Original Issuance Date:                 October 5, 2015

Last Revision Date:                         November 11, 2022

Effective Date:                                  July 1, 2020

1. Policy Purpose

The objectives of this policy are as follows:

  • Prescribe the mileage reimbursement rate
  • Prescribe requirements for using contract vehicle rental vendors
  • Communicate driver authorization requirements
  • Define responsibility for determining the most appropriate mode of transportation
  • Define vehicle expenses that can be paid with University funds
  • Define business mileage and calculation of miles for reimbursement
  • Define responsibilities for institutions that operate a fleet

2. Responsible UW System Officer

Vice President for Finance and Administration

3. Scope

This policy applies to all University payments for the use of personal, rental, or fleet vehicles. This policy applies to all non-employees (job interview candidates, invited speakers, consultants/contractors, etc.) traveling on University business when the University will be reimbursing mileage or rental vehicle costs.

4. Background

This policy has been issued under the authority of the Board of Regents as it relates to the governance of university travel and expense policies created under Wis. Stat. s. 36.11(56).  The Board of Regents delegated authority for management and operation of the travel program to the UW System President in Regent Policy Document 21-5, University Travel Policies.

5. Definitions            

None listed.

6. Policy Statement

A. Overview

Use of personal vehicles for University business is allowed when the use is less costly than alternative means of transportation or when there are conveniences or safety issues that justify the additional costs, as determined by the approving authority. The approving authority must also consider other options including; rental vehicles, business car share and use of central fleet when considering cost for ground transportation.

Reimbursement of business mileage or other vehicle related costs will not be made for normal commuting from home to regularly assigned headquarters. The “Headquarter” location is where your main place of business or work is located, regardless of where you maintain your home.

Business versus Commuting Miles

  • From Regularly Assigned Headquarters:

Reimbursement for business mileage from regularly assigned headquarters will be based on miles traveled from assigned headquarters to temporary worksite(s) during the work day and return mileage to home or headquarters, whichever is less.

  • From Home or Temporary Headquarters:

If mileage is incurred by traveling directly to a temporary worksite from home and then to the regularly assigned headquarters, business mileage will be based on miles from home or headquarters to the temporary worksite, whichever is less, and then from the temporary worksite to headquarters. If the traveler returns home rather than going to headquarters, mileage is based on home or headquarters, whichever is less.

  • Multiple Worksites:

For those employees with multiple worksites, the appointing authority must determine which business location constitutes the clear majority (i.e. must determine which worksite qualifies as the headquarters) for reimbursement of business mileage. For those who regularly work from more than one worksite, mileage reimbursement will be based upon the majority site being treated as their regularly assigned headquarter location (typically the campus or administrative office).

  • Non-workday travel:

When employees are not scheduled to be at work, but are required to drive to a temporary worksite or an airport for further travel, mileage from home will be permitted.

When two or more employees from the same institution are traveling to the same destination, it is expected that every attempt will be made to travel together reducing the cost of the trip. Approving authorities may require coordination of travelers for this purpose, and limit mileage reimbursement to one driver.

B. Risk Management – Driver Authorization

Employees and students who are required to drive on University sponsored business must be authorized to drive in accordance with SYS 615, Vehicle Use and Driver Authorization, prior to using personal vehicles, rental vehicles or fleet services. While it is not expected that non-employees will be authorized to drive by Risk Management, institutions reserve the right to include this requirement for non-employees traveling on University business.

Note: In addition to receiving driver authorization, successful completion and certification of Van Training is required prior to renting 12-15 passenger vans. Certification is required to be presented when renting a 12-15 passenger van.

C. Accident Reporting

In the event of an accident it is the responsibility of the driver to immediately report the accident to the following:

  • Police
  • University Supervisor/Manager/Host
  • Fleet Services or Rental Vehicle Supplier

Additional procedures can be found at UW System Risk Management.

D. Personal Mileage Reimbursement Rates and Application

Business mileage will be reimbursed at the IRS authorized mileage rate in effect on date of travel using the most direct route. Institutions may not pay a different mileage rate than stated in policy but may place limits on the trip or overall expense reimbursement. To be eligible for mileage reimbursement travelers must list the point to point (departing origin and destination location and distance traveled) mileage on the expense report. MapQuest or Google Maps are the official tools for determining the most direct route. Deviations from the most direct route must be explained on the expense report.

