A list of frequently asked questions to guide the traveler through College Policy Requirements and processing Reimbursements.
DATE: January 1, 2015
I would like to thank all of you who attended the Travel Training sessions last year. As always our meetings were lively and your participation and questions make it a more beneficial experience for everyone. A list of Frequentley Asked Questions (FAQ) has been compiled to guide you according to College Policy and aid in your preparation of reimbursement vouchers.
But first, I would like to share a procedural change:
Conference meals and medical restrictions: During our presentation a discussion arose about the appropriateness of requesting a medical note to demonstrate medical restrictions on meals. This is what the CAPP Topic states: “If a meal is offered as part of a conference and the traveler has medical restrictions, the traveler should make every effort to have the conference facilitate his/her needs by the deadline specified by the conference. If the conference does not honor the request, the traveler is not required to deduct the applicable meal allowance from the per diem. However, the traveler must include a note or other documentation with the Travel Expense Reimbursement Voucher documenting this information”.
NEW GUIDANCE: The traveler must include a statement that he or she has a medical condition which did not allow the traveler to eat the standard meal offered AND that the traveler requested an alternative meal and one was not provided on the TERV – documentation from a medical professional is not necessary.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) 2015
To print a pdf version: FAQ 2015
Should we do a Travel Authorization (TA) for everyone for insurance purposes even when it's not required?
A TA is not generally required for Guests and Students. A TA is only required for Employees when traveling overnight, for day trips that will be $500 or more, or for travel under Sponsored Program funds. However, if the hotel will exceed the State allowance, a TA is recommended because the traveler must provide with the TERV the approved lodging exception request. In addition, a TA is recommended for International travel because foreign travel (travel outside the 48 contiguous states) must be approved by the Department Dean. When a TA is not required, we recommend doing a TA for any College business travel so the department has a record that the travel was approved in case something happens to the traveler during the trip.
Is a TA required for purchase of airfare through our Travel Agents?
Yes. The Travel Agents have no authority to purchase airfare or train fare for an individual without an approved TA. The TA must include the traveler's name, business purpose, Banner index code, destination and dates of travel.
How far in advance should the TA be completed and approved?
The TA must be approved prior to travel. The TA should be completed and approved as soon as travel dates are confirmed.
There are times when a TA has been approved for specific travel dates and something happens to delay the trip so the TA travel dates do not coincide with the actual travel date. What should we do?
The Travel Office does not require an original TA. The original should be maintained in the Department unless it needs to be sent to the Bursar's office for a travel advance. If the actual travel dates fall outside of the approved TA travel dates, you may either update the TA and attach a copy of the update to the TERV, or attach an explanation for why the travel falls outside of the TA dates.
What needs to be done if the lodging rate has exceeded the State allowance on a direct-bill invoice from the hotel?
Effort should always be made to get government rates at a hotel. If, however, the invoiced lodging rates exceed the State allowance for the area, a memo approving the hotel rate up to 150% of the allowance and signed by the department designee should be attached to the Vendor Payment Request. This applies to incoming guests of the College.
When room sharing, the State allows a higher room rate. Does this policy include spouses?
The room-sharing policy per CAPP 20335 pertains to rooms rented for business purposes only and therefore would not include room-sharing with a spouse. The State will not reimburse travel costs for spouses or children.
When room-sharing with another employee, but the employee is from another department, what documentation is required?
When asking for room-sharing reimbursement, each traveler must attach a copy of the hotel folio to the TERV. If each traveler is asking reimbursement only for their share of the lodging expense, the traveler's name must appear on the folio. If the traveler's name is not on the folio, they must submit proof of payment (cancelled check, credit card statement). If the traveler paid the person whose name is on the folio, they must provide a written statement from the person whose name is on the folio that verifies the amount paid.
Does a traveler have to get prior approval to share a hotel room?
The traveler does not need prior approval to share a room but if the room rate exceeds the State's lodging allowance for the area, prior approval must be obtained from the Department for up to 150% of the allowance and/or prior approval from the Travel Office for hotels exceeding 150% of the allowance.
Is the "Hotel Exceeds 150% Cost Comparison Spreadsheet" on the Travel website?
No, but it will be available soon. Until then, please email Sharon Harrington for the Spreadsheet.
When we email the completed Hotel Exceeds 150% Cost Comparison Spreadsheet, do we need to also attach internet print-outs of the hotels?
No, the Travel Office will also do a hotel search for comparable hotels as part of the approval process for hotels that exceed 150% of the allowance.
On what amount is the 20% maximum meal tip calculated?
The tip is calculated on the meal receipt total (meal + taxes).
When we are reimbursing someone for per diem but they stayed with a friend instead of in a hotel, what is required?
