Coronavirus Updates

Faculty and Staff Travel Information

Detailed information related to canceling or postponing professional travel for Brown faculty and staff.

Restrictions on University-sponsored Travel

In light of the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) across the country and around the world, Brown University has restricted all University-sponsored travel with a return date before May 30, 2020, if the travel is:

  • international;
  • domestic, non-essential; or
  • involves conferences or large groups.

This webpage defines “University-sponsored” and "essential travel," provides travel guidance from funding agencies, and outlines policies established for faculty and staff who need to cancel existing reservations or pursue reimbursement for incurred expenses (including for grant-funded travel). This page also offers guidance for personal travel. This information will be updated regularly in response to changes in policy and to new guidance from federal and other agencies.

This is travel resulting from or connected to your appointment at Brown or employment at Brown, including travel organized or hosted by Brown, or funded by University funds. Such funding includes personal funds reimbursed by Brown; start-up or internal research funds, the Faculty Travel Fund, departmental funds, etc.; externally sponsored grant or contract dollars (e.g., NIH or NSF awards); or funds from another institution.

For more information on University definitions of sponsored travel, visit Brown's International Travel Risk Management website.

Exceptions to the ban on international travel must be pre-approved by the Office of the Provost. Faculty and staff are expected to make their own judgment on whether domestic travel is essential, consulting with chairs or academic or department supervisors when appropriate, and keeping in mind that in no case will travel to conferences or large-group meetings be allowed unless it is pre-approved by the provost.

If you inform your airline that your employer has restricted travel to your destination, you may be able to receive a credit for the price of your ticket. You may also be able to receive a refund for hotel accommodations and conference fees. If you require a formal letter from the University explaining the impact of the University’s travel policy on your travel plans, please contact [email protected]

If you receive a voucher for a trip that was cancelled due to Brown’s guidance on COVID-19, it is your responsibility to use the voucher for future University-sponsored travel.

The University will allow faculty and staff to charge University funds for travel expenses for already-scheduled and approved trips that had to be canceled due to the prohibition on international travel.

In many cases, the same policy will apply to external sponsored funding. Faculty or staff seeking reimbursement for such externally-sponsored travel should contact their program officer or the Office of Sponsored Projects for more information. In general, federal funding agencies allow Brown to establish practices around sponsored travel, including allowable expenses, which are outlined in the Sponsored Travel Policy FAQs on the Research at Brown website.

Current Office of Sponsored Projects guidance (3/8/20) is that cancellation fees on grant-related activities can be charged to sponsored funds if the travel was cancelled as a result of coronavirus-related cancellations or travel restrictions from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see CDC Level 3 countries). Other expenses should be charged to non-sponsored funds. Departmental Cost Center Managers/Authorized approvers must ensure any change or cancellation fees charged to sponsored funds are reasonable and allowable. Travelers should retain documentation of their cancellation request with the vendors.

If you are able to cancel a flight or hotel related to grant-funded travel and are given a voucher but are not reimbursed, under the terms of many grants, you may use that voucher for travel related to grant-funded project at a later date. You should consult your program officer or your business manager who can request further information from Patrice Carroll or Mary Norton.

At this time, the National Science Foundation is the only federal agency that has released specific guidance related to COVID-19. As additional funding agencies release information, you will find links below.

NSF guidance:

The prohibition on University-sponsored travel currently runs through May 30, 2020. Brown’s air travel policy typically requires the purchase of non-refundable tickets. This restriction is being temporarily lifted for trips for travel beginning between the dates of May 30 and August 31, 2020, on tickets purchased after March 9, 2020. You should carefully weigh the additional cost of refundable tickets against the chances that your trip will have to be changed or cancelled. It still may not be cost effective to purchase refundable tickets.

Faculty and staff may conduct personal travel, but you are encouraged to apply the same principles to your personal travel as have been established by Brown to ensure your health and safety for your professional travel. Faculty and staff are strongly advised against traveling internationally or to large-group meetings. You should be aware that you may face a quarantine and/or flight cancellations. Also, you may be unable to return to campus for an extended period after international travel or travel to some U.S. destinations contending with the spread of coronavirus.

For University-funded faculty travel: Associate Provost Joel Revill ([email protected])

For University-funded staff travel: Associate Vice President and University Controller Charlene Sweeney ([email protected])

For grant-funded travel: Patrice Carroll ([email protected]) in the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) or Mary Norton ([email protected]) in BioMed Research Administration (BMRA)