Travel and Business Expenses

The university’s Policy Statement for Travel Advances & Travel Expense outlines policies in general terms. It is not intended to cover every possible situation. More restrictive policies may be set at the department or school level. However, it is the responsibility of the department or school to document, communicate, and enforce any restrictions they impose.

It is essential that Washington University has a strong accounting control environment and guards its image as a careful steward of charitable and public funds. Given the decentralized nature of the university, Senior Management relies heavily upon individual judgment at all levels of the organization in determining when expenses are necessary and reasonable. All travel must have a valid business purpose. Unauthorized trips, expenses that do not comply with university policies, and expenses deemed to be excessive may not be reimbursed. Items of unusual nature should be discussed with the Accounts Payable department and / or Sponsored Projects Accounting before the submission of expenses.  Expenditures that are not otherwise covered in this policy may be considered a reimbursable expense.  Accounts Payable may require additional approvals for these expenses, as well as other expenses that appear to be unreasonable or excessive.

Special rules may apply when traveling on a sponsored fund.  Reimbursable expenses must confirm to university policy, federal and state law, if applicable, and the restrictions placed upon each sponsored award.  Please refer to Travel on Sponsored Funds for general guidelines and the travel policy for specific guidelines relating to reimbursable expenses.

Employees will be reimbursed for approved travel-related business expenses upon submission and approval of a travel expense statement. Direct payments to vendors via check requests are not allowed except for registration fees. There will be circumstances that require central purchase of travel, for example Non-University Persons. See Non-University Persons for additional information. There may also be occasions where the central purchase of some travel expense is appropriate, such as paying for the conference fee for several persons attending the same event.

To comply with Federal indirect cost guidelines per OMB Uniform Guidance, certain travel and business expense related cost must be segregated from other expenses. In additional to those mentioned in this section, the following costs should be recorded to the subclass object (scob) noted below:

  • Alumni activities (scob 36-87)
  • Student Recruiting activities (scob 36-47)
  • Training travel (scob 36-06)

Special rules may apply to non-resident aliens when Washington University is paying for the travel. Refer to Foreign Vendor Payments for additional information.

For a PDF version of the entire policy click here.  Please refer to the Summary of Revisions (effective 3/15/18) for the updates.

Contact Nina Chasnoff at (314) 935-4541 or or Amy Wancket at (314) 935-5705 or for questions.


Approval Requirements

Approval requirements for a Travel Expense report

Mileage Reimbursements

General information about reimbursements and IRS mileage rates

Non-Reimbursable Expenses

Listing of non-reimbursable travel expenses

Non-University Persons

General information for students, guest lecturers, consultants, spouses/domestic partners, etc

Other Resources / Information

Business Travel Accident Insurance and International Travel Registry

Reimbursable Expenses

Information regarding reimbursable business travel expense

Reimbursement Process

Requirements for business travel reimbursement

Supporting Documentation

Definition of Supporting Documentation

Travel Advances

Reimbursement of up-front travel costs