Lodging information is required when paying per diem. If the individual stays with family or friends, they must provide the complete address of where they stayed, including the zip code.
If the Department requires that individual meal receipts be submitted, don't we need to send them with the TERV?
Virginia is a Per Diem state. That means that receipts are not required for individual meals. If the department wants to reimburse individual meals based on actual expenses, you may add up the receipts for the day, put the amount in the Per Diem column and maintain the receipts on the department's copy of the TERV. The only meal receipts the Travel Office needs to see are the Business Meal receipts.
Does the VCCU Per Diem Calculator also calculate the departure and return travel days?
Yes. The Calculator will provide the correct amounts for meals on the 75% departure and return travel days.
A professor went to a one-day conference as a presenter but we were not allowed to reimburse him for his lunch. Can you tell us why?
State guidelines do not permit meals per diem to be paid for day-only trips unless the employee worked 2 or more overtime hours. Overtime hours must be noted on the TERV and a maximum of $7.50 or $10.00 per day for overtime meals can be paid for areas outside the employee's home base for 2-5 hours overtime or over 5 hours overtime respectively. Overtime Meals are taxable to the employee as income.
What do you do if the City is not listed on the Per Diem schedule for the Country where the travel will take place?
The Per Diem schedule for each country includes an "Other" category. If the city for your travel is not listed on the County's schedule, you will choose the rates for Other.
If you are traveling overseas and it takes more than a day to arrive to your destination and return to home base, how is the per diem calculated for the travel departure/return travel days?
Per Diem for the departure travel day should be calculated based on the location where you will eventually spend the night upon arrival at your destination. Calculate 75% of meals for the location and add in the incidentals. Per Diem for the return day is calculated the same way only it is based on where you spent the previous night. There should be only 1 departure day and 1 return day calculated at the 75%.
To be reimbursed for per diem, the lodging receipt must be provided. What do we do if the traveler stayed at a church/hostel or with family or friends?
The traveler simply needs to provide the address of the stay location complete with zip code.
Does the Business Meal form require the affiliation of the attendees?
Yes. If there were 10 or less meal attendees, their names and affiliations to the College must be documented on the Business Meal form.
In addition to the business purpose for a business meal on a Business Meal form, do you require an agenda?
An agenda is not required for Business Meals. However, if there is a list attendees prepared, the Travel Office would appreciate a copy attached to the Business Meal Form.
Can the department reimburse a guest's spouse on a business meal?
Only the expenses for the guest may be reimbursed under State funds.
Does the Business Meal form need to be completed for a direct payment to a caterer?
No. The Vendor Payment Request form should be used for direct payments to vendors.
There is a federal guideline regarding business meals that states that business meals must occur within the normal hours of the business day. Does the College adhere to that guideline?
No. The College recognizes that this guideline is not appropriate for the College environment.
Can an employee get reimbursed for their meal in a business meal that falls under sponsored programs that only allows business meal reimbursements for non-CWM attendees?
Yes, if the meal is within State guidelines and the department approves the reimbursement for the employee's meal charges. If OSP has approved reimbursement for only the non-CWM attendees, you may not code the employee's meal to the grant index. It must be coded to a non-grant index.
Why do business meals have to be put in the Other column on the TERV?
The Per Diem column is strictly for individual meals. Meals for groups of people must be separated out into the Other column.
If the conference provides breakfast but it only consists of danish and coffee, must the meal be deducted from per diem?
Per CAPP 20335 (Page 20), a continental breakfast provided by the conference is considered a meal and must be deducted from per diem.
If the conference provided meals but the meals were optional and carried an additional expense, what happens if the participant did not choose to pay for the optional meal?
When the conference provides meals which carry a cost additional to the registration fee, documentation must be provided that shows there were additional costs. Without this documentation, the Travel Office must assume the meals were included in the registration cost and deduct from per diem.
When someone attends a conference, and we need to attach an agenda to the Travel Expense Reimbursement Voucher (TERV), but the agenda is really large, what should we do?
It is only the "Daily Schedule" part of the agenda which shows breaks and meals provided during the conference that is required. Usually, this is just a few pages within the larger agenda and should be printed and attached to the TERV. However, if the agenda is extremely long (more than 8-10 pages), you can note on the TERV "agenda too large to print, conference agenda link provided upon request". If we see this, we will email you for the link to determine if meals were provided.
When someone attends a conference strictly as a presenter, not an attendee, do we need to attach the agenda?
The conference agenda is only required when the person attends a conference (they usually pay registration). If the individual goes to the conference strictly to be a presenter, you must check the "Presenter" option on the TERV. If you check the "Conference" option, we will require an agenda. Also, when you check the Conference option, you may code all expenses to 712270 except Registration (712240). If you check the Presenter option, you must code each of the expenses under their appropriate account codes for meals, lodging, etc.
