University Policies
contact us      •      SU home
Keyword Search      •      Policy Home



University Ethics, Integrity, and Legal Compliance

Travel Policy

Scope

The policy applies to faculty, staff, and students who travel in official University capacities, both domestic and international, and for whom the University will directly pay, or reimburse them for travel and entertainment expenses.

Policy Statement

This document sets forth policies to govern domestic and international travel on authorized Syracuse University business. This document also includes policies governing the reimbursement of business-related travel and entertainment expenses incurred by Syracuse University employees, including staff, faculty, and students employed by the University. Academic or Administrative Units may impose further restrictions. It does not cover relocation.

All travel and entertainment expenses must meet federal regulations, including Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules on "accountable plans". Under these rules, an employee will be advanced or reimbursed tax-free for certain travel expenses provided the following three conditions are satisfied:

  • Advances and reimbursements must be legitimate expenses as defined by this policy and be paid or incurred by the employee in connection with his or her services as a University employee;
  • Travelers must substantiate through documentation the date, place, amount, names of attendees (University and non-University individuals), and explicit business purpose of each expense within 60 days of the trip end date to avoid part or all of the reimbursement being treated as taxable wages; and
  • Advanced amounts in excess of these expenses must be returned within 60 days after the trip end date.

The Chancellor for direct reports of the Chancellor, and the Division Heads (Vice Chancellor and Provost, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President for Advancement and External Affairs, Senior Vice Presidents, and Director of Athletics) for individuals in their respective division are responsible for ensuring compliance with this travel policy.

A full list of IRS requirements may be found in Publication 463, available at (http://www.irs.gov/publications/p463/).

Reason for Policy/Purpose

This document establishes general policy applicable to all University-related travel, entertainment and business expense reimbursements. This policy along with the University guidelines and procedures are intended to:

  • Provide a clear and comprehensive description of the policies and procedures for reimbursement of travel and entertainment expenses.
  • Provide for safe travel for those traveling on University business
  • Clarify federal and state regulatory requirements, such as IRS rules, or sponsored research regulations (e.g., Uniform Grant Guidance (Omni-Circular))
  • Reduce the administrative burden
  • Ensure that the University and its employees receive the best value for their travel dollars

Additionally, this document provides information on discounts that University employees may take advantage of for personal travel, although this personal travel is not eligible for reimbursement.

Policy

General Guidelines

Travelers will not be compensated for personal travel, or travel by members of their party who are not traveling on University business (e.g., spouses, domestic partners, or other dependents). Further, travelers will not be compensated for personal travel costs incurred in conjunction with business travel.

This policy draws a distinction among three categories of employee and student travel:

  1. University funded travel: Expenses are reimbursed by the University for travel on University business. Travelers are subject to this policy (i.e., prior notification; travel conditions; expense approvals, verifications).
  2. Sponsored research / grant funded travel: Travel expenses are reimbursed by external (non-University) grants. Specific stipulations set forth by the sponsoring entity supersede this policy when the two conflict. Travelers should refer to the “Additional Requirements for Sponsored Travel” section for further guidance.
  3. Other travel: Travel expenses are reimbursed by non-University entities, for example, as part of speaking arrangements or third-party consulting fees. This type of travel is not subject to elements of this travel policy. Travelers may not use their University Credit Card for this category of travel. However, travelers should notify their supervisor of travel plans in advance if traveling on business that is relevant to University activities but is reimbursed by a third party.

If an individual is traveling on sponsored funds, but is unsure of the sponsored travel requirements, the Office of Sponsored Accounting and/or the Office of Sponsored Programs should be consulted ahead of traveling to obtain clarification on the funding sources for the travel.

Travelers are required to book travel at least 21 days in advance, and to use the on-line travel booking portal for air travel, hotel reservations, and car rentals to yield the best overall value for the University. Employees have the option of traveling on “per diem” rates, or by accounting for actual expenses incurred.

A - On-Line Travel Booking

  • Faculty and Staff traveling on business are required to book airline tickets, hotels, car rentals and other arrangements through the on-line booking service at www.concursolutions.com or BTI, via the Syracuse University dedicated line 315-234-1461, Monday - Friday, 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. All calls outside these hours will automatically roll to the after - hours service that can provide assistance in the US and Canada. For International Travel after Business Hours, call 201-221-4462.
  • The on-line booking service is available for business use only.
  • BTI Travel is the local Travel Management Partner for the University. Contact information follows:

BTI the Travel Consultant
124 East Jefferson Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
315-472-7737 or 800-472-7447 - Fax: 315-472-2310


B - Traveler / Employee Responsibilities
  1. For University-funded travel, travelers are encouraged to seek pre-approval from the person responsible for managing the relevant reimbursement budget. This allows the traveler and budget approver to agree on expected costs before travel is booked and facilitates approval and repayment of expense reimbursements post-travel.

