This policy provides information for anyone travelling internationally on College business who wishes to claim travel expenses from the RCOG.
This policy was approved by the Finance & General Purposes Committee on 18 November 2022.
For travel in the UK and Ireland, please see Travel and Expenses Policy – UK and Ireland.
As a global organisation, the College recognises that those helping us to achieve our mission to improve the health of women and girls may need to travel internationally to deliver this valuable work. This policy details the guidelines that should be adhered to when travelling outside of the UK and Ireland on College business and reclaiming expenses from the RCOG.
2. Purpose and scope
This policy aims to:
- Ensure travel directly supports RCOG’s charitable objects and delivers sufficient value to the College to be justified
- Ensure the risks of travel are adequately assessed, mitigated and managed
- Contribute to financial and environmental sustainability of the College
- Provide clarity on expenses and the use of charitable funds
As travel and expenses funded by the College are subject to external scrutiny, this policy also aims to ensure that:
- Expenses comply with the regulatory requirements of both HMRC and Charity law
- Funds are used appropriately with an adequate sense of responsibility to the charitable objects
- Expenses are accounted for fully and not deemed taxable income
- Expenses would pass a common sense test of ‘reasonableness’
- Expenses only apply to the individual travelling on behalf of the College
This policy applies to anyone travelling internationally on College business, except those travelling on RCOG funded travel bursaries. A separate policy exists for travel and expenses within the UK and Ireland. Externally funded projects may have separate rules, which should be followed when appropriate. This policy does not apply to staff in relation to expenses incurred when travelling between home and the office en route to/from UK airports for international trips. Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by an Executive Director.
3. Role and responsibilities
Chief Executive has overall responsibility for safety, governance, and performance in relation to delivery of the RCOG strategic goals (including financial and environmental sustainability), and is accountable to the Board of Trustees.
Executive Director of Finance and Commercial is accountable for this policy and its regular review and update, for leading on the College’s carbon reduction targets, and for ensuring appropriate safety arrangements including travel insurance are in place.
Executive Directors are responsible for managing travel expenditure within the scope of this policy, for approving travel requests and risk assessments, ensuring the principles in this policy have been applied, and are usually the RCOG contact for travellers should serious incidents occur.
Director of Buildings and Guest Services supports with the management of health and safety matters, and is competent and suitably qualified to review and advise on travel risk assessments (supported by those in the Buildings Team with relevant training). The role is also responsible for managing and overseeing the correct application of the RCOG insurance policy.
RCOG Trip Owners are staff members who are experienced in managing global travel. They are responsible for the oversight of trips, and for ensuring this policy is adhered to and College processes for global travel are followed. This includes ensuring a risk assessment is completed and the travel is approved. Trip Owners will be supported by other RCOG staff with making travel arrangements and preparing for travel as appropriate.
Travellers are expected to adhere to these guidelines, submit a declaration to the College prior to travel, ensure they have valid documentation for travel, consider personal risk, take precautions where appropriate to ensure their own safety, and act with honesty and integrity when making expense claims.
The following principles should be applied in regards to global travel and expenses:
- Only travel when essential to do so, to deliver significant strategic value to RCOG - when all other means to achieve the objectives have been considered (e.g. meeting digitally) and the reasons to travel can be justified. There may be instances where travel is funded by another organisation, for example a conference organiser, this should always be explored when an invitation is received.
When travel is necessary:
- Safety is priority - assess and mitigate risk, travel and stay safe, know what to do in an emergency
- Take a balanced approach considering value, cost and sustainability:
Maximise value - wherever possible, explore all opportunities for member and stakeholder engagement activity, plan to achieve multiple objectives on the same trip
Keep costs to a minimum - wherever possible, welcome third party funding, book at least 4 weeks in advance, consider fewer individuals travelling, alternative travel times and ticket options, travelling on a different day and staying overnight if the overall cost is cheaper
Reduce the environmental impact - consider more environmentally friendly modes of travel e.g. rail over air for destinations where this is feasible
In line with the RCOG strategic goal “We will ensure our financial and environmental sustainability through delivery of all of our objectives and contribute to a significantly reduced carbon footprint”, the College has committed to carbon reduction targets. Performance against these targets should be reviewed regularly by Executive Directors and reported annually to the Finance & General Purposes Committee.
