Travel Policy

Policy Statement


This policy establishes how Harvard University will reimburse individuals for travel expenses incurred conducting University business. As a public charity that benefits from gifts by donors and sponsored awards, Harvard University has a stewardship obligation to use its funds prudently; all Harvard University employees must use University resources wisely and in the fullest support of Harvard’s mission of education and research.  As such, travel expenses must be reasonable and necessary, and travelers must always use the most cost-effective means of travel.  All travel reimbursements must meet the IRS accountable plan rules in order to be excluded from the traveler’s gross income. While no policy can address every scenario, this document is intended to cover the most common travel-related situations; where unusual circumstances arise, the spirit of this policy – along with good judgment – should prevail. 


Travel Policy Table of Contents

  1. Select your means of travel
    1. Air travel (see Appendix A for detailed guidance for travel not using federal funds, see Appendix G for travel using federal funds)
    2. Ground transportation  (see Appendix B for detailed guidance)
    3. Lodging (see Appendix C for detailed guidance)
    4. Meals, entertainment and miscellaneous travel expenses (see Appendix D for detailed guidance)
    5. Business travel accident insurance
    6. Emergency Travel Assistance Program
  2. Pay for travel using an approved method
    1. Corporate Card
    2. Direct Billing using Harvard General Ledger Coding
    3. Personal Funds
    4. Cash Advances
  3. Get reimbursed for your travel
    1. Business connection, including combining business with personal travel and guidelines for spousal/family member travel
    2. Substantiation
    3. Receipts
    4. Missing Receipt Affidavits (MRAs)
    5. Reimbursee signature required
    6. Timeliness of reporting requirements, including receipt deadlines for standard and extended business trips 
    7. Foreign currencies
    8. Use of per diems
    9. Elective fees
  4. Understand rules for special reimbursement situations
    1. Third-party reimbursements
    2. Employee recruitment
    3. Moving expenses
    4. Fellowships (also called stipends or allowances)
    5. Non-resident aliens

Appendices (PIN required)


Appendix A: Detailed Guidelines for Air Travel


Appendix B: Detailed Guidelines for Ground Transportation


Appendix C: Detailed Guidelines for Lodging


Appendix D: Detailed Guidelines for Meals, Entertainment and Miscellaneous Expenses


Appendix E: Guidance for Combined Business and Personal Travel 


Appendix F: Guidance for Spousal/Family Member Travel 


Appendix G: Requirements for Travel Expenses Charged to Federal Awards



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