    • For staff, this individual is typically a direct line report or designee.
    • For faculty, this individual is typically the department chair, principal investigator of the research project for which the travel is supported, or designee.
    • For students, this individual is typically the department chair, the supervising faculty member, or the program coordinator.

  2. Travelers must obtain approval from their expense approver in advance of booking any upgrades or exceeding spending limits as defined by this policy for travel, lodging, meals, and international travel fees.

  3. For both sponsored and University travel, travelers must notify their supervisor or designee in writing before travelling and provide emergency contact information to be reached in case of emergencies.

    • For staff, this individual is typically a direct line report or designee.
    • For faculty, this individual is typically the department chair, principal investigator of the research project for which the travel is supported, or designee.
    • For students, this individual is typically the department chair, the supervising faculty member, or the program coordinator.

  4. Before traveling internationally, employees must review travel alerts and warnings on the State Department website (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.html). For countries declared by the State Department as not suited for travel, travel on University business to those countries is prohibited. Travel to prohibited countries will not be reimbursed. For additional information, refer to compliance on page 17.

  5. Before traveling internationally, employees are required to register with International SOS ("ISOS") https://www.internationalsos.com, a University vendor that provides worldwide access to emergency medical, security and travel assistance, as well as evacuation services, if necessary. For more information on use and the University’s group membership code, please contact the Risk Management Department at (315) 443-0315, or 443-5334, or http://riskmanagement.syr.edu. ISOS provides additional coverage that employees may use for personal travel. This additional coverage is not reimbursable.

  6. Before traveling internationally for extended periods, travelers are required to register with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program; https://step.state.gov/step/) so that the local U.S. Embassy can contact the traveler in an emergency.

C - Department Supervisor / Expense Approver Responsibilities

  1. Supervisors, department chairs, or their designees in the departments or units are responsible for ensuring that emergency contact information is provided prior to travel for employees under their supervision.

  2. Ensuring adherence to this policy is the responsibility of the supervisor.

  3. Except when per diem reimbursement is used, expense approvers should confirm expense reimbursement requests are accompanied by required receipts, receipt totals match requested amounts, all amounts are listed with the proper general ledger (GL) chart string, and that dates, locations, employee signatures and required approvals and documentation are provided.

    • For staff, the expense approver is typically a direct line report, the budget manager, or a designee.
    • For faculty, this individual is typically the department chair or designee.
    • For students, this individual is typically the department chair, the supervising faculty member, program coordinator, or the budget manager.

  4. In accordance with Internal Revenue Service guidelines, travelers cannot approve their own expenses for compliance and reimbursement. For University funded travel, the expense approver should be a supervisor or designee with budget responsibility. For sponsored-travel, travelers must follow the requirements from the sponsoring agency for the appropriate approvals, which typically require approval of the PI; the Office of Sponsored Accounting is responsible for ensuring the expenses for reimbursement meet sponsored project requirements.

D - Disbursements Office/Travel Reimbursement Group

  1. The Disbursements Office will perform an independent review of expense reimbursement requests and University Credit Card reconciliations to ensure that receipt totals match requested amounts, all amounts are listed with a general ledger (GL) chart string matched to the appropriate unit, approvals are present in the form of a signature from the appropriate supervisor, the business purpose is clearly stated, dates and locations are provided, and the documentation provided is compliant with relevant University policies.

  2. The Disbursements Office will return any incomplete or missing information or reimbursement requests for inappropriate or unallowable expenses as defined by this policy to the individual in the department who has signed as approver.
Preferred Vendors

The Purchasing Office maintains discounts with preferred vendors with which it has contracted for below market rates. These discounts and vendors are automatically available through the on-line portal. These vendors may be used for personal travel, though such travel is not eligible for reimbursement.

Reimbursement Options

All University employees will be reimbursed for legitimate business expenses incurred for authorized travel on University business provided those expenses comply with this policy. Note that academic or administrative unit policies may limit travel policy options indicated in this document.

Employees may opt to travel under either "per diem" option, or an itemized "actual expense" option. The latter option can utilize the University credit card, or personal funds/credit card. Travelers must use the selected reimbursement option for the entire duration of the trip. Note that travelers using a "per diem" reimbursement option cannot use their University Credit Card for expenses that are covered under the per diem reimbursement option (e.g., meals, incidentals).