6. Planning and approval
Executive Directors should oversee levels of travel and regularly assess the need for travel and its impact and value. All trips should be planned as far in advance as possible, and a list of upcoming travel populated by Trip Owners should be reviewed by Executive Directors at least twice per year.
Authorisation to travel
All international travel requires approval prior to making bookings or incurring any expenses. A global travel request and a risk assessment must both be approved for authorisation to travel. Approval is subject to travellers submitting a declaration form in advance of travel (see section 7), and any changes in conditions being re-assessed prior to departure (see section 9). As the College has ultimate responsibility for the health and safety of travellers and is funding the trip, RCOG have the right to refuse authorisation to travel.
Approval is by an Executive Director, or more than one Executive Director if multiple College groups are travelling. The relevant Executive Director may escalate approval to all Executive Directors if appropriate. When the Executive Director is travelling, the CEO should approve. When the CEO is travelling, the Executive Director of Finance & Commercial should approve.
Global travel request form
The Trip Owner is responsible for completing the Global Travel Request Form, capturing the purpose and objectives of the trip, anticipated outcomes, an estimated breakdown of all costs, and confirming the COVID-19 rules make the trip feasible. Any expected hospitality funded by a third party should also be considered (see section 14). On review, the Executive Director must ensure the principles in this policy have been applied, and the travel is necessary and within budget.
The Trip Owner should complete a risk assessment using the Travel Risk Assessment Template. Once complete, this should be submitted to the Buildings Team for review and then shared with the Executive Director for approval. The Buildings Team and/or Executive Director can recommend additional risks and mitigations prior to approval. If the Trip Owner is unclear on any area of risk this should be brought to the attention of the Executive Director. Once approved, the risk assessment should be shared with all those travelling. Travellers can choose not to travel if they do not agree with the risks and mitigations.
FCDO travel advice
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is the primary source of country-specific travel information and advice that must be used when compiling the risk assessment, and should assist the College in making decisions about travelling abroad. Travel advice for the specific region within the country should be reviewed where appropriate, as advice may differ between regions.
The FCDO has three advice levels which will determine whether the College will consider travel to a destination:
- Advise against all travel - the College will not permit travel
- Advise against all but essential travel - the College will not permit travel
- See our travel advice before travelling - the College will consider travel if the level of risk associated is acceptable once assessed
When the College will consider travel, the risks advised by the FCDO must be captured on the risk assessment, these will include: COVID-19, safety and security, threat from terrorism, local laws and customs, health, and natural disasters.
As the FCDO advice does not extend to individual streets or neighbourhoods, where possible advice should be sought from local partners such as in-country event organisers for any risks around the specific location and these should be included on the risk assessment.
All travellers must comply with the RCOG Safeguarding Policy to protect and safeguard the welfare of Vulnerable Groups whilst travelling and working abroad. The Trip Owner should raise any safeguarding risks with the College’s Safeguarding Officer, who will carry out a separate risk assessment if necessary.
RCOG has a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place for those travelling on College business.
Trip Owners should ensure appropriate documentation is provided to travellers prior to travel.
When travel is covered
Providing that no one is travelling contrary to the advice of the FCDO, travel to the destination should be covered, this includes multi-destination trips and local travel within countries abroad. Medical expenses are covered if a traveller is taken ill abroad and requires emergency treatment (including COVID-19), providing the traveller is fit to travel prior to departure and not travelling against medical advice. The insurer will also cover the cost of additional accommodation/flights should travellers have to isolate due to COVID-19 on a trip.
When travel is NOT covered
The insurance does not cover travel to destinations where the FCDO “advise against all travel” or “advise against all but essential travel”. It does not provide cover when travellers extend trips for personal reasons (see section 8), and does not cover extreme sports/activities.
