Travel Cancellation/Reimbursement Emergency Policy
The following FAQs apply to travel cancellation and reimbursement issues resulting from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). These FAQs are in effect until further notice and are subject to change as the situation develops. Before seeking reimbursement from the University, please make all efforts to obtain a full refund from the vendor.
- You may be able to recoup some of your costs for international trip cancellations.
- If the airline or travel provider refused to issue a refund or a travel credit or charges a penalty for changes for travel to international destinations, travelers should submit their claim through the UC Travel Insurance Program.
- You can submit a claim for airfare, hotel, cancellation fees, or conference registration for up to $2,000 for international trips (domestic trips are not covered). Once a claim is submitted, a determination will be made by the UC Insurance Carrier, Chubb, regarding what is covered. Please note that it is the insurance company and not UC Berkeley that determines if a claim is accepted or not.
- Download and complete the claim form (PDF) that is available on the UCOP website.
- The Policyholder is the University of California.
- Group Policy Number:
- Faculty/Staff - ADD N04223810
- Student - ADD N04223822
- Education Abroad Program (EAP) - ADD N04834823
- The program name is the title of the event for which you were traveling (ex. Study Abroad 2020 or International Research Conference, etc.).
- The group leader is the name of the person running the program (if applicable).
- Submit your completed form to Chubb:
- Fax: (302) 476-7857
- Email: email@example.com
- Mail: Chubb USA PO Box 5124 Scranton, PA 18505-0556
- As part of your claim, please provide the following:
- Proof of enrollment in travel coverage/registration of their trips
- Proof from the airlines that the tickets were non-refundable
- Provide the Itinerary and the cost of the tickets
- Proof from the hotels that accommodations were nonrefundable, cancellations fees, or could be cancelled with no penalties
- Documentation that you requested a refund and/or travel credit and denial from the service provider.
- Whether you were traveling to one of the countries included in the CDC Travel Health Notice Warning Level 3, OR
- A detailed explanation of how the business activity was actually impacted or resulted in an effective cancellation as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). For example, you were traveling for a symposium to a currently unaffected region, and the organizer cancels the event because the key speakers from affected regions were unable to attend.
- All travel receipts (e.g., airfare invoices, hotel folios, conference registration fee charges etc.)
- Documentation of attempts to obtain refunds
- For travel credit reimbursements, please attest in the expense report: “I will not use the travel credits for personal travel. In the event that I use it for personal travel, I will reimburse the University for the cost of the ticket less any cancellation fees.”
- First, make all efforts to get full refunds for all of your costs.
- If you are unable to get a refund, document the steps you took to obtain a refund.
- You may request reimbursement for your unreimbursed travel expenses. These costs may include:
- Airline cancellation fees/penalties
- For international trips, please first attempt to get reimbursed through our travel insurance program. (See FAQ - Will UC’s Travel Insurance Program cover lost costs/penalties?). If you don't get reimbursed through our insurance program, please submit through the Travel reimbursement system and provide documentation of the denial. Domestic trips are not covered under UC’s travel insurance program.
- Cost of airfare if you receive a credit towards future travel
- If possible, please wait until after the future trip to submit your reimbursement request.
- If you have a financial need or are unsure if you are going to travel on business before the credit expires, you can submit for reimbursement immediately.
- Hotel or other lodging charges/cancellation fees
- Conference registration fees
- Other ordinary and necessary business expenses that have not been refunded
- For individuals who are not UC Berkeley faculty or staff, these reimbursement requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
- Airline cancellation fees/penalties
Is UC Berkeley Travel currently reviewing expense reports submitted through the Travel reimbursement system?
The Travel department is working remotely, fully operational, and reviewing expense reports where applicable.
- Contact the airline/agency and cancel your ticket prior to initial date of departure.
- Request a full refund without penalty (due to the coronavirus).
- If they will not provide a full refund without penalty, then request a refund (with the penalty) or request a credit towards future travel.
