Travel Policy

William & Mary will reimburse individuals traveling on official State business for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred.  Travel expense accounts are open to the public and must be able to sustain the test of public review.  When planning and paying for travel there are several factors of primary concern: economy, prudence, and necessity.  The use of State funds to accommodate personal comfort, convenience, and taste is not permitted.

It is the policy of the University to limit travel costs to only those expenses that are necessary for providing essential services to the Commonwealth's citizens.  Further, travelers and travel planners must seek ways to reduce the cost of travel.

Policy Introduction
Chrome River

William & Mary  uses an electronic travel management solution, Chrome River, for entering and approving travel expense reimbursements. 

Chrome River Transparency

In order to provide an increased level of transparency in the recording of travel reimbursements and to take advantage of Chrome River functionality where approved lodging, meal and incidental rate limits are already loaded in the system.  For instructions on how to use Chrome River, please visit the Chrome River section of this website. 

Definitions
Agency Head An Agency Head is an officially appointed, elected, or designated individual who directs, and is ultimately responsible for, the overall operations of an agency or institution.
Designee A Designee is any other person appropriately designated to act on behalf of the Agency Head.  Such designation must be approved by the Agency Head in writing and retained on file within the agency.
Base Point The Primary place, office, or building where the traveler performs his/her duties on a routine basis. Multiple base points are not allowed. 
Chrome River A comprehensive travel expensive reimbursement tool used to manage Pre-Approvals, track Expense Reports, run reports, and submit and receive reimbursement in the most cost-effective, timely, and efficient manner. 
Commuting Mileage Round-trip mileage traveled routinely by the employee between his residence and his base point. Mileage and other commuting costs incurred during commuting status are considered a personal expense and are not reimbursable. 
Commuting Status  Period of time in which an employee is routinely traveling between his residence and his base point. Mileage and other commuting costs incurred during commuting status are considered a personal expense and are not reimbursable. 
International Travel  All travel to areas outside of the 48 contiguous United States to include Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico. 
Non-WM Affiliate Any individual who is not employed or is a student, but who is conducting University business. This includes members of boards, authorities, or commissions.
Official Station The area within a 25-mile radius of an employee's designated base point. 
One-day Travel  Travel that occurs in one day that incurs expenses. 
Sponsored Programs  Programs funded by revenue derived from grants and contracts. 
Expense Report Original authorized documentation for requesting reimbursement of expenses incurred by an individual while traveling on official State business 
Pre-Approval  A submission that includes the estimated total cost of any planned travel. Required for overnight official business travel, one-day travel expected to exceed $500 or more, funded by a Grant, and for all International travel. 
Travel Status  Travel outside of an employee's official station.
Trip  Any period of continuous travel between when the traveler leaves his residence or base point and returns to his residence or base point. 
University Employee A permanent or temporary employee of the University. 
Travel Reimbursement Requirements

Although not all-inclusive, the following information is required for expense reimbursement and must be submitted with the Employee Pre-Approval and Expense Report

  • Authorization and Exception approvals
  • Approval for mileage reimbursement at IRS mileage rate
  • Reason for travel and any unusual fees such as charges for changing a reservation/ticket
  • Hard-copy confirmations of expenses if online methods were used to procure services
  • Reason for business phone calls, Internet services, or fax services
  • Foreign currency conversions calculations related to international travel
  • Itemized receipt for lodging or comparative statement if alternative is used (example: Apartment lease)
  • Receipt for registration fees
  • Reason for reserved "for hire transportation" (example: chartered transportation) Receipts required if claim is more than $75 per instance
  • Worked hours and overtime for overtime meals
  • Approval for use of private or chartered airlines or State-owned aircraft

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. 

The University uses GSA rates for Lodging and M&IE expenses, therefore, the correct rates must be selected in Chrome River on the Expense Report by the traveler. The approver of the Expense Report is responsible for ensuring the correct rates are stated for reimbursement, based on actual travel dates. 

(Please note that the GSA rates are generally published for the Federal fiscal year, which runs from October 1 – September 30 annually.)

