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RAP Home  >  Associate Travel Information  >  Travel Authorization Instructions



As part of the award, NRC Research Associate Programs research associates are provided a budget to support travel for professional development and, in some cases, for relocation. All Associate travel, for which reimbursement is sought, must be approved in advance using a Travel Authorization (TA) form. Documenting estimated travel costs using a TA assures that Associate travel adheres to Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) and any other requirements, such as special Department of Defense travel rules.  NRC RAP requires that you use Omega World Travel for both domestic and international travel. This will assure that your itinerary conforms to Federal Travel Regulations and will avoid the possibility of unallowable expenses.

The research adviser, the laboratory program representative (LPR) or other designated official, and the NRC RAP program administrator must endorse all TA requests, except for relocation. This process assures that sufficient funds are available for your travel. Authorization for international travel also requires approval by the National Academies’ Office of Contracts and Grants. Travel Authorization forms should be submitted to at least four weeks in advance for domestic travel and at least six weeks in advance for international travel.

Once a TA is approved, your travel coordinator will email a copy to you, at which time travel reservations can be made. Please review your TA. All air and rental car reservations must be made using Omega World Travel (OWT) (Telephone: 1-866-740-0627; Email: Costs of travel incurred through reservations made outside of OWT may be disallowed if found not to be in compliance with the FTR.

When completing the TA, make sure that all required information and estimates of costs are entered as accurately as possible. Costs not entered on the TA may not be eligible for reimbursement later, when a Travel Expense Report is submitted. The following provides general guidance for completing the TA. Additional information may be found in the Research Associates’ Travel Guide or you may contact the Fellowships Office Travel Unit at (202) 334-2710 or

Type of Travel, Purpose of Travel, Travel Dates and Itinerary

Indicate the purpose of your travel including the name of the meeting if applicable. Indicate the dates you will travel and the actual dates of the meeting. Travel dates are typically the day before and day after the meeting dates. If personal travel is to be combined with professional or programmatic travel, please check the personal travel box. If you are combining personal travel with professional or programmatic travel, you must notify OWT when booking your travel so they can provide an airfare constructive cost. Any increase in airfare resulting from combining personal travel with professional or programmatic travel will be the financial responsibility of the Associate. Your itinerary needs to include where you leave from, your destination and your return location. Deviations to departure and return to your home location should be noted in the comments section.

Cost Estimates

Travel must be planned using the most expeditious and economical mode which is generally economy class air travel. If travel is planned by personal vehicle or other mode of transportation, a constructive cost must be obtained from the NRC RAP Travel Office and reimbursement may be limited to the cost of a comparable airfare. Domestic relocation in a personal vehicle does not require a constructive cost estimate but is only eligible for the relocation mileage rate. Cost estimates for lodging, meals, etc. should exclude days taken for personal travel.

When traveling by air, note that United States law (Fly America Act) requires that you travel on a US-flag carrier whenever such carriers exist between points of travel. Travel on a U.S. flag carrier, if ticketed by a foreign carrier, may not be reimbursable. Omega World Travel can advise you on the requirements of the Fly America Act and will ensure that your travel does not violate federal travel regulations.

Lodging and meal expenses are reimbursed on an itemized, actual-cost basis. Costs must not exceed the federal Per Diem allowance which can be found on the GSA website for intercontinental domestic travel, the U.S. Department of Defense website for travel outside the continental U.S., and the and the U.S. Department of State website for international travel.


When making hotel reservations, Associates should request the government per diem rate. In some cases, it may not be possible to obtain a hotel that is within per diem (e.g., negotiated conference rates exceed per diem or rooms at per diem rates are not available in this case please include a note in the justification section of the TA so that a waiver may be approved.

The domestic lodging per diem rate does not include hotel taxes. Domestic hotel taxes are claimed and reimbursed as a separate expense. International per diem rates include hotel room rate, hotel taxes, meals, and incidentals, such as tips, parking, taxi/subway, and meeting-related telephone call expenses incurred within the foreign country.

When a rental car is needed because circumstances make it impractical or more costly to use other modes of transportation, a brief justification should be provided along with an estimated cost of the rental. NRC RAP has agreements with rental car companies to provide the lowest available rates for Associates. These rates include unlimited mileage and loss or collision damage waiver (LDW or CDW) insurance at no additional cost. Reservations should be arranged through Omega World Travel and will be billed directly to NRC RAP.

Use of a personal vehicle will be reimbursed based on mileage traveled. When choosing use of a personal vehicle as an alternative to common carrier (e.g., airline) transportation, expenses can only be reimbursed up to the cost of a round trip airline ticket or other common carrier cost. A constructive cost will be determined by NRC RAP.

Conference Registration

For registration fees in excess of $250, the NRC RAP will, upon request, register you directly. Enter the registration fee on your TA and check the direct-bill box. Once the TA is approved please submit a completed conference registration form which can be found here

Travel Advance

A travel advance can be requested for 80% of the lodging, meals and incidental expenses. To allow for processing, the travel advance request must be received no less than 30 days prior to the proposed start date of the trip. Advances are distributed by direct deposit no less than 3 days before the travel start date. Advances cannot be processed if the Associate’s tenure is set to terminate within 60 days from the return travel date or for relocation travel.  Lastly, it is necessary for the Associate to submit a travel expense report (TER) from the trip with an outstanding travel advance in order to request an additional travel advance.