- Whether the traveler selects a refund with penalty or credit towards future travel may depend on a number of factors specific to each situation. For instance, if the traveler expects to travel on business prior to the expiration of the credit, and the airline is not charging a change fee for travel credits, it may be beneficial to request a travel credit.
- Please also make sure to cancel all hotel, car rental, and any other reservations.
- If you booked using Connexxus, the UC System’s online booking tool, you can cancel online in Connexxus with the Connexxus agency where you made the booking, or you can contact the agency by phone.
- The agency will attempt to get a refund or future travel credit.
- If you receive a future travel credit through Connexxus, you will only be able to use this credit by booking through Connexxus using the same agency that the original reservation was made. Travelers should be aware that travel credits must not be used for personal purposes. If it is used for personal purposes, the traveler must reimburse the University for the cost of the ticket.
- Please note there will be a time limit to use credits.
- Please also make sure to cancel all hotel, car rental, and any other reservations.
- Will I be able to get a full refund for tickets that are generally not refundable?
- The Connexxus agencies and UCOP’s Central Travel Office have reached out to the airlines to try to get blanket refunds for UC related travel. So far, airlines have not been receptive to providing refunds. They have generally provided credit towards future travel. We will continue to push this issue with the airlines and will attempt to get refunds for individual travelers, if possible. Some refunds have been given, but these are determined by the airlines on a case-by-case basis.
- Will there be cancellation/change fees?
- Most of the major airlines have agreed to waive cancellation/reissuance fees.
- If the traveler will not be able to use a future credit, can we change the name of the traveler?
- In most cases, the major airlines are allowing a name change for domestic tickets (not international). There is a name change fee associated with this which varies by airline.
- Please note this a fluid situation, so these airline policies may change in the future.
- All UC Berkeley nonessential international and domestic travel is suspended until further notice. Personal international and domestic travel is strongly discouraged.
- Anyone arriving from CDC Level 3 countries must self-quarantine for 14 days from the time they left that country. If you decide to travel, be aware that other countries could change travel restrictions without notice, flights may be canceled, or new re-entry restrictions could be imposed when returning to the United States.
- Currently, most states do not have restrictions on domestic travel, but you should be aware of preventative measures if you travel.
- Hawaii, Alaska, and Florida have various forms of a self-quarantine for those that travel to these states. Other states may follow.
- For up to date travel information regarding COVID-19, the following sites are most informative:
- UCB COVID-19 information page
- UC Office of the President travel directives (PDF)
- U.S. State Department travel advisories
- CDC information for travelers
Connexxus - UC's Online Booking Portal
No, using Connexxus is not required, though the majority of UC Berkeley’s travel is arranged through the system. UC strongly encourages using Connexxus. The benefits include:
- Helping travelers and administrative staff save time, cost, and gain efficiency
- Supporting UC in leveraging our collective travel to get the best possible value, services, and discounts
- Automatic enrollment in UC’s travel insurance program
Connexxus rates are as good or better when comparing prices at the same time for the same travel arrangements. Connexxus keeps travel costs contained by providing a wide range of booking options for airfare, car and hotel at discounted rates.
Yes. You may use your personal card.
The travel agencies can assist you with a Southwest reservation and accept a Direct Bill ID as payment. However, the Wanna Get Away fares are not available through agency reservations. To book a Wanna Get Away fare, use Southwest’s SWABIZ in Connexxus and pay with your personal credit card.
Complete contact information is available by logging in to Connexxus. Be aware that reservations made via telephone are subject to higher transaction fees.
Phone within US: 877-885-8632
Phone outside US: 818-238-4445, press #3
UC Travel Center
Phone: 310-206-2639, press #2 or 800-235-UCLA (8252) (outside the US)
or locate the After Hours phone numbers listed at the bottom of your ticketed itinerary.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Email is not monitored during After Hours, Fridays, Weekends and Holidays.)
Only UC Berkeley faculty and staff in authorized title codes can access Connexxus and Direct Bill. You can see the list of titles granted access to Connexxus/Direct Bill (PDF).
