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Revised: January 21, 2011

Also refer to Signature Authority Policy

Table of Contents

Travel Policy
Frequent Flyer Miles and Other In-Kind Promotional Benefits
First Class Travel
IRS Regulations for Accountable Plans
Ordinary and Necessary Defined
Travel Expense Defined
Traveling Away From Home Defined
Tax Home Defined
One Day Trips Defined
Per Diem Defined
Excluded Expenses
Combining Actual Expenses and Per Diem in a Single Trip
Prorating Per Diem
Modified Per Diem Rates
Requirements for Substantiation
Methods of Payment
Who Can Incur Travel Expenses
Spousal Travel
Combined Business & Personal Travel
Transportation by Personal Auto
Standard Mileage Rate
Most Direct Route
Authorization for Payment Reimbursement Procedure
Procedure: Claiming Per Diem
Procard Procedure
Travel Advances Procedure
Unused Travel Advances Procedure
Related Policies
Additional Information

Travel policy

The University will pay for ordinary and necessary business-related travel expenses in accordance with IRS regulations and government travel regulations.

Frequent flyer miles and other in-kind promotional benefits

The University permits employees to retain for personal use promotional benefits such as frequent flyer miles, "points," or other in-kind promotional benefits. While these benefits may be used to upgrade from coach or economy class to first class travel or to pay for University-related business travel, the University will not reimburse the traveler for the cash value of the benefits.

First class travel

The University does not pay the cost of first class travel. While individuals may choose to travel first class, the University will pay up to the cost of coach or economy class travel. Any exceptions to this policy require the written approval of the Vice President/Provost, obtained in advance of travel (see Authorization for First Class/Travel Upgrade form).  Employees are permitted to use personal airline miles, "points," or other for upgrades; however, the University will not reimburse employees for the value of these upgrades.

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IRS regulations for accountable plans

For travel-related reimbursements to be accountable and therefore non-taxable, IRS regulations require the University to reimburse only substantiated ordinary and necessary traveling expenses for individuals traveling away from home. All three of the following must be met:

  • There must be a business connection for the expense.
  • The traveler must substantiate the expense within a reasonable amount of time.
  • The traveler must return to the employer amounts advanced in excess of substantiated expenses. (The University requires no more than ten business days).

Ordinary and necessary defined

An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in the field of higher education. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for the University's business.

Travel expense defined

A travel expense is an ordinary and necessary expense of traveling away from employee's home, business, profession or job. Travel expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • transportation (airplane, train, bus, auto, taxi, etc.),
  • lodging,
  • meals (either at actual cost or per diem in lieu of actual cost),
  • tips,
  • other such as parking, bridge tolls, shipping,
  • telephone, and
  • meeting/conference registration fees.

Traveling away from home defined

You are traveling away from your home if (both tests must be met):

  • You are away from your tax home substantially longer than a day's work.
  • You need sleep or rest to meet the demands of your work while away from home (sleep and rest rule).

Therefore an overnight stay is required before an expense can be considered a travel expense with exception of mileage, tolls, parking.

Tax home defined

Your tax home is the city in which your regular place of business is located regardless of where you maintain your family home.

One day trips defined

Trips of 50 miles or less one way from your tax home generally do not qualify for an overnight stay as they do not meet the sleep and rest rule. Further, meals consumed during these trips do not qualify for reimbursement as travel expenses; however, they may qualify as entertainment expenses. See Entertainment Policy for information on claiming meal expenses for one day trips.

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Per diem defined

Instead of substantiating actual meal and incidental (i.e. tips) expenses for travel, the traveler may use a per diem rate. Per diem rates vary by city and are for a full 24-hour day. Per diem rates are found at

Note: An overnight stay is required to use per diem method of claiming meal and incidental expenses. Print page from for city per diem rate claimed and attach to Authorization for Payment form.

Excluded expenses

Examples of expenses deemed as personal by the University and therefore not reimbursed include:

  • dependent care services,
  • premiums for travel accident insurance,
  • theft, loss of funds, damage or loss of personal luggage and effects,
  • personal entertainment (including in-room movies, video rentals, barbering services, spa services, health club/recreational club fees, etc.), and
  • dry cleaning.

Combining actual expenses and per diem in a single trip

The traveler cannot use both the per diem and actual expense method for meals during the same trip. However, on certain occasions, the traveler may be required to provide a meal for an athletic, other student team, donor cultivation, etc. On those days receipts for actual expenses may be submitted even though for the remainder of the trip the traveler claims per diem.

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Prorating per diem

The University does not require prorating of per diem on travel days.

Modified per diem rates

Departments may choose to use lower per diem rates than those published by GSA. However, departments must notify the traveler of the reduced rate in advance of travel.
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Requirements for substantiation

Original receipts, paid bills, or detailed listing of expense which show

  • amount,
  • date,
  • place, and
  • essential character of the expenditure (i.e., meals, lodging, tips, etc.)
If the expense is... Then...
> $75

Original receipt or paid bill required

Note: Photocopies are not acceptable.

< $75 Original receipt or paid bill encouraged, but detailed listing (Excel schedule) of expense and amount is acceptable.

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Methods of payment

The University pays for travel expenses with the following methods:

  • reimbursement on Authorization for Payment form,
  • university-issued procard card, or
  • advances, up to 90% of anticipated expenses remainder reimbursed on Authorization for Payment form upon return).

Who can incur travel expenses

Any individual can incur travel expenses on behalf of the University provided the expenses are related to official University business, are substantiated, are not disallowed by University or regulatory policy, and are approved by the cognizant University official (for Board members, students, etc.) or employee's supervisor.

