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Policy on Travel, Subsistence and Visa Costs

1.0 Purpose

The Science for Africa (SFA) Foundation policy on travel, subsistence and visa costs defines the conditions and rates that can be used for the payment or reimbursement of costs incurred by applicants, grant holders and staff employed on grants, to compensate them for expenses incurred in the performance of their work while away from their usual place of residence either locally or abroad.

2.0 Policy Statement

SFA Foundation will support claims or reimbursement for travel related costs when all the conditions set out below are met:-

  1. The travel is necessary to fulfil the research objective of the project and it directly benefits the project being charged;
  2. The cost for travel is reasonable and represents prudent use of the sponsor’s funds;
  3. There is a clearly defined relationship between the traveller and how he/she supports the work of the project that is provided in the travel documentation. If the traveller receives salary from the project, that provides sufficient documentation of the relationship.

All travel funded by an SFA Foundation grant should be approved and authorised according to the grant holding institutions’ policies and procedures before costs are incurred.  Examples of travel on SFA Foundation grants may include visits to collaborators or for collaborators to visit the grantee. Grant holders and staff employed on the grant may also be eligible to claim or request for travel related costs if they are working away from their employing organisation, either within the same country or overseas.

3.0 Applicants and Grantee Obligations

  1. Travel, subsistence and visa costs should be identified in the proposal budget justification if possible and justified as to why it is necessary and allocable to the performance of the grant. 
  2. SFA Foundation will cover essential associated costs (e.g. travel to attend appointments at a visa application centre or embassy) and these costs may be requested in applications for grant funding.
  3. If visa and work permit costs were not requested in the grant application, for example, because the post-holder was unnamed at the time, existing funds within the grant should be used to cover these costs where possible. If such funds are not available, requests to supplement the grant will be considered.

3.1 Allowable Travel Related Costs

  • Airfare at economy class;
  • Standard class by train or sea;
  • Taxi hire and any other form of connecting travel;
  • Lodging;
  • Meals;
  • Travel visa.

3.2 Exclusions

  • Per diem;
  • Passport fees;
  • Fees to expedite visa applications;
  • Immigration visas;
  • Personal incidental expenses.

3.3 Special Considerations

3.3.1 Business-Class Airfare

This is unallowable except for travellers whose medical needs require these accommodations. These situations are analysed by the SFA Foundation on a case-by-case basis.

3.3.2 Travel Costs for Dependents

Grantees breastfeeding children under the nine (9) months will be allowed to travel with their infants and one (1) nanny with prior arrangements.  The accompanying nanny should be over the age of 21 years (not a minor).  SFA Foundation grants should only cater for travel related costs for the nanny, and not wages or salary.

3.3.3 Visa Costs for Grantees Partner and Dependents

Visa costs for the researcher’s partner and dependants can also be covered under the following conditions:-

  1. The SFA Foundation funded researcher has a valid work permit in a foreign country for a duration exceeding 12 months;
  2. The researcher’s partner and dependents hold valid travel documents and are not barred from international travel by their home countries;
  3. The SFA Foundation funded researcher requests in writing for partner and dependent visa cost support to the SFA Foundation Programme Manager.

4.0 Procedure

4.1 Travel Costs

  1. Travellers should use the recommended service for booking travel in their institutions and in accordance with approved procurement procedures;
  2. Travellers are welcome to upgrade from standard fare at their own expense (or use of personal reward miles) but the SFA Foundation grant can only cover the cost of the standard fare;
  3. Travellers will pay for the cost of travel insurance as per their institutions policy from the SFA Foundation grant.

4.2 Subsistence Costs

4.2.1 Working away up to one month

Individuals working away for up to one month may request a daily allowance for living expenses. The daily allowance should be costed according to the administering organisation’s normal subsistence rates. Where the administering organisation does not have a subsistence policy, SFA Foundation guidance in (Annex-1) should be referred to.

4.2.2 Working away up to 2 - 12 months

  1. Individuals working away for more than one month and up to 12 months may request reasonable rental costs, including apartments.  The applicant should discuss appropriate rates with their administering and host organisations, or SFA Foundation, as appropriate. We expect applicants to choose the most economical options, booked in advance where possible.  SFA Foundation will not cover the cost of utilities or any refurbishments;
  2. If the applicant receives a salary from an organisation in a low- or middle-income country and will be working in a high-income country for more than one month and up to 12 months, they can also ask for up to $20 a day to cover extra costs, such as transport and incidentals.

4.2.3 Working away more than 12 months

  1. Applicants working away for more than 12 months may request housing costs. The applicant should discuss their housing needs with the administering organisation and host organisation;
  2. SFA Foundation will cover the direct expenses the individual has to pay to find and rent a home. SFA Foundation will not cover the cost of utilities or any refurbishment.

 4.3 Visa Costs

  1. The traveller should seek information concerning visa requirements in the country of destination and comply;
  2. Where needed, the respective Programme Manager at SFA Foundation shall issue a letter or support for purposes of visa application or renewal for the SFA Foundation funded grantee.

4.4 Accounting for Travel Related Costs

Travellers should account for travel advances or support claims for reimbursement according to institutional procedure, and with reference to SFA Foundation provisions in the award letter, grant terms and conditions and this policy and the Participant Travel and Expense Policy.

6.5 Breach of Policy

Any attempt to claim expenses in breach of the SFA Foundation Travel and Subsistence Costs Policy or to assist another work colleague to breach it will be considered as fraud.

Related policies: Participants Travel Policy and Recruitment and Relocation Policy

For any queries on this policy, please contact [email protected]