POL-U5348.10 Traveling for Official University Business

Dates and Approval

Effective Date:

September 28, 2023

Approval Date:

September 26, 2023

Approved by:

President Sabah Randhawa

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to University faculty and staff, students, non-employees, employment applicants, contractors and volunteers who may travel for official University business purposes. Expenditures of grant and contract funds for travel are subject to the same rules except when specifically noted.


This policy supports the University’s commitment to be accountable for the administration of travel funds in accordance with state regulations. 


Employee Traveler

A student, temporary, project hire, or permanent University employee with an active job in Banner HR authorized to be in Travel Status.

Non-Employee Traveler

A student, volunteer, or other individual who is authorized to be in Travel Status.

Official University Business

Activities performed by a University employee or authorized Non-Employee in order to accomplish University programs or as required by the duties of the position or role. 

Travel Status

Time during which a Traveler is away from their official residence and/or official workstation for travel reimbursement on official University business.

Policy Statements

1. Director of Business Services Oversees Travel Management Program

Under the purview of the Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs, the Director of Business Services ensures an effective program for management and control over related travel costs and regulatory compliance. 

2. Employee Travelers Assume Certain Responsibilities

Employee travelers are responsible for: 

  1. Being familiar with University travel rules, including travel expenditure and reimbursement rules, before embarking on travel.
  2. Securing prior authorization for travel as required in Section 4 below.
  3. Exercising the same care in incurring travel expenses that a prudent person would exercise if travelling on personal business.
  4. Paying any excess costs and additional expenses incurred for personal preferences or convenience.
  5. Returning as promptly as possible to either the official workplace or home when business is completed. See Section 8 for applicable exceptions. 
  6. Reporting and reconciling travel advances and expenses according to procedure Reporting and Reconciling Travel Expenses and Advances( PRO- U5348.10B)

A delegate may be assigned to input travel and expense information on behalf of a traveler. However, the Employee Traveler remains responsible for the content, accuracy, submission and timeliness of all travel and expense documents. 

3. Approvers are to Designated

Deans and Directors are responsible for establishing a system of control procedures within their college and/or department(s) designed to appropriately review and approve travel and associated expenditures and reimbursements in compliance with all university and state policy, standards, and procedures. See STN-U5348.10A Approving Travel for University Business.

4. Prior Approval for Travel is Required

University travelers must obtain prior approval as outlined in the Requesting Travel Authorizations for Employees (PRO-U5354.10A):

  1. For all out of state travel,
  2. For all overnight travel and/or
  3. Whenever a travel cash advance is requested.

Travel to Hawaii and foreign countries requires Divisional Vice President, Director, or College Dean approval. Foreign travel includes traveling outside of the United States and its possessions with the exception of British Columbia which does not require such approval. 

For day trips within Washington state, verbal or written prior approval of the travel by a supervisor is required. 

An approved estimated expense does not guarantee an incurred expense will be approved if the actual expense does not meet compliance rules. See Section 9 below. Travelers who do not obtain prior approval as required may be responsible for any unauthorized expenses.  

5. Blanket Travel Authorizations are Limited

Those who travel repeatedly for the same purpose may request a Blanket Travel Authorization to cover travel up to one year. It is recommended to limit Blanket Travel Authorizations to in-state travel. Travel requests for purposes unrelated to a Blanket Travel Authorization require a separate authorization. 

6. Travel to Certain Locations May be Banned

Travel to certain locations may be temporarily banned by the University President following recommendations from the Governor. Requests for exceptions would need to:

  1. Demonstrate why the travel is essential for business purposes, and
  2. Obtain written approval from the appropriate Vice President

Bans will be automatically rescinded upon notice by the Governor's Office that the ban has been lifted.

