Travel & Expense

Travel & Expense supports members of the Rensselaer community with their travel and expense decisions by providing them with convenient access to policy, compliance, and training information, as well as all of the necessary information required for them to successfully plan, book, and manage expenses for their future travel.

For support with travel and expense related systems or questions, submit a request.

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Travel Forms

Planning and Booking A Trip

Faculty and staff are required to make their travel arrangements — including air travel, Amtrak, and lodging — via the Concur booking tool, or by directly contacting Direct Travel, Rensselaer's partnered travel management company. All travel arrangements made directly through the agency will synchronize into the traveler's Concur account and populate in his/her trip list.

Direct Travel is Rensselaer's partnered travel agency, and all travel arrangements booked through Concur are ultimately finalized by the agency. Travelers may make their arrangements via the Concur booking tool, or may contact the agency directly either by email or by calling them toll-free at (866) 492-9839.  If calling within the United States after hours, call (866) 492-9839, OPT 8; for callers outside the United States, call collect at 1 (203) 787-6223. There is no charge for after-hours or emergency travel changes.

Travel News and Information from Direct Travel

As per the Institute's Travel Policy, travelers should rent cars only when other means of transportation are unavailable, more costly, or impractical. The use of the Company's preferred car rental suppliers is required for all car rentals, assuming one is available. The Institute has contracted with Enterprise Rent-A-Car to offer employees and students access to a discount and benefit package that is not available to the general public.

Program Guidelines

  • Preferred vendors are Enterprise and National. Damage waiver and liability insurance are included in the cost of domestic rentals only, so travelers should purchase additional damage and liability insurance for rentals outside of the United States, including Canada and Mexico.
  • If your profile has your individual Emerald Club account information, the charge for the rental will be applied to the personal credit card associated with your Emerald Club account. Enterprise and National will not charge additional fees for drivers between the ages of 21 and 24.
  • Enterprise will direct-bill international rentals, but rates are not inclusive of insurance. Travelers should confirm any additional local coverage requirements with Enterprise representative at the time the vehicle is picked up. A personal credit card will be required in these instances.
  • National will not accept a direct bill for international or Emerald Club rental reservations.
  • Vehicles up to and including full-size cars are approved for travel into Canada. Specialty vehicles, including vans and sport utility vehicles, may not leave the United States.
  • Additional driver names are not required for faculty/staff/student rentals at the time of reservation.
  • Enterprise locations are primarily found outside airport facilities and do not offer the ability to bypass the rental counter check-in process. National locations are typically found in airports and do offer their Emerald Club rewards members the ability to bypass check-in and choose their own vehicle at select airports.

The Institute will allow Direct Travel to fulfill reservations made using an individual’s Emerald Club membership on the condition that the traveler pays in full for the cost of the rental and submits the expense for reimbursement in accordance to the Institute’s Travel & Expense policy. Emerald Club reservations may not be directly billed to the Institute; in addition, reservations made with an Emerald Club membership are subject to the following conditions:

  • The individual must establish an Emerald Club membership prior to reserving their rental vehicle, and must use a personal credit card to secure the reservation. National will not accept debit or declining balance cards.
  • These reservations are not treated as tax-exempt transactions, as the Institute is not directly paying for the vehicle.
  • Travelers should request a mid-size car at the time the reservation is made. When available, travelers may select a full-size vehicle at no additional charge.
  • Travelers should decline any supplemental insurance, as it will not be reimbursed. The Institute contract rate (including the bundled insurance) is included in the base price of the rental.

Travelers should make every effort to utilize the most cost-effective mode possible for their transportation needs. Individuals who have any questions or concerns are welcome to contact Rensselaer's Travel Expense Support .

Rensselaer maintains a limited credit/debit card program for the furtherance of Institute business. Credit cards are made available to staff members in senior leadership positions at Rensselaer; the debit card program is primarily intended to facilitate group travel and expenses for the benefit of Rensselaer students. Presidential approval is required for all new accounts. Rensselaer travelers should contact their business/portfolio manager if they feel that they would benefit from participation in this program.

All card holders are required to complete the Training Program for Credit or Declining Balance Cards prior to a new card being issued.

Rensselaer defines infrequent travelers as Institute faculty, staff and students who make travel arrangements less than once every six months. Individuals who have not traveled on Rensselaer business at some point in the previous six months will receive automated email notifications to assist them in managing both their travel and the associated expense reporting requirements.

Once travelers have confirmed their reservation with the travel agent, they will receive an email containing directions on the hotel payment process, information on mobile options, receipt/expense documentation requirements, and other information they may need to have in advance of their trip.  Travelers will receive a second, similar email notification five days before they are scheduled to travel.

At the conclusion of their trip, travelers will receive an email with information regarding Rensselaer's expense report process. The email, which will focus on expensing outstanding charges, will also contain links to training on specific Concur functionality to help travelers submit their expense reports.

