Travel Policies & Procedures

(Effective April 30, 2021)

Travel Policies

Please reference the University Policy Library for additional details:

Travel Procedures

A new per diem rate will apply to all travel beginning on or after March 22, 2023. The daily travel rate will be increased to $57.00 per day. Current percentage rates will still apply to travel days and meal breakdowns. The mileage rate will be increased to $0.59 per mile for personal vehicles.

Definitions & Instructions

Travel Status

The University considers individuals to be in travel status from the time they leave for University travel to the time they return from University travel, with consideration given to tax home (as defined in IRS Publication 463).  These procedures apply to the time individuals are in travel status.

Travel Authorization (TA)

All University travel must be supported by a properly completed Travel Authorization (TA) in ServiceNow unless the only expenses are the use of University owned vehicles, including departmental and Motor Pool vehicles.

Departments are encouraged to use the TA as a tool to estimate the total cost of the trip.  This can help a department stay within their travel budget.

The TA# should be added in the reference cell in ServiceNow to all trip expenses paid with an All-Card, P-card, or Travel Card; or in EZ-Buy using the product description field, to facilitate accumulation and reconciliation of total trip costs.  Purchases paid with any of the purchase cards will then automatically appear on the traveler’s Travel Authorization/Travel Reimbursement(s).

Open TA’s should only be used for reoccurring same-day mileage only travel.  They must be closed at the end of each fiscal year.

Travel Reimbursement (TR)

Travel Reimbursement(s) (TR) are submitted in ServiceNow specifically to document trip expenses that are to be reimbursed to the traveler.  Departments may use the built-in checklist provided within the TR form in ServiceNow as a tool to accumulate and document all trip expenses, regardless of how they were paid, to help in the reconciliation and approval process of the entire trip.

When students are involved in overnight travel, a TR must be completed in order to facilitate reporting for the Clery Act, even if there are no expenses to be reimbursed.  For travel not involving students or reimbursable expenses, a TR is not needed but may be used to accumulate and document expenses. In this situation, the TA should be “archived” by the department travel specialists.

Reconciliation

Travel expenses for any one trip can be paid at various times and by various people before, during, or after the trip, and by various methods, such as purchasing cards, TRs, etc.  In some cases travel expenses for an individual traveler may also be paid by another member of the group, such as in situations involving group meals or business meals.  It is the responsibility of the department and Business Services to accumulate and review all expenses for each trip and each traveler as a control to ensure that no double payments have been made, that fraud has not occurred, and that the cost of the trip is within the budget parameters of the department.

Suggestions include documenting all expenses on the TR, using the built-in checklist, or on an Excel template that lists all possible expenses, so that all costs of a trip can be compiled on one report. An important part of the process is to confirm expenses with the traveler, by asking questions and gathering documentation regarding provided meals and expenses that were paid by others.

Documentation

IRS regulations require appropriate documentation to support the business purpose of expenses that would otherwise be considered taxable to employees. Requests for reimbursements should be made on a timely basis, generally within 30 days of purchase and no later than 60 days to comply with IRS safe harbor guidelines. 

Group Travel

Group travel is defined as two or more people traveling together and sharing expenses for authorized University business. This could include: employees, students, or employees and students.

The department and Business Services are responsible to accumulate and review all group travel expenses to ensure that no double payments are made to individuals, to mitigate the risk of fraud, and to document the total cost of a group trip.  A template example is available.

A TA should be processed in the name of the leader of the group.  The TA will be referred to as the “Group TA”.  A list of all travelers in the group, and any additional TA numbers issued as part of the same trip, should be included in the comment section of the Group TA or attached as a separate document.  If any traveler other than the leader is expected to receive a reimbursement, a separate TA must be completed for that traveler.  The Group TA# should also be referenced on any separate TA.  Any changes to the list of participants should be updated on the Group TR(s).

Approvals

Business Services personnel should ensure that a TA is not approved by the traveler at the 300 level and above.  Additionally, if a department head travels with a group, the Group TA should be in the department head’s name or the department head should have a separate TA from the group, with the Group TA referenced.

Non-employee/Guest

Travel expenses incurred by a non-employee/guest traveling for University business may be paid by various means, just like any other traveler.  A TA should be issued for any non-employee/guest traveler even if the University is going to pay all expenses and there will be no reimbursement to the traveler.  Departments are encouraged to accumulate all expenses incurred by the traveler on a TA/TR or on a template that is later attached to the TA/TR. This allows the department to see the total costs of the non-employee/guest traveler’s trip.

Funding

When university funds are not available to reimburse all expenses, an individual is not obligated to travel. However, if the individual chooses to travel, it is expected that the traveler will assume the remainder of the cost.

Travel Reimbursement Rates

Transportation

Automobile

Motor pool vehicles are the preferred method when automobile travel is required for University business.

Private Automobile

When using your private automobile, your personal automobile insurance will be the primary insurance coverage. The University's automobile insurance will only be effective after your personal insurance has been fully exhausted.

The mileage reimbursement rates are determined utilizing Motor Pool data for cost of operation adjusted for cost of fuel. Rates will not be greater than the approved IRS rate.

