Travel How-Tos

Find information on various travel-related items when traveling on University business.

Note: Personal travel may not be booked using Concur or via Columbia’s team of business travel counselors at World Travel.

Need Training? Take the Concur Travel and Expense training in ELM, Columbia's Enterprise Learning Management system.

    A pre-trip request is required for all Student Employees and Student Non-Employees with access to Concur in order to be reimbursed for travel related expenses.

    Some Schools / administrative units may also require approved pre-trip requests for all travel, not just student travel.

    If you are required to obtain a pre-trip approval, you will not be able to submit an Expense Report without the pre-trip approval attached.

    Travel / Cash Advances

    You may request an advance in Concur to cover out-of-pocket, incidental expenses that cannot reasonably be charged to a credit card. An advance should be requested within a reasonable period of time (10-20 days) before the trip.

    Examples for when an advance may be requested include:

    • International travel
    • Team / Group travel
    • Travel for recruiting purposes
    • Funds for program or research start-up or short-term operations

    Requests should include a description of the circumstance that requires the advance, and a brief budget of expenses.

    You should reconcile advances by submitting an Expense Report within 20 working days after the completion of the trip or business activity.

    If the actual expenses are less than the advance, the traveler must reimburse the University for the unused advance via a personal check deposited to account #65399. The personal check can either be deposited by the department using their Remote Deposit Capture machine (if the department has one) or deposited via the Payments and Deposits Office.

    Refer to the Travel Expense Policy for details.

    Pre-Trip Request and Travel / Cash Advance Checklist
    1. Enter an adequate and legitimate business purpose for the request with supporting documentation, where applicable. The business purpose must detail why the travel is Columbia business.
    2. Travel and expense dates must match the business purpose and supporting documentation.
    3. Estimated expenses entered in the request must be as expected for the requested trip.

    Concur Expense Types

    To learn how Concur Expense Types match with Natural Accounts in Accounting and Reporting at Columbia (ARC), download the Concur Expense Type to ARC Natural Account Mapping job aid.

    To learn how to book domestic flights, hotels, and car rentals in Concur Travel, visit Video: Using Concur Travel to Purchase Domestic Air, Hotel, and Rental Car.

    For other types of travel booking, including international flights, refer to the Concur Travel and Expense training.

    Please review the Transaction Fee Chart for a complete description of Business Travel transaction fees booked on Concur Travel or with a WTI Travel Counselor over the phone.

    When booking travel over the phone with WTI, travelers and Travel Arrangers will need to provide their Employee ID number to the WTI Travel Counselor. Your employee ID number can be found in your Concur profile and in PAC.

    Note: Personal travel may not be booked using Concur or via Columbia’s team of business travel counselors at World Travel. However, when traveling on a business trip with accompanying family members or companions, as an exception personal travel for accompanying family members or companions may be booked on the same record as the Columbia business traveler. Bookings may not be booked in Concur and must be booked over the phone via a World Travel Counselor. 

    All airfare and booking fees for family members or companions, must be paid for with a personal card only. Solely personal travel that is not in conjunction with a Columbia business trip, may not be booked by Columbia affiliates or for family members or companions using Concur or via Columbia’s team of business travel counselors at World Travel. 

    When making business travel-related purchases through Concur Travel or World Travel Incorporated (WTI), you can use different payment methods depending on the type of travel product you are booking and your role. In some cases, University policy will determine which payment method(s) can be used. The tables below will help you determine the best way to pay.

    For more information please visit How to pay when booking travel through Concur or WTI

    In order to book travel on behalf of a colleague, you must be designated the role of Travel Delegate by that person in their Concur profile. Once you have this designation, follow these steps:

    1. Click Profile in Concur Travel. The dropdown will give you the option of selecting or searching for the colleague for whom you are booking travel.
    2. Select the name of your colleague.
    3. Continue to book your colleague's trip as normal in Concur. Refer to the video in the Book a Trip section for complete steps.

    To learn how to book travel for a guest as a Travel Arranger in Concur Travel, visit Video: Travel Arrangers.

    Please note: Only designated Travel Arrangers can book for guests.

    A corporate or personal credit card is required to guarantee all hotel bookings and the card is only charged in the event of a no-show, or if the booking is not canceled by the specified cancelation deadline. If the cardholder is also the traveler, the same card may be presented at check-in to pay for the hotel stay. 

    Note: The card used to guarantee the booking does not automatically prepay or direct bill a hotel stay. If you are booking a hotel for a guest and you would like their hotel stay to be billed to a CU corporate card (instead of the guest’s card), you can set up Direct Billing with the specific hotel.  Please follow these security guidelines:

    • Contact the hotel directly
    • Request a third party credit card authorization form
    • Never email or fax a complete credit card number to any hotel
    • Never email or fax a photo of the credit card or the cardholder’s driver’s license
    • Complete credit card numbers should always be provided to the hotel over the phone
    • Credit card authorizations should only include the last four digits of the card number that has been provided over the phone

    These guidelines are critical to the security of credit cards while ensuring that an alternate credit card is directly billed for the guest's stay.

    Should any of Columbia's preferred hotels in New York City refuse to comply with these security guidelines, please email the Columbia Travel Procurement Team.

    Note: Acceptance of a 3rd party credit card at all other domestic or international hotels, is solely based on the discretion of the individual hotel.

    The Travel and Expense Corporate Card (T&E Corporate Card) is a Visa credit card issued by Bank of America. It can be used by eligible individuals to pay for University-approved travel and business-related expenses. It is a corporate liable card product with all expenses paid by the University, reducing the need for out-of-pocket expenditures by employees. However, please note that the cardholder is responsible for the monthly reconciliation of charges in Concur.

    For information about the Travel and Expense Corporate Card, including training and applications, visit Travel and Expense Corporate Card.

    For information on unallowable Corporate Card expenses, click here.


    If you are traveling using Sponsored Funds please be aware that these awards are subject to certain federal laws and guidelines set forth in the Uniform Guidance. Visit the Travel on Sponsored Funds page for more information.

    It is important to note that the processing of refunds for travel-related purchases and booking fees, regardless of payment method, (i.e. Corporate Card, Central Pay, Personal Card), will take approximately two to four weeks.

    About 17% of Columbia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are from University-sponsored business travel. Faculty, staff, students, and visitors are asked to factor sustainability into their travel decisions which will contribute to the University’s sustainability goals and reduce our GHG footprint.

    Consider the following when booking travel:

    • When planning a trip, use Concur Travel’s search functionality to sort and search flights with the smallest GHG impact and search for hybrid vehicles when possible.
    • For shorter distance trips, consider using ground transportation like rail or bus service in lieu of flying.
    • Heavy luggage requires more energy to transport. When possible, travel light to save both energy and money.
    • Visit Columbia’s Alternatives to Flying webpage to seek out ways business objectives can be achieved using Columbia’s videoconferencing services, and use the travel emissions calculator provided to learn more.


    Learn more about sustainability at Columbia.

    Still have questions?

    Visit our Finance Service Center.

    Routine travel questions may be emailed to World Travel, Inc, Columbia's preferred travel management company.