Fiscal Procedures

MIT Department of Physics Finance and Research Administration:


nb: All purchases in Buy 2 Pay, RFP reimbursements, Travel reports, and Pro Card receipts require a justification/reasoning. Transactions will not be approved without a justification, as this information is needed for auditing purposes. This rule applies for all transactions and all account types.

These guidelines provide general information regarding purchasing and reimbursement for purchases at MIT for Physics Department accounts.  It is recommended that you review the references that are provided throughout the guidelines for more detailed information.  If you have any specific questions, please contact the Physics Finance Department.

For PDF version of this document, please click here.

Requesting Reimbursements 1

The Request a Reimbursement for Me link on the Atlas My Reimbursements page can be used to submit a reimbursement request when you have used your personal funds (credit card or cash) to make an MIT purchase. Be sure to keep all your receipts to attach with your reimbursement request. For the policy on reimbursements, see Buying and Paying Policies, Section 4.08. If approved, the requested funds will be deposited to your bank account within 1-2 business days. A step-by-step guide to submitting an RFP (Request for Payment) is available here.

Procurement card

For each purchase you make with the procurement card, you will need to provide an itemized receipt for purchase over $75 (specially for meals) and a brief explanation of the expense. Receipts and purchase details are submitted via Quick Base. Access to Quick Base will automatically be provided once you receive your procurement card. Please see instructions for submitting a procurement card receipt in Quick Base.

Per MIT’s new receipt retention policy, our office would like to encourage you to take pictures of your receipts, especially for VPF managed apps, such as reimbursements (eRFPS), procurement card, and travel card purchases (Concur).


There are a few items that may NOT be purchased with an MIT card, so please note that the following items are restricted:

  • Equipment purchases costing $1000 or more, this does not include cell phones, accessories and warranty.
  • Computers/laptops
  • Furniture
  • Rentals/leases (including equipment, furniture, fleets)
  • Travel-related expenses (including hotels, airlines, car rentals, and out-of-state conferences)
  • RAD substances, controlled drugs, firearms, ammunition, and other regulated items
  • Hypodermic needles and syringes
  • Respirators and protective masks
  • All chemicals
  • Gases and gas cylinder rentals
  • Fire extinguishers and space heaters
  • Alcohol
  • Live animals
  • Flowers and plants
  • Contributions, greeting cards (life events such as birthday, get well, sympathy, farewell, etc.)
  • Gifts and gift certificates (except for the Rewards & Recognition program)
  • Cash advances
  • Consulting, profession, or temporary services
  • Software (except standard over-the-counter)

When making purchases, please inform the vendor that your credit card is tax-exempt (the official exemption certificates are available here). The cardholder is responsible for contacting the vendor and recovering any sales tax mistakenly charged to their card, and if tax is never recovered, the cardholder may have to pay the tax out-of-pocket.

Physics ProCard Sweep Policy

This policy establishes a Physics-specific process for ensuring compliance with MIT’s Procurement Card Policy by addressing Cardholder noncompliance with MIT Procurement Card (or “ProCard) transaction detail/documentation submission requirements.

MIT’s Procurement Card Policy requires cardholders to provide purchase details/documentation to the ProCard verifier within 21 days of the purchase. Transactions that are not verified after 21 days are automatically swept to a PHYSICS headquarters account. All swept transactions must be transferred to an appropriate cost object and G/L after the required details/documentation is submitted to the verifier.

Policy Statement
Cardholders with 3 or more swept ProCard transactions will not be authorized to use the ProCard until the detail/documentation for all purchases on that card have been submitted by the cardholder and validated by the ProCard verifier. Cardholders will still be able to pay for purchases out of pocket and submit a request for reimbursement using the eRFP online tool.

Per MIT Policy, it is the responsibility of the cardholder to provide details/documentation for each purchase made with the ProCard within 21 days. In order to make it easier for the cardholder to submit detail/documentation, the finance office will provide an online tool that will allow cardholders to review all ProCard transactions online and complete the required detail and upload the required documentation. The online tool will enable cardholders to monitor the status of ProCard transactions, and will provide weekly email notifications to cardholders and administrative assistants.

If a ProCard is placed on hold, the cardholder is responsible for contacting the verifier to report the successful submission of all details/documentation required to release the ProCard hold.

It is the responsibility of the ProCard verifier to contact MIT’s Procurement Office to request the release of the ProCard hold once they have reviewed the documentation for compliance. The finance office cannot guarantee the immediate release of the hold.