Travelers must submit the Expense Report to their supervisor within 30 working days after completion of the trip. In the case of continuous travel, the traveler must submit the Expense Report to the supervisor within 30 working days of the last day of travel for which reimbursement is requested. However, employees on continuous travel should request reimbursement at least monthly. University procedures are designed to process reimbursements in a timely manner to allow travel charge card payments to be made by the specified due date. 

By certifying the Expense Report in Chrome River, the traveler is certifying the accuracy of all information, the legitimacy of the travel, and the appropriateness of the expenses. The approval of the traveler’s supervisor certifies that he/she agrees that the travel was necessary and the requested reimbursements are proper.

Travel Pre-Approvals

To ensure adequate planning (identification of costs and exceptions), the University requires employees to prepare a Pre-Approval that includes an estimate of the total cost of any planned travel that meets the following criteria:  (1) overnight official business travel, (2) one-day travel expected to be $500 or more, (3) expenses will be charged to a Grant, (4) travel to any international location.

Total cost includes lodging, transportation, meals, conference registration, and any other travel costs or course fees must be included in the estimate. Costs of the trip that may be direct billed, such as lodging or conference registration, must also be included in the cost estimate. The estimate must accompany both the Expense Report and any applicable direct-billed Vendor Payment vouchers. For planned travel, the traveler must document that a reasonable effort was made to obtain efficient, effective, and cost beneficial means of travel for the Commonwealth.

Note: Students and Non-WM Affiliates are also required to complete a Pre-Approval if their travel meets the criteria listed on items 2-4 (above).

Travel Management Services

The University currently has a travel services contract with Covington Travel. Following is a list of travel services available from the travel management agency.

  • Provide domestic and international airline and railway tickets at the most favorable rate available
  • Provide tickets that meet the arrival/departure times and locations requested by the traveler.
  • Arrange hotel accommodations when requested.  Take advantage of State government or corporate accounts whichever is greater. When the traveler does not specify a hotel, selects a hotel located close to the place of business.
  • Arrange vehicle rentals when requested, using the existing mandatory State contract.  Gets the most favorable rate for the car size or location required by the traveler when the vehicle rental firms do not have vehicles available.
  • Arrange group conference accommodations when requested, taking advantage of available discounts.

Covington's team of agents may be contacted by phone at (804) 344-3244 or by email via Covington.

Internet Usage

In addition to all other policies set forth in this travel policy, the following policies must be complied with when using the Internet to purchase travel services.  Usage of the Internet to procure travel services is allowed. Use caution and prudent judgment when choosing an Internet travel service site. Hidden fees, significant pre-payments, or nonexpendable advances can apply that may not be reimbursable. The traveler must comply with procurement guidelines.

Conference Procurement

In planning for an agency-sponsored conference, the Lodging and M&IE guidelines in these regulations should be used as a measure of reasonableness. Agencies should be prudent in selecting the most cost-effective option available. Agencies should follow the Department of General Services, Division of Purchases and Supply procurement guidelines. Documentation supporting the procurement must justify any costs in excess of the guidelines based on the overall conference procurement costs (example: free room space or other free or low-cost amenities needed for meetings). For reimbursements where these guidelines are used, “Cost based on Procurement Guidelines” must be clearly stated on the Expense Report.

Lodging

Lodging may be reimbursed when an individual is traveling overnight on official business outside his/her official station. Lodging expense reimbursement varies with the travel destination, but all expenditures must be necessary and reasonable. Primary responsibility for ensuring the reasonableness of amounts reimbursed rests with the Agency Head or designee. This includes ensuring that all travel expenditures have been approved at the appropriate level required, as defined in these regulations.

Lodging Rates
All lodging rates are governed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) rates effective October 1 of each year.

The maximum reimbursable lodging rates listed in U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) CONUS/OCONUS lodging and per-diem tables are inclusive of all taxes, tips and service fees. (Note:  The lodging rates are room rates–not per person rates.) The university 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, fees, resort fees, 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.

Lodging Exceptions
Conference Hotels up to 200% of the lodging rate

For Conference Hotels, the agency head or designee appropriate to the department may approve reimbursement for lodging up to 200% of the maximum rate when circumstances warrant under State Funds.  A justification for the exception must be completed on the compliance warning on the expense report.

