Responsible Officer: Director

Responsible Unit: Award Management

Effective date: July 1, 2008

Last revised on: March 12, 2014

Policy Statement

Reimbursement of travel expenses is based on the allowability of the expenditure as determined by the terms and conditions of the award, in accordance with applicable regulations.

Travel expenses are usually considered allowable if authorized and in direct support of the project. All travel reimbursements for University and non-University employees are subject to State and University travel policies, except when the funder allows for higher rates or in cases when more restrictive policies and limitations are imposed by a specific award.

Federal travel regulations will apply when required by federal contracts. This includes, among others, adherence to the Fly America Act, which mandates the use of a U.S. flag air carrier for air travel related to projects supported by federal funds.

Reason for Policy

The University offers this policy to provide clarification and guidance as to University practices regarding expenditure inquiries regarding travel, in conjunction with federal regulations governing allowability.


State and federal definitions of foreign travel sometimes differ. The state of North Carolina considers all travel outside the contiguous 48 states to be foreign travel. The federal definition normally is less restrictive.

1.Foreign Travel

To facilitate the review, justification, and approval of foreign travel requests, a copy of the meeting brochure or letter of invitation to travel must be attached to the request.

Some Federal agencies have delegated approval of foreign travel to UNC–Chapel Hill. OSR can assist departments in identifying agency-specific requirements.

2.Travel Requiring Advance Sponsor Approval

  • Foreign Travel.

Failure to adhere to the approved itinerary can result in delayed reimbursement, pending the sponsor’s approval of the changed itinerary. If the change is not approved, associated costs will not be reimbursed to the traveler. Additionally, U.S.-flagged air carriers should be used whenever possible.

  • Travel by individuals not paid from sponsored award funds.

Without an explanation on file to establish the individual’s involvement in and contribution to the project, the federal auditors generally question the propriety of such travel.

Procedures and Related Policies

All procedures and forms regarding travel and travel reimbursement are provided through University Travel Services, a unit of Procurement Services.

Additional Related OSR Policies include:

OSR Research Tool Kits



Questions and concerns can be submitted online at Ask OSR or by using the OSR staff directory. Within RAMSeS, the “Speak to Someone” option assists in locating the staff member best suited to address project-specific issues.


Research Administration Glossary at Carolina

1. The Fly America Act. Federal Register/Vol. 63, No. 219/Friday, November 13, 1998/Rules and Regulations.

Revision History

The policies in the Office of Sponsored Research Policies & Procedures Manual supersede any OSR policies, procedures and appendices previously included in the University Business Manual, a publication of UNC Chapel Hill’s Division of Finance.

03/12/2014 Revised to reflect that funders may allow higher rates for reimbursement than State and University travel policies.