A - University Credit Card

The University Credit Card may make travel easier for travelers to pay for business travel expenses by eliminating the need for travel advances and reimbursements and eliminating most out-of-pocket expenses. In accordance with the University Credit Card policy (http://supolicies.syr.edu/ethics/travel_card.htm), employees are required to provide receipts for all charges incurred by use of the card. Detailed receipts including itemized charges, are to be submitted to support the summary charge which typically appears on a credit card receipt.

  1. The University will provide authorized employees with a University Credit Card for business travel and business entertainment expenditures.

  2. A University Credit Card may be issued after the employee completes an Acceptance Statement according to the stipulations outlined in the document (http://administrativeforms.syr.edu/administrativeforms/uploads/University%20Credit%20Card%20Acceptance%20Statement.pdf)

  3. The traveler cannot use the University Credit Card to cover expenses incurred that will be reimbursed using the per diem method of reimbursement or when travel is in line with category (3) as outlined in the “General Guidelines” section above.

  4. Travelers using the University Credit Cards should make a good faith effort to advise the vendor that purchases are tax exempt. The New York State tax free number is located on the front of the card. Some vendors require the applicable state issued sales tax form. To obtain the appropriate form contact the Purchasing Office at 443-2281.

If inappropriate or unallowable expenses as defined by this policy are charged to the University Credit Card, the traveler will be required to reimburse the University for these charges prior to the reconciliation being processed and may have his or her credit card privilege revoked.

B - Actual Expense Reimbursement

Under actual expense reimbursement, detailed receipts are required for all transactions except for tips and other incidentals that are typically not receipted. This includes lodging, travel expense, and meal charges, in accordance with Internal Revenue Service guidelines. Meal charges for persons other than the traveler are reimbursable only when names, positions, University-affiliation, and business purpose are indicated. Requests without this information will not be reimbursed.

Non-receipted incidentals are limited to $5.00 per day. Tips should not exceed 20% of the pre-tax bill. Detailed receipts including itemized charges, are to be submitted in addition to the summary charge which typically appears on a credit card receipt.

In the event the traveler cannot obtain a receipt, a detailed explanation of why a receipt is not available must be provided, including the date, place, amount, and explicit business purpose of each expense. This explanation must be signed and approved by the traveler 's expense approver before charges will be reimbursed. Any employees expecting to travel to areas where receipts may be difficult to obtain are encouraged to discuss the matter with their expense approver prior to booking travel.

C - Per Diem Reimbursement

When a per diem reimbursement is used, the University Credit Card may not be used as a form of payment for any expenses covered by the per diem policy.

Per diem is the payment of a flat sum to cover meals (including tips), lodging, and incidental expenses for each day in lieu of actual costs. When a per diem reimbursement is used, there is no need to provide detailed receipts for meals and incidental expenses. Travelers must provide evidence of travel to qualify for reimbursement. Note that transportation costs are never included in the per diem and will only be reimbursed based on an actual expense incurred; this can include air, rail, taxi, or bus tickets.

The following two options for per diem are available to travelers:

  1. Full per diem: includes per diem reimbursement for lodging, meals, and incidentals.
  2. Meals and incidentals per diem: includes per diem reimbursement for meals and incidentals only; lodging is reimbursed on an actual expense basis.

In accordance with IRS regulations, per diem rates may not exceed the government standard cost. All actual fees in excess of per diem rates will not be reimbursed under this option. (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-regs/perdiemfaq&a.prn.pdf)

The U.S. General Services Administration sets domestic per diem rates, which vary by location and season. A full schedule may be found on the GSA website (http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104877).

The U.S. State Department sets international per diem rates, which can be found on the State Department website (http://aoprals.state.gov/web920/per_diem.asp).

Travelers may choose either the actual expenses reimbursement option or a per diem reimbursement option and are required to use the chosen option for reimbursement for the entire trip.

Per diem rates may also be used for conference travel. Travelers must exclude any meals provided through conference registration from the reimbursement request at the following schedule: (breakfast 20% of total daily rate; lunch 30%; dinner 50%). This may also apply in other instances, such as exclusion of group meals paid by SU from students traveling on per diem.

In certain instances where medical or religious reasons prevent the traveler from consuming a meal provided by the conference, the traveler may claim the full per diem. Further details on the IRS policy for conference meal exceptions may be found on the GSA website (http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104206).