Non-Conference Hotels up to 150% of the lodging rate

For Non-Conference Hotels, the Agency Head or Designee appropriate to the department may approve reimbursement for lodging up to 150% of the maximum rate when circumstances warrant under State Funds. A  justification for the exception must be completed on the compliance warning on the expense report.  Non-Conference Hotels in excess of 150% up to 200% with Dean or VP approval is allowable under University Local Funds.

Reimbursements above the 200% of the lodging rate

If the room rate exceeds 200% of the allowance, prior approval from the VP of Finance and Chief Financial Officer is required.  Approval is required for any room rate that exceeds the 200% allowance regardless of multiple people sharing a roomConference Hotels in excess of 200% with VP of Finance and Chief Financial Offer pre-approval and cost benefit comparison are only allowable under University Local Funds. Non-Conference Hotels in excess of 200% with VP of Finance and Chief Financial Officer pre-approval and cost benefit comparison is only allowable under University Local Funds.  The VP of Finance and Chief Financial Officer's decision is final. It is routed directly to the approvers on the pre-approval in Chrome River if the lodging rate will exceed 200%.

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 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 in writing by the Agency Head or 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. This regulation is not intended to discourage agencies from employing cost saving measures such as multiple travelers staying in the same room. However, do not diminish the overall savings that might otherwise be obtained by upgrading to luxury or premium accommodations.
 
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 Expense Report. 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.

Non-Canceled Hotel Reservations

Communicate travel plan changes to the hotel as soon as possible when a confirmed reservation is being held. Since hotels can charge for non-canceled reservations, these charges will not be reimbursed if the traveler is negligent in canceling reservations.  

Advance Payments
Advance payments for direct billed hotel/motel expenses are discouraged. Use of the State-sponsored Travel Charge Card is encouraged to secure room confirmations. Actual advance payments using the travel charge card program will not be reimbursed prior to the trip. If circumstances make advance payments a necessity, advance payments are limited to one night deposit for direct bill payments.

Direct Agency Billing of Lodging Expenses

Direct agency billing of lodging expenses (rates, taxes, and surcharges only) incurred during overnight travel is permitted. Direct bill charges, however, are still considered travel expenditures and are governed by these travel policies and should be included with the estimated costs of the trip if the trip is expected to exceed $500. A copy of the travel estimate should be included with the vendor payment. Direct agency billing of meal expenses incurred during overnight travel, including charging meals to direct-billed hotel rooms, is not permitted. Documentation supporting direct bills must include the name of traveler, dates, and purpose of travel.

Hotel Bills

Submit with the original Expense Report 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. 

Meals and Incidentals (M&IE)

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. 

M&IE Per Diem Allowance

Information regarding standard meal and incidental reimbursement guidelines (including all related taxes and tips) are provided in the M&IE Rates Section below. Regardless of destination, a flat $5 per diem 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 M&IE rate 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 rate, or fraction thereof, is payable to the traveler without itemization of expense or receipts. Reimbursement for actual expense 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 rate in place of maximum per diem.

M&IE Rates

All M&IE Rates are governed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) rates located at the link below. These rates should also 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 Proration’s and Reductions section on the next page for additional guidance. The M&IE Rates listed on the GSA website include amounts for the 75% travel days. The M&IE Rates must be used unless a traveler needs to make an adjustment for provided meals, as noted in the Proration’s and Reductions section. 

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’s and Reductions
The following link must be used to calculate proration’s and deductions for meal per diems: Domestic Per Diem Calculator

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 Expense Report. If a continental breakfast or reception is offered as part of the travel event and the food/timing is sufficient to serve as a meal, the traveler must reduce the per diem by the appropriate allowance amount. If a breakfast is offered at no charge by the hotel and the traveler does not partake in the breakfast due to any reasonable circumstance (e.g. early work hours do not allow for participation in the provided breakfast, the food provided was not adequate, the traveler’s dietary needs were not met, etc.), then the traveler must notates this on the Expense Report. 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 Expense Report documenting this information.

