Meal & Incidental Travel Expenses

Generally, meals and certain incidental travel expenses are reimbursable on a per diem basis (not actual expenses) for overnight official business travel outside the traveler’s official station.

The College will reimburse meal expenses based on a fixed allowance. College Travel Regulations refer to the fixed allowance as the Meals and Incidental Expense (M&IE) Per Diem. The following subsections provide requirements for meal expense reimbursements.


Allowed and Disallowed Miscellaneous Expense
M&IE Per Diem Allowance
M&IE Rate Documentation Process
M&IE Rate Table
Meals Included in Registration
Meal Reimbursement for Overtime and Official Business Meals
         • Overtime Meals
        • Official Meals Documentation Process
         • Other Business Related Food and Beverage Procedures
Per Diem Rates for Foreign Destinations
Prorations and Reductions

M&IE Per Diem Allowance

Standard meal and incidental reimbursement guidelines (including all related taxes and tips) are provided in the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) CONUS/OCONUS. Regardless of destination, a flat $5 amount is paid for each day of overnight travel for incidental expenses such as bellhop/waiter tips, valet, personal telephone calls, laundry, and transportation between lodging or business and places where meals may be taken. The Incidentals amount is prorated at 75% on the travel departure and return date.

The M&IE per diem shall be paid directly to the traveler even where it can be shown that one traveler incurred the expenses on behalf of another. The applicable M&IE per diem, or fraction thereof, is payable to the traveler without itemization of expense or receipts. Reimbursement for actual expenses incurred during overnight travel for these expense categories is not permitted. Agencies may be more restrictive and pay the actual expenses up to the appropriate M&IE in place of maximum per diem.

M&IE Rate Table

The M&IE Rate Table below provides individual meal reimbursement amounts, which are breakdowns of the M&IE per diem rates shown in the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) CONUS/OCONUS Guideline tables. These rates should be used to determine the maximum meal reimbursement amounts for official business meals and/or the M&IE reduction. The M&IE must be reduced for the applicable meal when meals are provided at no cost during an overnight travel period. Refer to the Pro-rations and Reductions section for additional guidance. This M&IE Rate table should be used unless a traveler needs to make an adjustment for provided meals.

The table also lists the portion of the M&IE rate that is provided for incidental expenses (currently $5 for all tiers).

The M&IE Rate table below reflects amounts for both the 75% travel days and the full travel days.

M&IE Rate table below reflects amounts for both the 75% travel days and the full travel days

The following reimbursement policies apply.

  • The M&IE per diem must correspond to the location specified for the overnight lodging.
  • Direct agency billing of meal expenses incurred during overnight travel, including charging meals to direct-billed hotel rooms, is not permitted.
Proration and Reductions

On a travel departure or return day, 75% of the Meals and Incidentals per diem is reimbursed. For example, if the M&IE rate allows a $51 total reimbursement, $38.25 [($51 x .75) = $38.25. For trips involving multiple travel destinations, base the reduction on the per diem in effect for where the night was spent as follows:

  • Departure Day: Where you spend the night.
  • Return Day: Where you spent the night before returning to home base.

When meals are provided at no cost in conjunction with travel events, the applicable M&IE per diem reimbursement rate shall be reduced by the amount shown for the applicable meal in the M&IE Rate Table, excluding the incidental allowances. For example, if the M&IE rate allows a $51 total reimbursement, and lunch was provided at no cost, the total allowable reimbursement for that day would be $39 ($51 - $12 lunch).

However, when meals are provided at no cost in conjunction with travel events on a travel departure or return day, the full Meals per diem reimbursement rate is reduced by the full amount of the appropriate meals followed by a 75% prorating of the balance. For example, if the M&IE rate allows a $51 total reimbursement, and lunch was provided at no cost on a travel departure or return day, the total allowable reimbursement for that day would be $29.25  [($51 - $12 lunch (lunch= $39 x .75) = $29.25.

Meals Included in Registration

When meals are included with registration or lodging expense as part of a package, the number and type of meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) must be recorded on the travel voucher. 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.

M&IE Rate Documentation Process

The lodging and per diem amounts must follow the limits described in the College Policy Travel Regulations M&IE Rate Tables.  The listing provides major cities and counties.  It may take additional research to determine if a city is part of a particular county and which lodging and per diem rate applies. 

If the travel city is not in the M&IE Rate Table listing:

  • Use the following website to determine lodging location: prior to preparing your Per Diem Calculator (a helpful tool which calculates per diem).
  •  Once you connect with the website, enter the zip code in the Search field or enter the complete address and search.  The listings of the city and counties will populate and can be used in the Per Diem Calculator.
  • Enter the county location into the Per Diem Calculator below.  If the county is not listed, you must use the Standard lodging rates for the travel state.

Now that you found the lodging location, you are ready to prepare your per diem calculator.  Please use the following the link to determine per diem and lodging rate: .It will take you to the Commonwealth of Virginia Tier lll Restructured Policy Per Diem Calculator. 

  • Enter the departure and return date of the travel
  • Click on the drop down button to choose the lodging location

If the location is not listed, select the standard for the State of travel. For example: Newport News, VA is not listed on the Per Diem Calculator, you will use VA- Standard for your per diem rates.  Travelers must reduce the applicable meal when meals are provided at no cost during an overnight travel period.  For instance, if lunch will be provided, click the box next to “lunch” to reduce the per diem amount for lunch.  Notice “Day Total” has been reduced.  If no meal will be provided, you do not reduce the amount on the per diem calculator. 

