Persons traveling with sponsored research funds must comply with institutional, sponsor-specific, and general federal policies (applicable when travel is paid for with federal funds). First, obtain the authorization for travel from the corresponding authorities prior to incurring in any travel expense, and after the authorization is signed, proceed with your travel arrangements. You may also request a travel advance. Refer to the Travel Section of the Accounting & Finance Office for additional information and forms. If you are planning on using the American Express Corporate Credit Card, be aware that you are becoming a UPR ‘purchasing agent’, with all the responsibilities this entails.
While traveling: Keep original receipts as evidence of approved expenses such as: taxi fares (airport-to-hotel transportation), hotel charges, and plane tickets, for later reporting.
Submit your report upon return: If you requested a cash advance for travel in Puerto Rico, you must submit your expense report and your travel report within 10 calendar days after your return date. If you requested a cash advance for travel outside Puerto Rico, you must submit your expense report and your travel report within 30 calendar days after your return date. If no cash advance was requested, you have up to 90 calendar days after the return date to submit any claims for reimbursement of travel expenses. The University will not process any request for reimbursement of travel expenses received after these 90 days have passed.
Institutional Policy: UPR’s Policy for Travel Expenses (Certification No. 59-2007-2008 Certified Translation), governs travel expenses at UPR. It details the norms and controls which apply to the authorization for any official travel within and outside of Puerto Rico, and the associated allowable expenditures during business travel. It applies to employees of the UPR, students who travel for UPR related activities, and to other individuals who travel with university-administered funds.
Sponsored Project Policies: There are specific rules for travel charged to sponsored projects. Travel must be ALLOWED on a Sponsored Project, and thus, funds must be allocated in the project budget. Before making your travel arrangements, verify your sponsor-specific guidelines, and your project-specific terms and conditions to ensure you remain in compliance. Many agencies restrict travel funds to domestic travel only, others authorize international travel, and others may require prior approval for international travel. It is the PI’s responsibility to understand and abide by project travel restrictions. Failure to do so will result in travel funds not being reimbursed. Therefore, consult prior to spending!
Federal Policies: In sponsored projects using federal funds, the CFR provisions requiring use of the lowest economy fare, and the Fly America Act restrictions apply.
Lowest Economy Airfare: Federal regulations (2 CFR §200.474.3(d))- Travel Costs – state that airfare costs in excess of the lowest economy fare class are UNALLOWABLE except when the latter would:
- require circuitous routing;
- require travel during unreasonable hours;
- excessively prolong travel;
- result in additional costs that would offset the transportation savings; or
- offer accommodations not reasonably adequate for the traveler’s medical needs.
Exceptions MUST be properly documented.
Fly America Act: All persons traveling on funds provided by the federal government must use a U.S. flag carrier, regardless of cost or convenience. Use of a non-U.S. flag air carrier is only allowed if it meets one or more of the exception criteria listed in the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) guidelines.
- In general, flights charged to federal projects must be on U.S. flag air carriers or on foreign air carriers that code share with a U.S. flag carrier on the flight taken (Open Skies Agreement).
- This also applies to flights within the U.S.
- If there is no U.S. carrier to the destination of interest, one must travel on a U.S. carrier as far as possible. Lower cost or convenience is not sufficient justification to fly on foreign carriers. These rules also apply to a foreign visitors’ flights when supported by federal funds. This is particularly important for international travel.
Exceptions to the Fly America Act: Travel that is to be paid for or reimbursed from federal grant and/or contract funds must be booked through U.S. carriers except in the following circumstances:
1) When the use of U.S. carrier service would extend travel time (including delay at origin) by 24 hours or more;
2) When the costs of transportation are reimbursed in full by a third party, such as a foreign government or an international agency;
3) When U.S. carriers do not offer nonstop or direct service between origin and destination. However, a U.S. carrier must be used on every portion of the route where it provides service unless, when compared to using a foreign air carrier, such use would: increase the number of aircraft changes outside the United States by two or more,; extend travel time by at least six hours or more; require a connecting time of four hours or more at an overseas interchange point.
4) When an Open Skies agreement is in place (European Union (EU), Japan, Switzerland, and Australia). Please note that the Open Skies Agreements do not apply if travel is funded by the Department of Defense (DOD) or by a department of the U.S. Military. Travel funded by the DOD or by a U.S. military department must be on a U.S. flag air carrier.
Since noncompliance with the Fly America Act may result in a travel expense being disallowed, the R&D Center highly recommends that you consult with the Purchasing Office (X-5247, X-5242) prior to booking any travel (especially if international) related to federally-funded projects. It is also strongly recommended you carry out your travel arrangements through Travel Agencies whose agents are familiar with and can help you comply with the Fly America Act. Adequate documentation must be provided to help identify legitimate exceptions allowing the use of non-U.S. carriers.
- Under exceptional circumstances, you may use a non-U.S. carrier. If this is your case, you must complete the Fly America Exemption Waiver form to properly document travel exceptions.
Using AMEX for travel-associated expenditures
If a PI is planning to incur in travel expenditures using the UPR Procurement Card (AMEX), the PI should contact the R&DC Purchasing Office (X-5247, X-5242) for advice on compliance with institutional and federal regulations on travel prior to carrying out their purchase. The new AMEX procedure clearly states the cardholder accepts liability of unallowable expenses. A suitable non-federal funding source or your own salary will cover the outstanding debt.
- Paying for Third Party Travel Expenses: If you will be using your AMEX to cover allowable travel and lodging expenses for third parties, you must download and complete the Pre-Authorization Request Form and submit it to the R&D Center Office of Administration and Services.