Overtime Meal

Agency conditions that necessitate overtime vary greatly.  Overtime status is when work or travel time occurs beyond an employee’s normal, schedule work hours, but not overnight.  Therefore, overtime meal allowance does not apply during overnight travel.  

An overtime meal allowance is allowed when overtime worked is:

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

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.

IRS Reporting Requirements for Business Meals
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.
Allowed and Disallowed Expenses
Allowed Expenses

Taxes, fees, and surcharges paid by the traveler for lodging.

Business Telephone Calls, Telegrams, Internet Access, Hotel Business Center Charges, and Facsimiles for official business purposes and paid for by the traveler may be claimed on the Expense Report. A full explanation must be stated on the Expense Report accompanied by supporting documentation. 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 Expense Report. In the event that free minutes are used for business calls, reimbursement is not permitted. 

Funeral attendance expenses for travel outside of the official station are reimbursable for one employee selected by the Agency Head or designee to represent the agency. Lodging and M&IE are allowed if the representative is considered to be in, travel status and overnight stay is required. 

Disallowed Expenses
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. The following expenses are disallowed under State Funds.

  • 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 bills
  • All expenses related to the personal negligence of the traveler such as fines
  • Entertainment expenses
  • Travel Insurance (Personal injury or loss, trip interruption/cancellation, etc.)
  • Towing charges
  • Expenses for children, spouses and companions while on travel status
  • Flight Insurance
Transportation
University-Owned Vehicles

Rules and policies for use of a State vehicle are defined in the Office of Fleet Management Policies & Procedures issued by the Department of General Services. Agency Heads shall limit authorization for commuting in State-owned vehicles to those employees whose job travel requirements make commuting the only cost-effective or practical alternative. When using a University-Owned Vehicles travelers must use the Voyager Fuel Card to fuel the vehicles.  

State Owned Aircraft Travel

State-owned aircraft are available on a priority basis and can be scheduled through the Department of Aviation (DOAV).  Refer to the Aircraft Use Policy and Guidelines that can be found on DOAV's website at www.doav.virginia.gov.  Costs should be compared with commercial rates to determine the best air carrier travel for State travel.

Personal Automobiles

Employees are permitted to use their personally owned automobile when a State-owned vehicle or Enterprise rental vehicle is not available, or when the use of a personally owned vehicle is cost-beneficial to the agency. Employees electing to use their personal vehicle as a matter of convenience will be reimbursed for mileage at the lowest combined capital and operational trip pool rate charged by OFMS. 

Current Mileage Rates

Current Mileage Rates including the IRS rate are built into Chrome River.  To receive the higher mileage reimbursement rate for personal vehicle mileage exceeding an average of 200 miles per day per trip, the employee must submit a cost/benefit analysis and upload it to Chrome River.   Employees electing to use their personal vehicle as a matter of convenience for trips exceeding an average of 200 miles per day will be reimbursed for mileage at the reduced rate of 23 cents per mile (Fleet Rate).

If the higher mileage rate is used for reimbursement, the Agency Fiscal Officer is responsible for ensuring the appropriate justification has been documented and approved by the Agency Head or Designee. This documentation and approval must be attached to the Expense Report.

Average Daily Mileage Rule
Employees may use their POV and be paid the higher mileage rate without any cost analysis when driving 200 miles or less per day.  Calculate the average daily mileage of the trip by dividing the total round trip mileage by the number of official business traveling days.  The travel must be a minimum of 3 days to use this option.  For example, on a three day business trip with round trip mileage of 540 miles, 540 miles divided by 3 official business traveling days equal 180 average miles.  If the total number of miles per day is 200 or less, the employee may be reimbursed the current IRS full mileage rate.  In Chrome River, please select the expense tile POV Average miles and submit appropriately.

Cost Benefit Analysis

Agencies must conduct a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether a State-owned/Enterprise rental or a personally-owned vehicle should be used in official State travel. It is expected that a good faith effort will be made to use the Enterprise Rental contract when practical. Generally, a personal automobile is considered cost beneficial under the following circumstances: (1) When occasional travel is planned for distances up to 200 miles per day. (2) For overnight travel, consider the average daily mileage over the period the State vehicle would otherwise be needed.  (3) For constant daily routine travel and (4) when an emergency exists and is approved by the Agency Head or Designee.

