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The University of Houston’s institutional travel policy (MAPP 4.02.01B) generally governs the reimbursement of research-related travel expenses. However, faculty and staff members with awards that provide support for travel expenses should adhere to the travel guidelines as outlined in their particular award agreement and in OMB Circular A-21 if the grant is from a federal source. When the sponsoring agency imposes more restrictive travel regulations than university and federal guidelines, the sponsor’s travel guide must be followed. Only the funding agency has the authority to allow any exceptions to agency policy. If a P.I. wishes to obtain the sponsor’s approval of an exception to agency travel rules, he or she should send a written request to the sponsor via the Office of Contracts and Grants for prior approval.

Export Control
When traveling abroad, UH travelers should complete the Export Control and Travel Embargo Form to help determine whether items being taken out of the country are "licensed controlled" as determined by Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also may prohibit travel to embargoed countries even when exclusions to EAR and ITAR apply. Non-compliance with federal laws and regulations may result in criminal or civil penalties, loss of export privileges and negative publicity. Export controlled transfers usually arise for one or more of the following reasons:
  1. The nature of the export has actual or potential military applications or economic protection issues,
  2. Government concerns about the destination country, organization, or individual, and
  3. Government concerns about the declared or suspected end use or the end user of the export. You must ensure that any information that you will discuss or any items that you will take with you are either not controlled, or, if controlled, proper licenses are in place prior to leaving the country.
Fly America Act
The Fly America Act of 1974 (49 U.S.C. 40118) requires that foreign air travel funded with Federal funds be performed on U.S. flag air carriers. Federal funds code numbers at the University of Houston are 5013, 5014, 5015, 5023, 5033, 5034, 5035, 5036, 5043, 5044, 5045 and 5046. If a non-U.S air carrier is used, the waiver checklist must be used to explain why service by a U.S. flag air carrier(s) is not available or why it was necessary to use a foreign air carrier. The request must be evaluated and the form approved by a department business manager that has completed the research certification course. The completed form must be uploaded to the voucher or P-card statement used to pay for the airline ticket. The Fly America Act was recently amended by various Open Skies Agreements. Open Skies Agreements are an exception to the Fly America Act and allow for the use of non-U.S. carriers. These are bilateral or multilateral air transport agreement and to which the U.S. Government and the government of a foreign country are parties. However, these agreements are nullified by the number of city-pair agreements in place. In order to use the Open Skies Agreements exception, no city-pair agreement must be in place.

Backup documentation
Carefully review travel charges and backup documentation to ensure that charges have been properly allocated. When preparing a travel voucher, it is important to document the purpose of the trip and the distribution of charges. The voucher must indicate the primary purpose of the trip along with the project or budget that was the primary beneficiary of the trip. This information is necessary to justify the expenses on sponsored project. Additionally, activities and expenses must be listed and correlated to a specific project.

Travel Advances
Under certain conditions, the University of Houston will approve travel advances for group travel and for individual foreign travel (See MAPP 04.02.01 B). In those cases, Accounts Payable requires that a department local cost center be used for the advance. It is important to note that a sponsored project cost center may not be used to cover the amount of the advance.

Useful Links
Q&A: Fly America Act

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Page last modified: 03/21/2014