7. Travel

See also:

7.2 Travel by public transport

(a) General principles

In addition to the general policy and principles relating to business travel, individuals travelling by public transport should use the most economic means and class of travel. Usually this will be second class, economy / APEX class, or equivalent but, depending upon the journey, the best rate may be achieved through a combination of different ticket types.

Staff can save time, money and choose the most appropriate travel mode by reading the University Business Travel Toolkit [opens as PDF]. It provides practical guidance on reducing business travel and costs by explaining how to make the most of the University's excellent audio, web or videoconferencing facilities and assessing the potential for shifting from air to rail.

Business journeys may be booked through one of the University's approved travel agents or paid for directly by the University as a supplier payment. Journeys may also be paid for by the person travelling and reclaimed via the Expenses Process.

Ticket stubs or receipts must be attached in support of any expense claim. Note that many railway tickets are retained at the end of the journey by automatic barriers, so a receipt should always be requested at the point of purchase. If the ticket is booked online as an ‘e-ticket’, i.e. there is no separate, physical travel voucher issued, then a copy of the booking web-page should be retained, printed and attached to any claim.

Note: Some research funders have additional criteria which must be met when travel is charged against research grants, e.g. the National Institutes of Health (NIH) insists on flights by US carriers wherever possible; the European Commission sets particular rules on air travel outside of the EU.

(b) Surface Travel

Travel by rail, bus or coach should follow the general principles and procedures defined above.

Travel by taxi or private hire car is unlikely to meet the general requirement for economy and so any claims or payments should be accompanied by an explanation as to why such means is necessary. However, at the discretion of a department taxi fares up to the value of £25 may be claimed without the need to provide such explanation.

Other means of surface (or underground) transport, not specifically listed, may be used as long as they provide a necessary and reasonable means of completing the journey. In all cases the general principles and procedures defined above apply.

(c) Air Travel

Air travel should follow the general principles and procedures defined above.

Travel at business rate (Club Class / first class) may be approved if the following conditions are met.

Conditions where first class air travel may be allowed

  • The Administrator or Head of Department deems it appropriate; and
  • The journey is scheduled to take longer than 4 hours; and
  • The person travelling is required to attend a meeting, deliver a lecture, examine a viva or similar within 4 hours of arrival.

(d) Season tickets

The purchase of multiple journey or season tickets (which might include Oyster Card, Oxford Key Card, etc.) to cover business travel does not normally meet the requirements for tax allowable travel because it is possible to use open tickets (other than returns from a single journey) for private as well as business journeys. As such, whatever the intention, the strict requirement for exclusive business use is not met.

Where it is believed that an exclusive business use can be shown against a season ticket or equivalent, however, then such arrangements must be discussed with and approved by the Head of Payroll in advance of any purchase.