Mileage versus Air Costs
Planned personal vehicle or rental car costs cannot exceed the total cost of the trip using the most economical public air transportation available. All travel costs (including meals, lodging, parking, ground transportation, etc.) should be considered for each option. Reimbursement shall be limited to the least expensive option (flying vs driving). Agency Heads or their designees are authorized to grant exceptions to this policy when justified. Comparative statements should be attached to the Expense Report for reimbursement.

Commuting Mileage
Round-trip mileage traveled routinely and directly by the employee between his residence and base point incurred on a scheduled workday is considered commuting mileage. An employee can have only one assigned base point. Commuting mileage and other commuting costs incurred on normal workdays are considered a personal expense and are not reimbursable.

Travel Routing
Travel routing, whether by public transportation, privately owned vehicle, State-owned vehicle or for-hire conveyance, shall be the most direct practicable route.  Persons traveling to the same event with identical travel plans must make an effort to carpool. 

Base Point

An employee can only have one base point, even if the employee has multiple work locations. It is the agency’s responsibility to assign the base point to be used for reimbursement purposes. 

The employee’s residence can be assigned by the agency as base point when it is cost beneficial to the State. In this case, the mileage driven from the employee’s residence to one or temporary work locations, including the employee’s central office, is official State business mileage and is fully reimbursable. Agencies are expected to establish stringent administrative controls at sufficiently high levels to ensure that the assignment of an employee’s residence as their base point is authorized only when justifiable. 

Weekend and Holiday Mileage

Mileage incurred when the individual is required to work on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday that is not a scheduled workday may be reimbursed subject to an agency policy permitting such reimbursement.

Out of country Mileage

Reimbursement for out-of-country travel will be at the rate established in the current Appropriation Act. However, if a higher personal, mileage rate is justifiable; a request must be sent to the VP of Finance and Chief Financial Officer for approval. This request must have appropriate documentation to support the proposed reimbursement

Parking & Toll Expenses

Parking and Toll expenses are reimbursable. A receipt is required for reimbursement claims where each individual claim is greater than $75 per instance. Reimbursement must be claimed as an “other expense” on the Expense Report. When no receipt is required, the traveler must add a comment to the Expense Report with that information. Airport parking is allowable at the most cost beneficial to the University.  Parking at airport Economy lots are reimbursable under State Funds, and additional expenses are allowable under Local Funds with justification.

Baggage Fees
Certain airlines now charge additional fees (baggage) for services formerly included in the airfare cost. When procuring airfare for business travel, travelers should consider total costs in selecting the most appropriate carrier.  Baggage fees are reimbursable to the traveler up to $60 per one-way trip under State Funds.  Baggage fees $61 and above are allowable with justification under University Local Funds.  Travelers are expected to be aware of these limits. In the event these limits must be exceeded for legitimate business purposes, the cost is reimbursable. A receipt and appropriate explanation must be attached to the Expense Report.

Public Transportation
Public transportation travel includes: (1) Rental Car, (2) Plane, (3) Train, (4) Bus and (5) Taxi, Shuttle or other for hire transportation.

Public transportation rates must not exceed those for tourist or coach class accommodations. Receipts for such expenses must be retained for submission with the Expense Report. Because of the liquidity of air and rail tickets, any unused portions must be returned to the agency for credit. Each agency must have a written policy and assigned responsibility for obtaining and controlling airline and rail tickets, particularly any unused portions.

Charges for changes to tickets/reservations to accommodate personal comfort, convenience and taste are not reimbursable. Change fees must be explained on the Expense Report.

For taxis, shuttle vans and other forms of on demand or reserved “for hire transportation,” receipts are required only if the reimbursement claim exceeds $75 per instance. A reason must be identified on the voucher of the necessity for reserved “for hire” transportation. Reimbursement for limousine or other forms of luxury transportation services are not allowed. A maximum tip of 15% of the taxi cab or shuttle service fare is reimbursable as a transportation cost separate from Meals and Incidental Expenses. For reimbursement, the Expense Report must separate the amount for the tip from the amount of the fare.