Some conference agendas state "lunch break" or just "lunch". What if the meal is not provided?
The State expects the traveler to take advantage of free meals offered at a conference and deduct the meal amount from per diem. Simply not attending a meal is insufficient reason for not accepting meals provided. Generally, when a conference does not provide a meal, the agenda will state "lunch break", "lunch on own", "lunch available for purchase" or some notation in the conference literature that indicates there was a charge for the meal. If the agenda simply states "lunch" or "dinner", the Travel Office must assume that lunch or dinner was provided. If this is not the case, it is the responsibility of the traveler to provide documentation for this.
What do we do if there were charges for meals in addition to the registration fees?
The conference will usually provide documentation when there are charges required for meals in addition to the registration fees as the payment for meals is usually required when registration is paid. When this happens, you save a copy of the documentation showing the meal charges and add the documentation to the TERV when it is submitted. When meals are paid with registration, the total charges (registration fees plus meals) should be coded as Registration and the meals deducted from the traveler's per diem.
For mileage reimbursement, can the department pay the lower rate for mileage even when the full rate is allowed?
Yes, the department can always be stricter on policy than the State or College regulations allow.
Can a non-employee receive mileage reimbursement?
Yes. With department approval, anyone traveling on behalf of the College may receive reimbursement for mileage.
Do state mileage rate requirements apply to guests and students?
No. Guests and Students may claim the current IRS rate regardless of miles traveled.
ENTERPRISE RENTAL CAR
Does the Enterprise Cost Calculator include the cost of fuel that must be purchased to fill the rental prior to returning the vehicle?
No. You will need to print the Enterprise Cost Calculator and add the amount estimated to fill the rental prior to returning the vehicle. The Travel Office uses the following formula to calculate the estimated fuel. "Total roundtrip mileage / 25 miles per gallon (for an economy car) x current average cost per gallon = estimated fuel."
When we use the Enterprise Cost Calculator to show proof that using the POV is cost-beneficial, how do we account for having to pick up a rental early or drop off a rental late because of the Enterprise locations' hours of operation?
The Cost Calculator should include the actual number of days that the rental will be required. Example: You need to depart very early Monday morning for a meeting in DC at 9am and will return by 5pm same day. The Enterprise location is open from 8am-8pm on weekdays, is closed on Sunday, and is only open on Saturday from 8am-Noon. The number of rental days you use would be 3 days because you would need to pick up the car Saturday and return it Monday.
When renting a car for a non-employee, is optional insurance allowed?
Yes, per CAPP 20335, page 43, "Only when the agency considers automobile rental reimbursable. Rental car insurance for these individuals may also be treated as a reimbursable expense. Insurance reimbursement should only include Liability Damage Waiver (LDW) and Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)."
Can a traveler rent a larger car when needed?
The State allows only an economy/compact car rental. However, the College realizes that there may be times when a larger vehicle is needed. If the traveler can justify (provide a reasonable explanation) why the larger vehicle was warranted, the Travel Office will reimburse the expense.
When should I use the Cost-Benefit Option for mileage and where on the CWM Website can I find the Enterprise Cost Calculator to prove cost-benefit?
The Enterprise Cost Calculator must be used for proving it is cost beneficial to the College to use a POV rather than a rental car. It must be used when mileage exceeds 100 miles per day and the Average Miles per Day option cannot be used. The Calculator can be found under the subheading "RENTAL CAR MILEAGE CALCULATOR" on Procurement's website at:
If someone chooses to purchase a rental car upgrade, GPS or other disallowed options on a car rental, is the entire rental charge disallowed or just the additional costs?
If the traveler chooses an upgraded vehicle without proper justification, the travel office will reimburse the traveler based on the State's Enterprise Rental cost for an economy car. In addition, all optional items will be disallowed.
What documentation is required if the traveler is requesting gas reimbursement for a rental?
A copy of the final rental receipt must be attached to the TERV when a traveler is requesting reimbursement for gas, even if the rental was direct-billed. The traveler can go to the Enterprise website and key in their driver's license number to pull up and print or email the receipt.
FLY AMERICA ACT
Can airfare be purchased through an international airline?
The traveler is expected to purchase the airfare that is the most economical for the College. However, if the airfare expenses fall under Sponsored Program funds, the traveler must adhere to the Fly America Act, which states "you must ensure that all flights, where possible, are scheduled on U.S. flag carriers or on foreign air carriers that code share with a U.S. flag carrier." When in doubt, you should request approval from the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) prior to purchasing the airfare. If OSP will not approve the purchase, the Travel Office cannot reimburse the expense.
AIR & RAIL
The State only allows Coach fares to be purchased. What happens if the airline upgrades the seating at no charge to the traveler?
