Travel Reimbursement Procedure

Upon your return from travel, complete the BME Reimbursement Request Form and tape small receipts on all four sides to a blank sheet of 8.5 x 11” paper. Receipts should not overlap, should only be taped in portrait orientation and tape should not cover any ink. Submit your packet of receipts and the request form to your lab’s designated administrator within 14 days of your return from travel.

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Travel Receipts to Submit

The University’s reimbursement policy is based on documentation of reasonable and actual expenses, supported by original itemized receipts. Original itemized receipts must be submitted for all travel expenses. Monthly credit card statements and/or travel agency invoices and statements alone are not acceptable as backup documentation. Receipts are not required for meals and incidental expenses if the per diem reimbursement method is selected. Please consult the Per Diem section for details.


  • Airfare: E-ticket receipt and boarding passes
  • Ground transportation: taxi, rail, shuttle service, and parking
  • Personal auto use: Google map showing route origin, destination and mileage


  • Hotel: Final bill showing number of nights and amount paid

Conference Registration

  • Registration receipt showing conference fee payment and the name and dates of conference


  • Restaurants: Itemized receipt listing the items purchased
  • Tips are reimbursable. Submit the receipt showing the tip amount that was included with the meal.
  • You must pay for only your portion of a group meal and identify your portion on the receipt. Do not pay for other traveler's meals.

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If you are requesting to be reimbursed for travel more than 90 days after your return, or you are requesting reimbursement for an expense that falls outside of the travel policy guidelines, you will be required to complete the Reimbursement Exception & 90-Day Exception Form.

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Per Diem

An alternative to submitting receipts is the use of per diem. Per diem is a method of reimbursement for travel expenses that allows a set dollar amount per day. The maximum rate is determined by the government and varies by city. Northwestern University has instituted the use of per diem for M&IE (Meals and Incidental Expenses) only. Partial per diem is allowable. The first and last day of travel are charged at 75% of the daily rate.

Use of per diem must be established before the trip commences. If you are traveling courtesy of the funding of your advisor or PI, you must obtain his or her authorization in advance in order to use per diem.

When submitting your expense report with per diem, print the table showing the rate for the city you visited from the GSA website.

Expenses Include in the per Diem M&IE Rate

  • Meals
  • Snacks
  • Tips and fees

Receipts Required When Using per Diem

  • Airfare
  • Hotel
  • Conference registration
  • Parking
  • Transportation between your home and origin airport and between the destination airport and conference site.
  • Transportation between your hotel and places where meals are taken.

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Personal Automobile Mileage

Travel using privately owned vehicles may be desirable to save time, transport equipment, or reduce cost when a number of persons are traveling together. The mileage reimbursement rate is based on U.S. Federal Government reimbursement rates. This reimbursement covers all fuel, maintenance, insurance, transportation, and operating costs. Fuel costs are included in the per-mile reimbursement rate and are not reimbursed separately for use of privately owned vehicles. Tolls and reasonable parking charges will be reimbursed in addition to the mileage allowance.

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Commercial Rental Vehicles

Commercial rental vehicles should not be used if less expensive transportation is available. The University's designated vehicle rental agency should be used whenever possible and midsize, economy, compact or subcompact vehicles should always be rented. Travelers should not purchase a collision damage waiver (CDW) from the rental agency if the rental is in the U.S or Canada; coverage should only be purchased for international rentals. Travelers must report all accidents to the Office of Risk Management within 24 hours, and immediately when any accident results in any personal injury or towing of a vehicle. The traveler should follow the rental agency accident report instructions, in addition to forwarding a copy of the report to the Office of Risk Management.

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Foreign Travel

Use of foreign-based carriers is restricted on sponsored programs. Use of foreign carriers is allowed on non - sponsored sources of funds. See the "Fly America Act" for more information.

For a transaction in a foreign currency, the original itemized receipt plus documentation of the exchange rate is required in the form of:

  • a credit card statement, or
  • a calculated U.S. dollar equivalent on the date of the transaction. For currency conversion please use Oanda.