Public transportation from place of lodging to restaurants is allowed only for official business needs.
 
Air & Rail Tickets

Generally, airline and rail travel cannot exceed the rates charged for tourist or coach class accommodations. Recently, airlines have created a higher level of coach class service that charges a premium for certain desired seats. Such upgrades in the coach seating area are enhancements to the coach fare and are not reimbursable.  With careful consideration of the reasonableness limitations specified in the “Expenses Must be Reasonable and Necessary” section of these regulations, the approving authority may grant permission for business class air or rail travel under the following circumstances:

Air: (1) When it does not cost more than the lowest available tourist/coach fare (comparison must be attached to Expense Report), or (2) For travel to Western Europe if the business meeting is conducted within three hours of landing, or
(3) For transoceanic, intercontinental trips involving flight-time of more than eight consecutive hours with justification are allowable under State Funds.  Cost in excess of Economy class for travel is less than eight hours with justification are allowable under University local funds or, (4) if the traveler pays the difference.

Rail: (1) When it does not cost more than the lowest available tourist/coach fare (comparison must be attached to Expense Report), or (2) When reserved coach seats are not offered on the route, or (3) If the traveler pays the difference. Cost in excess of Economy class are allowable with justification under University local funds.

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 employee. 

Combining Business with Personal Travel

When a traveler purchases airfare and wants to combine personal travel with a business trip for the University:

  • 3 flight comparisons must be completed prior to purchasing the combined ticket.
  • The flight comparisons must include only Economy flights using the buisness departure and return dates and the location for the round-trip and be the most cost beneficial to the University.
  • If the comparisons for the business trip exceed the flight for the actual combined trip, the full airfare may be charged and reimbursed.
Fly America Act
Generally, if a traveler is traveling on funds provided by the federal government, he/she must use a U.S. flag carrier (an airline owned by an American company), regardless of cost or convenience.  If you are scheduling international travel that is federally funded, 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. Code sharing occurs when two or more airlines “code” the same flight as if it was their own. In other words, a U.S. airline may sell a seat on the plane of a foreign air carrier; this seat is considered the same as one on a plane operated by a U.S. flag carrier. Compliance with the Fly America Act is satisfied when the U.S. flag air carrier's designator code is present in the area next to the flight numbers on the airline ticket, boarding pass, or on the documentation for an electronic ticket (passenger receipt).

For additional information, contact the Grants Office.
 
Bus Travel
Permitted in lieu of automobile, airline, or train travel when cost beneficial. 
 
Car Rental

Reimbursement of car rental expenses is limited to official business use only. Car rentals may be made through Enterprise / National rental agencies. The traveler must select the most economical contractor and type of vehicle available, and acquire any commercial rate or government discount available when the vehicle is rented.
 
In most cases, rental vehicles would only be necessary after reaching the destination of travel. However, for travel initiated from the traveler’s base point, the traveler may conduct a cost/benefit analysis to determine if it is beneficial for the State to use a rental car in lieu of a personal vehicle for the planned trip. The cost/benefit analysis should consider the cost of the rental car, any surcharges, and the cost of fuel for operating the rental vehicle. If this analysis demonstrates that it is cost effective to obtain the rental car and agency policy permits, a rental car may be used, and the cost/benefit analysis must be attached to the Expense Report. 

Non-WM Affiliate Car Rentals and Personal Vehicle Use

Reimbursement is permitted for car rental expenses for Non-WM Affiliate and other guests of the University.  A Non-WM Affiliate is allowed to rent from any rental car agency; however, guests of the University cannot use the Enterprise Contract through the University.  The most economical type of vehicle available is allowed for reimbursement. If the guest does not own or have access to a personal car, a car rentals is allowed, however a traveler may not rent a car to travel to the airport and park it for the term of the trip.  In this instance, the traveler may take a shuttle, rail, or some other form of public transportation.   

As a Non-WM Affiliate, the use of a personal vehicle is allowed.  Reimbursement at the current IRS mileage rate, as long as the total mileage reimbursement is cost beneficial to the University when compared with other modes of travel such as airfare. 