When using the per diem method, the business purpose and departure and return dates (travel dates) must be submitted with the reimbursement request. Note that the first and last days of a trip are considered "partial" travel and the per diem rate is 75% of the applicable daily per diem rate at the destination. When traveling to more than one destination on a trip, the business purpose and arriving and departure dates (travel dates) must be reported for each destination. This additional transit is not considered "partial" travel.

The use of direct deposit is encouraged for all reimbursements. This provides the most expedient method to have funds returned to the traveler. Logon to Myslice.syr.edu to establish direct deposit.

D - Travel Advance

For employees who cannot otherwise use a University Credit Card or their own personal credit card, travel advances may be issued for estimated out-of-pocket expenses. However, a travel advance will not be issued to employees who have an overdue or delinquent advance or a University Credit Card violation.

Travel advances may be requested, once travel has been approved, by submitting a travel advance form (http://administrativeforms.syr.edu/administrativeforms/display.cfm?content_ID=%23%28%285%2D%0A) to the Disbursements Office at least two weeks prior to the scheduled departure. Approved travel advance payments will not be issued more than ten (10) business days before an employee 's travel departure date.

While traveling, University employees and students must retain receipts for expenses incurred, except for expenses that will be claimed via a per diem option. Given IRS timing requirements, a completed travel voucher form must be submitted to Disbursements Processing to settle actual travel business expenses within thirty (30) days after an employee or student returns from a trip. Approved expenses that total more than the advance amount will be reimbursed, approved expenses that total less than the advance amount will require the traveler to pay the excess money to the University. Advance amounts not refunded to the University by the end of the calendar year will be reported as additional wages on the employee 's W2 form and withheld accordingly.

Transportation

A - Air Travel

The Purchasing Office has preferred vendors with negotiated rates that are available through the on-line travel service portal. Travelers are required to use this service.

  1. Tickets should be purchased at least 21 days in advance to limit costs.

  2. University employees are expected to purchase the lowest fare ticket available, that meets their travel needs, except in the following instances.

    • Upgrades are permitted if a medical justification has been documented and approved by the University's Equal Opportunity and Resolution Services Office (available at 315-443-4018 or http://www.syr.edu/hcd/equal-opportunity.html). This upgrade must be approved in advance of booking to be reimbursed.
    • For flights with scheduled in air flying time in excess of six (6) continuous hours, upgrades to business class are permitted. On those flights where business class is not offered by the airline, first class is permitted.
    • Upgrades to “premium economy” seating, such as exit row seats or additional leg space, are permitted on flight segments with scheduled in-air flying time in excess of three (3) continuous hours.
    • Upgrades to first class will not be reimbursed, except as noted in 2. b. above.

  3. When booking travel on a personal credit card, travelers may take advantage of frequent traveler programs. However, flight charges will not be reimbursed if booked using travel reward programs.

  4. Ground transportation to and from the airport is reimbursable, from the travelers primary work location. This includes personal vehicles, public transportation, and taxi transportation. Travelers are encouraged to use the lowest cost option.

  5. The first piece of checked baggage will be reimbursable. However, additional bags or special baggage fees will not be reimbursed unless these bags only contain items required for University business (e.g., field equipment, athletics equipment, conference equipment or documents, personal effects for extended field travel).

  6. In the event that travel must be changed or cancelled for business conflicts or illness, the University will pay related fees. In the event that there is a resulting credit, this credit must be applied to the current or subsequent business trip. Per IRS guidelines, under no circumstances can unused tickets be used for personal travel. Change fees and cancellation fees incurred other than those for a University related business conflict and/or illness will be at the expense of the traveler.

  7. Employees are not authorized to fly or travel in a personally-owned, corporate noncommercial, chartered, donated or leased aircraft on University Business without prior written authorization from the Division Head. A certificate of liability insurance of at least $5,000,000, naming Syracuse University as additional insured and approved by the University's Risk Management Department. Other documents (i.e., evidence of air worthiness) may be required by the University

B - Personal Vehicle Use

Personal vehicles can be used when traveling for University business and their use is encouraged to save time or reduce costs when there are multiple travelers to the same destination. Normal commuting costs of traveling to and from work will not be reimbursed.