Print the per diem calculator, and attach to your travel authorization form or your travel expense reimbursement voucher.

Meal Reimbursement for Overtime and Official Business Meals

Generally, meal expenses that do not involve an overnight stay are not reimbursable. The College may allow reimbursement if documentation supporting the reimbursement clearly establishes that the individual takes the meal during overtime work periods and for official business reasons. To be eligible for reimbursement, the College must consider such meals essential to its mission, and a business necessity.

Overtime Meals

An overtime meal allowance is allowed when overtime worked is:

  • Essential to the Institution’s mission
  • Permitted by Covered Institution policy
  • Approved by appropriate authorized approver , and
  • In excess of the employee’s normal, schedule work hours.

If the department officials require employees to work overtime, the department may provide an allowance for meals for those employees.  Overtime work periods may also include extended work hours due to non-overnight travel.  Generally, an employee would not be eligible for an overtime meal until they had out of necessity been on duty for 10 hours.

The documentation must describe the circumstances involving the overtime and note that the overtime was essential to the department.  The letter must include the employees normal work schedule for the day and the overtime start and end times.  The meal is not reimbursable if taken at the end of the overtime period.

Authorized overtime meals may be reimbursed based on actual costs incurred for each meal up to published meal limits in this policy.  Receipts are required.  If a receipt is not available, reimbursement will be made at the rate of $5 for meals within an employee’s official station and $10.00 outside the official station.  An official station is defined as the area within a 25-mile radius of where an employee routinely performs his/her duties.

Note: Or if comparable overtime is necessitated by shift schedule or beyond a routine, scheduled 40-hour work period.

Agencies are required to comply with IRS regulations regarding reportable meals. An overtime meal allowance based on the number of hours worked is considered taxable wages and must be reported to the IRS.  All Overtime Meals must be coded to expenditure account 712870.

Per Diem Rates for Foreign Destinations

The  lodging and M&IE per diem rates for foreign travel to cities and countries outside the 48 contiguous States can be found at . Just as domestic M&IE Rates, meals and incidentals should be prorated at 75% for departure and return days.  International lodging and per diem rates can potentially change on a monthly basis.  When planning travel expenses ahead of time, the current rates may be used for estimation purposes.  However when completing the Travel Expense Reimbursement Voucher you must:

  • Select Foreign Per Diem Rates by Location, then use dropdown box to select a country.
  • If a specific city is not listed, use the "Other" rate shown for that country.
  • The M&IE portion of the maximum per diem rate covers the cost of meals as well as incidental expenses.
  • If a specific city is not listed, use the “Other” rate shown for that country. The M&IE portion of the maximum per diem rate covers the cost of meals as well as incidental expenses. Printouts of appropriate rates for the time of travel must be attached to the travel voucher for reimbursement.

For currency conversions you may use OANDA Currency conversion found on our Quick Links.  Currency conversions must be calculated using the rate applicable to the date of the receipt. Receipts must be converted to U.S. dollars. Printouts of appropriate rates for the time of travel must be attached to the travel voucher for reimbursement. Reimbursement for out–of–country travel will be at the rate established in the current Appropriation Act.

Allowed Miscellaneous Expense
  • Business Telephone Calls, Telegrams, Internet Access, Hotel Business Center Charges and Facsimile for official business purposes and paid for by the traveler, may be claimed on the travel voucher.  A full explanation must be stated on the travel expense reimbursement voucher accompanied by supporting documentation.  Justification must be of a necessity of conducting business that cannot wait until return to the campus to complete. Do not use “Must check email”.  Individuals using personally owned cellular telephones may be reimbursed for business calls when shown to be cost beneficial or necessary. In this case, an itemized cell phone Statement must be included and attached to the voucher. In the event that free minutes are used for business calls, reimbursement is not permitted.
  • Tolls and Parking Fees are reimbursable when paid for by the traveler in the course of conducting official College business.  An original receipt is required for reimbursement claims where each individual claim is greater than $75.  When no receipt is required, the traveler must list the name of the toll/parking facility or where it was paid on the Travel Voucher.  Reimbursement must be claimed as an "other expense" on the travel reimbursement voucher.
  • Funeral Attendance Expenses for travel outside of the official station are reimbursable for one employee selected by the President or designee to represent the College.

Travelers must fully explain miscellaneous expenses. The College may reimburse expenses not specifically addressed in this procedure depending on their reasonableness.

 Disallowed Miscellaneous Expense

The following miscellaneous expenses are not reimbursable:

  • Lost or stolen articles
  • Alcoholic beverages
  •  Damage to personal vehicles, clothing, or other items
  • Services to gain entry to a locked vehicle
  • Movies charged to hotel bill
  • All expenses related to the personal negligence of the traveler, such as fines
  • Entertainment expenses
  • Towing charges
  • Expenses for children, spouses, and companions while on travel status
  • Flight Insurance

The above list is not all-inclusive. Travelers should use prudent judgment and remember that all travel expense accounts are open to the public and must be able to sustain the test of public review.

Travel credits, reduced rates, or free services received from public facilities (that is, airlines, car rental agencies, motels, etc.) by persons for whatever reason accrue to the College.  Travelers should report any such credit, reduced rate, or free service to the department head, and use for future official business travel.  Free services are not reimbursable.