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The Basics

  • If you have questions or find this page too confusing, please get in touch with your contact (see the table below).
  • Most travel is now considered financial aid. The department will issue payment to your student account and you will be responsible for all expenses, including airfare and registration.
  • Your contact may tell you that your travel is going through the old Web Travel system. In that case, advances will be issued as physical checks and airfare will be paid directly by UNC.
  • Any money you receive before the trip must be accounted for after the trip.
  • You can receive money before the trip for actual and/or estimated expenses. See “Before the Trip” below.
  • Make sure to get receipts for everything (except meals). Credit card statements will be rejected!
  • You can only be paid back for your own travel expenses, meaning your plane ticket, your hotel room, etc. If you pay for someone else’s hotel room/flight/etc., you will not be paid back, although it’s possible they could be. If you split a hotel room, you can only be reimbursed for half the expense.

Your Contact

GroupTravel ContactEmail
Center on Financial Risk in Environmental Systems / Characklis LabDeb
Institute for Environmental Health Solutions / Fry LabDeb
OSHERC/NIOSH training grant (Nylander-French)Julie
Water InstituteEliza

Before the Trip

  • Plan as far in advance as possible!
  • If you want money before the trip, please submit your request through the Travel Prompter (pre-trip).
    • This money can be used before or during the trip.
    • If you have already paid some expenses (such as registration), you can still request money for them before the trip.
    • If you have not paid any expenses, you can still request money for them before the trip.
    • You do not have to provide exact amounts, just estimates.
    • You do not have to provide receipts, but you can if you have them.
    • You will need to provide receipts after the trip.
  • Don’t assume you’ll be paid back for a non-standard expense; please ask your contact. Example: coach airfare will be repaid, but not flight insurance.
  • Please read the Maximum Rates for Travel for information about mileage, hotel rates, and meals. Meal rates will vary depending on your travel destination and funding source; you can see Understanding Per Diem for more details.
  • NOTICE RE: AIRBNB – If you plan to use Airbnb or any other non-hotel lodging, you must fill out the Third-Party Lodging Request Form and include it with the documentation in the Travel Prompter.

Pre-trip Options

Travel Prompter (pre-trip)
International Travel – Extra steps required for international travel
Web Travel – If you’ve been told your travel will be processed as “Web Travel,” there are differences in how airfare and advances are handled.

After the Trip

You have 30 days from the end of your trip to request reimbursement.

See below to learn which expenses you can claim.

If you received money before the trip, you must provide documentation for all the money you received.

  • If you spent more than you received, you will be paid the difference.
  • If you spent less than you received, you will need to pay the difference back.

All receipts should have your name and show that the bill has been paid. A credit card or bank statement by itself is not sufficient documentation for anything other than exchange rates.

Some expenses (on-site copying, multiple-entry visas) may need to be reimbursed via a different mechanism.


Post-trip travel prompter (International Travelers should use this Travel spreadsheet instead. Make sure to check all the tabs!)
Backup documentation (See below)

Documentation breakdown

Airfare: Provide the receipt showing how much you paid. The flight must be in your name.

Ground transportation: If you drove your personal car, provide the origin, destination, and mileage of each leg of the trip. For rental cars, provide the rental receipts, any gas receipts you paid for, and a justification for renting a car rather than using public transportation or taxis. For taxis or rideshares, list the origin and destination of each trip and include receipts if you can.¬†Write the tip on the receipt if it’s not already included.

Hotel: A booking or reservation is not a valid receipt. The hotel receipt should have your name as the occupant and list out the charges. Note that if you are using federal per diem rates, you cannot be reimbursed more than the federal room rate. If you used an AirBNB and have not already given the travel preparer the Third-Party Lodging Request Form, you will need to. If your hotel bill is greater than $300/night, you may need to include the Excess Lodging Justification form.

Meals/Per diem: Meals are reimbursed at a fixed rate called per diem. For domestic travel, list each date and which meals out of breakfast, lunch, and dinner you are claiming on that date. Do not claim any meals that were provided by the hotel, the conference, or a host organization. For international travel, include the city and country you were in on each date. No receipts are necessary unless the sponsor itself requires them. For a more in-depth explanation, see Understanding Per Diem.

Medical: If you are traveling internationally, you may be reimbursed for necessary vaccinations and prescriptions (such as antimalarial drugs). Provide receipts.

Other: Baggage fees, internet access, laundry (only for long international trips), parking, phone calls, phone cards (international only), poster printing, and other miscellaneous expenses must be accompanied by receipts. Tips to airport employees are reimbursable at $2 a bag; no receipts are required.

Passport/visa fees: Provide receipts as best you can. This may include photo fees, mailing/shipping fees, etc. Multiple-entry visas will be reimbursed via a different mechanism and can be reimbursed before the trip.

Registration/Abstract submission: Most conferences send email confirmations when you pay. You can print those to PDF to submit as receipts.


Q: What if I spend more than I thought I would?
A: Provide receipts and you will be reimbursed for the extra.

Q: What if I spend less than I thought I would?
A: Provide receipts for all expenses and we will calculate the difference.

If you received an advance as financial aid via GradStar, ESE will notify the cashier’s office and they will bill you. You will have to repay them to avoid having a hold placed on your student account.

If you received an advance as a physical check, you will need to write a check to ESE for the difference.

Forms and Links

UNC Policy on Travel Expenses
UNC Policy on Transportation Expenses
UNC Travel website – This is a very helpful overview site of how travel at UNC works.
Third Party Lodging Request Form – If you’re not using a hotel, this must be filled out before the trip. Includes AirBNB.

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