7. Travel Cash Advances May be Requested

Cash advances must be issued and reconciled in accordance with the:  

  1. Standards for Providing and Reconciling Travel Advances (STN-U5348.10D) and
  2. Procedures for Reporting and Reconciling Travel Expenses and Advances (PRO-U5348.10B)

8. Combining Business Travel with Personal Travel Allowed Under Certain Conditions

Travelers may combine a vacation, or other personal travel, with a legitimate business trip when all of the following conditions exist:

  1. The primary purpose of the trip is official University Business,
  2. The traveler uses, where necessary, their approved leave for the vacation or personal part of the trip, and
  3. It does not cost the University more by adding personal travel. A separate cost quote for what the trip would cost with no personal time added is required to be documented and submitted with the expense report.

9. Reimbursements Must be in Accordance with University Policy and State and Federal Regulations

Allowable University business travel expenses include:

  1. Actual commercial lodging costs, up to per diem rates unless an approved exception applies; see SAAM 10.30.20.a for exceptions. Payments for peer-to-peer property rentals must follow STN-U5348.10F 
  2. Meals; see University meal reimbursement guidelines
  3. Transportation, and
  4. Miscellaneous travel expenses.

Certain travel costs cannot be paid with public funds, including but not limited to:

  1. Reimbursements for purchases made with rewards programs, such as points, miles, or other non-monetary payment methods.
  2. Alcoholic beverages,
  3. Expenditures resulting from an employee's regular commute
  4. Personal expenses, such as entertainment expenses, transportation to or from non- University business locations, personal telephone calls, high occupancy tolls, fines and parking tickets.
  5. Costs of optional trip insurance, and
  6. Medical and hospital services.

Exceptions may apply to Chart 2 funds.

For allowable travel medical expenses, see Standard: Paying for Immunizations and Medical Expenses  for Business Travel (STN-U5348.10E).

Expenses associated with trip changes or cancellations may be paid when due to:

  1. University Business
  2. Changed or canceled business event,
  3. Airline changed or cancelled flight. Any replacement fare or credit must be used for future WWU business or surrendered to the department,
  4. Traveler's own illness or injury,
  5. Illness or injury of traveler's family member,
  6. Health and safety of the traveler, or
  7. Death of family member

Refer to Reporting and Reconciling Expenses Associated with Travel Changes or Cancellations (PRO-U5348.10C).

Requests for reimbursement must comply with the criteria specified in the Reporting and Reconciling Travel Expenditures Procedure (PRO-U5348.10B) which requires submitting the expense report no later than 60 days from the business trip end date to avoid being subject to income tax.

10. Using Travel Credit for Personal Use is Prohibited

Credit must be used for University Business travel if the expense was paid by the University. Using credit for personal use is strictly prohibited and considered theft of state resources and an ethics violation. Such violations are to be reported.

11. Requesting Travel Reimbursement is Prohibited When Travel Expenses Paid by External Entity

When travel expenses are paid by an external entity, an employee may not submit a WWU reimbursement request for the same expenses. Such actions are subject to disciplinary actions, up to and including termination, and fines imposed by the State Ethics Board. See Receiving Honoraria policy (POL-U5400.19).

12. Documentation is Required

Required receipts and other supporting documentation of expenses are to be included with the expense report and retained in accordance with the University’s retention schedule.

Original receipts should be kept by the traveler until reimbursement is received. See Travel Receipts.

Any supporting documentation not attached to the expense report must be retained by the department according to University records retention requirements.

13. Non-Employee Travel May be Authorized Under Certain Circumstances

Travel may be paid for non-employees, including employment interviewees and guests, when it is related to University business under certain circumstances. See Standards for Paying for Non-Employee Travel (STN-U5348.10C). These non-employee standards do not apply to students. See Section 13 below for student travel.

14. Certain Exceptions Apply to Student Travel

Exceptions to this policy may apply to Non-Employee Students who travel to support the mission of academic or non-academic activities. Please refer to the Standards for Managing Student Travel (STN-U5348.10B).

Travel involving student athletes must also follow applicable NCAA guidelines and University Athletics practices.

Policy Information


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