Travel Policy: Ground Transportation


The Ground Transportation Policy articulates those expenses that are reimbursable for travel by Train, Bus, Rental Car, and use of Personal Vehicle.

The purpose of the Travel Policies are to provide clear policies and procedures that are compliant with state and federal regulations, promote safe travel, and allow for reasonable and manageable travel expenses while maintaining the necessary controls and accountability.

This policy is organized as follows:

Additional Travel Policies for the various component s of travel can be found in the Related Policies section below. 

Policy Statement 

The Travel Policy on Ground Transportation applies to those who travel on behalf of the University.  University travel will be paid by the University if travel expenses are reasonable, appropriately documented, properly allocated and authorized, must be accommodated by the relevant operating budget or sponsored project funding, and within the guidelines of these polices.

Through this policy the University strives to promote safe and economical University travel while maintaining the necessary controls, accountability, compliance with applicable federal and state laws, and administrative efficiency. All University funds-including gifts, grants, and contracts, shall be used in a reasonable and prudent manner and only for activities related to Brown’s primary mission of education, research and public service. 


  • Departments may elect to impose stricter budgetary controls over travel expenditures than those required by this policy.
  • Travel charged to a sponsored project should follow the guidelines set forth by this policy unless the funding agency imposes greater restrictions.
  • Intentional disregard for the University's travel policy and procedures may be considered grounds for disciplinary action, and/or for prosecution in the case of fraudulent misrepresentation of travel expenses.
  • The authority for determining which travel expenditures are reimbursable under a particular grant or contract lies with the Office of Sponsored Projects.

Ground Transportation:  Train, Bus, Rental Car & Personal Vehicle Usage

Brown University reimburses employees for ground transportation while travelling on University business. 

  • Train and bus transportation are encouraged when this mode of transportation is convenient for the traveler.
  • Travelers may rent a car to their destination when driving is more convenient and less expensive than airline or rail travel, or it is necessary to transport equipment or materials. 
  • The most economical mode of transportation should be used to and from air, bus and rail terminals.  Travelers may rent a car at their destination but public transportation and shuttle services should be considered.
  • Use of a private sedan or car service will be reimbursed only if the cost is less than other available modes of transportation or if a valid business reason precludes the use of a more economical mode of transportation. 
  • Use of a limousine is not a reimbursable expense.
  • Anyone regularly renting a vehicle for University business or driving/renting a 12 – 15 passenger van must complete a driver authorization form and driver training. 
  • Rental insurance should not be purchased unless the driver is under age 25, traveling outside of the United States, or renting a 12 – 15 passenger van.
  • Personal automobiles are permitted when the cost is less than or equal to coach class air travel (using the 21 day advance fare air ticket pricing) or rail travel.  Travelers will be reimbursed at the Federal Government’s prevailing rate per mile as documented in the Annual Spending Guidelines.
Auto Rental Insurance:
Brown self-insures for damage to rental vehicles. The University maintains auto liability insurance through a commercial insurance carrier. To request a copy of the auto insurance identification card, click here.  Employees traveling on University business in the United States should decline rental car insurance unless: 
  • The driver is under age 25 (Any department anticipating a student driver should contact the Insurance Office, extension 3-1681 for more information.)
  • Traveling outside of the United States 
  • Renting a 12 or 15 passenger van
  • When required to purchase insurance, full coverage (liability and collision damage) is required. 

    Only Brown employees and students who are renting vehicles for Brown University business purposes are covered under the University’s insurance plan. Spouses, friends, and other non-employee listed drivers are covered only under insurance provided by the rental company or under the driver’s personal insurance. The cost of covering non-employee drivers is a non-reimbursable expense. 


Personal Car Use

When an employee is using a personal car for University business, the following apply:

  • The employee’s personal car insurance carrier is the primary insurance carrier
  • Brown’s insurance will only cover liability claims in excess of the employee’s auto insurance policy limit.
    • Brown Insurance does not cover collision damage, theft or insurance deductibles.
    • The employee is responsible for maintainint adequate insurance coverage (state mandatory insurance requirement, at a minimum) for their protection and the protection of any passengers.
    • Employees are responsible for the following costs that may be incurred during business travel:
      • Car repairs
      • Tickets
      • Fines
      • Damage to personal vehicle
      • Theft of personal vehicle/ vehicle contents, and
      • Rental car costs during repair of personal vehicle.

