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Travel Services

Policy Accountability

Policy Background
Traveler Responsibility
Department Responsibility
ADA Compliance (Travel Medical Accommodations) 

Policy Background

The UW Travel policy is shaped by state and federal requirements. In order for travel reimbursements to not be taxable as income, certain requirements must be met to substantiate business needs and auditability. 

Example agencies that influence travel policy:

  • Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM)
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Homeland Security
  • General Services Administration (GSA)

Who Must Comply with Policy? 

  • ALL traveler types being reimbursed on University of Washington funding
    • Ex: UW employees, UW students, non-UW, faculty/staff candidates, volunteers, etc.
  • Contractors (consultants), unless there are specific contractual arrangements modifying travel reimbursement


Ensure costs are:

  • Allowable per UW travel policy
  • Allowable per funding requirements
  • Necessary and critical for UW business
  • Directly related to work and not personal preference/convenience
  • Obtained at the most economical price

Responsible for obtaining proper approvals when necessary.

Exercise same care in incurring expenses and accomplishing the purposes of the travel that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business; excess costs, circuitous routes, delays, or luxury accommodations unnecessary or unjustified in the performance of official state business travel are not acceptable.

  • Pay any excess costs and any additional expenses incurred for personal preference or convenience
  • Verify that all travel arrangements are confirmed prior to departure
  • Return as promptly as possible to either official station or residence when state business is complete
  • Ensure reimbursement is prepared and submitted with appropriate receipts in a timely manner

**Negligence is not an exception to any policy under any circumstance. 

**If an expense is not mentioned in UW Travel Policy, this does not guarantee it is an allowable expense for travel reimbursement. 

Traveler sample notice regarding refunds/credits/vouchers resulting from change/cancellation of travel plans. 


Ensure costs are:

  • Allowable per UW travel policy
  • Allowable per funding requirements
  • Necessary and critical for UW business
  • Directly related to work and not personal preference/convenience
  • Obtained at the most economical price
  • Follows the IRS Accountable Plan

Exercise prudent judgement in approving travel related costs and establish effective system of management for control over such expenses:

  • Established:
    • Internal policies and procedures
    • Proper channel of approvals
  • Ensure:
    • Travelers are not treated differently in like circumstances
    • Travel plans eliminate unnecessary travel in performance of work assignments
    • Number of employees assigned to the trip does not exceed minimum necessary
    • Health and safety of traveler (It is advantageous to the state for agencies to establish and alter travel plans and itineraries with consideration of hazardous inclement weather and other situations that could threaten the health and safety of state personnel)

**Departments may establish internal policies that are stricter than UW travel policy, but may not create policies that are more lenient

After 90 days, departments should review assignments placing travelers in travel status at a temporary duty station to determine if the traveler's permanent official duty station should be changed. The department should inform the traveler of the possible federal tax implications of official assignments for an indefinite period of time or for longer than one year. Refer to Internal Revenue Service regulations contained in publication 463 for further information.

ADA Compliance (Travel Medical Accommodations) 

To reduce medical liability such as HIPAA, departments are highly recommended to forward ADA accommodation (travel medical accommodation) inquiries to the UW Disability Services Office. They are the HR unit that is properly equipped to review medical information and report to the department the accommodation required for the traveler.

A comment may be added to the expense report indicating that the proper paperwork is on file with DSO or an email may be attached from DSO confirming the accommodation. Note that DSO approvals are good for one year, be sure to follow their procedures for renewal even with permanent conditions. Do NOT attach any medical information to the expense report. An accommodation on file with the DSO bypasses any approval, see approvals for more information. 

UW Disability Services - 206.543.6450 -