University Policies
Policy Contact
For questions related to Expense Reimbursement: Accounts Payable Email 401-863-2716
For questions related to Travel Health, Safety, and Security and Insurance: Global Travel Operations, Risk & Resilience Christine Sprovieri, Senior Director Email

Travel Policy

Policy No. Issue Date Effective Date

1.0 Policy Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish the principles, requirements, and responsibilities for conducting University-related travel, both domestic and international, in a manner that supports traveler safety, mitigates financial risk, complies with applicable regulations (including federal, state, and international), promotes environmental sustainability, and fosters prudent use of University resources.

2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies

This policy applies to all individuals and groups traveling on Brown-related business or for Brown-related programs, including faculty, staff, students, campus visitors, and other invited guests traveling on behalf of the University.

3.0 Policy Statement

All University travel, including that which is funded by gifts, grants, and contracts, must be reasonable and have a valid Business Purpose. Departments may elect to impose stricter budgetary controls over travel expenditures than those required by this policy. The University reserves the right to impose more stringent requirements on individual travelers.

Travelers should consider the impact of environmental sustainability when electing the mode of the travel.

Travel using federal funds from a grant, cooperative agreement, or contract is almost always subject to the Travel Management Policies set forth by the U.S. General Services Administration, in addition to being subject to this policy.

3.1 Operations & Financial Practices

Travel expenses will be paid for or reimbursed by the University if they are authorized, appropriately documented with a defined Business Purpose, and substantiated in Workday within 60 days of the last day of travel, in accordance with the Expense Reimbursement Policy. Pre-paid airline tickets, ground transportation tickets, and conference registration fees for Brown employees and students can be reimbursed as soon as they are purchased.

3.2 Booking Travel

University-related travelers, including groups, should use Brown’s strategic suppliers when booking airline tickets and making hotel reservations. 

3.3 Air Travel

Travelers must choose the lowest possible, non-refundable fare class that includes seat selection, a carry-on bag, and/or a checked bag, if needed.

Business Class and First Class travel are not permitted, except in the following circumstances:

  • Business Class airfare, or equivalent, is permissible when the destination is four or more time zones away or more than eight hours of total flight time, including layovers.
  • First Class airfare, or equivalent, is permissible only with prior written approval from the President, Provost, or Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration.

3.3.1 Air Travel Charged to Sponsored Projects

Travel costs charged to federal awards must comply with federal regulations, including the requirement to book the lowest economy airfare and comply with the Fly America Act. The Fly America Act requires that foreign air travel funded by the federal government be booked with U.S. flag air carriers, regardless of cost and convenience. Any exceptions to the federal requirement must receive prior written approval from the Office of Sponsored Projects and be documented in the expense report.

3.4 Ground Travel

3.4.1 Train, Bus, Rideshare, and Car Service

Train and bus transportation are encouraged whenever possible. First class train fare is only permissible with written approval from a Senior Officer.

Use of a private car service is permitted only if a valid Business Purpose precludes the use of a more economical mode of transportation. Use of a private car service is permitted at international locations if there are risk and safety concerns.

Rideshare and taxi services are reimbursable.

3.4.2 Rental Cars and Vans

Travelers may rent a car if driving is the most efficient mode of transportation, the safest option, less expensive than airline or rail travel, or necessary to transport equipment or materials. 

Travelers who routinely rent a vehicle for University business must adhere to the safeDRIVE policy.

3.4.3 Personal Automobile

Personal automobiles are permitted only if it is more cost-effective than other available modes of transportation, is the safest option, or if a valid Business Purpose precludes the use of a more economical mode of transportation and is reasonable under the travel circumstances. Travelers using their personal vehicles for Brown-Related Travel must be aware of and abide by Brown’s insurance and liability requirements. Reimbursement of gasoline is not allowed for travel with a personal automobile. Mileage may be reimbursed if it exceeds the traveler’s normal commute to their workplace location. Travelers will be reimbursed at the Federal Government’s prevailing rate per mile as documented in the Annual Spending Guidelines.

3.5 Travel Meals

IRS regulations permit the reimbursement of travel meals if the business trip exceeds 12 hours or is overnight. Meal reimbursements for faculty, staff, and students traveling on Brown-related business may be for either actual expenses incurred or the federal per diem rate for the location visited. Either way, the reimbursement method selected must be applied consistently throughout the trip. For travel in excess of 14 consecutive days, faculty, staff, and students must seek prior written approval to use the per diem rate for reimbursement.

Faculty and staff utilizing their research or sponsored award funds for reimbursement must follow more specific processes and terms as defined by the school and/or the award, if applicable.

Visitors traveling on Brown-related business must submit receipts for actual expenses incurred for reimbursement.