The following mileage reimbursement rates are effective March 22, 2023.

  • Passenger Cars $.59 per mile
  • Pickups & SUVs $.66 per mile (Only available when University related travel requires hauling a load or towing a trailer)

NOTE: If a traveler is provided with a University vehicle and is required to cover all of the operating costs of that vehicle, the reimbursement rate for miles traveled on University business is $0.37 per mile. This rate will be adjusted as needed to ensure that it never exceeds the IRS moving expense rate.

Additional Mileage Reimbursement Rules
  • Commute is defined as those miles from your place of residence to your work location.
  • Under IRS regulations, commuting expenses are not reimbursable to an employee.
  • Your work location is constant regardless of weekend or evening travel.
  • If you have an office location away from your home, that will be considered your primary office and will be used as a basis for mileage reimbursements even if you work from home some days.
  • Your mileage log and/or google maps should include all stops along the way. We will check your miles for accuracy. If we don’t know what additional stops you made, we will ask you to reduce your miles.
  • If you take a route other than the shortest one, please provide justification as to why a longer route was taken. A justifiable business purpose must be given.
  • For personal mileage reimbursement on an open TA, documentation of mileage must be submitted which should include dates, miles traveled, and destination cities. (Mileage log template)

Rates will be reviewed at least annually. If motor pool rates have changed, new reimbursement rates will be presented to the Executive Committee for consideration. 

Fueling Procedures for University Vehicles

Departments should utilize the designated gas cards for fueling university vehicles whenever feasible. In instances where this is not feasible, the use of personal credit cards or the university All-Card is permissible.

For fuel purchases made using alternative payment methods, please provide the following:

  • An itemized receipt
  • Vehicle plate number
  • Odometer reading at time of fueling

This information should be forwarded to the department for review.  This information will need to be attached to the P-Card transaction and/or the TR.  A copy will also need to be sent to Motor Pool for any Motor Pool vehicle.

By adhering to these established procedures, departments ensure accurate documentation and reimbursement for fuel transactions, thereby facilitating effective vehicle management and financial accountability.

Automobile at Airfare Rate

When traveling out-of-state and the traveler elects to drive his or her own car instead of using a commercial carrier, reimbursement will be the lower of:

  • The allowable mileage rate; or
  • The associated expenses of flying as allowed and documented by the department.
Rental Cars

Reimbursement for rental cars will be based on actual receipts with reductions for any personal use outside of the University travel period.

Pre-contracted liability and physical damage insurance is available for vehicles rented from certain car rental agencies, if the traveler uses the appropriate Contract Number and pays the pre-negotiated rates. As these rental contracts are negotiated periodically, travelers should make sure they have the relevant information for the current fiscal year. Please refer to the Rental Vehicle website under Risk Management Services about contracts and insurance coverage.

Commercial Aircraft

Reimbursable air transportation costs are limited to those fares less than first class. Reimbursement will be based on actual costs as supported by detailed receipts.

Private Aircraft

Reimbursement will be ten cents higher than the private automobile reimbursement rate per mile for one person and fifteen cents higher than the private automobile reimbursement rate per mile for two or more persons.

Private aircraft owners opting to fly their aircraft on University business must have their own liability insurance. This insurance coverage should be at least $1,000,000 per occurrence and name the University as an additional insured for such flights.

Lodging

Domestic Travel

Lodging will be reimbursed at actual costs as supported by itemized receipts.

International Travel

Lodging will be reimbursed at actual costs as supported by itemized receipts not to exceed the maximum allowable Federal lodging per diem rate. The maximum allowable Federal lodging per diem rates can be found at the US Department of State Office of Allowances. Per Federal guidelines, if reasonable lodging accommodations cannot be secured at a location where the actual cost is within the maximum lodging per diem allowed, the traveler may request reimbursement on an actual expense basis, not to exceed 300 percent of the maximum lodging per diem allowance. Approval of actual expenses in excess of the maximum lodging per diem allowed should usually happen in advance of travel and at the discretion of the Department Administrator.

Lodging at Other than a Motel/Hotel

Travelers may elect to stay with friends, relatives, personal accommodations other than the traveler's permanent residence, personally owned campers, or personally owned trailer homes instead of staying in a motel/hotel. With an authorized TA and proof of staying overnight away from home, the traveler will be reimbursed as follows:

  • $25 per night with no receipts required; or
  • Actual cost with a receipt from a facility such as a campground or trailer park.

Meals

Actual Costs (applicable to both Domestic and International Travel)
Reimbursement for meals based on actual costs must be supported by an itemized receipt. If reimbursement for actual costs for any given meal is requested, then ALL meals for THAT TRIP must be reimbursed at actual costs. Alcohol is only allowed in Meals & Entertainment situations.
Per Diem
Domestic Travel

Travelers may be reimbursed on a per diem basis for any trip. The current per diem rate is $57.00.

International Travel

Travelers may be reimbursed on a per diem basis for any given trip. The per diem rates applicable are those outlined in the Federal Travel Regulations. Calculated based on the destinantion city. These rates are available through the Department of State website.

