for mileage within the designated date range of the blanket travel request. In order to distinguish between the payments, reference the date(s) and mileage parameters for each reimbursement in the Expense details.
Contact your department to identify your payment requestor. These individuals can enter payment requests for cash advances, registration prepayments and reimbursements.
For travel on sponsored projects, am I required to send all receipts to the Office of Sponsored Programs Travel Office?
Original itemized receipts are required for reimbursement from a sponsored project and should be attached to the Travel Reimbursement within the eTravel system.
Note: Caution should be taken to not attached documents that contain secure data; effort should be taken to redact social security numbers and other secure information.
Yes, note the following discounts programs:
- Airline Discounts: Ohio State has negotiated discounts with American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Delta Airlines. Flights for OSU business travel are eligible to these discounts when they are booked using the university’s contracted travel agencies. Discounts are based upon market pair and/or service class designations. Book with the university’s contracted travel agency via a full service agent or online.
- Rental Car Discounts: Ohio State has negotiated pricing (inclusive of the required insurances) with Enterprise, National and Hertz. Reservations made for university business must be reserved through the agency website for most reservations or through Concur when reserving rentals associated with airfare.
Why do I have to use the university’s preferred travel agencies to be eligible for OSU’s airline discounts?
Applying the discount to the fare reservation is limited to the GDS (Global Distribution System) associated with the travel agency, which permits the airline to connect the purchase to OSU. As the OSU business spend increases, the university can leverage more substantial discounts in the future.
Yes, discount rates are available for personal/leisure vehicle rentals through the university’s agreement. Insurance is NOT included in the rate. The young renter fees for drivers that are between 18-25 is NOT waived. For more detailed information, go to Ohio State Human Resources - Buckeye Nation Reward.
When making a hotel reservation, it is worthwhile to inquire about educational, institutional or government rates. As an instrumentality of the State of Ohio, employees of The Ohio State University may be eligible for government rates with business reservations. However, be sure to check with the hotel directly before arrival to determine the discount rate criteria for check-in. In some cases, the OSU BuckID will be accepted in order to receive the government rate, while other hotels may require more specific/official government ID.
Sponsored Travel is a project involving research travel that will be paid, in part or whole, by grant funds that are administered through the Office of Sponsored Programs. These grants will have a business unit of “OSURF” assigned to them in the university’s eTools and Financial System. If you are unsure if your trip is Sponsored or Non-Sponsored, contact your college service center or fiscal office. See Office of Sponsored Programs for general guidelines.
The Principal Investigator (PI) is the person(s) that monitor the fiscal responsibilities of the grand funds and research associated with the project.
The Principal Investigator (PI) may independently access the eTravel System to monitor the approval status of a travel request. In addition, the PI and other associated users will receive email notifications once a travel request has been approved in the system.
Yes. The Fly America Act, enacted in 1974, mandates the use of U.S. flag air carriers for federally funded international travel. If you are scheduling international travel that is funded by a federal grant, you must ensure that all flights (where possible), are scheduled on U.S. flag air carriers or on foreign air carriers that code share with a U.S. flag air carrier. See Office of Sponsored Programs website for more information.
- Prepayment option – No out-of-pocket expense to traveler
- Access to extensive airline selection
- Eligible for OSU airline discounts
- Customer service 24/7
- Online Booking available with Individual Business Travel (CTP)
- No service fees
- Corporate Travel Planners offers both agent assist booking by phone/email, as well as the Concur Online Booking Tool.
- STA Travel offers agent assisted booking by phone/email.
Note: All bookings must be secured with an authorized T# for advanced payment eligibility.
The travel office meets regularly with the contracted travel agencies to ensure they are providing the university with the best level of service. We encourage any traveler or administrator to provide feedback regarding their experiences.
Submit feedback here.
University Business Vehicle Rental
What are some of the benefits of the contracted supplier agreement with Enterprise, National and Hertz?
Highlights of the agreement include:
- Discounted rates
- Unlimited daily/weekly mileage. Some exceptions may apply, including monthly and one-way rentals.
- Loss/Collision Damage Waiver (also known as DW, CDW or LDW) coverage included at no additional charge.
- Liability coverage included at no additional charge
NOTE: Exceptions may apply with International rentals.
Any university personnel (and guests), 18 years or older, who is renting for official university business. Exceptions may apply by location. Vehicle restrictions may apply for young renters. It is recommended that the renter call the location to ensure eligibility criteria.
At most locations, Enterprise, National and Hertz will not assess an additional charge when renter is between the ages of eighteen (18) and twenty-four (24), provided that the rate selected at the time of business rental is a rate or discount specified in the Agreement. Vehicle restrictions may apply for young renters. It is recommended that the renter call the location to ensure eligibility criteria. Renter must be twenty-one (21) or older in order to drive 12 Passenger vans, or box truck rentals.
Yes, ID in the form of a university ID card may be required to validate use of OSU business rates. ID checks are random but can be expected on all rentals occurring at Enterprise, National or Hertz locations.
Yes, however rates and insurance requirements will vary by International destination and may not match domestic rates and other provisions provided by the Agreement Summary for Business Rentals. Additional fees and insurance requirements may be applicable to the country/region laws.
Note: When reserving internationally (including Canada and Mexico), contact the applicable rental agency or firstname.lastname@example.org to determine whether insurance coverage is included in the rate. In most countries the required insurances are not included and must be purchased in addition to the rental rate to meet Travel Policy requirements.
No, the optional Loss /Collision Damage Waiver (also known as DW, CDW and LDW) is already included in the rate agreement for business rentals and should be declined. Accepting the Loss/Collision Damage Waiver Option would simply duplicate the negotiated agreement benefits. The Loss/Collision Damage Waiver is included on business rentals only.
Note: When reserving internationally (including Canada and Mexico), contact the applicable rental agency or email@example.com to determine whether insurance coverage is included in the rate. In most countries the required insurances are not included and must be purchased in addition to the rental rate to meet Travel Policy requirements.
All renters reserving vehicles for university business must have a credit card in their name in order to rent vehicles. If the agency permits, a university issued PCard may be used. Direct bill is not permitted. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on billing options.
Concur is one of the premier higher education booking tools available and is provided with the university’s contracted agency for individual business travel. The tool is designed for users to research fares, adjust selection parameters and finalize their own booking with an authorized T#.
The online booking tool should work with all up-to-date browsers. The Travel Office recommends using the latest version of Chrome of Mozilla Firefox.
No. Security limitations established by the university will only permit active employee access to Concur, using the name.#/password login. Non-employees (e.g. guests or students) will need to be booked by the unit’s travel arranger in Concur.
Note: Alternatively, non-employees may be authorized by the unit to set-up travel arrangements through a full service agent from the university's contracted agency for individual business travel. To authorize a guest to use agent assisted booking you will need to send an email from an @osu.edu email account to email@example.com advising an agent that you are authorizing a guest to make their airfare selections within an established cost threshold. It is the unit’s responsibility to ensure that the non-employee traveler is aware applicable university policies (e.g. no first class).
Although Concur does offer a mobile app, it is not recommended for use by OSU employees for booking business travel. The Concur mobile app does not offer the security features for personal devices that would be standard for OSU. All airfare (hotel, car...) bookings should be made through the Concur online access at: OSU Travel – Book Travel Online.