4. Travel

4.1.    This section details what can be claimed as travel expenses, and provides information on specific modes of transport and other expenses associated with travel.

General guidance for travelling on UCL business

4.2.    The cost of business travel, that is, journeys away from your normal place of work while undertaking UCL business can be claimed.4.3.    Always try to select the cheapest and most efficient way of reaching your destination.

4.4.    UCL has preferred travel suppliers for airline, hotel and car hire bookings details on these suppliers can be found on the Procurement website. These suppliers should be used for travel bookings where possible.

Private travel costs

4.5.    The following cannot be claimed:

  • Travel between home and normal place of work.
  • Business travel broadly similar to the claimant’s normal commute.
  • Recreational travel and accommodation at or near the business travel destination.
  • Travel or accommodation for family or friends accompanying the claimant on the business journey.

Rate of exchange

4.6.    If a credit card was used to pay for overseas expenses, the rate charged by the credit card issuer can be claimed.  A copy of the statement should be used to evidence the rate used.

4.7.    For employees iExpenses will use a default rate for translating foreign currency transactions; this can be overridden if different to the rate at the time of expenditure and fluctuations will be allowed within a set tolerance.  If the automatic rate is overridden, a copy of the bank statement should be included with the claim to back up the rate used.

4.8.    Buying foreign currency is not a genuine business expense and cannot be claimed.

Travel insurance

4.9.    Travel Insurance needs to be activated before traveling overseas, travelling in the UK for fieldtrips or travelling on a business trip where there is an overnight stay or air travel involved.

4.10.    Insurance can be activated by completing a travel insurance request form, which can be found in the Insurance Section on the Finance and Business Affairs (FBA) website.

4.11.    The Insurance team will issue a cover note and provide details of the policy.  There is no cost to departments for travel insurance.  For regular travellers the Insurance Section can issue annual cover notes on request.

4.12.    If a claimant has an existing medical condition and is not travelling against their doctors orders, this is covered by the UCL Travel Insurance Policy at no extra cost.

4.13.    Personal travel insurance cannot be claimed as UCL already provides cover for business travel, please refer to Annex 2 for further information on this exclusion.

Public Transport

4.14.    Journeys made on rail, bus, ferry, river boat, underground, metro or tram services – can be claimed.

4.15.    The most economical method of travel should be used.  For example, if the claimant uses public transport in London regularly, they should use an Oyster card rather than paying for single journeys by cash.

Train journeys

4.16.    These should be standard class unless a heavily discounted first class ticket is booked significantly in advance of the date of travel.

4.17.    If the claimant does travel first class, an explanation must be included on the claim and if necessary the claim will be passed to the School Finance / Professional Services (PS) Director for approval.

4.18.    Trains should be booked in advance where possible via UCL's approved travel provider or similar rail travel provider as this is the most cost effective option.  Tickets can then be collected at the relevant station or sent via post.

Tube and bus journeys in London

4.19.    If a London Transport Oyster or contactless credit/debit card is used for business journeys, the details of each individual journey should be entered on the claim, being specific about locations, date and times and purpose of journey.

4.20.    Only the relevant journey should be claimed, not the whole top-up cost, unless the whole top-up will be used for UCL business travel.  Receipts are not necessary for individual journeys, but are required if claiming for the whole top-up fee.


4.21.    Relevant tickets or documentation should be kept and attached to the expense claim.

4.22.    Claimants who have a rail or Oyster season ticket enabled to use the underground can only claim for travel if extra expenses are incurred that are not covered by the season ticket, and can provide a receipt as proof of the expense.

4.23.    Ticket machines will provide receipts if the ticket is retained by the automatic barrier at the end of a journey.


4.24.    Taxi fares can only be claimed for journeys where:

  • It is clearly the most efficient and cost effective method of transport.
  • Alternative methods of transport are impractical due to pregnancy, disability, illness or injury, luggage or similar.
  • A member of staff is working in the office very late, i.e. after 11pm.
  • Prior approval has been given, where feasible, from the budget holder or departmental administrator/manager.


4.25.    If a car, motorcycle or bicycle has been used on a business trip the costs can be claimed using a mileage allowance – that is, a sum of money for every business mile travelled.  UCL does not reimburse claims based on actual petrol receipts.

4.26.    UCL has standard rates for these allowances, depending on the circumstances surrounding the trip (see below).

4.27.    Only additional costs incurred, above what would normally be spent for commuting to work (which are not eligible as a business expense) can be claimed.

4.28.    A car should only be used if it is cheaper and more efficient than public transport.  Cars should be shared with other staff members wherever possible.

