Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Travel and Travel Related Costs Policy

Category Finance
Type Policy
Approved by  VCAG, 27 July 2009
Date Policy Took Effect 27 July 2009
Last Approved Revision 26 June 2018
Sponsor Chief Financial Officer
Responsible Officer Procurement Manager
Review Date 10 November 2020


The purpose of this policy is to detail the University’s position in relation to staff members travelling on University-related business, particularly as regards travel-related expenditure.

Organisational Scope

This policy applies to all staff of the University of Otago and all staff in controlled entities of the University of Otago.


Healix Travel Oracle – The Healix Travel Oracle App is an international security and medical alert advisory service which provides risk levels by country. The University subscribes to this service, which can be downloaded to your smart phone from the Apple App store or Google Play store.

Policy Content

1. General Guidelines

(a) Travel and accommodation expenditure should be economical and efficient, having regard to purpose, distance, time, urgency, personal health, security and safety considerations. The principles of a justified business purpose, and moderate and conservative expenditure, are particularly relevant.

(b) Where a provision in this policy is inconsistent with the provisions in an employment agreement, the employment agreement will apply.

2. Approval for International Travel

(a) Staff members must obtain prior written approval for all international travel from:     

     i.    their Head of Department (in the case of Academic Divisions)

     ii.   their Dean (in the case of Academic Heads of Department who report to Deans)

     iii.  their Divisional Head (in the case of non-Academic Divisions, academic Heads of Department and Deans)

     iv.  the Vice-Chancellor, relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor, or Chief Operating Officer (as applicable, in the case of Divisional Heads)

     v.   the Chancellor (in the case of the Vice-Chancellor)

     vi.  the Convenor of the Audit and Risk Committee (in the case of the Chancellor).

(b) Travel must be re-approved if travel dates change prior to departure.

(c) Travel to countries with extreme, high or medium Healix risk ratings requires special approval. Where the highest risk rating (travel or medical) for a country is:

     i.    Extreme – travel is not permitted unless approved by the Vice-Chancellor;

     ii.   High – travel is not permitted unless approved by the Divisional Head;

     iii.  Medium – travel is not permitted unless approved by the Head of Department.

The Asset and Insurance Office, Financial Services, must receive notice from any staff member who is approved to travel to an extreme or high risk destination.

3. Air Travel

(a) All air travel should be booked in accordance with the University’s Travel Planning Procedures.

(b) Travel should be booked well in advance so the expenditure is the most cost-effective available.

(c) Economy class must be used for all journeys for which payment of fares is provided by the University. Any exception requires the prior approval of the Vice-Chancellor, subsequent to endorsement by the staff member’s direct manager and Divisional Head.

(d) Where an external organisation has agreed to pay, or reimburse the University, for a staff member to travel at a class above economy, either by paying the full cost of the travel or the full cost of the upgrade, the staff member must provide evidence of this before the travel is confirmed.

(e)Staff members are able to personally pay the cost of any upgrade above economy class on the condition that they provide evidence of their payment before the travel is confirmed and the upgrade does not result in any additional costs to the University. Payment by staff members could include the use of personal airpoints or other personal rewards.

4. Travel Club  and Reward Programme Memberships

(a) University payment for membership of Air New Zealand Koru Club must be pre-approved by the relevant Pro-Vice-Chancellor or Divisional Head, where it can be demonstrated that the staff member concerned makes a total of nine return international or domestic trips on Air New Zealand each year as part of their University duties.

(b) University payment for membership of other travel clubs will only be approved where it can be demonstrated that for University-related purposes, the staff member concerned has no option other than to spend considerable time travelling on airlines other than Air New Zealand or its affiliates, and considers access to lounges or services as part of such travel essential to their health and wellbeing.

(c) Staff who are not eligible for University funding of Koru Club membership, may join in a private capacity and receive the benefits of the University’s corporate membership. Further information can be found on the Air New Zealand Contract information page located within the Approved Supplier Web page.

(d) The University will not pay for any travel-related reward programme, except where this is included in the base membership fee for an approved travel club membership.

5. Accommodation

(a) Accommodation should be booked in accordance with the University’s Travel Planning Procedures and should be cost-effective, taking into account the geographic location of the accommodation relative to where the staff member is working, the standard of accommodation, and safety and security issues.