When a trip starts outside of the UK (except Channel Islands, Isle of Mann and Republic of Ireland) and the UK is the destination, or the travel is between two destinations outside of the UK, these trips must be declared to the insurer as they are not the College’s usual pattern of travel. For those travelling on College funded travel bursaries, cover is not provided by the College’s insurer and individual insurance must be arranged. If in any doubt about cover, advice should be sought from the Director of Buildings and Guest Services.
The College has access to a pre-travel helpline (as a benefit of its insurance policy) which may be used for support with travel enquiries ranging from visa queries to vaccinations. This service is available 24/7 for assistance with planning trips. The Trip Owner will provide details to the Traveller.
In preparing the risk assessment, the Trip Owner should prompt the traveller to consider any personal risks prior to travel. It is the responsibility of the traveller to consider these risks including: checking what vaccinations and health precautions (such as anti-malarials) may personally be needed, and if personal medications are legal in the destination country. The FCDO advise seeking travel health advice from either the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) or from the FitForTravel website. The College strongly asks that travellers are up-to-date with vaccinations and have taken the necessary health precautions. The cost of receiving vaccinations and anti-malarials required for overseas travel can be reclaimed as an expense.
Fitness to travel
Travellers do not need to declare any pre-existing conditions to the College or the insurer. However travellers must be fit to travel and not be travelling against medical advice. If there is any doubt regarding fitness to travel, the traveller must seek medical advice and be certified as fit to travel by a medical professional.
Pregnant travellers should refer to the RCOG’s published Air travel and pregnancy patient information leaflet. Pregnant travellers should have a risk assessment from the RCOG and they should refer to any agreed adjustments or provisions that may support any risks around travel.
Specific types of traveller
The FCDO advises that different risk levels may apply to particular types of travellers and some people may be at greater risk in some places, for example, people of a particular gender, ethnic background or sexuality. Travellers are responsible for assessing their own level of personal risk and should refer to the FCDO’s guidance for specific types of traveller when appropriate. Travellers should raise any concerns with the Trip Owner (and can do so in confidence) so further ways to mitigate risks can be considered.
Risk of terrorism
The FCDO advise that travellers take steps to reduce the risk from terrorism whilst abroad. In advance of the trip, travellers are recommended to read the FCDO advice on How to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
The Trip Owner is responsible for checking the entry requirements for the destination on the FCDO website and advising the traveller. When travel is to multiple destinations or there is a stopover, entry requirements for all destinations must be checked. As the FCDO only reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, advice can only be provided in these circumstances. For those with different passports and/or not travelling from the UK, it is the traveller’s responsibility to check the entry requirements. If it is unclear how entry requirements apply, advice can be sought from the insurer’s pre-travel helpline (see above) or by contacting the country’s UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
Each country will have its own COVID-19 rules and these may differ between regions within the same country. The FCDO advice will show if the country allows people to enter from the UK and what travellers need to do prior to travel or on arrival e.g. testing. The Trip Owner should confirm any actions required and this may involve asking the traveller to confirm their COVID vaccination status. Note the definition of “fully vaccinated” may differ between countries. Trip Owners should also check if there are any COVID restrictions within country e.g. for using transport or entering public places. Where significant actions are required (e.g. quarantine), the College may not permit travel to the destination.
Where pre-departure COVID testing is required, it is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure this is arranged at the correct timescale prior to travel. Where there is the option to test in the UK, or on arrival at the destination, testing must take place in the UK. The College will reimburse the cost of pre-departure COVID tests.
Travellers are responsible for ensuring they have valid documentation for travel, including checking their passport expiry date meets validity requirements. Certain passports and previous immigration stamps or visas may cause entry to be refused to certain destinations. Travellers should check with relevant embassies if they think there may be an issue. The College will not pay for passport applications, renewals, or second passports.
Travellers should ensure they apply for the relevant visa (when necessary) well in advance of travel, as some visa applications can take up to eight weeks to process. All travellers part of the same trip who are travelling on a full “British Citizen” passport should travel on the same type of visa. It is the expectation that a business visa will usually be required. If there is any doubt as to what type of visa should be obtained, this should be escalated to the Executive Director. It is the traveller’s responsibility to make their own visa application, as an exception the College will provide administrative support with applications when a group is travelling. Where visas are available on arrival, a visa being issued is not guaranteed so this should be avoided and visas obtained in advance wherever possible. The College will reimburse visa application fees.
