Travel Tips

Before You Travel

Travel Authorization
  • Must be filled out before you travel.
  • City (or multiple cities) and state must be included in the destination.
  • A detailed description of the purpose of the trip must be included (i.e. “Doing research about swallows in the Archives of Monty Python” instead of just “research in the archives”)
  • Meals (Day Trips) - Per Diem is NOT allowed for day-only travel, regardless of leave and return times.  Keep your itemized receipts for your business meals.
  • Meal expenditures incurred during trips which did not require overnight lodging is reportable to the IRS.
  • Meals while on official business must involve a substantive and bona fide business discussion with a non-College employee.  Please see Per Diem and Business Meals for further explanation.
Per Diem
  • Per Diem is based on the location specified for the overnight lodging.
  • Per Diem is NOT reportable to the IRS (meals incurred during trips which require overnight lodging).
  • Please calculate the Per Diem amounts using the Commonwealth Per Diem Calculator and include the Printout(s) of appropriate rates for the time and attach it to the Travel Authorization.
  • The Commonwealth of Virginia uses the lodging and M&IE per diem rates for foreign travel as defined by the Federal Government.
  • Rates for cities and countries outside the 48 contiguous states can be found at International Per Diem Rates by Location (Int'l Meal & Incidentals Breakdown) by choosing the appropriate country and then selecting your date of travel for the current updated Maximum Travel Per Diem Allowance for Foreign Areas. If a specific city is not listed, use the “Other” rate shown for that country.
Driving to your Destination
  • If you are driving, please include a printout of Google maps with the to and from destination, include the addresses.
  • The Trip Cost Calculator (Procurement Website) must be filled out to determine the vehicle cost for the proposed trip, for both personal or rental car and must be included with your reimbursement. 
  • In the calculator enter the traveler's name, location, destination, estimated number of miles for the trip and the number of days of the trip.  The calculator will automatically compare the cost of obtaining an Enterprise car for the trip versus personal reimbursement at the current per mile rate.
  • If personal reimbursement is the cheaper method, print out a copy of the calculation.  You will need this calculation in order to be paid at the current full rate.
  • If personal reimbursement is NOT cheaper, print out a copy of the calculation and include a brief statement stating why your personal vehicle is cost beneficial to the state.
Travel Advance
  • If you want a travel advance, it needs to be in 15 to 20 days before your travel (to account for processing).
  • Lodging exception - Justification and explanation for excessive lodging rate required when lodging exceeds up to 50% from ALLOWABLE rate and must be approved PRIOR to the trip.

After You Return From your Trip

Travel Reimbursement
  • Must be filled out by the traveler and the traveler must submit the travel voucher within 30 working days of the last day of travel for which reimbursement is requested.  Remember to fill-in the “Form Prepared by” and “Travel Purpose Description” located at the bottom left of the form.
  • Each day’s expenses must be shown separately on the voucher.  Example:
Date Location Total Miles Mileage Airfare Per Diem hotel Other Amount
1/02 Williamsburg to Narnia: Airfare, lodging, per diem, taxi 50 28.25 500 54.50 100 40 722.75
1/3 Narnia: lodging and per diem 71 100 171.00
1/4 Narnia to Williamsburg: per diem, taxi from airport 50 28.25 54.50 20
  • Proof of payment is a document that proves that a certain amount of money has been paid and transaction completed.  Make sure your receipts clearly say how the item was paid for.  If not you may need to include a heavily redacted bank/credit card statement.
Air travel
  • Your itinerary must be included, even if you aren't claiming it.  If the department bought your flight, please include the boarding passes. For flights obtained through the Internet, a hardcopy final page from Internet site showing total cost and confirmed service must be submitted.
  • Reimbursement for first class air or rail travel is prohibited
    • NOTE: Documents that validate the mode and class of travel are required for all air and rail reimbursements made directly to the traveler. Generally, airline and rail travel cannot exceed the rates charged for tourist or coach fare. 