  1. The University does not cover comprehensive or collision insurance for an employee who drives his/her personal vehicle on University business. The employee is responsible for primary liability insurance. The University does carry non-owned liability coverage to protect the University and employee(s) (excess basis) in the event of a suit resulting from an accident in which an employee was driving on University business. (http://riskmanagement.syr.edu/RiskManagement/display.cfm?content_ID=%23%288I%20%0A)

  2. Business trips will be reimbursed up to current IRS authorized mileage rate (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-13-80.pdf) for miles incurred rounded down to the nearest penny; travelers must take a direct route to their final destination.

    • Mileage based reimbursement covers all costs related to the operation of the vehicle, including service, maintenance, insurance, depreciation, and fuel. These expenses cannot be reimbursed separately. Mileage reimbursement can only be submitted by the vehicle owner or driver.
    • Parking fees and highway tolls can be reimbursed. Tickets, fines and/or lock out fees will not be reimbursed.
    • For additional guidance or questions regarding mileage reimbursement, please visit the BFAS Forms website (http://administrativeforms.syr.edu/administrativeforms/display.cfm?content_ID=%23%28%285%2D%0A).

  3. Trips in personal vehicles over 500 miles one way must be approved in advance of travel. Travelers are encouraged to consider air, rail, or car rental alternatives if they are less expensive options before using their personal vehicles for long distance travel.

C - Commercial Vehicle Rental

The use of rental vehicles should be avoided whenever safe, reasonable, and less expensive alternatives exist, such as taxis, trains, personal or public transportation. Travelers are encouraged to share cars when traveling in groups. Vehicle rental agencies may have minimum age requirements.

  1. Individual travelers may rent automatic or manual transmission mid-sized vehicles or smaller if traveling individually or automatic or manual transmission full-sized vehicles if there are at least three employees traveling together.

    • Upgrades are permitted if a medical justification has been documented and approved by the University's Equal Opportunity and Resolution Services Office (available at 315-443-4018 or http://www.syr.edu/hcd/equal-opportunity.html). This must be approved in advance of booking to be reimbursed.
    • Upgrades may be granted for work based on specific conditions (e.g., inclement weather, need to transport University property).

  2. For safety reasons, employees are not permitted to rent a 15-passenger van.

  3. Only Global Position System (GPS) upgrades are reimbursable on University funded travel; other upgrades (e.g. satellite radio) will not be reimbursed.

  4. Travelers are encouraged to decline pre-fill options and make every effort to refuel at a gas station prior to returning the vehicle at the end of the rental period. Fuel charges will be reimbursed.

  5. Travelers are encouraged to decline “collision damage waivers,” also referred to as “loss damage waivers,” when traveling in the United States, but to accept this when traveling outside the United States when traveling on University business. Travelers outside the United States should inquire with the Rental Car Agency with the requirements are within that country and purchase the mandatory insurance required by the country of travel. International insurance coverage is limited to 30 days from the date of contracting the vehicle. Additional coverage is necessary for international rentals lasting longer than 30 days.

    • Employees traveling on the University Credit Card (and, typically, personal credit cards) are covered under the card carrier's business automobile policy in the U.S. The University Credit Card holder must pay for the car rental and must be the primary driver of the vehicle in order to guarantee coverage.
    • Employees traveling on other forms of payment are typically covered under the University's business automobile insurance policy. Full details on the policy are available on the Risk Management website. (http://riskmanagement.syr.edu/RiskManagement/display.cfm?content_ID=%23%288I%21%0A).

  6. Travelers may accept “Personal Effects and Personal Accident” coverage to insure against loss of personal items due to theft at their own discretion. However, this expense is not reimbursable.
  7. Parking fees and highway tolls are reimbursable expenses. Tickets, fines and/or lock out fees will not be reimbursed.

  8. In the event that travel plans must be changed or cancelled for business conflicts, the University will pay related fees. In the event that there is a resulting credit, this credit must be applied to the current or subsequent business trip in which a rental car is used. Per IRS guidelines, under no circumstances can unused credits be used for personal travel. Change fees and cancellation fees incurred other than those for a University related business conflict and/or illness will be at the expense of the traveler.

D - Bus and Rail Travel

The use of bus or rail is encouraged when it provides a cost-effective and safe travel alternative.

  1. Tickets should be purchased in advance, that meets their travel needs, to limit costs.

  2. Tickets should be booked at the lowest available fare, except for 2.a. below. If travel does not meet this exception, employees may upgrade by paying out of pocket, but this payment cannot be reimbursed.

    • Upgrades are permitted if a medical justification has been documented and approved by the University's Equal Opportunity and Resolution Services Office (available at 315-443-4018 or http://www.syr.edu/hcd/equal-opportunity.html). This must be approved in advance of booking to be reimbursed.