If a UC Berkeley employee is not in a qualified title code but needs access to Connexxus and Direct Bill, please contact email@example.com to request access. Individuals who are not UC Berkeley employees (i.e., contractors, consultants, temp agency employees, students) may not be given access to Connexxus or Direct Bill.
All users must:
- be an active UC Berkeley employee
- have a valid CalNet ID;
- have a completed Berkeley directory listing that includes an email address and telephone number; to see your Berkeley directory listing (link is external), select ‘Directory’ at the top of the Berkeley home page.
Please allow 48 hours for the system to build a valid profile.
Travelers not eligible for access to Connexxus and Direct Bill should coordinate with an eligible campus employee to make guest traveler arrangements on their behalf.
Please report access problems to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m a frequent traveler. Is it possible to save my information to a profile to make the booking process more efficient?
Basic UC Berkeley directory information is sent to Connexxus on a daily basis.
If booking through BCD Travel, go to Connexxus and use the Connexxus profile to edit your profile.
UC Travel Center previously used this same Connexxus profile, but a system change resulted in travelers needing to update their profile in the UC Travel Center directly. To get there, go to the UC Travel Center and select Book Now > Profile.
Both systems allow travelers to edit their profiles to include:
- Emergency contacts
- Loyalty membership / frequent flyer numbers
- Authorized travel ‘arrangers’
- Passport/Visa information
Direct Bill - Charge Airfare Directly to UC
The DBID should only be used once. When the expense is received from the travel agency, the DBID is marked complete in the tracking system. If the DBID is re-used for a subsequent trip, it creates manual reconciliation work.
To see previously issued DBIDs, log-in to the Direct Bill Travel system, select Departmental Functions > Manage Direct Bill IDs.
To create a Direct Bill ID, be prepared with:
- An active CalNet ID
- The business purpose for the trip
- A complete profile listing in the campus directory, which must include your work email, phone number and address
- Traveler’s name as it will appear on the airline ticket
- Expected travel dates
- Travel destination
- Complete chartstring(s) or speedtype(s) of where the cost of the airline ticket should be charged (ensure the travel complies with any funding restrictions)
The University’s two contracted travel agencies, BCD Travel and UC Travel Center, can accept a Direct Bill ID to charge airfare to UC Berkeley. Both are full service agencies with dedicated agents who can handle nearly all travel needs. You will be prompted to provide the DBID during the online booking process or when speaking with the travel agent. Contact and service fee information for the travel agencies is available through UC’s booking portal, Connexxus.
Airfare is often purchased several months in advance of a trip. Using a DBID instead of a personal credit card to purchase airline tickets eliminates the need for travelers to pay out of pocket for the airfare and wait until the trip is concluded before receiving reimbursement.
A Direct Bill ID (DBID) allows you to charge the purchase of business-related airfare directly to the University. The DBID is a unique code issued by the DBID system and associated with a particular trip. When making travel reservations using one of UC’s travel agencies, provide the DBID code so that your airfare costs are charged to your campus funding source chartstring.
Access to the Direct Bill Travel site is limited to staff and faculty in selected job titles. Employees, students or hosted guests who do not have access to the system but who have a need to travel on University business may work with their department to create a DBID on their behalf.
Travel Reimbursement Request
- All employees can log into the system to enter an expense report for themselves
- Employees needing to enter expense reports for other employees, students or visitors will need the Travel Preparer role, which can be requested through SARA (https://sara.berkeley.edu)
- Link to the system (https://reimburse.berkeley.edu/login.asp)
UC Policy allows for the use of per diems when traveling to international or off shore US (Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and possessions of the United States) destinations. Per diems are also permitted for domestic travel of 30 or more consecutive days. However, each department head has the authority to be more restrictive. Please check with your DFL to confirm that per diems are allowed within your respective school or department. https://cfo.berkeley.edu/divisional-finance-leaders#dfl
For domestic travel under 30 days, only actual expenses are reimbursed up to the policy limits, per diems are not allowable.