3.6 Travel Lodging

Travelers staying in hotels must book standard room accommodations at hotels in line with the University’s Annual Spending Guidelines. If traveling for a conference, it is acceptable to book room accommodations at the conference hotel even if the negotiated conference rate exceeds the Annual Spending Guidelines. Travelers will not be reimbursed for “no show” charges except under extenuating circumstances, which must be documented in the expense report.

Reserving accommodations through rental host organizations such as AirBnB and VRBO is also allowed.

3.6.1 Foreign Lodging per diem

The foreign lodging per diem rate is permitted only when visiting countries where receipts are difficult to obtain and if the use of per diem has been pre-authorized in writing by the traveler’s supervisor.

3.7 Visitor travel

Visitor travel reimbursements to foreign national visitors must comply with the Department of Homeland Security and IRS regulations. Visitors on a B2/WT visa may not receive any payment or reimbursement.

3.8 Insurance

Brown students, faculty, and staff are covered under the University’s blanket accident and sickness insurance policy when traveling outside the United States on a Brown-related program or Brown business.

Additional Travel insurance (e.g., CFAR–cancel for any reason, trip interruption, etc.) is not a reimbursable expense, unless approved by a senior officer.

3.8.1 Auto Rental Insurance

Brown self-insures for collision damage to rental vehicles and maintains auto liability insurance through a commercial insurance carrier for damage to a third party.

Supplemental Liability and Collision Damage insurance MUST be purchased through the rental agency in the following circumstances:

  • If traveling outside of the United States
  • If the driver is under the age of 25 (already included in strategic supplier’s rates)
  • For rental vans that carry 12 or 15 passengers (already included in strategic supplier’s rates)

Only Brown employees and students who are renting vehicles for Brown-related business  are covered under the University’s insurance plan. Spouses, friends, and other non-employee listed drivers are covered only under insurance provided by the rental company or under the driver’s personal insurance. All drivers must be listed on the rental agreement in order to drive the rental.  The cost of covering non-Brown University drivers is a non-reimbursable expense.

If a strategic supplier is not used, your department may face high deductibles associated with any damage or accidents.

Report any accidents resulting in damage to the rental, or to a third party, to the rental agency and to the via an auto accident report form found on the Insurance Office website within 48 hours of the accident.

3.8.2 Accompanying Spouses and Dependents

Spouses and dependents of Brown faculty, staff, and students are covered under this policy in matters concerning health safety, and security and risk management only when accompanying Brown travelers on international, Brown-related business. It is the responsibility of the Brown staff, faculty, or student to note the name of their spouse and/or dependent(s) who may be accompanying them in TravelSafe. This coverage does not apply to domestic travel. (Spousal and dependent travel costs are not reimbursable expenses.)

3.9 Risk & Safety

3.9.1 Registering Travel International Travel

All faculty, students, and staff traveling on Brown-Related Travel are required to register their international travel plans in TravelSafe prior to departure and update their travel plans accordingly if their itinerary changes.

Registration is required because:

  • It provides international travelers with advisories and alerts related to their travel destination(s) sent directly via email from International SOS and/or via the International SOS Assistance App.
  • International travelers are covered under the Study/Travel Abroad Accident and Sickness Insurance policy. Domestic Travel

All faculty, students, and staff traveling on Brown-Related Travel are highly encouraged to register their domestic travel plans requiring an overnight stay in TravelSafe.

Domestic travel advisories and alerts are available through the International SOS Assistance App.

3.9.2 High Risk Travel

Brown classifies travel to world destinations with elevated risk factors as High Risk Travel. Specifically, High Risk Travel is defined as: International destinations that are posted to the U.S. DOS as a Travel Advisory Level 3 or Level 4, and/or a CDC Travel Health Notice Level 2 or Level 3, and/or that are deemed as posing a significant health, safety or security risk to the traveler through advisories from International SOS.

  • No undergraduate, graduate, or medical student will be required to travel to a High Risk Travel destination as part of a for-credit or noncredit program.
  • Any undergraduate, graduate, or medical student travel to a destination with a High Risk Travel classification must be reviewed and approved in advance by the Global Travel Risk Assessment Committee (GTRAC).
  • If an individual undergraduate, graduate, or medical student or student group is being funded by a department or unit, that department or unit must ensure that GTRAC requirements and Safety Plans in TravelSafe are in effect before authorizing travel.
  • Faculty and staff traveling to a High Risk Travel destination are encouraged to complete a Safety Plan.
  • If GTRAC determines that a specific location is no longer safe or is potentially a danger to the travelers’ overall health and security, the University reserves the right to order an evacuation of all Brown travelers.
  • Faculty who wish to lead a group of undergraduate, graduate, or medical students to a High Risk Travel destination must first get approval from GTRAC before advertising the course/travel component and before enrolling students.

