FAQ – Academic travel

EPFL Travel Directives and exceptions Travel request EPFL Travel Agency Passenger profile
Air Travel Accomodation Rail Travel Public transport season tickets
Travelling by car

Associated Campuses

Student Travel Expense & Reimbursement
Risks & Security      

EPFL Travel Directives and exceptions

All requests for exceptions to the travel directives must be sent before booking by e-mail to [email protected]

In accordance with LEX 5.6.2, Article 7, for any destination accessible by train in less than 6 hours, the journey must be made by train. However, travel by air is authorised in economy class in exceptional circumstances if expected disruptions extend the journey beyond 6 hours.

In accordance with the directives of the Swiss Confederation and the EPFL, flights between Swiss airports are not authorised and are therefore not considered as professional expenses reimbursed by the EPFL.

Yes, business class is only authorised for staff and guests if the duration of the flight is six hours or more, as specified in LEX 5.6.2.

The use of boats or cargo ships as an alternative to air travel is not authorized by EPFL.

The balance of interests was as follows:

  • Bookings cannot be made via EPFL’s central travel agency, Kuoni Business Travel, so it will be difficult to ensure the School’s due dilligence.
  • In addition, this special type of travel requires a specific risk analysis for each request, in order to verify the following points:
    • Provision of specific means of communication (satellite telephone)
    • Assessment of the employee’s state of health to ensure that he or she is fit for the trip.
    • Assessment of ship’s safety and emergency protocols
    • Assessment of the boat’s health and emergency protocols
    • Setting up a specific crisis unit for this crossing

In conclusion, all the above elements taken into account represent a relatively significant work overload compared to the use of other means of transport which do not require this type of analysis.

Travel request

If the trip involves air travel or at least one night’s accommodation, a travel request and expense claim must be submitted via the Expense report tool before any booking is made. In the expense reports tab, click on “My travel requests” and then on the small “+” at the bottom of the page.

For any technical assistance concerning the travel request, please contact [email protected]

It is required to have a validated travel request before booking air travel or overnight accommodation.

EPFL Travel Agency

The travel agency has access to exactly the same fares as those offered by the vast majority of airlines.

If you see a difference, here are some explanations: each airline reserves the right to sell tickets at lower fares, but these are only available for direct purchase via the airline’s website. A small price difference can also be explained by the fees that some airlines charge agencies for selling tickets via their reservation system.

In addition, there are metasites, such as Kayak or others, which display lower initial prices, whiche are not guaranteed and which will be be equivalent to those offered by the agency at the end of the booking process.

The rates negotiated by the Confederation available to the travel agency are often more attractive than those offered by the airlines and metasites. These rates also offer greater flexibility in the event of changes or cancellations.

No, all flight bookings must be made through the EPFL travel agency. A meeting can be arranged with the agency to discuss and verify price differences.

No, the travel agency is reserved exclusively for the EPFL community. Guests and external persons can benefit from the agency’s services only if the trip is organised and/or paid for by an EPFL unit.

Yes, an online booking tool will be made available to the EPFL community next spring (2024) and will be the subject of training sessions and further communication.

Kuoni Business Travel (DER Touristik Suisse) can advise you and help you with the necessary formalities, but the traveller will have to apply directly to the airline for reimbursement of costs and compensation for delays, cancellations or other flight irregularities.

The agency will not be able to do this because confidential information is required (the traveller’s private bank account, for example). However, the agency will take care of the total or partial reimbursement of the flight ticket, if necessary.

The travel agency supports the traveller at every stage of the planning and booking process, including obtaining travel documents (via CIBTvisas), automatically creating a traveller profile, requesting quotes and searching for the best flights in terms of price and connections, automatically transferring accounting entries, and providing support through emergency services and international assistance.

Yes, the EPFL Travel Commission has already ruled on this matter. However, before booking any filght, a travel request must be made and the agency must be informed of the reason for the exception.

After a transitional year in 2023, anyone travelling on EPFL business will now be required to comply with the directives in force. Cases of non-compliance will be discussed by the VPT/VPF directly with the traveller, and disciplinary measures will be taken in the event of a repeat offence. In the event of difficulties, the EPFL Travel Commission is available to support administrative staff in applying the directives.

Passenger profile

In compliance with federal data protection laws, CWT’s traveller profiles will be deleted as soon as CWT ceases to operate on campus, with the exception of current bookings.

It will therefore be necessary to recreate the profiles with Kuoni in accordance with the procedures described on the travel agency’s web page.

Air travel

For the same destination, there may be price differences between a flight from Zurich and one from Geneva via Zurich, but these are not due to airport taxes, which are the same throughout Switzerland.

Price differences may be due in particular to the number of seats remaining and available in the classes requested. It is true that there is regularly more availability on flights departing from Geneva, so the price of the trip will generally be lower.

However, regardless of the price, all flights between Geneva and Zurich airports are forbidden by EPFL and will not be reimbursed, in application with the Swiss Confederation directives.

Miles & more” cannot be used to book air travel.

This is because a traveler’s Miles & more account is a private account. Apart from personal data protection aspects, it is not possible for the central travel agency to distinguish between benefits accrued in a private capacity and benefits accrued in a professional capacity.

Furthermore, the travel agency has no access to booking data via the Miles & more department, which means that it cannot follow up on the booking (cancellations, changes, etc.). Booking information cannot therefore be sent to ISOS international assistance.