4.29.    The claim should state the start and end points of the journey, along with the number of miles being claimed.

4.30.    Mileage is paid at the HMRC approved mileage allowance rates:

  • Cars - 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles in a tax year and 25p per mile thereafter.
  • Motorcycles - 24p per mile.
  • Bicycles - 20p per mile.

Car/bicycle/motorbike insurance

4.31.    It is important that adequate personal insurance cover for business use is in place, as cars, bicycles or motorcycles belonging to claimants are not covered by UCL’s insurance.  Personal insurance cannot be claimed, see Annex 2 for further information.

4.32.    If a staff member uses or allows another member of staff to use a vehicle on UCL’s business that is insured for third party risks only, UCL will not be held liable for any of the following:

  • damage or repairs to the vehicle
  • property lost or damaged
  • personal injuries sustained or caused during or as a result of such use.

Car sharing

4.33.    Only the driver can claim mileage for a journey where two or more UCL staff share a car.  The following cannot be claimed:

  • Insurance cover for private cars.
  • Accident or breakdown recovery costs, such as AA membership.

Air travel

4.34.    Air travel should be booked using UCL’s preferred travel provider where possible.

4.35.    UCL prefers lower fares, based on flight arrival and departure times which cannot be changed.  Where there is a need for flexibility in departure or arrival times, a different ticket option will have to be requested.  Flexible tickets for flights under three hours require approval by the Dean / PS Director, Faculty Manager or the School / PS Finance Director.

4.36.    Membership of a frequent traveller scheme and potential air miles benefits must not deflect from using the most cost-effective airline option for travel.

4.37.    UCL does not meet the travelling costs of:

  • Employees of contractors
  • Spouses, partners, other family members or friends.

4.38.    Classes of travel:

  • For flights of five hours or less, staff should book restricted tickets in economy.
  • For flights lasting five hours or longer staff may travel premium economy.
  • Where a long international flight is immediately followed by a presentation or meeting, staff may travel by business class.  This must be pre-approved by the Dean / PS Director, Faculty Manager or School Finance / PS Director.

Toll charges

4.39.    Toll charges paid for in the course of a business journey can be claimed.  Toll bridges or roads rarely give receipts; therefore the name of the toll bridge or road should be included on the expense claim.

Congestion charges

4.40.    UCL will not reimburse the cost of any congestion charge for staff or visitors except in exceptional circumstances, e.g. where a member of staff has to collect/deliver equipment to a location and the journey could not be completed on public transport.  This must be approved in advance by a School Finance / PS Director.

Car Parking

4.41.    Reasonable parking costs on business visits and journeys away from the office can be claimed.

4.42.    Hotel parking costs can be claimed if they are charged separately on the bill.

4.43.    If a claimant has to drive to their place of work as part of a business journey, e.g. to collect equipment, parking costs can be claimed.  Details of the reason should be included with the claim.

4.44.    The cost of parking at an entertainment venue cannot be claimed.

4.45.    VAT can be reclaimed (where it's charged) on parking fees which cost less than £25 even if the claimant is not able to get a VAT receipt.

Car hire

4.46.    Approval must be obtained from the budget holder or departmental administrator/manager before a car is hired.

4.47.    If hiring a car is the cheapest mode of travel, it should be booked through UCL's approved car hire providers (for UK or overseas).

4.48.    The car should only be used for business purposes.

4.49.    Rates are inclusive of CDW (Collision Damage Waiver), TPI (Third Party Insurance) and PAI (Personal Accident Insurance).

4.50.    Any petrol bought solely for business purposes can be claimed.  A VAT receipt should be obtained for purchases, a credit card receipt is not sufficient.

Group travel

4.51.    This is in relation to a staff conference or student field trip.  Prior approval from the budget holder or departmental administrator/manager should be obtained before booking a group trip.

4.52.    The same rules apply for each category of travel and overnight costs as for travelling as an individual.

4.53.    All travel (including coach hire) and overnight costs should be booked in advance.

4.54.    UCL's approved travel provider provides a group travel & conference booking facility, where all elements of the trip can be arranged.  This can be used for arranging a business conference, as well as student field trips.

4.55.    Please ensure adequate insurance is in place for all staff and students on the trip.  Travel insurance needs to be activated prior to the trip by contacting the Insurance section in FBA.

Travel incidentals

4.56.    Claimants can claim the following goods or services if they are related to the business purpose of the trip:

  • The cost of obtaining a visa for working abroad on UCL business.  These can be obtained from UCL's approved travel provider.
  • The cost of any vaccinations needed for working abroad.
  • There may be occasions when a claimant needs a second passport, for example when travel to one country could lead to immigration difficulties in travelling on business to some other countries. UCL will pay this expense. Approval must be obtained in advance from the budget holder or departmental administrator/manager.

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Page last modified on 01 mar 16 11:17