7. Traveller declaration
All travellers must complete a Traveller Declaration Form for every trip and return to the College prior to travel. This should include confirmation that they: are fit to travel, have assessed personal risk, have checked entry requirements and rules for prescription medications, have read the FCDO travel advice and agree with the risks and mitigations on the College’s risk assessment, will adhere to this policy and abide by the College’s code of conduct. Travellers must advise the College immediately of any changes after the form is submitted (see section 9). Travellers should also provide contact details of who should be contacted in case of an emergency whilst they are travelling on College business.
8. Booking travel and accommodation
Reasonable costs for travel and accommodation should be agreed by the Executive Director (as part of the Global Travel Request Form) when the Trip Owner is budgeting for the trip. Travellers will be advised in advance which elements the College will book and what the traveller can claim as expenses. All travel should be booked at least four weeks in advance, wherever possible. Those booking travel are expected to research different options (including using alternative airlines and providers) to ensure the best value for money is achieved.
Travel booking agency
All international flights and rail should be booked via the RCOG travel provider, Key Travel, with the exception of internal flights within countries such as India where UK travel agencies do not have access to low cost local airfares. Exceptions also apply when third parties are funding the travel (see further below).
Using a central travel provider gives the College access to charity and humanitarian fares which offer greater flexibility and conditions, a 24/7 helpline for logistical support, and allows the College to receive invoices directly and to track carbon data.
Travel arrangements can be provisionally held whilst waiting for the Executive Director to authorise travel, but should not be confirmed until approved.
Economy class should be considered for all air travel in the first instance, as the cost and sustainability impact of business class travel is high. There should be a clear justification for travelling premium economy or business class and this will only be considered in the following circumstances:
- For flight durations of 5 hours or more (including when the total duration of indirect flights is 5 hours or more, not including UK domestic flights)
- When travellers need to work immediately on arrival, making the working day (including travel) very long with limited opportunity to rest
- For overnight flights and/or to destinations with large time differences, where sleep will be lost due to travel
Where possible, travelling a day earlier either economy or premium economy class and staying an extra night in a hotel should be considered to reduce the cost and sustainability impact. Travellers can also choose to pay the additional cost to upgrade their class of travel if they wish.
Where rail travel is available to international destinations this should be considered to reduce the environmental impact. International rail travel should be booked as economy class.
The College will book safe and suitable accommodation for travellers. In many cases the accommodation will be predetermined e.g. when a conference or event is being held at a particular hotel. When accommodation needs to be sourced, security and safety standards must be considered, as well as the distance to/from the work venue, and the safety and cost of this daily travel.
Where possible, the College’s preference is that hotels are recommended or booked by local partners with local knowledge. Where this isn’t possible, those booking should check reviews, source information from previous travellers, and choose well-known chain hotels when available. The maximum rate for hotels should be agreed when planning the budget, based on the destination and purpose of the trip.
The College will cover single accommodation and breakfast charges. All other costs incurred, including double occupancy supplements must be settled by the traveller when checking out of the hotel. When a group is travelling, the College will make one group booking to secure the best rates.
If travellers wish to book their own accommodation, this must be agreed with RCOG in advance and the cost cannot exceed the cost of a College booking. Travellers are permitted to stay with relatives/friends who reside at the destination providing this is safe and suitable, however the College will not reimburse costs to stay in private accommodation.
Travel to UK airports and parking
The preferred method of travel to and from UK airports is by train or London Underground. Express airport trains are also permitted when booked as standard class. The UK & Ireland Travel & Expenses Policy should be referred to for guidance, including for mileage rates and parking if travel is by car.