3.9.3 Traveling with Students

  • Graduate students, in the absence of a faculty member or administrator, are prohibited from independently supervising or leading undergraduate group travel abroad.
  • Faculty or staff traveling internationally with students and/or organizing experiential learning opportunities abroad must meet with International Travel Risk Management prior to making travel arrangements and advertising the travel opportunity to students.
  • Group travel, regardless of the number of students, must include at least two University representatives, who may be faculty, staff, graduate student teaching assistants appointed by the faculty leader, and/or locally-based support acting on behalf of Brown. All representatives must be able to provide in-person assistance or support in the event of an emergency.
  • Group leaders must remain with the group for the duration of the program abroad.
  • Ground travel is not permitted to take place overnight or during nighttime hours.

3.9.4 U.S. Federal Regulations Regarding International Travel

Any faculty, staff, or students traveling internationally are required to comply with the U.S. federal export regulations and trade sanctions. Any faculty, staff, or students traveling to a comprehensively embargoed country must contact the Export Compliance Team to determine if an export license is needed.

3.9.5 Participation in Political or Civil Protests and Activities While on International Travel

Involvement in political and/or civil protests, activities, demonstrations, or events is prohibited while on international travel.

3.9.6 Senior Officers Traveling Together

  • Under no circumstances will more than two Senior Officers be permitted to travel together, regardless of the mode of transportation.
  • Vice Presidents and Deans with overlapping responsibilities should avoid group travel.
  • The President, Provost, and Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration are discouraged from traveling together at all, regardless of the mode of transportation.

4.0 Definitions

For the purpose of this policy, the terms below have the following definitions:

Brown-Related Travel: International and domestic travel for any member of the Brown community (i.e., faculty, staff, and students) who is traveling on Brown University business or a Brown University program, regardless of funding source. Further information on specific programs can be found here.

Business Meal: A meal taken with business associates, University guests, job applicants, professional colleagues, or donors, during which University business is discussed and there is a valid Business Purpose for the meal. Review the Business Meals and Hospitality Policy for further detail.

Business Purpose: A required statement that adequately describes the expense as a necessary, reasonable, and appropriate business expense for the University. All expenses must support or advance the goals, objectives and mission of the University.

Domestic Travel: Travel within the United States and its territories and possessions.

International Travel: Travel outside of the United States and its territories and possessions.

Senior Officer: The President of Brown University, members of the President’s Cabinet and individuals who report directly to the President, or the Deans and Vice Presidents who report to the Provost or Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Sponsored Project: A University project for which a person or organization, including the federal government, provided funds. Certain conditions on the use of the provided finds, including travel, may apply. Sponsor requirements may differ from the Brown policy; in all cases whichever policy requirements are more stringent must be followed.

Travel Meal: Meal taken by the individual traveler, or individuals traveling together, on University business.

Visitors: Individuals who travel to Brown at the invitation of a Brown employee or department for the benefit of the University.

5.0 Responsibilities

All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy. University supervisors and employees with student oversight duties are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure and enforce compliance with it.

Traveler: Provide accurate, truthful, and sufficient documentation, including valid Business Purpose, to support allowable expenses paid by the University.

Controller’s Office: Ensure compliance with federal and state statutes and process transactions.

Cost Center Managers: Review and approve travel payments and reimbursements in Workday.

Financial Coordinators: Compile relevant supporting documentation and initiate reimbursement transactions in Workday.

6.0 Consequences for Violating this Policy

Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable (e.g., staff, faculty, student) disciplinary procedures.

Intentional disregard for the University’s travel policy and procedures may be considered grounds for disciplinary action, and/or for prosecution in the case of fraudulent misrepresentation of travel expenses.

7.0 Related Information

Brown University is a community in which employees are encouraged to share workplace concerns with University leadership. Additionally, Brown’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline allows anonymous and confidential reporting on matters of concern online or by phone (877-318-9184).

The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this policy and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws and requirements.

7.4 Frequently Asked Questions


Policy Owner and Contact(s)

Policy Owner: Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services & Chief Financial Officer

Policy Approved by: Vice President for Finance and Administrative Services & Chief Financial Officer

Contact Information:

For questions related to Expense Reimbursement: Accounts Payable Email 401-863-2716
For questions related to Travel Health, Safety, and Security and Insurance: Global Travel Operations, Risk & Resilience Christine Sprovieri, Senior Director Email

Policy History

Policy Issue Date:

Policy Effective Date:

Policy Update/Review Summary:

Previous policy version(s) superseded by this policy:

  • Travel Policy, Effective Date: October 3, 2023