International Travel
  • The guidelines stated previously for air travel also apply to international travel. Specifically, airline travel cannot exceed the rates charged for tourist/coach fare except as follows: with careful consideration of the reasonableness limitations specified in the Expenses Must be Reasonable and Necessary section of these regulations, the approving authority may provide written authorization for business class travel, or premium coach seating, under the following circumstances:
    • When it does not cost more than the lowest available tourist/coach fare (comparison must be attached to travel voucher), or
    • For travel to western Europe if the business meeting is conducted within three hours of landing, or
    • For transoceanic, intercontinental trips involving flight-time of more than eight consecutive hours, or
    • If the traveler pays the difference
  • If you arrive at your international destination more than 8 hours before the conference,  you must attach an justification.
  • Reimbursement for first class travel is prohibited
  • NOTE: You must submit your flight itinerary, even if you are not claiming it.
  • The Personal Vehicle Use Statement at the top of the Travel Expense Reimbursement Voucher should be checked with the appropriate choice.
  • Include a Google map of your route for mileage with the to and from destination(s), include the addresses.
  • If you used your personal car, you can’t get reimbursed for gas.
  • Reimbursement for mileage: Over 100 miles is 23.5¢, less than 100 miles is 57.5¢. (Approval for mileage reimbursement at IRS mileage rate (See Current Mileage Rates)). If the use of a personally-owned vehicle is for the convenience of the employee, the reimbursement rate is 23.5¢ per mile. In all cases, reimbursement rates are reduced to 13¢ per mile for travel in excess of 15,000 miles in one fiscal year.
  • Everyone gets Per Diem now, unless you took a day trip. Please do not submit meal receipts. 
  • If you attached the Commonwealth Per Diem Calculator print out to your travel authorization, you’re done! If not, print it out and include it with your reimbursement.
  • If meals are offered as part of your conference, make sure to uncheck that box on the per diem calculator. If you did not attend the conference meal, the traveler must include a note or other documentation with the Travel Expense Reimbursement Voucher documenting this information (stating why).
  • Day trip meals - Meals while on official business must involve a substantive and bona fide business discussion with a non-College employee. The employee must complete a Non-Travel Business Meal form and submit it with the reimbursement request. Identification of all persons involved must be listed on the Business Meal form. The College will reimburse official business meals based on actual costs incurred up to the amount shown for the applicable meal in the M&IE Rate Table. An original, itemized receipt is required for reimbursement of all business meals. The M&IE rate used will correspond to the location in which the individual purchases the official business meal.
  • include the folio (itemized hotel bill obtained at time of checkout). For hotel rooms obtained through Internet providers (Priceline, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc,), the traveler must submit the “hardcopy final page from the Internet site showing total cost and confirmed services.”  Explain fully any unusual charges (i.e., internet) and include it with your voucher.
  • The traveler should check, request and confirm government rates both at the time reservations are made and during check-in.  If the amount is over the allowable limit, an exception must be made BEFORE travel.
  • The maximum reimbursable lodging rates listed in State Travel Regulation lodging and per-diem tables do not include taxes and surcharges.  (Note: The lodging rates are room rates–not per person rates.)  The College will reimburse a traveler for the actual amount charged by a lodging facility for the room up to the maximum rates listed for the city where the traveler spent the night, plus taxes and surcharges charged by the lodging facility.  Room rates incurred beyond these maximum rates will not be reimbursed, and taxes and surcharges will be pro-rated based on the maximum allowable rate.  There are a few exceptions:
    • Reimbursements up to 150% of the lodging rate: The agency head or designee appropriate to your department may approve reimbursement for lodging up to 150% of the maximum rate when circumstances warrant, in advance of travel.  A written justification for the exception must be completed in the Travel Authorization form.  
    • Reimbursements above the 150% of the lodging rate: If the room rate exceeds the 150%, the Travel Accounts department can ask the Director of Financial Operations for an exception.  If you want the Travel Accounts department to request an exception to exceed 150% of the State’s maximum allowed rate, you must do the following at least three weeks prior to the travel dates:
      • E-mail the Travel Accounts Manager with a clear cost justification for exceeding the 150%.
        • Clear justification must include sufficient documentation showing alternative cost comparisons justifying the exception. The cost comparisons must include the name and complete address of the hotels–including zip code–used for the cost comparison.
        • These requests must be reviewed and approved by the Travel Account Manager or Travel Accounts Payable department before being sent to the Director of Financial Operations for consideration.
      • The Travel Accounts Manager will let you know the Director of Financial Operations decision.
      • The Directors decision is final. 
  • Number of persons in a hotel room: Generally, when two or more travelers stay in the same room, the allowable lodging rate is the destination rate room rate plus the amount charged by the lodging facility for the additional person. In other words, if two travelers share a room, each is NOT allowed the maximum rate–unless approval is granted by the department designee; one traveler is allowed the maximum lodging rate plus the additional cost of the additional person. The itemized hotel receipt must show the additional charge separately from the room charge.
    • If the hotel bill indicates that more than one person stayed in the room, a written explanation must be provided, along with the rate difference between single and double rates or additional fee charged by the hotel. 