Travel Advances

Travel advances are generally available to paid faculty, staff, and graduate students of Brown to assist in defraying out of pocket cash while travelling for an extended period of time.  Travel advances are:

  • Issued only for daily and per diem expenses.  Prepaid  items such as transportation and conference registration are processed using a travel expense report.
  • Travel advances must be cleared within two weeks of the completion of a trip.
    • Request for any additional payment, advance or reimbursement will not be processed for any traveler with an outstanding advance that is more than two weeks beyond the established trip return date.
    • Failure to account for a cash advance after repeated attempts to contact the traveler will result in reporting the advance to the IRS on the traveler’s W-2 and withholding taxes on the advance amount from the traveler’s paycheck.
      • Per IRS regulation, once an unsettled cash advance has be added to a W-2 it cannot be reversed – even if settled.
      • The University does not issue long-term operation advances.

Direct Bill of Transportation Expense

Payment of airfare and train service by Brown University using the Direct Bill Form is available for faculty, staff, students, visitors (individuals’ not receiving payment by Brown) and guest speakers paid no more than $5,000.  Guest Speakers paid more than $5,000 and Independent Contractors cannot use direct bill.

Direct Bill of airfare for individuals not included above requires the approval of the Controller’s Office.  


Controller’s Office:  The Controller’s Office ensures compliance with federal and state statutes and process transactions.

Cost Center Managers:  Cost Center Managers ensure compliance with this and other relevant University Policies.  The Cost Center Manager approves air travel reimbursements.

Financial Coordinators:  Financial Coordinators compile relevant supporting documentation and initiates travel reimbursement transactions, including travel advance request in Workday using the Create Expense business process.

Rental Car Driver:  It is the responsibility of the rental car driver to:

  • Inspect the car at the time of rental.  Any damage found should be noted on the contract before the vehicle is accepted.
  • Pay parking violations, speeding tickets, and any other violations incurred when renting a vehicle.  These will not be reimbursed by the University.
  • Apportion business and personal usage when a car is rented for a period of time that includes both.  Only usage during the period of time the driver was conducting University business will be reimbursed.

Traveler:  The Traveler is responsible to provide all receipts and travel information to the Financial Coordinator within two weeks of completion of the trip.  Additionally:

  •  When a Travel Advance is used the travel advance can be cleared at the time receipts and travel information is provided to the Financial Coordinator.
  • The Traveler will return any unused travel advance to Brown.

The Traveler is responsible to know when they are travelling on a federally funded trip. 


Bus or Train Ticket Receipts.  Receipt for bus or train ticket is required for reimbursement.

Car Rental Receipt.  The car rental agreement receipt is required for reimbursement.  Agreement estimates do not qualify as receipts. 

Direct Billing Request.  To request permission for direct payment of transportation, complete the Direct Billing Form and email it to

  • Transportation purchased using the Direct Billing Form will be paid by the Controller’s Office at the time of purchase and reallocated to the appropriate worktags at the end of the month.
  • All travel must be arranged through FCM/Garber Travel.

Drivers of Rental Cars.  All individuals who intend to drive the rental vehicle must be listed on the rental agreement for insurance purposes.

Gasoline purchased for Rental Car.  Gasoline purchased in conjunction with the use of a rental car will be reimbursed.

Travel Advance Request.  Attach the Travel Advance Request form to the request initiated in Workday.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can rent a vehicle? 
University faculty, staff, and students may rent a vehicle for Brown University business purposes.  Drivers must be a minimum of 21 years of age and have a valid United States driver’s license.  ZIPCAR allows drivers 18 years of age.  All individuals who intend to drive the rental vehicle must be listed on the rental agreement for insurance purposes.

What is ZIPCAR?
 ZIPCAR is an internet-based service that allows you to rent a car for very short periods of time.  ZIPCAR vehicles are parked on campus.  The Pcard may be used to pay for ZIPCARS.  Visit the Brown University Transportation Office website for more information about ZIPCARS.

What do I do if I am in an accident
Should a rental car accident occur, travelers must submit a written accident report as soon as possible to the rental car company, local authorities, and, within 48 hours, to Insurance & Purchasing Services, Box 1848. 

In the case of damage to a rental vehicle, the department will bear a portion of the loss up to $500.  There will not be a charge to the department if the rental was paid using the traveler’s Brown University Corporate American Express card.

Policy Owner
Approved by 
Assistant Vice President and University Controller

Raquel Almeida
Senior Accounts Payable Specialist

 John Haden
Accounts Payable Manager

Doreen Burgers
Director of University Disbursements

Revision Date:  Thu, 2016-01-14 12:54