Policies & Reimbursements
This page provides links to Northwestern's travel-related policies and guidelines and the expense reimbursement process for travel expenses that were not directly billed to a department/unit chart string.
- General Travel-Related Policies
- Expense Reimbursement
- Per Diem Guidance
- Hotel Rates References
- Nonconventional Lodging
- Business Travel Accident Insurance
- Private Automobile Transportation
- International Communications
- Northwestern's Travel and Entertainment policy outlines the University's travel policies. To learn more, see the following specific sections of the document: University Travel Policy, Travel Expense Procedures, and Travel for Non-University Personnel.
- Hotels: The above policy states: "Travelers must book standard accommodations in reasonably priced, commercial-class hotels and motels." Please see Hotel Rates References below for additional guidelines.
- International Travel Policies for faculty and staff are outlined on Northwestern's Global Safety and Security website.
- Policies for Sponsored Travel are outlined on the Office of Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs (ASRSP) website.
To be reimbursed for qualifying travel expenses, the appropriate expense report form(s) need to be completed.
Employee expense reports are filed from the NUFinancials application, which you can reach from the NUPortal. The Employee Expense Reimbursements curriculum on myHR Learn describes how to create an expense report.
- Visitor's Expense Report: This form is used by visitors to Northwestern and the hosting department/school.
- Expense Policy Exception Request: This form is used by faculty/staff if any expense submitted for reimbursement is not in accordance with University policy.
- Ground Transportation Reimbursement: Reimbursement rates for eligible ground transportation mileage: 57.5 cents /mile, effective Jan. 1, 2020.
View the Per Diem Guidance page, to learn more about authorized business travel Per Diems for Lodging, Meals and Incidental Expenses.
As stated in Northwestern's Travel, Entertainment & Courtesy policy, Business Travel News publishes annual lists of average negotiated hotel rates:
These lists are provided for reference for Northwestern travelers. Note the rates shown in these lists are averages of corporate negotiated rates collected by BCD Travel. As such, these rates may differ from those available to Northwestern faculty and staff.
Guidelines and recommendations for reserving accommodations, including conference hotels:
- Use of preferred hotel vendors is encouraged. See here for a complete listing of preferred Evanston and Chicago hotels for University guests, and Big-10 discounted hotels for faculty and staff travel
- Reserve standard accommodations in reasonably priced, commercial-class hotels and motels.
- For reference, Business Travel News publishes annual lists of average negotiated hotel rates, see here
- Conference hotels are often at discounted rates
- Request educational discounts, many of which charge reduced rates to those who identify themselves as University faculty or staff
- To facilitate reservation and best pricing, the traveler is encouraged to book lodging through the designated University Travel Agencies
When an employee rents a room, apartment, house, or other lodging on a long-term basis (e.g., weekly, monthly), the following expenses may be considered part of the lodging cost.
Lodging cost may include:
- The rental cost for a furnished dwelling; if unfurnished, the rental cost of the dwelling and the rental cost of appropriate and necessary furniture and appliances (e.g., stove, refrigerator, chairs, tables, bed, sofa, television, and/or vacuum cleaner)
- Cost of connecting/disconnecting and using utilities
- Cost of reasonable maid fees and cleaning charges
- Monthly telephone use fee (does not include installation and long-distance calls)
cost of special user fees (e.g., cable TV or Internet charges) if ordinarily included in the price of a hotel/motel room in the respective area
Note that Northwestern offers business travel accident insurance that provides faculty and staff with accidental death & dismemberment benefits while on a business trip for Northwestern University. Visit the Risk Management website for additional information.
Travel on University business using privately owned vehicles is reimbursed based on U.S. Federal Government reimbursement rates.
Reimbursement rate includes:
- all fuel, maintenance, insurance, transportation, and operating costs
- damage to a privately owned vehicle used for University business
- deductibles or other uninsured loss to the vehicle
- primarily for the convenience of the traveler, a personal automobile may be approved under the accountable process established and authorized by respective Deans and Vice Presidents
- cost comparison for reasonableness should be made between the cost of the per-mile reimbursement plus tolls for car travel, and the least expensive round-trip air fare between the nearest commercial airport serving the origin and destination cities, plus associated transfer costs to and from the airport
- documentation of cost comparison should be included in travel expense report
International phone cards are recognized as a cost effective way of paying for international business calls.
Recommended reimbursement guidelines for international phone cards with value of:
- $25 or less are reimbursable with no individual call documentation required.
- more than $25 are reimbursable with log of business calls for which the phone card is used, listing the person called, date of call, length of call and business purpose of the call. To meet audit requirements, the phone card usage log should be filed with the original phone card purchase documentation.