  3. Ground transportation to and from the bus or rail station is reimbursable from the traveler's primary work location. This includes personal vehicles, public transportation, and taxi transportation. Travelers are encouraged to use the lowest cost option.

  4. In the event that travel plans must be changed or cancelled for business conflicts or illness, the University will pay related fees. In the event that there is a resulting credit, this credit must be applied to the current or next business trip. Per IRS guidelines, under no circumstances can unused tickets be used for personal travel. Change fees and cancellation fees incurred other than those for a University related business conflict and/or illness will be at the expense of the traveler.

E - Destination Transportation

  1. Travelers moving from locations within a destination city, such as between hotels and conferences or appointments, may use public transportation, personal vehicles, airport shuttles, taxis, and car services as appropriate. These expenses are reimbursable.

Lodging

Travelers should choose convenient, safe, and reasonably-priced accommodations. The Purchasing Office has preferred lodging vendors with negotiated rates that are available through the on-line portal, and travelers are required to use this service.

  1. Original itemized hotel folios are required for all lodging expenses to be processed as an “Actual Expense Reimbursement”.

  2. No lodging expense is authorized for trips under 50 miles from a traveler's residence unless a special exception due to compelling need or business reason is granted before booking.

  3. Lodging should be reserved at the best available rate that allows for the convenience and safety of the traveler..

    • Upgrades are permitted if a medical justification has been documented and approved by the University's Equal Opportunity and Resolution Services Office (available at 315-443-4018 or http://www.syr.edu/hcd/equal-opportunity.html). This must be approved in advance of booking to be reimbursed.
    • Upgrades are permitted if employees are expected to entertain non-University business contacts in the room as part of their official travel responsibilities, such as for employment interviews or donor conferences. This must be approved in advance of booking to be reimbursed.
    • Please note: when traveling, nightly costs will not be reimbursed above the 130% federal lodging allowance, apart from the exceptions noted above.

  4. When booking accommodations on a personal credit card, travelers may take advantage of frequent guest programs. However, only the out-of-pocket cost will be eligible for reimbursement when booking is done using a hotel or credit card rewards program.

  5. Lodging gratuities (i.e. tips for. maids, porters, valets, and concierge) may not exceed $5 per day. Gratuities exceeding $5 per day will not be reimbursed.

Business Meals

Travelers will be reimbursed for reasonable meal expenses incurred while traveling away from home or entertaining on University business. Meals may be reimbursed for actual costs or using the per diem meal rates option as described on page 6.

  1. Reasonable meal expenses should be guided by federal per diem allowances regardless of the reimbursement method used by the traveler. A schedule of meal rates may be found on the GSA website (http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104877)).

    • Higher expenses are permitted if a medical or religious justification has been documented and approved by the University's Equal Opportunity and Resolution Services Office (available at 315-443-4018 or http://www.syr.edu/hcd/equal-opportunity.html). This must be approved in advance of booking to be reimbursed.
    • Higher expenses are permitted if employees are expected to entertain non-University business contacts as part of the purpose of the meal, such as for meeting with donors or alumni.
    • Tips on meals will not be reimbursed above 20% of the pre-tax bill.

  2. Alcoholic beverages purchased while traveling on official University business are permitted. The costs of alcoholic beverages are unallowable to be charged to federal grants and contracts. See the “Additional Requirements for Sponsored Travel” for further information.

Miscellaneous and General Expenses

A - Telecommunications Expenses

  1. Business-related long distance phone and fax expenses will be reimbursed according to IRS rules only if the business purpose is documented with the receipt.

  2. Cell phone calls or data charges on personal cell phones, in excess of normal monthly plan costs, that are incurred for University business will be reimbursed according to IRS rules only if the business purpose is documented with the receipt. Travelers are discouraged from using cell phones internationally due to high costs.

  3. Internet access while traveling on University business will be reimbursed.

B - Conferences and Professional Events

  1. Conference registration or professional organization event fees, associated room rental fees, and conference related copy fees are reimbursable.
  2. Meals included in conference fees cannot be reimbursed beyond the conference registration fee. Meals included as part of conference registration may not be included in per diem reimbursement.

    • In instances where medical or religious reasons prevent the traveler from consuming a conference-provided meal, the traveler may be reimbursed. Further details on the IRS policy for conference meal exceptions may be found on the GSA website (http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104206).

  3. When attending a conference, travelers are permitted to stay in a hotel specifically designated for the conference by the conference sponsor

C - International Travel Related Fees

  1. Passport, travel visa, and supporting documentation, including passport photographs and birth certificates, costs will be reimbursed with prior approval.