Tips for International Travels

Beginning on May 7, 2025, the Federal Real ID Act will be enforced and travelers who choose to use a state-issued driver's license as a source of identification for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport checkpoints will need to ensure they are compliant with Real ID.

To better prepare your travelers for the Real ID Act and help them fully understand its requirements, we have created the below language for you to share internally within your organization:

Important Information for Domestic Air Travelers

The Federal Real ID Act imposes stricter security requirements for state-issued driver’s licenses and other forms of identification, and it will take effect on May 7, 2025. Once the Real ID Act is in place, every air traveler will need to provide Real ID-compliant identification in order to board domestic flights.

How do I know if I have a Real ID?

Check and see if the upper right corner of your license contains a star inside of a circle (or for California residents, a star on a golden bear). If it does, your license is certified as Real ID, and no further action is required. If you are unsure if your license is Real ID-compliant, please consult the Department of Homeland Security website.

How do I obtain a Real ID?

You will need to go to your DMV and present an appropriate form of identification as defined by your state. For state-specific details, visit the Department of Homeland Security website and select your state. You will be redirected to your state's DMV website where you can find further information.

What happens if I do not have Real ID after May 7, 2025?

Beginning on May 7, 2025, any individual with a driver’s license that is not Real ID-compliant will need to present another acceptable form of identification, such as a valid U.S. passport, in order to board domestic flights.

You need valid documentation to travel internationally; this may include a passport and/or visa. Please confirm with the U.S Department of State that you possess the documentation necessary to complete your trip. Information can be found at the U.S. Department of State's Travel.State.Gov website. Failure to adhere to passport/visa requirements will prevent you from boarding international flights, so it is good practice to ensure your passport is valid six months beyond your return date.

Beginning in 2021, the European Union will require Americans to complete a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) application prior to departure to Europe.  There will be a fee to submit the application, which is currently €7.00 (approximately $8.00).  Once approved, the authorization for unlimited travel will be valid for three years; travelers will need to show the ETIAS approval upon arrival to Europe (and possibly to the airline prior to departure.)

This is similar to the existing US Customs and Border Protection ESTA program for international travelers wishing to visit the United States.

Applicants will be expected to provide the following details when applying:

  • Full name
  • Date and place of birth
  • Current address
  • Parents' information
  • Passport and other nationality details; all passports must have a minimum of three months validity beyond the expected length of stay

Apart from basic personal information, applicants will also have to answer questions related to:

  • Drug use
  • Terrorism
  • Human trafficking
  • Travel to conflict areas
  • Criminal history
  • Employment history
  • Past European travel information
  • Security information


Check with the Center for Disease Control for any recommended country-specific vaccinations at least four to six weeks in advance of your departure.

International SOS provides access to global medical and security assurance, and offers travelers important advisories that are specific to the country to which they are traveling. Access to services, assistance and travel information is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from all over the world! This resource is available for business and personal travel.

All international travelers will be expected to download the International SOS Assistance App on their smartphones. The mobile Travel Tracker application will also facilitate communication and a check-in feature with the Institute, which can be particularly helpful in the event of an emergency.

Search for "International SOS Assistance App" in your smartphone's app store.

Enter Rensselaer’s member ID of 11BSGC000023 once the application is downloaded.

Follow the system prompts to complete registration.

Access benefit information and a printable membership card by visiting the International SOS website, clicking on Members and entering Rensselaer’s membership number 11BSGC000023 in the Member Login section.

Please contact the Division of Human Resources with any questions.

You should be aware of the country-specific limitations on the shipment or transfer of controlled items, software or technology outside the United States. You can contact Rensselaer Export Control with any questions.

Please remember to accept any supplemental insurance coverage offered for rentals booked outside the United States, including those booked in Canada and Mexico. Requirements vary by country and travelers should consult the local Enterprise branch representative at the time of the rental.

Hotel Reservations

Rensselaer travelers are allowed to book and pay personally for lodging expenses related to conference attendance at international locations, provided that they email the itinerary in advance of departure. This itinerary should contain the property name, address, and daily rate information.

Train Reservations

Rensselaer travelers are allowed to book and personally pay for train reservations where the travel occurs on the same day that the reservation is made. Travelers are required to forward the reservation in advance of ther departure and should include origination/destination information, train number, and rate information.

If you choose the policy exception "Refused Fly America Schedule," one or more of the reasons shown below must apply.

301-10.136 and 301-10.137 exceptions based on:

  • Two more stops
  • Extension of travel time by at least six hours
  • Connection time of at least four hours. 

If you choose the policy exception "Refused Fly America Necessity," one or more of the reasons shown below must apply.

301-10.138 exceptions based on:

  • US Flag carrier cannot provide transport
  • Will not accomplish the agency's mission
  • Medical/Risk Avoidance/Necessity
  • Ticket unavailable in authorized service class

Please see contact information for the department that manages the compliance for sponsored research travel; if you have any questions contact John Braungard by phone at (518) 276-6196, or via email.     

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