Partial-Day Travel

The first and last day of any travel requiring more than a single day will be reimbursed at 75% of the per diem rate.

Example #1 - Assuming travel occurred over a two day period the following per diem calculation would apply:

  • Day 1- .75 X $57.00 = $42.75
  • Day 2- .75 X $57.00 = $42.75
  • Total = $85.50

Example #2 - Assuming travel occurred over a three day period the following per diem calculation would apply:

  • Day 1- .75 X $57.00 = $42.75
  • Day 2- Full per diem = $57.00
  • Day 3- .75 X $57.00 = $42.75
  • Total = $142.50
Multiple Destination Points

The per diem rate will be based on the destination point. Where there is more than one destination point, the per diem could be different for any given travel itinerary. For example, travel might include a conference in Washington D.C. and then a departure to London, England. The initial per diem rate would be based on the current per diem rate for domestic travel. Upon departure from Washington D.C., the per diem rate would be effective for London, England.

Example – Assuming per diem rate of $57 per day for domestic travel and $193 per day for London and an itinerary as follows:

  • Depart Salt Lake City for Washington D.C. on Monday at 9:00 a.m.
  • Attend a conference in Washington D.C. through Wednesday until 11:00 a.m.
  • Depart Washington D.C. for London, England on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.
  • Make a presentation at a research conference in London, England that ends Saturday at 5:00 p.m.
  • Depart London, England for Salt Lake City on Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m.

Per diem calculations would be as follows:

  • Monday domestic rate at $57 x 75% (first day of travel) $42.75
  • Tuesday domestic rate at $57.00
  • Wednesday (depart to London) international rate $193.00
  • Thursday through Saturday international rate $193 x 3 days = $579.00
  • Sunday domestic rate $57 X 75% (last day of travel) $42.75
  • Total per diem for meals $914.50
Adjustment for Meals Provided

Reimbursement under the per diem method will be adjusted for any meals provided. The adjustment for meals will be based on a percentage of the total per diem allowed: 25% for breakfast, 30% for lunch, and 45% for dinner.

Meal Percentage Travel Day Amount ($42.75) Full Day Amount ($57)
Breakfast 25% $10.69 $14.25
Lunch 30% $12.82 $17.10
Dinner 45% $19.23 $25.65
Travel Not Requiring an Overnight Stay
For single day travel where the individual is in travel status for more than 12 hours but is not required to stay overnight, the meal reimbursement will be at the actual cost as supported by an itemized receipt or 75% of the per diem rate. This meal reimbursement will be reported as taxable income in accordance with Internal Revenue Service regulations.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

  • Parking Fees - Parking fees are reimbursable at the actual cost as supported by a receipt.
  • Taxi, WIFI, etc. - All University business related expenditures are reimbursable at actual cost. Individual transactions of $15.00 or more must be supported by an itemized receipt.
  • ATM Fees - ATM fees charged to obtain a cash advance related to University travel will be reimbursed to the traveler

Other

International Travel Insurance

With the well being of international travelers as a top priority, Utah State University has contracted with International SOS (SOS) to provide travel assistance services for the university community traveling abroad on university business or sponsored activities. SOS provides security and medical evacuation services, and a variety of online health, safety, and security resources. Go to the University Risk Management website and select International Travel Insurance. From there, access the SOS website to complete a traveler profile, obtain helpful travel information and print an ID card for your wallet.

The USU pin is: 11BYSG000002

For additional information regarding this valuable program call the Office of Risk Management, at 435-797-1844.

Family/Companion Travel

For those occasions when it is determined that family/companion travel is essential or beneficial to the University for the accomplishment of a bona fide business purpose, University funds may be used to reimburse the family/companion travel expenses with approval by the appropriate Dean or Vice President.

Reimbursement Approval Form

The following form is used to document the approval by the Dean or Vice President and to determine if the family/companion travel is essential or beneficial to the University: Companion Travel Approval Form.

Essential Family/Companion Travel

If the approved family/companion travel is determined to be essential (not just beneficial), to the University for the accomplishment of a bona fide business purpose, the reimbursement will be non-taxable to the employee.

Essential family/companion travel and a bona fide business purpose may be established with the following criteria:

  • The presence of the companion would be considered essential to the University and is necessary for the employee to carry out the business purpose, AND
  • The predominant purpose of the companion travel is to serve the University's business purpose, AND
  • The companion must perform significant and substantive business related functions and those functions must be documented by including the following items:
    • Agenda, Calendar, or Schedule of Events detailing the required companion participation.
    • Describe the bona fide business purpose that predominantly benefitted the University.
    • Describe the significant and substantive business related functions performed by the Companion.
    • Describe how the presence of the companion was essential to the University.
Beneficial Family/Companion Travel

If the approved family/companion travel is determined to be beneficial to the University for the accomplishment of a business purpose but does not meet the requirements for essential family/companion travel or the traveler chooses not to complete the documentation as listed above, the reimbursement will be taxable to the employee and withholding taxes will be deducted from the next available payroll. Record the Family/Companion expenses on the Travel Reimbursement (TR). The travel office will submit these expenses to be taxed through the next available payroll.