Note: Non-exempt staff must be paid for travel time. Contact the Payroll Department for additional information.

Spousal travel

In general, the expenses of a spouse, family, or other accompanying the business traveler are not reimbursable. Exceptions may be granted with the approval of the President or a Vice President if one of the following conditions are met:

  • The spouse has significant role in the proceedings.
  • The spouse is involved in fund-raising activities.

The business purpose for the spouse's expenses must be clearly identified on the Authorization for Payment form or Procard statement (see Spousal Travel/Event Attendance Justification form).

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Combined business and personal travel

In the event University business-related travel is combined with personal travel, the traveler is required to split the costs between business and personal purposes and claim reimbursement only for ordinary and necessary University business-related travel expenses.

Transportation by personal auto

The University will pay a standard mileage rate for University-related travel by personal automobile based on actual driving distance by the most direct route (see definition below). The standard mileage rate used by the University is the rate used by the U.S. General Services Administration for private occupancy vehicles (POV) and may be found at

Note: Traveler is not required to submit results of Mapquest or similar query to substantiate driving distance. However, the traveler submitting a request for reimbursement and the supervisor approving the expenses submitted are held responsible and accountable for the accuracy of the expenses claimed including miles reported on the claim.

Standard mileage rate

The standard mileage rate is a rate used in lieu of all actual automobile expenses such as fuel and lubrication, towing charges, physical damage to vehicle, repairs, replacements, tires, depreciation, wear and tear, insurance, etc.

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Most direct route

The most direct route avoids side-trips not of a business nature or and is calculated from the University to destination or from the tax home to the destination, whichever is less.
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Authorization for Payment reimbursement procedure

Follow the procedure below to obtain reimbursement for travel expenses on an Authorization for Payment form:

Step Action
1 Gather all original receipts, bills, or lists of expenses if below $75.
2 Attach these receipts to an 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper.
3 Prepare Excel spreadsheet summing receipts by category (i.e., lodging, meals, transportation, etc.)
4 Complete a department expense report (if required by your department).
5 Prepare Authorization for Payment form categorizing expenditures by type and charging the appropriate index and commodity codes for each type of expense. Include a written statement of business purpose on the Authorization for Payment form along with the dates and destination.
6 Have your immediate supervisor sign both the department expense report (if used) and Authorization for Payment  form.
Note: Immediate supervisor is the individual who evaluates the employee's performance, recommends salary adjustments, and is the hiring authority for the position.
7 Attach the original department expense report, paper with original receipts, and Excel spreadsheet to the Authorization for Payment form and submit to Accounts Payable.

Note: If per diem is used please see procedure below for claiming per diem.

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Procedure: claiming per diem

Follow the procedure below to claim a per diem in lieu of actual meal expenses:

Step Action
1 Visit the Federal government's website at
2 Select the per diem rates link for the year of travel.
3 Select the state or country and print the page(s) which show the city(ies) visited.
4 Rate claimed is the M&IE rate only (meals and incidental expenses).
Note: If the city is not specifically listed, the traveler must use the M&IE rate for the locality (i.e., state or country) displayed on the web site. Per diem and actual expenses may not be combined in a single trip except for those instances listed above in combining actual and per diem expenses in a sing trip.
5 Attach printout from government web site to Authorization for Payment form to substantiate the rate claimed.

Procard procedure

Consult Procard procedures and/or contact the Purchasing Department for information.

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Travel advances procedure

Follow the procedure below for travel advances:

Step Action
1 Complete Authorization for Payment form indicating estimated cost of the trip and the travel advance amount requested.
Note: Travel advances are limited to 90% of the estimated total cost for the trip.
2 Charge the appropriate index code and commodity code T390 Advances (account number 7158). Indicate whether you want a direct deposit, check or traveler's checks for the advance.
3 Have your immediate supervisor sign the Authorization for Payment form as an authorizer.
Note: Immediate supervisor is the individual who evaluates the employee's performance, recommends salary adjustments, and is the hiring authority for the position.
4 Submit the Authorization for Payment form to Accounts Payable.
5 If traveler wants funds in form of... Then...
Direct Deposit/Check

Direct deposit will be electronically sent to the bank account on file.
Check will be issued by Accounts Payable and sent to your home address

Note: Please allow ten business days for processing.

Traveler's checks

Traveler's checks may be picked up in Financial Reporting.

Note: Please allow three business days for processing. Traveler's checks may not be available at the Sacramento or San Francisco campuses.


Upon return from the trip, submit an Authorization for Payment form (see procedures above) within ten business days and deduct the amount of the advance on the Authorization for Payment form (charging commodity code T390). For unused travel advances see Unused Travel Advance Procedure below.

Note: By accepting a travel advance, the employee authorizes the University to add the amount of any unsubstantiated travel advances at calendar year end to the W-2 as taxable income subject to withholding for FICA, FIT, SIT, and SDI taxes.

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Unused travel advances procedure

Follow the procedure below to return any unused travel advances:

Step Action
1 Upon return from the trip, submit a Journal Entry form (available from Financial Reporting) within ten business days to account for actual expenditures.
2 Prepare a Cash Deposit form (See Receipts Handling Policy for guidance) for the excess advance returned. Use the index code originally used for the advance and commodity code T390 Travel Advances (account 7158).
3 Deposit the funds with the University's cashiers (see Receipts Handling Policy for guidance).
4  Attach deposit receipt to Journal Entry form and submit to Financial Reporting.

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Related policies

Entertainment Policy, Expenditure Authorization Policy, Procurement Policy, Receipts Handling Policy.

Additional information

Contact Accounts Payable for additional information.

Contact Risk Management for related Travel Policy and forms.

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