(b) Staff members staying with relatives or friends as an alternative to using commercial accommodation may pay compensation per day to their hosts up to a value that does not exceed 25% of the cost of commercial accommodation room rates per day in the locality where the staff member is transacting their University business.

(c) The University will not pay for mini-bar costs.

(d) The University will only pay the costs of laundry and dry cleaning where the business travel exceeds 14 days (excluding Research and Study Leave).

6. Food and Drink

(a) In the absence of any contrary provision in employment or other agreements, the cost of meals will only be reimbursed or provided during the period that the staff member is out of town on University business.

(b) Generally the cost of meals (including non-alcoholic drinks) paid by the University should be in the mid-range, both in respect of the eating establishment concerned and in respect of the menu of the eating establishment.

(c) In the course of travel, unless the staff member is entertaining colleagues and there is a clear business purpose, alcoholic drinks paid by the University should be limited to the equivalent of one small bottle of beer or one glass of mid-range wine per day.

(d) In the course of travel, where the staff member is entertaining colleagues and there is a clear business purpose, food and drink to be paid by the University should be mid-range. The staff member must record the names of colleagues being entertained and the reason for the entertainment.

7. Motor Vehicles

(a) In accordance with the University’s Travel Planning Procedures, vehicles should be rented from the University’s approved rental car suppliers, or if the appropriate vehicle is unavailable, then from mainstream rental car providers.

(b) The most economical type and size of rental car should be used, consistent with the requirements of the trip including the distance to be driven, the terrain and the number of people and type and quantity of goods being carried.

(c) Private use of a rental car is not permitted except in exceptional circumstances, such as reasonable out-of-work-hours use when the staff member is away from home and undertaking work for the University. In such cases, the staff member must reimburse the University for any additional costs arising from the private use.

(d) The use of taxis should be moderate and cost-effective relative to other forms of transport available to the staff member. The University will not pay for taxis to be used for travel between the staff member’s home and their usual place of work. Where a staff member is using a taxi from their place of residence to the airport, the cost should not exceed the cost from their usual place of work to the airport.

(e) The University will not pay for travel by private motor vehicle where travel by other means is more practical and cost-effective, such as flying or renting a vehicle.

(f) Travel by private motor vehicle to local airports will only be reimbursed in accordance with the Staff and Non-Staff Reimbursement Procedure

(g) Parking at local airports will be reimbursed up to a maximum of one week of business-related time.

(h) All fines for parking and traffic offences incurred by staff members while using a rental or private vehicle on University business will be paid by the staff member. Under no circumstances will fines or other penalties be paid by the University.

8. Tipping

(a) The University will only pay the costs of tipping in countries or localities where tipping is local practice and the tip is reasonable.

(b) Tipping in New Zealand will not be paid under any circumstances.

9. Communications while Travelling

(a) The University will only pay for internet use where it is directly required for business purposes.

(b) It is expected that staff will use the most cost effective method of communication.

(c) Except in cases of emergencies, the University will pay for one phone call of up to 5 minutes in length or up to 5 texts per day to a staff member’s family.

10. Private Travel Linked with University Travel

(a) Staff members may undertake private travel before, during, or at the end of travel paid for by the University, provided that there is no additional cost to the University and that the primary purpose of the travel is business related.

(b) All the costs associated with the private travel, including travel insurance, must be paid by the staff member.

(c) Any work time used for private travel must be booked as annual leave before the staff member leaves the University.

11. Persons Accompanying the Staff Member

(a) Unless specifically provided for in other University policies, the University will not pay the travel costs of persons accompanying the staff member unless that person clearly contributes to the University business being conducted by the staff member.

(b) Accompanying travel to be paid by the University must be pre-approved by the Divisional Head. Divisional Heads must obtain approval from the Vice-Chancellor or the Chief Operating Officer as applicable.

12. Stopovers

(a) Stopovers shall normally only be paid by the University if they have a clear business purpose or are required to make an onward travel connection that is part of the University travel.

(b) Stopovers to be paid by the University, other than those required to make an onward travel connection, must be pre-approved by the Divisional Head. Stopovers relating to the travel of Divisional Heads must be approved by the Vice-Chancellor or the Chief Operating Officer as applicable.

13. Disputes Procedure

In the event of a dispute relating to this policy arising between staff members and their Head of Department or Divisional Head, either party may refer the matter to the Vice-Chancellor for review.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact the Procurement Manager, extn 8195 or email