Travel Expenditures

Last updated: June 18, 2024

You must obtain pre-approval from one administrative level higher who is responsible for the budget before scheduling your travel plans.

Travel has a large impact on the environment and increases UBC’s carbon footprint. You should strive to use available technology as a substitute for face-to-face meetings and conferences where possible. For more information about UBC’s targets, strategies with respect to climate change, please refer to UBC Vancouver’s Climate Action Plan 2030.

Travel expenses should be reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances, taking into consideration safety, practicality, and efficiency.

Approval of travel

  • Travelers for non-research travel are required to obtain pre-approval from by one administrative level higher and from the individual responsible for the unit’s budget.
  • Research travel is implicitly approved as part of the grant or project approval process.
  • Conference travel paid by General Operating Funds as part of professional development requires pre- approval from one administrative level higher, with a cost estimate provided and benefit to UBC clearly outlined.

Booking travel

  • Planning for travel should ideally start at least 14 days in advance for North American travel and 21 days in advance for international travel in order to obtain the best value and support.
  • Use the university resources for booking and paying for travel through SAP-Concur or Direct Travel. Before Faculty, Staff, Student or Non-employee travel can be booked travel, a properly completed employee profile with 2-factor authentication must be set up. Employee delegation should also be set up if applicable.
  • The UBC credit card is recommended for payment for university-related travel to ensure cost-effective and transparent handling of travel expenses. Apply for the UBC Visa card through Workday.
  • UBC has preferred suppliers for accommodation, air travel, and vehicles while travelling on UBC business, and you should use the preferred suppliers unless there is a less expensive alternative. For a list of preferred suppliers, visit the UBC Finance Travel page. For specific Sponsor or Agency guidelines when travel is for research purposes, refer to the UBC Research Finance website.
Travel Tips

To ensure that travel expenses are minimized, utilize the following cost saving measures:

Please refer to UBC IT Costs for more information.

Review further expenses guidelines below by topic:

Accommodation Expenses
  • The standard for reimbursement of accommodations while travelling must be based on the lowest price of a standard room in a business class hotel, which is defined as accommodation located near the business district of the applicable city and which provides an environment in which one can conduct business safely.
  • Hotel alternatives, such as Airbnb or VRBO, are acceptable if the rates and terms are competitive with hotel options.
  • Non-standard accommodations or rooms on Executive Floor, suites, concierge or Executive Premium level rooms will not be reimbursed unless pre-approval from Unit Head (i.e. Dean/VP level) with proper justification is provided to support the request.
  • UBC also has negotiated corporate rates with preferred hotels. See the UBC Travel on hotels and campus accomodations.
  • Typically, only accommodations with free cancellation should be selected. Non-preferred hotel booking websites may offer cheaper rates but may require 100% prepayment of fees, have higher cancellation/change fees and there is no ability for UBC’s travel vendors to assist you with cancellations and rebooking in case of emergency.
  • Where short-term lodging is provided at no charge, a gift or payment in appreciation may be provided up to $50.00/day with a maximum of $150.00 for the entire duration of the stay.
  • For visitors coming to UBC, it is strongly recommended wherever feasible to consider on- campus guest accommodations before considering external downtown options. Review on-site accommodations for UBC Vancouver, Green College, and UBC Okanagan.
  • For the latest updates on Travel, visit the Frequently Asked Questions
Air Travel Expenses
  • Air travel should be booked on the lowest logical economy fare on the most direct route. Any exception to economy class, such as Premium Economy, Business or First Class, must be pre-approved by the respective Dean, VP or president with justification. Typical justifications include medical certificates or flights outside North America with segments longer than 6 hours. The approver should ensure appropriate budget funding is available.  
  • Fare Type: Caution should be exercised with Basic fare types, as they do not allow for any changes or future flight credits. Opt for the next economy fare level if itinerary changes are a possibility.
  • Airline Discounts: The university has access to several airline contracts, and their discounts are automatically applied on select airfares when booking through SAP-Concur and Direct Travel. Discounts are inventory-controlled by the airlines.
  • Ancillary Air Fees: To reduce unnecessary costs, compare economy airfare types for each booking, such as airfare bundles that include seat selection and baggage versus those that do not. To avoid additional seat fees, use the airline's free seat selection service 24 hours before the flight. 
  • Stopovers and Combined Personal/Business Travel: These arrangements are permissible if the total cost does not exceed the cost of the direct economy flight to the final destination. Pre-approval from one administrative level higher and supporting documentation is required. The university recommends providing supporting documentation through SAP-Concur or Direct Travel.
  • Flight Passes: UBC reimbursement of flight passes is not permitted, as they are not considered the most economical cost.


