University Policies

Columbia University has a growing repository of policies applicable to Faculty, Librarians, Researchers, Officers of Administration, Support Staff, Students, Visitors and Consultants. Visit the following web-based catalog for non-academic University-wide policies: Columbia-Wide Policies Catalog

Travel & Expense Policies

Business Expense Policy
Travel Expense Policy
International Travel Planning Policy
Cash Advance Policy
Procurement Records Retention Policy
Travel & Expense Corporate Card Policy


  • The types of payment Columbia can make to international guests depend on their immigration status and visa type. Before extending invitations to international Guests, please check their visa type: Payment Eligibility 
  • Expense Reports must be submitted within 1 year (365 days) of the transaction date for business expenses. Failure to submit within 365 days will result in non-reimbursement of expenses. Refer to the Business Expense Policy
  • Airfares should be booked in economy class. If you need accommodation due to a documented medical condition that has been approved by the University's Leave Management office, need to book a flight that has a scheduled in-air flight time in excess of five hours, or need to travel in first class due to extenuating circumstances, your trip must be pre-approved by our Senior Business Officer.
  • Only The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York or a person delegated by the Trustees have the authority to sign contracts on behalf of the University. If you have a contract or agreement that requires any form of signature, it must be addressed to “The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York” on behalf of your department and submitted for signature. Refer to Contracts & Agreements

    Meals & Lodging

    The cost of meals and lodging should not exceed the following thresholds per person, excluding taxes and tips. Senior Business Office (SBO) approval is required when expenses exceed the established thresholds. A justification must be provided for exceeding the threshold and the extra cost of the expense above the threshold must be segregated. In addition, a justification is required for business meals that require the attendance of a spouse, significant other, and/or dependent.

    Limits for Business

    • $25 Breakfast
    • $35 Lunch
    • $75 Dinner
    • $150 Recruitment Dinner 
    • $150 Development Dinner

    Limits for Travel

    • $25 Breakfast
    • $35 Lunch
    • $75 Dinner
    • $350 Hotel per night in the US
    • $400 Hotel per night in an international location


    Gifts given to employees and non-employees should not exceed the following thresholds per person, excluding taxes, shipping and delivery. 

    Limits for Employees
    In general, the University will not approve gifts given to employees using University funds, unless they are for: business performance, years of service, and “de minimus” gifts (e.g., gifts with small monetary value). 

    • $100 for business performance or de minimis gifts to employees
    • $400 for years of service or retirement gifts to employees

    Limits for Non-Employees
    Gifts to non-employees should not exceed an aggregate value of $600 and may only be given where there is a valid business purpose, such as business development, recognition of an individual's efforts in support of the University. Gifts to vendors or suppliers are not reimbursable. 

    • $600 for gifts to non-employees

    Note: Gifts of cash to non-employees (i.e. honoraria) must be processed on a Check Request and paid for directly by the University. Refer to Honoraria for more information.

    Policies with regards to the use and security of its computer systems, networks and information resources: