Finance

Expenses FAQs - Travel and accommodation expenses

FAQs

Please note: we have updated this page to conform to the new travel booking process for all University travel from February 2022. This includes adhering to the Sustainable  Travel Policy and booking  travel and accommodation through Diversity Travel. The Expenses Policy has also been updated to confrom with the new travel guidelines.

1.  What changes have been made in relation to travel expenses?

In early 2022, all travel booked on behalf of the University should be done so using the University's travel booking  system, and in accordance  with the University's Sustainable Travel Policy

Please follow this link for details of the offline travel booking process with Diversity Travel that should be followed. Compliance with the policy will be mandatory and should be regarded as standard practice for any travel taken on behalf of the University by staff and students. Work is ongoing with colleagues from across the University to make sure all new relevant policies are aligned, such as the updated Expenses policy.

2.  Standard and non-standard travel

We’ve provided more clarity around travel and the different fares allowed. There is more flexibility within the revised policy to allow staff with a disability, impairment and/or other health related issues to access non-standard fares as appropriate. The rules around use of first class rail travel has been updated in the new Sustainable Travel Policy. First class fares can be purchased if you plan to work for the duration of the journey or if you have a disability, impairment and other health related reason. There is no longer a minimum time limit for your first-class journey.

3.  First class air travel is not permitted unless covered by exemptions outlined in the Sustainable Travel Policy.

Where air travel is required, flight class is restricted to economy class, unless for health reasons or disability. First class air travel is not allowed for any reason.

4.  Does Diversity Travel have to be used for all travel and accommodation booking?

All travel booked on behalf of the University should be done so using the University's travel booking  system, and in accordance  with the University's Sustainable Travel Policy

Please follow this link for details of the offline travel booking process with Diversity Travel that should be followed. Compliance with the policy will be mandatory and should be regarded as standard practice for any travel taken on behalf of the University by staff and students. 

 5.  What if I’m travelling from home to a temporary workplace other than University premises?

We will reimburse the costs of necessary travel on University business between one University workplace and another temporary place of work for meetings or other purposes (on University or other premises). We won’t reimburse the costs of ordinary commuting or private travel.

6.  Pre-approval for all travel is too onerous. Some travel is at very short notice.

You will need to receive authorisation for travel in the following situations:

  • when travelling internationally (i.e. where the origin or destination are outside the UK)
  • for any travel involving students (either individually or as a group)

This authorisation is required prior to finalising the booking of travel, and must include a suitable risk assessment.

Authorisation is not required:

  • for travel that takes place within the UK
  • where a specific trip has already been accounted for in the terms of receiving a restricted research grant

Where authorisation is not required, travel may still only take place where it is safe to do so and requires the completion of a suitable risk assessment.

7.  Can staff book a sleeper train?

Yes, a sleeper is also permitted for overnight travel.

8.  Can staff claim cycle rates?

Yes. Approved mileage rates for cars, motor cycles and bicycles, for expense claims can be found at the HMRC website.

9.  Can visa costs be claimed?

The University has a policy of reimbursing visa and associated fees and EU settlement scheme fees incurred by new and existing staff whose employment it sponsors. Claims should be submitted using the Visa Reimbursement Claim Form provided by HR rather than the expenses claim system. 

10.  Insurance and risk policy – do I need a risk assessment?

Currently, a Covid-19 specific travel risk assessment must be completed for any travel on University of Edinburgh business, both within the UK and abroad. This risk assessment must be submitted as part of your travel insurance application.  Please ensure you follow the accompanying flow chart  before completing the risk assessment and thereafter follow your normal authorisation process prior to booking any travel or accommodation.

11.  Insurance and risk policy – do I need insurance?

The University has a travel insurance policy for employees and students who are required to travel for University purposes. Cover is free to applicants with the exception of some high-risk destinations which may require a fee payable by the budget holder.  Cover is not automatic and must be arranged with the Insurance Office for all foreign travel and  is done so using the travel booking tool via Diversity Travel.  If travel within the UK involves a trip by air or an overnight stay, the University’s travel insurance cover is recommended.

 The mileage allowance in section 10 of the policy covers insurance costs of adding business cover to personal motor insurance policies. Here’s the guidance on private vehicle use and vehicle hire.

12.  Can I use Airbnb?

No, Airbnb shouldn't be used. The University has a legal duty to ensure the safety and health of staff and students travelling on the University's business. Because of the way Airbnb runs, it is very difficult to uphold that duty. Travellers may end up in sub-standard accommodation or in places/parts of town that might not be considered safe, or places that do not satisfy the fire safety regulations.

The Finance Department have a dedicated team to answer your questions on this policy change.

Tel: 0131 651 5151 option 1

Email: finance.helpline@ed.ac.uk