I’ve been granted funds for a trip - what now?
STOP! If you are travelling internationally and you have not registered your travel with the Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange, please do so before beginning this process. See the section on International Travel for more details.
Whenever you travel on behalf of the U of A, a Travel Authorization (commonly referred to as a TA) must be entered on your behalf prior to the start of the trip. This authorizes University funds to be spent on your behalf or reimbursed to you at the conclusion of your trip, and creates the paperwork necessary to do so. It also grants you certain privileges, like eligibility for certain purchases to be made on your behalf by the U of A directly.
This is also the stage in the travel process where a Travel Advance is requested.
Fill out a MEST Travel Request form and send it to your travel arranger. This worksheet will help you anticipate your costs for a trip, and give your travel arranger the necessary information required to submit the Travel Authorization paperwork on your behalf.
Please submit the worksheet at least four weeks from your departure date to allow for processing and arrangement of travel.
Travel Authorizations must be approved before any reimbursement for a trip can take place. Failing to request a TA before the trip can be grounds for denying a reimbursement claim altogether. If a claim is denied, there is no other way to seek reimbursement.
A Travel Advance is a direct loan to the traveler and must be repaid in full, either through justifying the way the funds were spent with receipts during the Travel Claim process, or by repayment of any travel advance amount still owed after reimbursement.
A traveler may request a Travel Advance to cover anticipated expenses by checking the Travel Advance Requested box on the MEST Travel Request form. Travel Advances are automatically calculated based on your estimated expenses, so amounts may vary. Your travel arranger can let you know what funds are available to be requested.
Travel Advances are to be justified or repaid within 30 days after return of the trip.
The Travel Office is the only entity that can grant exceptions to U of A Travel Policies, and permissions must be granted and documented prior to the trip taking place. Please notify your travel arranger as soon as possible for assistance.
Examples of exceptions include: using an outside travel agency or booking agent, sharing travel expenses with another employee, travelling as a group with students, planning a trip where you return to a different destination than you started, etc.
Planning, Booking, and Paying for Your Travel
Once a Travel Authorization (TA) has been approved by the Travel Office, you are ready to begin making purchases related to your travel.
NOTE: No purchases should be made prior to Travel Authorization approval, especially in the case of international travel, because these purchases will not be reimbursed without an approved Travel Authorization in the system.
Yes! A limited number of expenses can be purchased on your behalf by your travel arranger:
- Airfare (using the Anthony Travel agency and/or the Concur Booking Tool is required)
- Rental car (the U of A has required contracts with both Enterprise and Hertz)
- Conference Registration (where credit card payments are accepted; does not include membership costs)
When these expenses are purchased on your behalf by MEST, you do not incur any personal costs related to these items and do not have to wait for a reimbursement. These costs will be deducted directly from your MEST-awarded funds.
Yes, you can. However, please be mindful that the U of A has standing contracts and policies in place that will still apply to reimbursing your expenses. The Travel Office is the only entity that can grant exceptions to U of A Travel Policies, and permissions must be granted and documented prior to the trip taking place.
Travel expenses that you incur personally may only be reimbursed at the end of the trip.
Personal days are defined as any days that the traveler is gone and is not engaged in the business activity for which the authorization was approved. You may not use University funds to pay for expenses incurred on personal days (lodging, taxi, meals, etc.)
If you are planning to take personal days during your trip, please notify your travel arranger prior to setting up a Travel Authorization.
If your travel involves airfare, you will be required to provide a quote showing the
cost of your flight with just the business dates included. The comparison must be
done at the time of the reservation. If the inclusion of personal days results in
a higher fare, the traveler will only be reimbursed up to the quote.
If transportation costs are higher with personal time added in, your travel arranger will not be able to purchase airfare on your behalf.
Collect receipts for all of the expenses you incur. The Travel Office requires original and itemized receipts be turned in at the end of your trip. Credit card statements will not be accepted except in approved circumstances.
Please turn original hard copies of all receipts of expenses relating to your trip. Itemized receipts are required for all expenses.
MEST funds may be used for the following types of expenses, in accordance with Travel Office guidelines. If you have any questions, please consult with your travel arranger prior to purchase.
No reimbursement will be allowed to any traveler for:
- Personal entertainment
- Valet services (unless that is the only parking available at the hotel)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Personal telephone calls
- Traveler's check service charges
- Laundry or cleaning
- Printing items
This list is not exhaustive, and any other items not considered to be official business expenses may be denied reimbursement unless specifically authorized by the Travel Office and documented. If you have any questions, please consult with your travel arranger prior to purchase.
