Travel Guidelines

I. Purpose and Scope

University sponsored Travel is defined as any travel carried out in support of the University’s mission. This applies to all travel booked and paid by the University, for faculty, staff, students and visitors (hereinafter referred to as “McGill Travel”).

These Guidelines aim to ensure that all McGill Travel complies with the Travel Procedure and the Financial Services Reimbursement of Travel and Other Expense Policy. They also serve as best practices for the efficient and cost-effective booking of McGill Travel while aligning with the University’s commitments to sustainability and carbon-neutrality by 2040 (refer to the McGill Sustainable Travel Guide).

II. General Booking Guidelines

  1. Every effort should be made to refrain from and reduce travel by using alternative communication and virtual methods like web conferencing. Connect with the Communications and External Relations Team to record or live stream your event or presentation.  
  2. Travel itineraries should be combined wherever possible to reduce transportation costs, time spent traveling and the carbon footprint.
  3. Prior to seeking approval from the Fund Financial Manager, the Traveler should consult the Government of Canada’s Travel Advisories website to research the destination with respect to health, security and entry requirements.
  4. It is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure they have all the necessary documents, approvals and preparations in advance of travelling.
  5. The Traveler is encouraged to book travel well in advance to take advantage of more options and lower airfares with advance purchase rules according to the following recommendations:

    Travel within Canada: book minimum 7 days in advance
    Travel to the United States: book minimum 14 days in advance
    Travel to all other destinations: book minimum 21 days in advance
  6. It is recommended to book all elements per trip through the University’s contracted Travel Management Company (TMC). This provides access to the University’s negotiated agreements with travel service providers to help reduce costs. The more travel purchases channeled through these agreements, the more leverage the University will have to negotiate better rebates moving forward.
  7. When booking on discount websites, the Traveler is cautioned to verify diligently all the rules and conditions prior to booking, with attention to consumer protection and non-refundable purchases. In the event of an issue, it can be very difficult to deal with these companies.
  8. All McGill Travel booked for faculty or staff must be registered through the HR University Travel Registration Form . All McGill Travel booked by students must be registered on this APP.
  9. Trip Cancellation Insurance is a reimbursable expense recommended by the University. This insurance reimburses the costs associated with the canceling of a trip based only on the illness of the traveler and/or their immediate family.

III. Train and Bus

  1. Prioritize travel by train and bus for regional destinations. The train is the preferred mode of transport between Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City and Toronto. Traveling by train allows you to be productive enroute and is especially viable within eastern North America, Europe and Japan.
  2. Discounts are available on VIA Rail within Canada.
  3. Business Class travel by train is authorized as long as the price is below the lowest logical airfare.
  4. The traveler is encouraged to use public transit for travel to and from transportation hubs. Also, many cities offer affordable and efficient public transit to/from airports.

IV.  Air

  1. Fly direct and combine trips as much as possible. Take-off and landing contribute heavily to flight emissions, so choosing direct flights or routes with fewer connections is more sustainable. Combine conferences and meetings to avoid multiple flights.
  2. Choose economy class. Business class seats translate into a greater share of weight per passenger and consequently increased fuel consumption and emissions.
  3. Airlines often overbook flights beyond the capacity of the aircraft. Check-in online as early as available to help mitigate the risk of being bumped from a flight which incurs unnecessary extra costs and time delays.
  4. Payment for airfare via the FOAPAL authorization form with the Travel Management Company (TMC) avoids being out of pocket. For each airfare purchased with this form the Travel Desk sets up an advance in Minerva; an expense report must be submitted within 30 days of the return from the trip.
  5. Payment with the FOAPAL prompts the transaction to be paid by the University’s travel payment card. The bank incentives earned on this card are 100% directed towards McGill’s initiative to be carbon neutral by 2040.
  6. Changes or cancellations must be communicated to the Travel Management Company (TMC) as soon as known; if outside of regular working hours, then the Traveler is to contact the TMC’s 24/7 service to notify them. Not showing up for any segment of a ticket purchased will result in the forfeiting of the entire ticket.
  7. Offset your travel emissions by contributing to one of the following offsetting programs

