Common Pharma Company Travel Policies

June 13, 2019

An effective pharmaceutical company's travel policy serves two vital purposes: providing employees and contractors/vendors with clear expense guidelines and ensuring compliance with industry regulations. Though individual policies may vary, certain common threads are present among most pharma companies.

Reservation Procedures

Pharma companies typically require travel arrangements to be made through designated travel agents/offices. Non-employee travelers must complete a specified travel authorization form approved by an employee/sponsor. Reimbursable expenses are outlined and approved beforehand. Understanding the corporate policy is essential to ensure maximum approved expense reimbursement.

Air and Rail Travel

Reimbursable air travel is limited to "economy class" only, with upgrades at the traveler's expense. Travelers are expected to select the lowest possible fare regardless of stops or layovers. Planning in advance is encouraged. While travelers may use their "frequent flyer" accounts, it should not incur costs for the pharma company. Rail travel is also reimbursable for "economy class" reservations, but upgrades are not covered. Rail travel is recommended when more cost-effective and time-efficient than other options.

Ground Transportation and Parking

Preferred vendor agreements with car rental companies and airport parking lots are common. Travelers should use designated vendors unless more affordable options are available. Renting a vehicle is reimbursable only if cost-effective compared to taxis or other car services.


Pharma companies often have preferred hotel programs worldwide. Travelers seeking reimbursement may be required to stay in these hotels with standard rooms. Upgrades, like suites or premium views, are usually at the traveler's expense, unless a "customer's rate" on a standard room is less expensive than the preferred hotel rate.


Per diem meal reimbursement ranges from $50 to $100 a day based on location/country. Policies outline required details on receipts for reimbursement, including itemized food orders, location, date, and time. Business meal reimbursements require submission of the names/roles of attendees. Limits for meals with healthcare professionals (HCPs) and government officials are specified.


Pharma travel policies demand itemized documentation due to industry accountability regulations for healthcare professionals (HCPs). Policies detail reimbursable travel items and provide clarity on what expenses are covered. It is crucial to thoroughly read the policies before making any arrangements or purchases to ensure compliance and cost-effectiveness.


An effective pharmaceutical travel policy is essential for maintaining compliance with industry regulations while managing expenses. Clear guidelines on reservations, transportation, lodging, meals, and documentation are crucial for achieving organizational goals and adhering to industry standards. By understanding and following the policy, employees and contractors/vendors can ensure smooth and compliant travel arrangements within the pharmaceutical industry.

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