Taxis to and from UK airports will be permitted in the following circumstances and with approval by an Executive Director:
- Where exceptionally heavy equipment is being carried
- When the time of the flight means no public transport is available or traveller safety is a concern (e.g. very early morning or late at night)
- Where the traveller has any mobility related issue that would prevent the individual from taking another form of transport
Where possible, the College recommends that airport transfers at the destination are arranged directly by local partners with local knowledge. Alternatively, Trip Owners should ensure recommendations are taken from local partners or other trusted sources to plan a safe journey.
The College will only reimburse excess baggage costs that result from carrying equipment on behalf of the RCOG. When this is required, it should be booked in advance as this is significantly cheaper than paying at the airport.
Flexible tickets/changes & cancellations
All travel arrangements should be booked on a flexible basis through the College’s travel booking agency, with fares that allow changes or cancellation if necessary for a small fee. Although this may be slightly more expensive than bookings with no flexibility, the need to change plans has become increasingly common with post-pandemic international travel. Any exceptions to booking flexible tickets must be approved by an Executive Director.
Travellers are permitted to collect loyalty points with airlines and hotels when travelling on behalf of the College, however some airline fares offered via the travel provider do not qualify for points. It is not permitted for the traveller to choose specific airline and hotel providers in order to accumulate personal points when other providers are more cost effective, or to make flight bookings with airlines directly for this purpose.
Support from third parties
It is common for third parties such as local partner organisations or event organisers to fund or partly fund RCOG travel. RCOG welcome and value this support providing the conditions are deemed acceptable by an Executive Director. If a third party is funding travel, they should make the travel bookings for the traveller. Third parties may also offer support with other logistics, booking arrangements and itineraries. Providing that safe arrangements are put in place, this is both welcomed and recommended wherever possible, to take advantage of the third party’s local knowledge.
Extending trips for personal reasons
Travellers may choose to extend trips for personal reasons, providing there is no additional cost to the RCOG. If travelling on a different date to accommodate a personal trip is more expensive than travelling on the College trip dates, the traveller is responsible for paying the additional cost. All personal arrangements must be made independently of the College, including separate travel insurance as the College’s insurance does not cover personal trips. The RCOG will not take any liability for costs already incurred by travellers for personal trip extensions should the trip be cancelled or postponed.
Travelling with partners
The College will not fund or take any liability for partners (such as spouses) accompanying those who are travelling on RCOG business. It is not permitted for tickets to be purchased for a partner by the College and then reimbursed by the traveller, and travellers are responsible for paying any hotel double occupancy supplements. Partners travelling are not covered by the College’s insurance policy so personal travel insurance is recommended. Details of partners travelling should be supplied to the College for logistical purposes e.g. for group bookings.
9. Change in conditions prior to departure
Authorisation to travel is based on the best available information at the time, however changes in conditions can occur after approval. The FCDO will update travel advice as quickly as possible when new information becomes available. Trip Owners and travellers should both continue to monitor risks and any changes to COVID-19 rules, by signing up for FCDO country-specific email alerts and following the FCDO social media channels.
Updates to FCDO or local advice
If the FCDO advice level changes to “advise against all travel” or “advise against all but essential travel”, the trip will automatically be cancelled by the College. If additional risks are indicated by either the FCDO or local partners, these must be escalated by the Trip Owner to the Executive Director as soon as possible for consideration. The Executive Director may need to review and approve an updated risk assessment which should also be shared with travellers. RCOG have the right to postpone or cancel an approved trip at any point up until departure even if the traveller is willing to go. Travellers can also choose not to travel if they do not agree with the updated risks and mitigations.
Changes in personal circumstances
If there are any changes in the traveller’s personal circumstances after the traveller declaration has been submitted, the traveller must advise the Trip Owner as soon as possible. Travel will not be permitted if the traveller declaration is no longer valid.
10. Preparing for the trip
The Trip Owner should refer to a Travel Planning Checklist to ensure the trip is well planned. The Trip Owner should provide the traveller with booking confirmations, an itinerary, any specific briefings, travel insurance documentation, and a list of contact numbers for logistical support whilst away (including a senior RCOG contact in case of a serious incident). Travellers should take copies in case phones or devices are lost or stolen. It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure they are carrying all the necessary documents required to enter the destination country, including proof of COVID-19 vaccination status or a negative test result if required. Travellers should check the guidance on how to use the NHS COVID Pass to prove vaccination status. Travellers are also recommended to consult the FCDO foreign travel checklist when preparing for travel.