  • For Non-Luxury, Conference Hotel:Two travelers may share a room, (it could be a colleague from another College).  For non-luxury conference hotels, the Director of Financial Operations (Fiscal Officer) may approve in advance lodging rates that are less than the lodging guideline applicable to the travel destination multiplied by the number of official business travelers in the room. For example, if two people share a room at a conference hotel in Baltimore, a room rate less than $296 ($148 x 2) could be approved. Please submit your request at least two weeks prior to travel to ensure approval. (Examples of luxury hotels are Ritz-Carlton, Paramount, Park Hyatt, Four Seasons.) In summary, if you are sharing the cost of a room and your room rate exceeds the allowable lodging rate on the table by more than 150% of the rate, the Director of Finance can approve a “per person” rate up to the actual rate listed on the lodging table. 
  • Alternative Lodging: When lodging other than hotels and motels is used, e.g., apartments, houses, etc., a comparison Statement including authorization by Agency Head or Designee must be submitted with the Travel Expense Reimbursement Voucher (TERV). The comparison Statement should show the total cost for using the alternate accommodations and length of contract, the cost of the alternative accommodations, and net savings.
  • Reimbursement Requirements
    • Traveler Name is on the Folio: Submit with the original travel voucher the original, itemized hotel bills obtained at time of checkout, and other supporting receipts for lodging expense. For hotel rooms obtained through Internet providers, the traveler must submit the “hardcopy final page from the Internet site showing total cost and confirmed services.” Any unusual charges must be fully documented.
    • In order to be reimbursed for lodging expenses, your hotel receipt must:
      • Show a zero balance.
      • Be an original, i.e., not a photocopy.
      • Show the room rate and taxes broken out separately and by day.
    •  The only exception to this would be lodging expenses using Internet Purchases. If a payment for lodging is made through the Internet, print a copy of the receipt for the electronic purchase showing the total costs and confirmed services.
  • When Sharing a Room and Traveler’s Name is Not on the Folio: Submit with the original travel voucher the original, itemized hotel bills obtained at time of checkout, and other supporting receipts for lodging expense.  When sharing a room, each traveler will ONLY receive reimbursement for their portion of the expenditure.
  •  In order to be reimbursed for lodging expenses, your hotel receipt must:
    • Show a zero balance.
    • A photocopy of folio is acceptable if your name is not on the folio.
    • Show the room rate and taxes broken out separately and by day.
  • If you paid your traveler companion directly for your portion of the charges; you will need to provide proof of payment in order to receive reimbursement.  That could be back and front of cashed check; email from traveler acknowledging payment received.  Additionally, provide documentation that details the room arrangement. 
  • NOTE: You must submit your lodging folio, even if you are not claiming it.  If your lodging was paid by the conference, an email from the person who made your arrangements or a copy of the lodging folio must be submitted with your travel reimbursement.
  • For taxis, shuttle vans and other forms of “for hire transportation,” receipts are required only if the reimbursement claim exceeds $10.
  • Parking and Toll expenses are reimbursable. A receipt is required for reimbursement claims where each individual claim is greater $10. Reimbursement must be claimed as an “other expense” on the travel reimbursement voucher.
  • Parking fees (divided by the days your car is on the lot) must be shown separately on the voucher.
Rental Car
  • Reimbursement of car rental expenses is limited to official business use only
  • Car rentals initiated from the traveler’s base point must be obtained through Enterprise Car Rental when the base point is in Virginia.
  • NOTE: If you use a car rental agency other than Enterprise Car Rental, you will only be reimbursed for what it would have cost to rent a car from Enterprise.  
  • Reimbursement must be claimed as an “other expense” on the travel expense reimbursement voucher.
  • The expense for the rental car (divided by the days) must be shown separately on the voucher.
  • The rental agreement receipt must be included to get reimbursed for gas.
  • Travelers must ensure that the rental vehicle is refueled before returning the vehicle to the rental contractor unless an exception is noted. Reimbursement will be based on the fuel used and receipts provided.
  • You can not get the insurance offered.  You will not be reinbursed for it.
  • You will NOT be reimbursed for the following:
    • Upgrades for any reason, even if you have a personal discount coupon. (See Question 5 of Mileage and Car Rental Questions for details.) Upgrades include, but are not limited to, upgraded car, navigation systems, and additional drivers.
    • Gas purchased at car rental agencies. Purchase gas at a gas station and submit the receipt for reimbursement. The receipt must show that gas was purchased.
  • In no instance should the traveler enter into a “Fuel Agreement” or pay for fuel at the time of rental or before vehicle is used.
  • The traveler must justify the cost of renting a vehicle instead of using another form of transportation. Attach to the Travel Reimbursement Request Form a comparison of the costs which shows that a car rental is less expensive than taking a shuttle/taxi. If the cost comparison shows that renting a car is less expensive, the traveler should reserve the most economical car (compact car).
  • Before any travel purchases are made, a Request for Travel form with appropriate signatures should be completed in advance. The Commonwealth does not have limitations on car rental rates, however, CWM will reimburse only for reasonable uses and reasonable amounts of gas used.
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Conference Travel
  • Conference itinerary MUST be included.  This is mainly to show if meals were included.  According to the State Travel Policy (page21), if meals are offered as part of the conference, the traveler must reduce the per diem amount by the appropriate allowance amount whether the meal was a breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.

Travelers must keep receipts and accurate records of all expenses to ensure correct reporting and submission of travel reimbursements. Travel reimbursements will not be made from travel charge card statements or tissue receipts. Each day’s expenses must be shown separately on the voucher.

For more information on travel reimbursements, see Accounts payable's "Travel" information page.