  2. Required vaccinations and immunization costs will be reimbursed with prior approval.

  3. Currency exchange conversion fees will be reimbursed when traveling on international business.

  4. Guide, interpreter or driver costs incurred outside the United States for the purpose of conducting field research will be reimbursed. Travelers are strongly encouraged to agree on acceptable prices with their expense approvers in advance to facilitate rapid reimbursement.

D - Laundry Expenses

  1. Laundry expenses or dry cleaning charges will not be reimbursed unless travel exceeds six or more consecutive nights. Any charges must be incurred while travelers are on travel status.

E - Taxes

  1. The University is a non-profit institution, and as such is exempt from tax on most domestic purchases. Travelers are encouraged to take reasonable efforts to ensure that tax is not paid on major expense obligations (e.g., on airline tickets, accommodations). Travelers are encouraged to contact the Purchasing Office for more details.

    • A list of states in which the University is exempt from sales tax is available on the Purchasing Office's website (http://purchasing.syr.edu/)
    • Foreign Value Added Taxes (VAT) and Goods and Services Taxes (GST) incurred for University business are reimbursable.

Additional Requirements for Sponsored Travel

sponsoring funding agency or organization. These vary with the terms of the grant: federal grant regulations are detailed in the Office of Management and Budget's Uniform Grant Guidance (Omni Circular). This section provides guidance on key aspects of these requirements. Other sponsoring agencies may have other requirements. If you are unsure of specific travel requirements, contact the Office of Sponsored Accounting or the Office of Sponsored Programs before arranging travel.

  1. Federal regulations prohibit using business or first class fares on federally sponsored research projects unless it is specifically approved by the funding sponsor and is documented by the Office of Sponsored Accounting or the Office of Sponsored Programs. Unapproved reimbursement requests will be denied.

    • Travelers who fly business class must document the lowest available coach fare and may allocate the difference between the fares to a non-sponsored discretionary chart string. This must follow the exception process described in ”Air Travel” in advance of booking to be reimbursed.

  2. Federal regulations typically require individuals traveling outside the United States on federal funds to use U.S. flagged carrier airlines as part of the “Fly America Act.” If you are booking international travel on federal funds, you must ensure that all flights, where possible, are scheduled on U.S. flagged carriers, a U.S. carrier code share flight, or an “Open Skies” partner. For a list of Open Skies carriers, please visit the State Department website (http://www.state.gov/e/eb/rls/othr/ata/114805.htm).

  3. Travelers are required to book international travel through the on-line travel portal.

  4. Global Position System (GPS) upgrades are not reimbursable for sponsored account travel unless they are allowed by the sponsor. These expenses may be submitted separately for reimbursement by non-sponsored funds.

  5. Business entertainment, including alumni and development expenses, and alcohol purchases, including those made as part of meals, will not be reimbursed with sponsored funds. These expenses may be submitted separately for reimbursement to a non-sponsored discretionary chart string using the approval process described in “Business Meals”.

Student Travel

This policy is intended to cover students traveling on official University business, such as employment or university sponsored sports events. All other student travelers must refer to and abide by the Student Travel Policy as stipulated on the Division of Student Affairs web site (http://supolicies.syr.edu/studs/travel.htm).

A - Athletes

  1. Student athletes traveling to participate in official University events will be expected to abide by all Athletics policy guidelines and NCAA regulations.

B - Student Overseas Travel

  1. All enrolled student travel fully funded by the University will be expected to abide by the guidelines set forth in this policy as defined in the ”General Guidelines” section above.

C - Student Travel in Employee Vehicles

  1. For safety reasons, student participants choosing to ride in an employee's personal vehicle do so voluntarily and at their own risk. Whenever possible, student travel in rental vehicles is preferred for insurance reasons. For additional details, please see the Field Trip Guidelines (http://riskmanagement.syr.edu/RiskManagement/display.cfm?content_ID=%23((-!%0A) outlined by Risk Management.

Non-Employee Travel

A - Spouse, Domestic Partner, Dependents

  1. Costs, including meals and incidentals, for spouses, domestic partners, dependents, etc. who may accompany employees on University business will not be reimbursed.

  2. Costs, including meals and incidentals, for spouses, domestic partners, dependents, etc. who may accompany employees on University business may not be charged to the University Credit Card.