Car Rental Refueling and GPS Optional Services

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. Reimbursement must be claimed as a fuel expense on the Expense Report. 
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 to avoid paying for fuel not used.  It is allowable with a bona fide business purpose to reimburse for Fuel Service Plan under university local funds. 

GPS and other optional services are disallowed under State Funds. However, GPS is allowable with a bona fide business purpose under university local funds.

Traveler’s Tip

The Department of Treasury, Division of Risk Management, covers all rental car damages and liability when the State employee is negligent or “at-fault.” This is why the employee should decline additional coverage (CDW, LDW, PDW, LIS, or SLI) by the rental car company.

However, for damage caused when no fault can be determined (hit and run, parking lot scrape and go, etc.), or by an uncontrollable act (hail damage, deer collision, rock to the windshield, etc.) the agency will be responsible for the repair to the vehicle. The Division of Risk Management offers “Lease Care” insurance to agencies to cover damages when no one is liable. This coverage is optional and each agency should make a decision on obtaining “Lease Care” coverage based on their particular risk situation. 

Additionally, a traveler may encounter a situation when renting a car outside of Virginia and the car rental company requires the traveler to obtain coverage from the car rental company or show some evidence of insurance. The traveler should determine if this requirement is in effect for their travel destination and if so obtain a “Proof of Insurance” certificate from the Division of Risk Management.

Rental Vehicle Coverage

Liability protection is provided under the Commonwealth Risk Management Plan (see Section VIII). University employees are covered for physical damage to vehicles.  This coverage is for any damage the driver causes to the vehicle; however, it does not cover damage by fire, weather, vandalism, animal damage, glass breakage and similar events (i.e., crack in the windshield caused by a rock; damage inflicted on parked/vacant vehicles).  Damages of this type will be charged to the department that rented the vehicle.  The university does not pay additional collision damage insurance.  Drivers electing the purchase this coverage will not be reimbursed, unless private funds available through one of the university's affiliated foundations.

International Coverage

Although the university's liability and physical damage insurance is applicable overseas, it is recommended that travelers purchase liability and collision damage insurance at the destination.  The purchase of such rental automobile insurance is a State-approved reimbursable expense.

The option to purchase insurance offered by rental car contractors depends on upon the following:

If the traveler is a
then...
Notes
State Employee
Decline
Rental insurance will be not be reimbursed. The Department of Treasury, Division of Risk Management, provides a State wide Self-Insured Automobile plan of State employees.
Non-State Employee
Accept
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).
State Employee or Non-State Employee Outside of the United States
Accept
Individuals traveling outside of the territorial United States (including Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, and Puerto Rico) are required to purchase and will be reimbursed for LDW and CDW insurance.  Other types of insurance offered such as trip cancellation, persona, health or life insurance are not reimbursable.
International Travel
Approval Authority

In addition to all other policies set forth in this travel policy, the following policies must be adhered to when traveling internationally. A Pre-Approval must be completed prior to travel and approved by the respective Agency Head or Designee.  

Air Travel Emphasized

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 Expense Report), 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 are allowed under State Funds.  Cost in excess of Economy class for travel that is less than 8 hours with justification is allowable only with University Local Funds, or
If the traveler pays the difference

Reimbursement for first class travel is prohibited.

Per Diem Rate and Calculators

The University uses the lodging and M&IE per diem rates for foreign travel as defined by the Federal Government, General Services Administration (GSA). The Department of Defense (DOD) sets the rates for Hawaii, Alaska, and all United States Territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, The Virgin Islands, etc.) The Secretary of State establishes these maximum rates of per diem allowances for travel in foreign areas.

The GSA web page ( www.gsa.gov/portal/category/21287) link for domestic travel lodging and M&IE rates has links to the DOD and State Department web sites. 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.

Per Diem Calculator
http://www.perdiemcalc.net/va-restructured-pr/

International Per Diem - Part 1
https://aoprals.state.gov/web920/per_diem.asp 

International Per Diem- Part 2
https://aoprals.state.gov/content.asp?content_id=114&menu_id=78 

Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico Per Diem
http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/perdiemCalc.cfm