Related MIT Policy: 4.06c Cardholder Responsibility (

Current Travel Policy Related to COVID-19

Detailed information related to travel and visitors can be found here:

General - Travel Credit Card

This credit card may be used for any MIT-related travel expenses, including trips within Massachusetts. Please be sure to retain ALL receipts when using your travel card, and you must have itemized receipts for food purchases. If you neglect to submit a receipt, you may be required to reimburse MIT for the expense out-of-pocket. You can download the application here. Here are the instructions for submitting a travel request.

There are different restrictions for purchases on your travel card, so please read through the following carefully:


  • Federal regulations prohibit the charging of Business Class or First Class to federally sponsored research projects, unless it is specifically approved by the sponsor and is documented in COEUS. Please be aware of the conditions of your research project when making such purchases.
  • Travelers who have a medical condition necessitating the use of Business Class (or First Class if Business Class service is not offered on the flight) may do so with the submission of proper documentation from the MIT HR Office of Disability Services.
  • Travelers may fly Business Class (or First Class if Business Class service is not offered on the flight) only when the flight has a scheduled in-air flying time greater than six hours or if any part of a round trip is in excess of six hours.
  • Baggage fees and additional legroom purchases are permitted.
  • MIT will not reimburse travelers for airline tickets purchased with frequent flyer miles.
  • Travelers using online or independent travel agencies must document the lowest available coach fare to the destination traveled and submit this information with the completed expense report for proper reimbursement.

Rail Travel

  • Rail travel is reimbursable as long as the total cost of the trip is comparable to, or less expensive than, the lowest available coach airfare.

Private Car

  • Reimbursement is based on the prevailing IRS rate (which can be found here), rounded down to the nearest whole penny. This mileage allowance is intended to cover all transportation and operating costs, including fuel.
  • MIT will reimburse for the cost of ferry transportation, tolls, and reasonable parking charges, in addition to the mileage allowance.
  • Under no circumstances will the traveler be reimbursed for traffic tickets due to parking or motor vehicle violations.
  • No reimbursement will be made for the cost of repairs to the private vehicle, replacement of the private vehicle, or insurance deductibles or surcharges.

Car Rental (READ!!)

  • MIT strongly encourages travelers to use MIT’s partner car rental agencies, which provide volume-based discounts and insurance on vehicles for MIT travelers.
  • When traveling domestically, travelers should NOT purchase insurance offered by car rental agencies when booking a rental car. (One exception: MIT travelers should purchase rental car insurance when renting in Alaska.)
  • When traveling internationally, including Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean islands, travelers should purchase insurance under all circumstances.

Miscellaneous Vehicles

  • MIT will reimburse travelers for shuttle service to and from airports and train stations (including tips), to the extent that such service is not included in air and rail fares, and when public transportation or shuttle service is not practical or available. This includes taxis between hotels and train stations/airports, between appointments, or between hotels and places of temporary duty.
  • The use of 15-passenger vans is not an approved travel expense unless authorized by the MIT Office of Insurance.

Conference Registration

  • Registration fees should be paid using the MIT Travel Card if attendance at a conference or seminar requires air travel or overnight lodging. Registration fees for local conferences or seminars may be paid using the MIT Procurement Card.

Cash Withdrawals

  • Because the MIT Travel Card is widely accepted and will satisfy the majority of the traveler’s expenses, cash withdrawals are issued on an exception basis. Exceptions will be limited to trips to areas designated by VPF Travel as remote locations, where the MIT Travel Card is not accepted and the banking infrastructure prevents other means of payment. Other unusual travel needs may also exist where it would be appropriate for VPF Travel to approve cash withdrawals.
  • The cash obtained through an approved Travel Card cash withdrawal must be used for MIT business purposes, and any unused funds must be returned to MIT after the trip ends.


  • It is recommended that travelers use the MIT Travel Card to pay for immunization charges necessary for MIT business travel. Immunization charges are allowable under sponsored projects and do not need to be charged to a discretionary cost object.

More about MIT’s travel policies can be found here.

Buy 2 Pay (Electronic Catalog)

MIT offers a convenient purchasing method that does not require credit cards and is automatically tax-exempt. We have several preferred vendors, and their websites can be accessed through the Atlas portal. A step-by-step guide to using the B2P website is available here.

Institute-Wide Guidance on Topics Related to Remote Work

Finance Office Contacts

Please contact us for questions regarding research administration, questions regarding travel, and questions regarding buy-2-pay, obtaining travel and procurement cards, reimbursement requests, or MIT procurement policies. Email with any questions or concerns.

Rosaleah Brown Gresham, Financial Officer

Hicran Arnold, Financial Coordinator

Dakota Wyne, Financial Assistant II


1 MIT does not reimburse sales tax, however exceptions will be made for meal tax. MIT is a tax exempt institution. Back to Top

Last updated on August 20, 2020 10:36 AM