B - Presenters/Performers/ Artists/Consultants

  1. Individuals contracted – paid or unpaid – to perform services for the University who have travel requirements that are to be paid or reimbursed by the University are governed by this policy unless superseded by the written contractual terms of their service. In the event that a University department makes such travel arrangements, the guidelines contained herein are to be followed when utilizing University or Sponsored funds.

C - Prospective Employees

  1. Travel for prospective employees will be reimbursed if it conforms to this policy. This must be approved in advance by a division head.

Travel Emergency Guidelines

In the event of an emergency, resources exist to help employees and students, particularly those traveling abroad.

In the event of an international travel emergency, employees are required to contact International SOS (“ISOS”; https://www.internationalsos.com/en/Pre-travel-advice.htm), a vendor that provides worldwide access to emergency medical, security, and travel assistance, as well as evacuation services, if necessary. For more information on use and the University’s group membership code, please contact the Risk Management Department at (315) 443-0315, or 443-5334, or http://riskmanagement.syr.edu.

In the event of a domestic travel emergency, such as a car accident or medical emergency, contact local authorities as necessary, using 911. Then contact the University Department of Public Safety Communication Center at (315) 443-2224. The Department of Public Safety will contact Risk Management and the traveler’s supervisors to inform them of the emergency and coordinate help. The Department of Public Safety can also notify family members.

Unallowable Expenses

The following list provides additional guidance on common expenses that are considered personal and will not be reimbursed. This list is not exhaustive. If travelers have questions about an expense not mentioned in this policy, they are advised to contact the Purchasing Office at (315) 443-2281 or http://purchasing.syr.edu/

  • Annual fees for personal credit card
  • Barbers / hairdressers
  • Car washes and detailing
  • Clothing, luggage, and toiletries
  • Delinquency and/or late fees for personal credit cards
  • Hotel or car “no-show” charges without a business purpose
  • In-room entertainment (e.g., movies, games, etc.)
  • Kennel costs or similar house-sitting fees
  • Separate Lodging for family and friends traveling with the employee
  • Membership (including airport clubs) and reward fees
  • Meals for social occasions or local meals with University employees, that lack a Business Purpose
  • Meals covered by the conference fee
  • Meals for family and friends traveling with the employee
  • Mini-bar alcoholic refreshments
  • Non-business postage
  • Normal commuting expenses
  • Optional baggage insurance
  • Parking, speeding tickets, traffic tickets, or court costs
  • Personal effects and/or Personal accident coverage – Rental vehicles
  • Personal entertainment (e.g., sporting events without a business purpose)
  • Personal mobile phones and data devices
  • Personal medical or medication expenses, (prescription or over the counter)
  • Personal vehicle insurance
  • Personal vehicle repairs
  • Personal property insurance
  • Pet care
  • Reading materials for use during travel
  • Sauna / massages or other health club fees
  • Shoeshine
  • Souvenirs and personal gifts
  • Travel-sized toiletries for personal use
  • Trip insurance
  • Vacation and personal expenses when on business trips

Compliance

If inappropriate or unallowable expenses as defined by this policy are charged to the University Credit Card, the traveler will be required to reimburse the University for these charges prior to the reconciliation being processed and may have his or her credit card privilege revoked.

Deans and division heads (Vice Chancellors, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice Presidents, Senior Vice Presidents, and Director of Athletics) are responsible for ensuring compliance with this travel policy among employees from their schools, colleges, or divisions.

For countries declared by the State Department as not suited for travel, travel on University business must first be approved by the Chancellor or University officers he designates. Requests to travel to these countries must be submitted to the direct supervisor for a review with the dean or division head, and then must be submitted to the Chancellor through the division head.

Authorization for all other exceptions should come from division heads, though final approval authority rests with the Chancellor or University officers he designates. Requests for exceptions must be submitted to the direct supervisor for a review with the dean or division head. In all instances, ultimate authority to approve exceptions rests with the Chancellor. Written approval must be attached to the travel reimbursement or credit card reconciliation before it is sent to the Comptroller's Office.

Individual travelers are responsible for submitting completed, accurate reimbursement forms in a timely manner. Failure to do so may prevent travelers from being reimbursed. Travel expense reports submitted more than 60 days after trip completion will result in part or all of the reimbursement being treated as taxable wages and reported as additional wages on the employee's W2 form.

To Whom Does This Policy Apply

Students, Faculty, Staff, Student Travelers, Visitors/General Public

Links and Related Information

Amended: June 17, 2015


© 1995 - 2008 Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244   •   (315) 443-1870

For technical assistance contact supolicy@syr.edu