The reimbursement rate for personal vehicle mileage covers all costs related to the operation of the vehicle, including service, maintenance, insurance, depreciation, and gas. When two or more persons traveling on University business share transportation in a personal vehicle, only the driver may claim reimbursement for mileage.

Business miles will also be reimbursed for the following scenarios:

  • Miles traveled to pick up additional passengers when traveling together on business;
  • Mileage to and from airport, train station, etc. when traveling on business.
    • Two round trips will be permitted if the traveler is being dropped off and picked up rather than incurring parking costs. Airport choice for ticket price comparisons must consider mileage costs as additional costs when not selecting the closest airport.

One-way mileage associated with employee relocation (see SYS 240, Relocation (Household Moves) and Temporary or Indefinite Work Assignments regarding relocation and temporary or indefinite work assignments).

E. Fleet Vehicles

Not all University institutions maintain a fleet of vehicles for traveler use. As such, requirements for mandatory use of fleet vehicles will be determined by the institution’s Appointing Authority or designee. Institutions that operate a fleet will be responsible for determining the method for verifying availability of fleet vehicles for the purposes of assigning the appropriate reimbursement rate. Institutions will determine the “breakeven” mileage threshold for requiring fleet use and any documentation requirement for reimbursement. When fleet vehicles are not available, the standard rate for the mode of transportation will be paid to the traveler for business mileage incurred.

F. Reimbursement Rates

Individuals are reimbursed for use of personal vehicles (including motorcycles) in accordance with reimbursement rates published by the Office of Finance and Administration.

G. Use of Vehicles in lieu of Air Travel

A traveler may request mileage or rental vehicle reimbursement or payment of a fleet vehicle for personal reasons when air travel would be the most appropriate means of transportation given time and distance. The approving authority can approve the request if the costs do not exceed the cost of coach/economy airfare, taking into consideration the extra time to drive versus fly. Mileage to and from the destination will be based on the most direct route. See Determining Mode of Transportation for required comparison documentation.

H. Rental Vehicles and Contract Use Requirements

When it is determined that a rental vehicle is the most cost effective means of transportation, use of the contracted rental vehicle suppliers is required. The University participates in the Big Ten Alliance contract with Enterprise and National Car Rental.  Eligible business renters are classified as all University authorized drivers age 18 and over.  Authorized drivers 18-20 are restricted to domestic rentals only.

Renters may add additional authorized drivers to the rental agreement for business travel providing they are eligible to drive for University business and meet the other requirements of this policy. The addition of any authorized driver(s) must be done at the rental outlet upon vehicle pickup.

Employees are encouraged to rent compact/standard/intermediate vehicle classes.  Claims for reimbursement beyond standard/intermediate SUV vehicle classes (i.e. trucks, full size SUVs, etc.) for reasons such as transporting extra passengers, carrying cargo or bulky equipment, etc., must be explained on the expense report.

Vehicle rental reimbursement is limited to the amount directly related to University business. If the traveler opts for a weekly rate because the total cost is less than if rented at the daily rate for the number of business days, the weekly rate amount will be reimbursed. If the traveler extends the rental for personal reasons, the weekly rate will be pro-rated and only the amount directly related to University business will be reimbursed.

When Enterprise or National do not serve the location of travel or when vehicles are not available, Hertz, under the State of Wisconsin (WSCA) contract, may be used.

I. Insurance Provisions

The Big Ten Alliance contracts include collision (CDW) and liability (LDW) insurance coverage for U.S. originating rentals. The Big Ten agreement offers rates and some insurance coverage for international rentals, but travelers are advised that rates and coverages vary by rental location. Travelers and those that arrange travel for others must review the rental vehicle contracts for rates, surcharges and included coverages prior to renting a vehicle. Employees must verify that the Big Ten or WSCA (State of Wisconsin) contract ID number is referenced on the rental agreement to assure contract coverage, appropriate terms and rates. Other or extra types of insurances are not reimbursable and must be declined. The Hertz contract with the State of Wisconsin also includes the necessary CDW/LDW insurances.