Complimentary seating upgrades are not an issue unless the airfare receipt indicates additional charges for the upgraded seating class.
Are there circumstances where business class fares (air or rail) are acceptable?
Per CAPP 20335, for Airfare:
• 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.
Per CAPP 20335, for Rail:
• When it does not cost more than the lowest available tourist/coach fare (comparison must be attached to travel voucher), or
• When reserved coach seats are not offered on the route, or
• If the traveler pays the difference.
Are rail tickets purchased from Amtrak Acela Express reimbursable?
Acela Express is the elite line of Amtrak and only provides business class seating. Business class seating is not permitted by the State unless one or more of the above guidelines are satisfied. If a ticket on Acela was purchased, justification must be provided on why the expense is considered “reasonable and necessary."
When traveling to South America, there are many times we do not get proper receipts or don't get a receipt at all. What do we need to do for documentation?
When traveling to under-developed or 3rd world countries, the Travel Office understands that there may be times when you do not get proper receipts. We must put the burden on the traveler to maintain proper documentation for any expense where a proper receipt was not obtained. Our recommendations for maintaining proper documentation during travel are (1) prior to travel, purchase a cash receipt book and complete a cash receipt each time a receipt is not provided during travel, noting the date, the amount, the currency, and the purpose for the expense and (2) maintain a daily spreadsheet of expenses without receipts. If this is done routinely, by the time you depart the country, you will have the documentation necessary for reimbursement. And won't have to rely on memory later.
Do we have to have a receipt for anything under $25?
The State requires that original, detailed receipts be turned in for all expenses. However, for transport, tolls or parking receipts under $20 a receipt is not necessary. If you do not have receipts for these items but are asking for reimbursement, please note "no receipt" on the TERV so we don't spend time hunting for receipts that do not exist.
Is the State looking into automating receipt collection so that scanned/copies of receipts will be acceptable?
Not to our knowledge. However, the Finance department is working on implementing the Travel Module for Banner where receipts will be uploaded from scanned documents. We do not yet have an implementation time line for this.
What date should be used to convert a foreign receipt to USD?
When converting foreign receipts into US Dollars, the transaction purchase or payment date should be used for currency conversion.
When a professor is on sabbatical or other assignment and will not return to campus for long periods of time, is another employee allowed to sign the professor's voucher on their behalf?
Signing a voucher on behalf of another is only allowed for guests. College employees must sign their vouchers. Special approval may be given to sign on behalf of another employee if the employee will be gone from the campus over 30 days. These situations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and must be brought to the attention of the Travel Office prior to signing/submitting the voucher.
Can a guest sign the prepared voucher and email the scanned copy of the voucher back to the department?
Reimbursement vouchers require original signatures. A scanned copy of a signature is not acceptable unless there are extreme circumstances. For non-employees, you may get the traveler's written permission to sign on their behalf and sign for them using the format "your signature + for [traveler's name]".
Is there a likelihood that the State will start to allow digital signatures on vouchers?
Not to our knowledge.
Some taxicabs in metro areas have an automated fare system that adds a minimum 20% or more tips to the bill. Are we able to be reimbursed for tips over 15%?
No. The State guideline for transport tips is a maximum 15%.
Can we reimburse expenses for a spouse that accompanied an interview candidate?
Only the expenses for the interview candidate may be reimbursed under State funds.
When we reconcile the department's SPCC card that includes charges for business meals, do we need to include a completed and approved Business Meal (BM) form as documentation?
It is not mandatory to include the BM form as back-up documentation; however it is recommended. You are still required to upload in the works system an itemized receipt and disclose all the required components of a meal to include the additional authorization signature for allowance up to 50% Meals Over Per Diem and the justification for it if a meal exceeded the per diem.
If a faculty member purchases books at a conference because they are less expensive than if he had his department order using the SPCC card, will he get reimbursed?
Yes. Purchasing via the department's SPCC is recommended. However, the traveler may receive reimbursement with proper documentation. The Expenditure must have occurred during travel status.
What is sufficient justification for purchasing In-room Internet?
The State requires proper justification for purchasing in-room internet. "For work" or "checking email" is non-specific and therefore insufficient. The justification should contain "why" in-room internet was a necessary expense.
CHECKS VS. DIRECT DEPOSIT
Can checks for awards still be special-handled?
No. Now that most employees are on the mandatory Direct Deposit for reimbursements, Awards payments will automatically be deposited into employees Direct Deposit accounts.
Are all AP reimbursements direct-deposited?
AP reimbursements will be automatically direct-deposited for employees who are on payroll direct deposit. Non-employees or employees not on direct deposit will still receive checks but checks may no longer be mailed to campus or temporary addresses - only to the home address on record. For Students living on campus, the campus address is their home address.