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How to Book Travel, Accommodation & Conferences

Travelling on University of Oxford business, to meetings, conferences or other occasions related to your research, is one area where it is sometimes OK to pay upfront yourself on a private credit or debit card and then claim the money back via an Expenses Form. We would recommend that a Purchase Order be raised for these expenses wherever possible, but in certain circumstances this is either not practical or not possible given the timeframes and restrictions involved.

Conference Fees

The payment of Conference Membership and Registration fees will depend on the organisation who are running the conference and whether they are already set up as suppliers on the University R12 Finance System. You can check this by searching for the supplier on R12 using your Shopper access or by sending us an email at Orders with the title of the event, the name of the organisers and a link to their website so we can search the supplier database for you.

If they are suppliers then you can raise a requisition for these costs through the usual process so long as the organisation confirm that they are happy to trade this way and they can provide us an Invoice to match against the PO for payment purposes. This is something you would have to check on the organiser's website or by contacting them, as many insist on credit card payment only.

If they are *not* set up then it would not usually be University or Departmental policy to start the set-up process – partly because of time constraints and partly as this would often be an account that was specifically for one event and would become redundant after this. In these circumstances we would expect the end-users to pay the fees themselves on a private credit or debit card and then claim the money back via Expenses Form from NDCN Payables.

A possible exception to this would be where there was some sort of significant group discount for registering a large group in one payment, and the amount to do so was more than we could reasonably expect one person to meet. As above, we would need to confirm they are happy to receive a PO and to send us an invoice, and also leave ourselves (and them) time to complete all the set-up stages necessary.

Travel & Accommodation Costs

Travel costs, such as flights and train tickets, and accommodation can and should be purchased with a PO where possible. These should be bought through the University's preferred travel agent Key Travel.

If you're an authorised booker on the NDCN account then you should have received an email with a login and instructions on how to use the Key Travel Online Portal. Here you can search for flights, hotels and other travel costs and save trips to your basket ready to buy. If you haven't had this or would like more information please contact NDCN Orders and we can request a copy of the email be sent to you.

Following Covid disruption to their business, all domestic rail, hotel and flight bookings are only available through the online tool.

For more complex overseas queries where you feel you need to consult an agent you should first complete a travel enquiry form. An agent will then respond to your query in due course. Please be aware, if you contact Key Travel by telephone (0845 266 8865) and that call does not result in a new booking or an amendment to an existing booking then they have no introduced a charge of £5 per contact.

You will then need to raise an R12 requisition using your Shopper access in order to get a Purchase Order to secure the booking. Please make sure to give full details of the trip (including names, destinations, dates of travel, etc) in the line item description, and include any quote or trip ID numbers you've been given so that Key Travel can match the PO up to your booking.

Booking through a Travel Agency rather than direct with the airlines means that we do not always get the lowest available prices as some low-cost carriers are not available for us to choose from. If you find a preferential rate with a carrier and you would prefer to purchase this with your personal credit/debit card and claim the money back via an Expenses Form then this is allowable. The same is true of accommodation costs.

If you do chose to book yourself and claim back, however, in order to ensure that your e-Expenses claim is not refused you will need to provide a justification for the NDCN Payables team as to why you have booked yourself rather than through Key Travel with a Purchase Order. Wherever possible this must include evidence of quotations from Key Travel for the same/equivalent journey/accommodation for these dates and locations, to show value for money was obtained. 

Other Travel Costs

For small value travel costs, or journeys where it is not possible to book ahead of time, then the procedure would be to pay privately and then claim back via an Expenses Form. This would typically apply to local bus, train or taxi tickets as well as to subsistence costs when away from your usual place of work for all or a substantial part of the working day. This includes the reasonable cost of meals plus snacks and refreshments such as tea, coffee and soft drinks between meals.

Please make sure to keep any receipts and/or tickets you get for these journeys and other costs as you will need them as proof of purchase when applying for reimbursement.