Vehicle rental CDW and LDW insurances must be purchased when renting from non-contract suppliers. Non U.S. originating rentals from contract suppliers may also require the purchase of CDW and/or LDW. Review the vehicle rental contracts to determine when standard CDW/LDW insurances are provided for the non-U.S. location. Required CDW/LDW insurance coverages must be purchased at vehicle pickup and cannot be included during the reservation process. Travelers will be reimbursed the cost of standard CDW and LDW insurances under these circumstances. Drivers that reserve and pay for a non-contract rental vehicle with the University Corporate Travel Card have insurance benefits that will cover this insurance requirement. Refer to your benefit guide that came with your card.

J. Rental Vehicle Reservation Options

Utilizing Concur for reservations or booking with our contracted travel agencies is preferred as it enables the contract booking ID to be automatically applied ensuring that all reservations are under contract and appropriately insured.Employees and students must be prepared to provide UW identification and the University’s tax exempt  wallet card to receive contracted rates and tax exemption on qualifying rentals (i.e. rentals originating in Wisconsin or participating States).

K. Driver Refueling

Drivers are responsible for refueling vehicles prior to return with the same level of fuel that they received at time of rental. The University will not reimburse vendor refueling or prepay fuel packages and these options should be declined by the renter at vehicle pickup. Receipts for gas are required to support reimbursement claims.

L. Payment

Approved payment methods for University vehicle rental reservations and guarantees are University Purchasing Cards approved for travel, institutional or individual liability Corporate Travel Cards. Payment for the rental is due upon return of the vehicle and must be paid with a charge card in the driver’s name.

M. Reimbursement & Receipt Requirements

For mileage reimbursement, record required details: date, business purpose of trip, “point to point” locations and mileage incurred. A 10% tolerance above “point to point” map mileage may be used to cover detours, incidental miles between lodging and event location, etc.

Rental vehicles require the rental agreement and receipt as provided upon vehicle return and any additional receipts for gas.

Use of fleet must be indicated on the expense report if fleet or a department assigned vehicle was used.

N. Related Reimbursable Expenses

The following vehicle related expenses are reimbursable:

  • Toll costs incurred while traveling for business. Advance deposits placed on an individual’s toll pass account are not reimbursable, only the pass dollars used to cover the business tolls for the trip will be reimbursed.
  • Parking while traveling for business purposes, including headquarter city.
  • Short term parking costs incurred by driver when traveler is being picked up/dropped off at airport terminal, etc.

See SYS 430, Travel & Expense – Purchase & Payment Miscellaneous Travel Expenses, for more information and receipt requirements.

O. Non-Reimbursable Expenses

The following is a non-inclusive list of vehicle related expenses that will not be paid or reimbursed by University funding sources:

Personal Vehicles Rental Vehicles
  • Gas
  • Depreciation
  • Personal vehicle insurance
  • Maintenance and repair costs
  • Traffic citations, parking tickets and other traffic violations
  • Roadside services/towing
  • GPS
  • Satellite radio
  • Any excessive mileage over the tolerance not supported by justification
  • Parking at headquarter office location
  • Personal toll pass deposits
  • CDW/LDW insurance from contract suppliers for U.S. originating rentals
  • Insurances beyond CDW/LDW
  • Maintenance and repair costs
  • Traffic citations, parking tickets and other traffic violations
  • Roadside services/towing
  • GPS
  • Satellite radio
  • Rental vehicle pre-paid fuel or refueling packages
  • Rental days/hours not supported by business purpose
  • Parking at headquarter location

P. Procedural Standards

Procedures and Operational Standards for vehicle options are integral to the application of this policy. Review procedural requirements for vehicle rentals contracts prior to renting.

7. Related Documents

Determining the Appropriate Mode of Transportation

IRS Publication 463

Regent Policy Document 21-5, University Travel Policies

Reimbursement Rates

SYS 240 (formerly F19), Relocation (Household Moves) and Temporary or Indefinite Work Assignments 

SYS 336 (formerly F2), Sales and Use Tax 

SYS 405 (formerly 1200 (ANS)), Travel & Expense – General Travel & Expense Policy 

SYS 615, Vehicle Use and Driver Authorization

University System Purchasing Card Policies

8. Policy History

Revision 6:                          November 11, 2022

Revision 5:                          June 9, 2020

Revision 4:                           January 13, 2020

Revision 3:                          January 9, 2019

Revision 2:                           December 27, 2017

Revision 1:                          January 13, 2017

First approved:                 October 5, 2015*
Previously information regarding travel was consolidated in section IX of Financial Policy and Procedure Paper (FAPP) 36

9. Scheduled Review

December 2021