- Once receipts have been uploaded, you can confirm their availability by clicking on the “View Receipts/Documents” link
- The “Date Paper Work In” field only updates periodically throughout the day, but update is not immediate
- Only the Accounts Payable/Travel office can delete attachments. Send an email to email@example.com with the TRV report number and the receipts that need to be removed
- A chartstring indicates the source of funds that will be paying for the trip expenses
- Chartstring information is entered on the Totals tab in the reimbursement system
- The instructional video on how to submit an expense report explains how to enter a chartstring (fast-forward to about the 5:40 mark)
- If you don’t know the chartstring for your trip, contact the finance/budget office for your school or department
Employee-Traveler – Direct Entry
By submitting the report online, the traveler will certify that the expenses are business-related, accurate and complete. Their CalNet authentication to log in to the system is their electronic signature. A wet signature is not needed.
Employee-Traveler – Report Prepared by Someone Else
After entering all of the expenses and uploading the receipts to the system, the report preparer can use the link on the Confirm and Submit page to send an email to employee-traveler to announce that the report is ready for sign-off. The system-generated email instructs the employee-traveler to log in to the system, verify the accuracy of the travel report, and submit the report for approval. Their CalNet authentication to log in to the system is their electronic signature. A wet signature is not needed.
Travelers – Students, visitors, guests, or individuals who prefer not to use the system
Since electronic signature in the system is not an option, the expense report preparer will need to print or scan to pdf the report and provide it to the traveler for review and signature. This report page includes the certification language needed to process the report. Only reports that are ready to be finalized and submitted for approval should be signed. After the paper report is signed, it must be returned to the preparer who will upload it to the system and submit the online report for approval.
To obtain a signature page, the expense report preparer can navigate to:
1. The Confirm & Submit page and click the expense report link
2. The ‘View Report’ links on the Preparer Queue or Track Reports pages in the reimbursement system
Approvers – no exceptional expenses or second level of approval needed
The approval that occurs online in the Travel Reimbursement system is the only approval required by policy. However, each department head has the authority to be more restrictive. Please check with your DFL to confirm whether additional approvals are required within your school or department.
Approvers – exceptional expenses or second level of approval needed
The initial approver should use the ‘Save Note & Email Approver’ function within the reimbursement system to insert notes to reflect the action needed and to route the online report to a secondary approver. The ‘Save Note & Email Approver’ function is available by navigating to the Approver Queue and selecting the specific report ID number.
Campus Shared Services is available to support the processing of Entertainment reimbursements.
Use of the Entertainment menu in the reimbursement system for Direct Entry of Entertainment-related expenses is an available option. Check with your DFL to determine if your respective department should be using Entertainment for Direct Entry. Please note a redesign of the Entertainment system is under construction and online help resources have not been developed.
The IRS requires sufficient records to document that the expenses for which the university is paying are related to a legitimate activity from which the university will benefit. A good statement of business purpose for the trip will answer who, what, when, where and why. Just saying ‘research,’ ‘attend conference’ or ‘donor meeting’ is usually not sufficient. Travelers may also be asked to provide a business justification for particular expenses.
Per UC policy, expense reports must be submitted within 45 days after the end of the trip. When a trip lasts more than 90 days, a quarterly report is required. Payments of reimbursement requests submitted after 45 days may be reported as taxable income or may not be paid at all, considering the circumstances and funding sources. A trip expense report must be submitted even if no reimbursement is due the traveler (i.e., when the only expense is direct billed airfare).
Receipts are required for registration fees, airfare, lodging, and car rental expenses regardless of the amount. Approvers will review the receipts to ensure that it was actually the traveler who paid for the expense and that non-business related charges (i.e., hotel spa services, child car seat rental, etc.) are not included. Receipts are also required for any expense of $75 or more. Auditors expect to see receipts to support the payment of a business expense; if a payment is not proven to be business related, it may be disallowed and, as a result, taxable. It is always in the traveler’s best interest to keep records of expenses incurred and reimbursed.
