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Planning Travel


It is the policy of Northwestern University (NU) to reimburse NU faculty and staff and to pay outside vendors for necessary, appropriate, and approved travel-related costs and activities. University-approved travel is generally defined as transportation on Northwestern business in excess of one's normal commute. Travel must be authorized in advance by the traveler's supervisor. Travelers should review travel reimbursement guidelines prior to expending personal funds for business travel to determine if such expenses are allowable and reimbursable. The University reserves the right to deny reimbursement of travel-related expenditures if they fail to comply with University policies and procedures.

Travel Policy for Non-University Personnel

Northwestern's travel policies and procedures apply fully to individuals who are not University faculty or staff, but who are to be reimbursed by the University for University-approved travel, including transportation, lodging, and other travel related costs.

These individuals include:

  • guest lecturers or researchers,
  • consultants,
  • prospective faculty or staff,
  • Non employee students

The department is responsible for informing guests of the University's travel policy and procedures prior to their visit, and providing them with the Visitor's Expense Report to document travel expenses. To request reimbursement, the department arranging the travel is responsible for having all visitor forms properly completed and processed with original receipts attached. The department then completes the online voucher, and attaches electronically supporting documentation, or submits original documentation via campus mail.

For additional information on visitor expense reimbursements, see the Expense Reimbursements page.

Visitor's Expense Report

  • Uses: Reimbursement of individuals who are not university faculty and staff, but who have incurred expenses for university approved, business related expenses, including transportation and lodging.
  • Submission Method: Online Voucher with attached electronic documentation.
  • Signatures Needed: Visitor, Department, Dean, or Principal Investigator, as necessary, on form, then NUFinancials workflow approvals related to chart string (original not needed).
  • Documentation Needed: Receipts or other support for expense (original not needed).

Tips on Supporting Documentation

  • It is recommended that original documentation not submitted to Accounts Payable should be retained by departments for 3 years for audit purposes.
  • A Contracted Services Form, fully completed and signed, can serve as sole documentation, if appropriate.
  • Procurement and Payment Services will be part of workflow approvals for all vouchers over 25K.
  • Procurement and Payment Services will still require BD-1 or SSJ for Direct Payment Requests over 25K.

Scanning Tips

  • The recommended file format is .TIF and .PDF with a resolution of 200x200 DPI.
  • You may attach one or more docs totaling no more than 1MB file size.
  • Manage scanned documentation for file size and legibility. Illegible files will be returned by Accounts Payable.
  • Clear adhesive tape should not be placed on top of important information when prepping for sending or scanning. Scanners and fax machines do not read through clear adhesive tape, thus anything under the tape, while legible to the human eye, is not legible to the scanner/fax. (ex. do not tape over cash register receipts as the print disappears.)
  • Receipts with faint print should be copied and darkened for scanning.
  • Tape small receipts to an 8 ½ x 11 white sheet of paper.
  • Be sure to tape all four sides to white paper.
  • Do not use dark-colored highlighters to mark names, invoice numbers or important information. The highlights scan as blacked out.
  • Do black out sensitive information such as Social Security Numbers.
  • Make sure no staples are used. Those can damage the scanner.

Advance Planning for Non-resident Visitors

Special considerations, restrictions and additional required forms apply to travel for and payment to non-resident visitors. Be sure to begin the planning process 6 – 8 weeks prior to the visitor's arrival date. Note that a statutory condition for a visiting scholar's visa is proof of health insurance coverage.

University-designated Travel Agencies

University-designated Travel Agencies should be contacted to arrange all air and rail transportation, hotel accommodations, and car rentals. Airline tickets may be direct-billed to a departmental or sponsored project source of funds through a designated travel agency. The traveler's Corporate Card (or personal credit card) must be provided for train tickets, hotel reservations and car rentals.

Per Diem

The alternative of an allowance for daily expenses, a per diem, is permissible for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE). For sponsored program travel, the per diem arrangements may require prior agency approval. For M&IE, the reimbursement method selected must be used for the entire trip and should be established ahead of the trip. For lodging, all actual expenses must be supported by receipts. Per diem allowances shall not exceed the maximum stated by the government's published standards.

Health Insurance for International Travel

The Office of Risk Management has arranged health insurance coverage for faculty and staff who are traveling outside the United States on University business. Benefits are identical to those available to students studying abroad.


Contact Information

Contact Information
Questions About Contact

Arranging travel

Northwestern Travel Services at, or 847-491-7569

Travel policies for non-sponsored programs, use of per diem for non-sponsored program travel

Gary Ernsteen, Manager of Accounts Payable, at or 847-491-4445

Travel policies for sponsored programs, use of per diem for sponsored program travel

Evanston - Contact Jany Raskina, Expenditure Audit Coordinator, at or 847-491-4697

Chicago - Contact Rosanna Sian Rolle, Expenditure Audit Coordinator, at or 312-503-0835 

American Express Corporate Card

Treasury Operations at 847-467-4962

Health insurance for travel outside of the U.S., health insurance for visiting scholars

Risk Management & Environmental Health & Safety, at or 847-491-5610

Non-resident alien independent contractor payment requirements

Angie Gwinn, Tax Analyst, at 847-491-7204 or