Allianz Travel Oracle Website and Mobile App
The College’s travel insurer Allianz, provides access to the “Allianz Travel Oracle Website & Mobile App”. This provides current travel information, advice and real-time alerts on breaking news globally. Travellers will be given details of how to access this resource and must download the app (or consult the website if a smartphone isn’t used) in preparation for travel.
Funding travel expenses
Wherever possible, travel arrangements will be paid for by the College in advance or invoiced directly to the RCOG. When payments need to be made by the traveller, cards are the preferred method of payment and cash should be avoided where possible. Staff travelling should discuss any concerns with their line manager.
Access to RCOG IT systems
Travellers with RCOG laptops should ensure these are suitably packed for travel to prevent any damage whilst travelling. Access to the College software platforms is available via an internet connection whilst abroad. Users should check if access to the Microsoft portals is restricted at the destination by referring to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 International Availability prior to travel. The preferred internet connectivity whilst abroad is through a hotel/conference centre Wi-Fi, unencrypted public (open) Wi-Fi networks must not be used.
11. During the trip
Confirming arrival and staying in touch
Travellers are expected to email a nominated senior member of RCOG staff to confirm their safe arrival at the destination. The nominated member of staff will be agreed when planning the trip. If confirmation is not received, the RCOG will message the traveller. When a group is travelling, one traveller can confirm the whole group has arrived. For longer trips, the traveller should stay in touch with the RCOG every few days.
Local partner briefing
For certain destinations it may be appropriate for travellers to receive local advice and information from a local partner on arrival. The College welcome and encourage briefings from local partners when relevant and available.
Travellers must take all reasonable precautions to ensure their safety whilst travelling on College business. This includes taking steps to mitigate risk as captured on the risk assessment, and following all FCDO and local advice. Travellers should be prepared to adjust plans accordingly if any advice changes during the trip.
Local laws and customs
As representatives of the College, travellers are expected to abide by the College’s code of conduct at all times, including when travelling to and from the destination, and whilst partaking in any social activity during the trip. Travellers are also required to observe the national laws and show respect for local customs and cultural practices in the countries in which they travel.
COVID-19 whilst abroad
If travellers test positive for COVID-19 or develop symptoms of COVID-19 whilst abroad, they should follow the COVID-19 advice for the destination and inform the RCOG. If medical treatment is required, travellers should contact the insurer’s emergency medical assistance service (see below).
Emergency assistance and serious incidents
Traveller safety is of paramount importance. If travellers require emergency medical treatment or assistance whilst abroad they should contact the insurer’s Emergency Medical and Security Assistance Service helpline (details will be provided prior to travel). The insurer will take control and manage the process to support the traveller. The traveller should also inform the RCOG at the earliest opportunity.
When serious incidents occur that require management by RCOG, the traveller should contact the senior RCOG contact (usually an Executive Director) as soon as possible, who will make decisions, delegate actions as appropriate, and be able to authorise any College funds required to support the traveller at risk. The CEO will be informed and an emergency meeting of Executive Directors will be convened if necessary.
The College encourages the sharing of outcomes, experiences and learning with colleagues. On return, the Trip Owner should ensure the outcomes and evaluation of the trip are reported as agreed, demonstrating the objectives for the trip have been met. This may include a written report. Travellers may also be asked to complete a short online feedback form to assist the College with planning future international trips.
Local travel within country
Travellers should consider in advance how they will travel locally during their trip. Recommendations on safe reputable providers and local transport links should be sought from local partners or hotels. Reasonable local travel costs can be reclaimed from RCOG and travellers should respect the social custom for tipping transport providers. The use of hire cars for driving abroad is not permitted.