A valid receipt will show specifics about the purchase – what was purchased, when, where, the amount, and proof of payment. Generally, the person making the purchase possesses the receipt, which substantiates who should be reimbursed. For airfare, hotel and car rental, a detailed receipt is required, (duplicate receipts can usually be obtained from the merchant) though a credit card statement may be requested as evidence of who paid for the expense. A receipt is also needed for conference registration fees and when any single expense is more than $75. If a detailed receipt is not available for these types of expenses, but the traveler’s credit card statement documents the purchase, the traveler should provide a copy of the credit card statement as proof of payment along with a written explanation in lieu of a receipt citing what was purchased, when, where, and why a receipt cannot be provided.
I’m adding a personal destination to the beginning and/or end of my business trip. How do I calculate the appropriate reimbursement amount for airfare?
1. The university cannot pay for personal expenses. Therefore, this type of airline reservation must not be purchased with Direct Bill.
2. To document the expenses related to business travel, obtain a comparison quote for round-trip airfare to/from the business location at the time of booking. The quote must reflect travel dates that coincide with the meeting/conference dates.
3. If a quote was not obtained at the time of booking, contact the Travel office (firstname.lastname@example.org) to obtain a comparable amount that will be used for the allowable airfare expense related to the business portion of the trip.
It’s hard to keep up with all of the ancillary fees charged by airlines these days. In general, if the service obtained with the extra fee is considered ordinary and necessary to meet a business need, then paying the fee is permitted. A business justification should be noted on the expense report. Examples: Extra baggage for research supplies; seat assignment to ensure boarding; on-board internet for connectivity to work emails; change fees for a later flight because a meeting ran late.
I enjoy the amenities that come with a business-class or first-class seat. Will I be reimbursed if I purchase a higher-class ticket?
In keeping with UC’s policy to travel by the most reasonable and economical means, purchasing a business-class or first-class seat instead of coach/economy is usually not permitted. If you choose to purchase a higher-class seat, you should document the price for coach-class and expect to pay for the upgrade using personal funds. Policy does allow for some special circumstances that must be explained for reimbursement. Exceptions will require additional justification and approval.
- Note: With the increasingly complex classification of fare levels by airlines, it may difficult to determine what tickets are higher-class. As a general rule, if the airline labels the seat class with any variation of ‘coach’ or ‘economy’ (i.e., Premium Economy; Economy Plus) it will be permitted for reimbursement.
Yes. University policy permits renting up to an intermediate size car. If a bigger vehicle can be reserved for the same price or you receive a free upgrade, provide that explanation in your reimbursement request. If circumstances require a larger vehicle, provide the business purpose. Example: I rented a full size car to accommodate seating and luggage for myself and three colleagues, Prof. Jones, Prof. Lee, and Director Smith.
The general rule is that travelers should use the most reasonable method of transportation given the circumstances. Consider the cost of a shuttle service when compared to alternatives, such as taking a taxi or ride-share or driving a personal car and parking. Public transportation (i.e., BART, bus) may or may not be a reasonable option when factoring the cost against convenience or travel time. Determining the most reasonable method of transportation is up to the traveler and the approver. If costs appear excessive or extravagant, the reimbursement request must include the business-related justification.
I am attending a two-day conference in San Francisco. Can I be reimbursed for a hotel room to save commuting from my home in Berkeley? I will spend the evening hours networking with colleagues.
While it may save time, UC policy is to reimburse only when the location is more than 40 miles from the traveler’s home or place of work, whichever is closer, unless the overnight stay is required by the employer (i.e., an event coordinator must be onsite for late night and early morning set-up).