No, booking accommodation via Kuoni BT is nevertheless recommended, as from 1 December 2023 preferential rates may be applied by the agency. For further information.

On request, the travel agency can offer apartment-hotel rental.

The travel agency is not authorised to book stays on AirBnB. This is a private-to-private rental, with no guarantees and no point of contact for the agency, so it is not secure.

As the travel agency is only recommended, it is still possible for the EPFL traveller to book a flat via Airbnb. However, he/she takes full responsibility for this rental.

Train travel

The purchase of national public transport tickets available on the SBB Webshop and mobile app includes the preferential rate granted by the Confederation. The discount is only applied at the time of invoice, as the prices displayed on the SBB Webshop are public.

Access to the SBB Webshop is managed by an Accred right assigned by the accreditor of the corresponding unit. Before ordering, EPFL staff should check that they are entitled to order train tickets on the Accred EPFL site.

Summary of the procedure:

  1. Request accreditation from the unit’s administrative manager to access the EPFL contract number
  2. Link the SwissPass private account to the EPFL contract number
  3. Place the order via the Webshop or the SBB mobile app

→ A guide describing the procedure for registering and purchasing via the SBB Webshop is available for those entitled to Accred ‘railticket’. Please request the guide by writing to [email protected].

Public transport season tickets

No, temporary staff are not entitled to reimbursement of their travel costs or to subsidies for national public transport pass. To be eligible for a subsidy, temporary staff must have an EPFL employment contract with an occupation rate of 50% or more, and for a minimum period of 12 months. It may be up to the unit that hires the person on a temporary basis to decide whether or not to provide mobility assistance.

Non-transferable monthly and annual travelcards can be reimbursed according to the schedule below. To do so, contact a sales outlet of a Mobilis partner company.

Days used

From – to –

Pass reimbursement

Child/Young : Factor 9 in %

Pass reimbursement

Adult/Senior : Factor 10 in %






















Yes, the subsidy for the purchase of a 1st class general season ticket is independent of the functional level.

Travelling by car

The rental conditions are now available on the following page.

There are several points to consider. Is it a rental car or a private car? A professional or private meal? A location less than or more than 10km from EPFL?

In concrete terms, the general rule regarding the use of private vehicles is that they may only be used in the following cases:

  • disability
  • Personal health
  • Reconciling work and family commitments
  • the absence of public transport or incompatibility of routes or schedules
  • Matching the School’s policy with the travel conditions of EPFL guests
  • the handling of emergencies or cases of force majeure

The use of a private vehicle (and therefore parking) is not reimbursed for

  • All private travel
  • Journeys between associated campuses and the EPFL
  • Business trips that are less than 10km from the official place of work (as mentioned in the employment contract).

Associated campuses

Yes, students (Bachelor’s and Master’s) involved in a study project taking place on an associated campus are entitled to full reimbursement of their public transport costs. → See the regulations (PDF, 270 KB)

Only the travelcards mentioned in the regulations may be reimbursed.

Trainees are not entitled to reimbursement or subsidies for their public transport costs from the EPFL. However, it is possible to ask the laboratory concerned if it will consider the matterStudents carrying out a study project (Bachelor’s or Master’s) in an EPFL laboratory outside the Ecublens campus are entitled to full reimbursement of their public transport costs in accordance with the regulations in force.

For any reason other than study projects, travel expenses must be covered by the organising unit, either from the incentive programme fund or directly from the laboratory fund. Only the EPFL Directive on the organisation of responsible student travel (LEX 5.6.3) is binding..

Student travel

Study trips are organised by associations and paid for by students, and as such are considered private trips. Nevertheless, sections often make a flat-rate financial contribution. It is up to the Section to approve the participation of ex-matriculated students, subject to prior approval by the EPFL Travel Commission.

On the “I’ve found an internship” page, you’ll find information on internships abroad, in particular under the paragraphs “Insurance (health, accident)” and “Internships abroad”. The school section can also help in case of doubt.

As far as local work permits are concerned, the host company generally provides the necessary assistance to interns. Alternatively, EPFL students can call on the services of CIBTvisas to obtain any travel documents required by the destination or transit countries. These services are invoiced by CIBTvisas at EPFL preferential rates and must be paid for directly by the trainee.

Yes, an external lecturer can accompany a student trip.

Expense and reimbursement

All academic travel must be financed by an EPFL unit or a third-party fund. It is not permitted to organise and/or pay for a professional trip oneself according to the “no gain no loss” principle.

In this case, please contact your line manager or your HR manager.

Guests may book and purchase their own plane tickets, as recommended by the unit and in accordance with the EPFL Expenses Reimbursement Guidelines, which they can then claim back directly from their institutions.


  • A specific process must be used to integrate these people into the Expense Report beneficiaries database. Once these beneficiaries have been created, the process to be followed is similar to that for internal beneficiaries.
  • External beneficiaries should only be activated when organising a trip and creating a travel request before purchasing a ticket.
  • The use of an external beneficiary for the refund of non-travel expenses is no longer accepted and the invoice will be rejected by the accounting department. The Payment Order A form should be used.

It is only when the unit directly books and finances tickets for externals that it is necessary to go through the EPFL’s central travel agency.

Requests to create an external beneficiary are now submitted via a Finance support request on this portal.

Risks and security

Yes, any employee traveling abroad on business can contact International SOS, EPFL’s international assistance partner, in case of emergency. Information, telephone number and EPFL membership number, can be found here https://go.epfl.ch/I-SOS-EN .