At the End of Your Trip
At the conclusion of your trip, your travel arranger will help you to submit a Travel Claim (commonly called a TC). A Travel Claim is a request for reimbursement for travel costs.
Travel costs may only be reimbursed through a Travel Claim, and a Travel Claim may not be issued without an approved Travel Authorization. Please be sure to request a Travel Authorization prior to your travel! It will speed up the reimbursement process and ensure that your request for reimbursement is not denied.
Travel plans are often subject to change once a trip is underway, and your travel arranger may not be aware of those details. The MEST Travel Claim worksheet supplies the information needed to file a Travel Claim on your behalf.
Please note: Supplying the legs of your travel is absolutely crucial. In order to receive reimbursement, the location where the expense occurred MUST be included as a travel leg. This is particularly important in the case of international or long-term travel.
Please submit your receipts and a completed MEST Travel Claim worksheet to the MEST office within 5 working days after the return of a trip. If for some reason you are unable to furnish your receipts within that time frame, please let your travel arranger know so that exceptions may be requested from the Travel Office if necessary.
Please turn original hard copies of all receipts of expenses relating to your trip. A list of allowable expenses may be found here, and any questions can be addressed by your travel arranger.
Itemized receipts are required for all expenses. Confirmation emails or statements (for airfare, lodging, etc.) are not able to be used as receipts. If you submit a confirmation email or statement, please also submit a document indicating proof of payment. Likewise, credit card or bank statements are not able to be used as standalone receipts as they are not itemized.
Once receipts are received, a Travel Claim will be filed by your travel arranger, and original receipts sent to the Travel Office for approval and processing. Once approved, any funds eligible for reimbursement will be dispersed to you.
If you have travelled internationally and your receipts are not in English, please consult with your travel arranger to identify what each document pertains to.
If you know you will be travelling to an area where receipts are not habitually furnished, please consult with your travel arranger about how to best document your expenses prior to your trip.
If you received a Travel Advance, you must still turn in all receipts for processing.
If a Travel Advance has been issued, a traveler is required to justify the use of advanced funds with receipts showing how these funds were spent. The full total of a Travel Advance must be accounted for before any additional reimbursements may be issued.
If the full amount of a Travel Advance cannot be justified, the remaining balance will be invoiced for repayment by the Treasurer’s Office.
International Travel on University Funds
If you will be traveling internationally on university business, you are required to register your trip with the Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange before you begin the basic travel process. The Study Abroad Office is first in the travel approval chain, and no University funds can be used for a trip until they have approved the trip.
In most cases, Study Abroad will send you an email indicating that your travel location and dates have been approved.
Please be sure to forward this email to your MEST travel arranger when you request a Travel Authorization. Your MEST travel arranger is not able to independently view any information that you submit to Study Abroad.
Your Travel Authorization will not be approved without prior registration with Study Abroad.
Not all travel destinations are automatically approved for travel by the University. Travel to destinations with State Department Travel Warnings Level 3 and above require a petition to be submitted and a travel waiver to be signed. This process is reviewed by the International Educational Advisory Council (IEAC) which meets only once monthly, so completing this step as early as possible in the travel process is recommended.
Study Abroad will notify you by email if this is the case; please follow all of the provided instructions. It is up to you, the traveler, to file a petition for travel.
No university funds may be authorized prior to approval for your intended travel, and no funds will be reimbursed to you without this approval should you complete the trip without registering your travel or filing a Travel Authorization.
Questions about this process may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can register your travel with Study Abroad using general dates. However, these dates will need to match the dates that your MEST travel arranger uses to create your Travel Authorization. You can update your submitted itinerary by sending an email to email@example.com
NOTE: Unfortunately there is not a way for your MEST travel arranger to view any information that you have submitted to Study Abroad. If you update your information with Study Abroad, please also CC your MEST travel arranger.
Indicate these destinations and your travel dates when you register with Study Abroad.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and update them on your itinerary.
If your additional location has a State Department Travel Warning Level 3 or above, please consult with Study Abroad directly and notify your MEST travel arranger of their decision. Your MEST travel arranger is not able to approve these changes for you.
Send an email to email@example.com and update them on your itinerary. Understand that if there are approval issues, it may delay reimbursement of your funds.