Often these ‘deals’ appear to be a cost savings. However, the documentation and receipts typically do not itemize what is included in the purchase price, so the ‘receipts’ are insufficient per IRS rules for substantiating the business-related nature of what is being paid for. Unless the traveler confirms with the package provider that an itemized receipt for all included expenses (airfare, hotel, car rental, etc.) will be provided, it is best to avoid purchasing a package. Insufficient documentation could result in denial of reimbursement.
As good stewards of the university’s limited resources, travelers usually are looking to spend the least amount possible. However, circumstances may arise when the traveler is concerned about exceeding a maximum – crossing a line between reasonable and extravagant. The travel policy establishes daily expense maximums for specific destinations based on the US Department of State’s per diem rates when traveling internationally or offshore U.S. Further limitations may be applied by funding sources or departmental budgets. Exceptions may be considered with justification, but should not be presumed. Different limits apply to trips lasting more than 30 days.
Maximum Meals & Incidentals
Continental US – 25 hours to 30 days
$62 per day
$275 per day (excluding taxes and fees)
International and off-shore US
State Dept rate
Up to 300% of State Dept rate
Generally, transportation costs to and from the event will be paid. This includes airfare, rental car, personal car mileage, tolls, and parking. Meals are not reimbursed unless there is a need for an overnight stay. Example: You take the 9:00am flight from Oakland to Orange County for an early afternoon meeting. You plan to return that same day, but all flights are canceled. You catch the first flight out of Orange County the next morning, returning home at 7:00am. Your trip was less than 24 hours, but because of the overnight stay, meals may be reimbursed.
There is no policy prohibiting the use of alternative providers. The traveler is expected to give full consideration to the costs of these services as compared to more traditional providers. If the costs are out of line with ordinary and customary comparables, the traveler may be expected to provide a business justification or be reimbursed based on the lower cost alternative.
If most people would drive the distance, then you may claim mileage with no further explanation. However, if most people would fly and you are choosing to drive for personal reasons (i.e., sightseeing, stopping off to visit friends, taking family along, etc.), you should expect to be reimbursed the lesser of mileage based on the most direct route or an amount equal to the cost of flying coach/economy with advance booking. If you are driving for business reasons (i.e., transporting large boxes of research equipment), then provide a written statement explaining the circumstances. The basic expectation is that you will get to your business destination using the most economical and reasonable method.
The university will reimburse you for mandatory fees assessed by hotels, such as a resort fee or charge for valet parking. An explanation that the fee was not discretionary should be included on the expense report.
I am going on a trip for business purposes, but would like to include some personal time while I’m there. What are the guidelines for combining business and personal travel?
a) It is expected that university travelers can judge when they are on business and when they are on personal time and that they will claim expenses in an honest and ethical manner.
b) When booking flights, document the cost of airfare as if you were just going for business and the cost for the extended time. You should claim reimbursement for the lesser of the two.
c) If any personal time is included, you may not charge the airfare to the university using a Direct Bill ID. You must purchase the tickets using personal funds and request reimbursement, if applicable.
d) If traveling within the U.S. and the purpose of the trip is business, but you take a side trip for pleasure, you may not be reimbursed for any expenses related to the side trip or the extended stay. If the trip is primarily personal (for example, you’re on vacation) but you attend to business while at the location, you can claim any expenses related to the business, but you cannot be reimbursed for transportation to the location.
e) When traveling internationally, a trip must meet one of the following tests in order to be defined as entirely business:
a. The traveler did not have control over arranging the trip
b. Vacation was not a major consideration
c. Travel was outside the U.S. seven consecutive days or less
d. If more than seven days, less than 25% time was spent on personal activities.
f. If the trip is ‘primarily personal,’ airfare/transportation will not be reimbursed. Only expenses for days when business was conducted will be paid.
f) If family members are traveling with you, document and claim the cost for car rental, lodging, and meals as if you were traveling alone. The university will not pay for any incremental costs associated with personal traveling companions. (Note: Different rules apply for moving/relocation)
g) Airport parking will be paid only for business-related days.
h) If taking a side trip for personal activities, document and claim the costs for the direct route related to the business purpose of the trip.