Meals & subsistence
RCOG will reimburse the cost of subsistence when:
- Breakfast is not included in the hotel bill
- Lunch and evening meals are not provided at the event or by a local host
The maximum rates set in the UK & Ireland Travel & Expenses Policy should be applied as default, however where costs are likely to be higher in certain venues and countries, the RCOG will advise the traveller in advance the maximum rates that can be claimed. Travellers should respect the social custom for tipping in food venues and service charges can be reimbursed when included on a restaurant bill.
It is recognised there will be times when entertaining will be required. Hospitality funded by the RCOG must demonstrate the value it adds to delivery of the College’s objectives. These expenses must be suitably moderate and agreed in advance by an Executive Director.
If travellers wish to claim for items not mentioned in this policy, guidance should be sought from the Trip Owner in advance of the expense being incurred.
14. Declaration of gifts and hospitality
When travelling overseas, it is recognised that gifts and hospitality may be received from local hosts.
In accordance with the RCOG’s Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy, gifts and hospitality over a certain value must be declared and registered on the RCOG Gift Register. When this is known in advance this can be considered as planned and recorded on the register prior to travel. Anything unplanned and received by the traveller whilst away must be declared to the RCOG’s Director of Corporate Governance by the traveller on return.
15. Claiming expenses
Expenses should be claimed using the College's Expense Claim Form and submitted to the relevant RCOG contact for processing. Wherever possible, expenses should be submitted via email rather than by post.
Itemised VAT receipts for expenditure must be attached to the form. In exceptional circumstances, where a receipt cannot be obtained, a written explanation must be provided and approved by the RCOG Budget Holder if less than £200, or by an Executive Director if more than £200. For clarity, VAT cannot be reclaimed on credit card receipts, only on receipts quoting suppliers’ VAT number.
In relation to hotel accommodation, the receipt must be either in the name of RCOG or the traveller’s name. Receipts in the name of other individuals/organisations cannot be reimbursed.
The College is unable to pay round sum amounts, unsupported by actual expenditure receipts, as this falls outside of the HMRC dispensation/rules.
Expenses incurred in foreign currencies
For card payments in foreign currencies, the card provider will set the exchange rate and this will show the correct amount to be claimed in sterling. For unavoidable cash payments, the amount to be claimed should either be calculated using the rate shown on the receipt when the currency was purchased (to avoid any gain or loss by the claimant), or if this does not exist the daily spot exchange rate recorded by Bank of England on the date of the transaction should be used.
All expense claims require authorisation prior to being passed to the Finance department for payment. Table 1 confirms who should authorise expenses. No individual can authorise their own expenses.
Table 1: Authorisation of Expenses
Expense incurred by
Trustees (including Chair)
Expense claims may be rejected if this policy have not been followed without good reason. All travel should be booked at least four weeks in advance, wherever possible.
Payment of expenses
Expenses will be paid via bank transfer direct to the individual's bank account. The College will not reimburse expenses via any other means. The College aims to reimburse expenses within 30 days of receipt of a claim form.
Deadline to submit claims
All expense claims must be submitted within three months of the date they were incurred. Expenses submitted after this date will require approval from an Executive Director and may not be reimbursed. To assist with the College’s year-end accounting process, it is requested that expenses incurred in the last quarter of the College’s financial year (Apr-Jun) be submitted by the end of July.
RCOG credit card holders
For those with RCOG credit cards, expenditure will be authorised in accordance with this policy and the College’s credit card policy.
16. Handing personal data
17. Supporting documents
The following documents support the implementation of this policy and are available on the Travel & Hotels page on the staff intranet (or from the Trip Owner when required by non-RCOG staff). These will be reviewed and updated when necessary with approval by Executive Directors.
- Global Travel Request Form
- Travel Risk Assessment Template
- Traveller Declaration Form
- Expenses Claim Form
- Travel Planning Checklist
18. Useful links
FCDO website links and recommended pages:
- Travel advice
- Country-specific travel advice
- Travel abroad from England during coronavirus (COVID-19)
- National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC)
- FitForTravel website
- Guidance for specific types of traveller
- Reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad
- Foreign travel checklist
- How to use the NHS COVID Pass to prove vaccination status