Automobile and Other Transportation Expenses
  • Vehicle costs incurred while conducting UBC business are reimbursable if the expenses are necessary, reasonable, appropriate, and financial prudent. Receipts or proof of mileage must be provided for reimbursement of such costs. However, vehicle costs incurred to travel to and from one’s regular work location are not reimbursable.
  • A map tool or application, such as Google Maps, should be used to substantiate kilometers driven and be submitted as part of travel claim.
  • Mileage reimbursement when attending meetings locally at any UBC place of business is reimbursable unless it forms part of your commute to or from your usual work location. UBC places of business include Robson Square, UBCO downtown campus or any of the Hospital sites.
  • Mileage reimbursement on private vehicles is permissible at the rate set out by Canada Revenue Agency for kilometers (km) travelled for UBC business in excess of km normally incurred directly to and from work. Distance calculated starts either from your place of work or home to the destination in the most direct route and should only be reimbursed if the excess km calculation plus accommodation and meals does not exceed the cost of an economy priced airline ticket. Please note that the mileage rate will be updated regularly to be in alignment with CRA’s prescribed rate.
  • Limousine costs are not reimbursable unless it is the most economical option. A specific expense justification and a list of travelers must be provided at time of making the claim for reimbursement.
  • Vehicle rentals are permitted for out-of-town guests and for departmental events where vehicle rental is more economical than other transportation options. Cost of luxury and sport vehicles are non-reimbursable.
  • You should decline the Collision (or Loss) Damage Waiver (CDW or LDW) at the time of vehicle rental if previous arrangements have been made with UBC Safety & Risk Services for rental vehicle insurance, or if the rental cost is charged to your UBC Credit Card, as it includes CDW/LDW insurance coverage.
  • Third-party liability coverage should not be waived. Vehicle rental companies provide Third-party liability insurance as part of the basic rental rate for the vehicle.
  • Excess third-party liability is carried by UBC but only applies if there is some liability insurance in place through the vehicle rental company. This coverage is to protect both the driver and UBC against claims made by third parties for all sums which UBC shall be obligated to pay as compensatory damages, by reason of liability imposed by law for loss or damage arising from the use or operation of any rental vehicle, and resulting from bodily injury to or the death of any person or damage to property of others.
Meal Expenses when Out of Town or at Conferences
  • To facilitate efficient reimbursement, you should use per diems to claim for out-of-town meal expenses; receipts do not need to be provided for each per diem meal claims. UBC per diem rates represent what UBC deems to be a reasonable cost.
  • Only the individual traveler can claim UBC per diem rates.
  • UBC per diem rates cannot be claimed if meals have been included in another reimbursable item (i.e. conference fee, transportation, accommodation).
  • UBC per diem rates also cannot be claimed when another member of the university has submitted a claim for the same meal and when meals are offered by the event organizer.
  • Where grant or contract funding have lower per diems than UBC’s per diem rate, you may claim the differential amount from other sources after charging the research account with the maximum allowable rate.
Minor Reimbursable Items
  • While travelling, an incidental amount of up to $10/day may be claimed. The incidental amount is to compensate for non-receipted items such as meter parking, transit fares and housekeeping gratuities. If a third-party requirement does not permit non-receipted items to be reimbursed, the missing receipt documentation is required for reimbursement.

In case of any discrepancy with this webpage, the full expense rules will always take precedent.