EPFL Travel Directives and Travel Commission


Two new guidelines for the organisation of responsible professional travel (LEX 5.6.2) and responsible student travel (LEX 5.6.3) came into force in January 2023. They aim to reduce the School’s impact on the climate while guaranteeing a high level of service to the EPFL community.

At the same time, the School set up the Travel Commission, a body whose role is to define procedures and conditions for travel at EPFL and to approve requests for exceptions and travel to high-risk countries.

In 2019, more than 20,000 flights were taken by the entire EPFL community, generating around 16,609 tonnes of CO2-eq. Academic travel is therefore the School’s leading source of quantified emissions (35%), ahead of energy (34%) and food (13%).

In order to meet the federal government’s objective of reducing carbon emissions from travel by 30% by 2030 (ref. 2019), EPFL has adopted new travel directives, which came into force in January 2023:

Key policy measures

  • All bookings for flights organised and/or paid for by EPFL must be made exclusively through the central travel agency. Kuoni Business Travel (DER Touristik Suisse) is also the recommended purchasing channel for booking accommodation, rental cars and obtaining travel documents.
  • International assistance services have been extended to the entire EPFL community in compliance with the duty of care.
  • Any journey from one of the EPFL campuses to its final destination must be made by train if the total duration of the journey is less than six hours. The predefined list of destinations to be reached by train applies (LEX 5.6.2, appendix I).
  • For business trips by air lasting less than six hours, only Economy or Economy+ classes are authorised. For journeys of more than six hours, Economy class is strongly recommended. First class is prohibited.
  • Priority is given to direct flights and the most CO2-efficient airlines.
  • Flights between Swiss cities are not permitted, including connecting flights;
  • New discounts on public transport season tickets have been introduced and extended to all staff (including PhDs, trainees and apprentices).
  • The use of private vehicles for business purposes is limited to exceptional cases.
  • An internal climate contribution to a climate and sustainability fund will be introduced from 1 January 2025.

A partial revision of the directives is planned for the end of 2023 in order to specify the booking procedures via the new central travel agency, as well as to define the cases of exception to the rules laid down.

EPFL Travel Commission

The role of the Travel Commission is to:

  • Define the content and support the implementation of travel directives;
  • Validate requests for exceptions and travel to high-risk countries;
  • Select travel service providers and continuously improve the services offered to the EPFL community;
  • Define and simplify travel booking procedures;
  • Carry out a financial and environmental review of EPFL travel.

Please note that the Travel Commission does not deal with issues relating to the reimbursement of professional expenses.