V.  Accommodation

  1. Look for sustainable lodging options. Some properties take tangible steps to reduce their environmental impacts. Do research and refer to credible sustainability ranking and certification schemes, such as Green Key Global, Green Globe or TripAdvisor Green Leaders.
  2. Conference hotels can be booked directly through the conference website when available and if cost effective. Check with the Travel Management Company for their pricing at the conference property – it may be lower.
  3. Accommodations in Montreal should be booked and paid for through the McGill Official Hotels Program (MOHP).
  4. Accommodation outside of the MOHP must be paid with a personal credit card and reimbursed by submitting an Expense Report.
  5. It is the responsibility of the Traveler to follow the property’s cancellation policy, ensuring that all reservations are cancelled in time. Cancellation deadlines are based on the local time of the hotel. The University will not reimburse cancellation penalties due to negligence. To avoid disputes record the cancellation number.
  6. The traveler is cautioned about booking prepaid non-refundable accommodations. While initially this may seem cost effective, experience has proven it restrictive and costly when making any kind of change or cancellation.

VI.  Vehicle rentals

  1. When traveling with a group, if possible choose ground transportation. Renting vehicles and maximizing the occupancy of each, especially if you choose fuel-efficient options, reduces significantly fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions per traveler, compared to air travel. Vehicle rental options are available here.
  2. When choosing between vehicles, prioritize fuel-efficient and alternative fuel models, such as electric and hybrid vehicles or top-performing fuel-efficient vehicles. You can find information on electric vehicle charging stations located on campus here (Sustainable Travel Resources—Electric Vehicles section). You can compare the fuel efficiency of vehicles using Natural Resources Canada’s fuel consumption ratings tool.
  3. It is the responsibility of the traveler to ensure that all drivers have the appropriate licenses to drive the rented vehicle and that adequate insurance is in place to cover both 3rd Party Liability and Collision/Loss Damage Waiver (CDW/LDW). Vehicle rentals within Canada by law include 3rd Party Liability.
  4. If renting a vehicle for more than 30 consecutive days in North America, it can potentially be insured under the University’s Automobile Insurance Policy by contacting Risk Management and Insurance - [at]
  5. If renting a vehicle for more than 14 days, consider off-airport pick-up to reduce the rental costs.
  6. Vehicle rentals must be paid with a personal credit card and reimbursed afterwards via expense report.

VII.  Sustainable Travel Hierarchy

Follow the hierarchy to help you choose the mode of transport with the lowest carbon footprint, depending on the distance. If you are the traveler, provide a sound justification of your choice of travel mode for every step you move down the hierarchy. If you are approving someone else’s travel, verify that the traveler has selected the option with the lowest carbon footprint possible and that the justification for their choice of travel mode is reasonable.

More details and resources are offered in the University’s Sustainable Travel Guide, available on the Office of Sustainability’s website.

For any questions, including inquiries on accessibility, please contact travel.procurement [at]


Registration Form for Faculty/Staff Traveling on University Business

All University business travel must be registered through this form to ensure coverage for any unforeseen medical emergencies while traveling outside your province of residence.

You must log in with your McGill credentials (email and password) to access this form.

Note that some travel destinations must be pre-approved. More information about Business Travel coverage is available here.

For personal/vacation travel, please consult this page here.

For additional information, please consult the Benefit Travel Webpage or contact [at]


Important notice for international travelers

The Government of Canada provides essential information on travel health risks and preventive measures to keep you safe during your travels. It is important to review the Travel website of Canada each time before you book your travels. Under Travel Health Notices the Public Health Agency of Canada outline potential health risks to Canadian travelers and recommend ways to help reduce them.


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