411: Travel

Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 07/23/2013


The Oregon State University (OSU) Travel Policy and allowable reimbursements are derived from the Oregon University System (OUS) Policy, which states that the universities are to follow applicable state statutes, regulations and administrative rules.

Many of the OUS/OSU travel policies exist to comply with the rules of the Accountable Plan established by the IRS.  The Accountable Plan’s rules are

  1. expenses must have a business connection,
  2. expenses must be adequately accounted for within a reasonable period of time, and
  3. any excess reimbursement or allowance must be returned within a reasonable period of time.

All travelers (including students, official volunteers, and guests) on official university business must comply with OSU travel policies and procedures.  Transactions will be reviewed according to statutory requirements and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).  Individuals must ensure transactions are for authorized purposes and are an appropriate use of funds.  All public employees have a duty to exercise good judgment and common sense in obligating and expending the resources of the University.  Every employee must use the University’s resources wisely. 

Official University travelers are encouraged to book their flights through contracted travel agencies on flights that provide the most economical (coach or economy class) direct travel route that will meet the traveler’s needs. 

A negligent or fraudulent expenditure can result in personal financial losses and/or disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Specific contracts or other awards may have different requirements for the submission of receipts relating to domestic or foreign travel.  The Office of Post Award Administration (OPAA) assists units in identifying the contract or award by noting the requirement on the original Award Information Sheet.  Units will be held responsible for receipts that are not submitted with reimbursements or for reimbursements that are done using incorrect methods.  A cost overrun to the unit will be prepared for any travel that is billed to the contractor and subsequently disallowed due to lack of receipts/documentation for the reimbursement.

Pre-approval from OPAA is required when employee international travel expenses will be charged to a grant index.

In most cases international travel expenses will need to be converted to U.S. Dollars (USD).  Include proof of the currency exchange rate.  Proof can be in the form of (1) receipts obtained by the traveler when exchanging currency during travel, or (2) a copy of the claimant’s credit card statement(s) showing the travel expense(s), or (3) a print-out using  fxPense: Expense Report Manager  from the OANDA website with the date shown on the receipt(s).  It is acceptable to average the exchange rate for the entire trip using the “FXHistory” feature or show expenses using the FXConverter  feature on the OANDA site.


Individual Units are responsible for educating their personnel and insuring personnel adherence to the OSU Travel Policy which contains the following guidelines:

  1. Select travel options that are the most efficient and economical to the University/State.
  2. Exercise good judgment when incurring expenses and accomplishing the purpose of the travel.  Excess costs, circuitous routes, delays or luxury accommodations that are unnecessary or unjustified in the performance of official duties are not acceptable.  Any additional expenses incurred for personal preference or convenience are the responsibility of the employee.
  3. Verify that all travel arrangements are confirmed prior to departure.
  4. Ensure that the Travel Reimbursement Request form is prepared in a timely manner, and provides appropriate receipts and documentation as required.

Travel authorization must be obtained from the department head or chairperson, dean or director prior to the commencement of travel.  Contact the appropriate Business Center for internal approval procedures.

Expenses related to bringing potential Fellows to campus need to comply with the OSU Travel Policy.  Recording of these expenses is dependent upon their ultimate status with OUS.  See also GCG 205-18: 39XXX-Travel in the Grant, Contract & Gift Accounting Manual.

  • Those persons who will be OUS registered students (stipend paid on a 55xxx account code series on non E&G funds per OPAA approval) are recruited as students.  Expenses related to their campus visit(s) should be charged to account code 28613.
  • Those persons who will not be OUS registered students (stipend paid on 28636) are recruited as faculty.  Expenses for their airfare, ground transportation, lodging, non-hosted meals, etc. should be charged to account code 39117 Non-Empl Travel - Domestic. 
  • Expenses for hosted meals involving the potential Fellow are charged to account code 28612. 

When payment is made to an outside vendor on behalf of the Fellow the expense should appear in Vendor History (FAIVNDH) as those connected to the Fellow.  For instructions refer to FIS 1106-04: Payment When Check Disbursed to Other Than Vendor in the OSU Fiscal Operations Manual.

411-01 Air Transportation

Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 11/13/2014


People traveling on University business are able to take advantage of several methods to obtain their travel services. Selected airfare should be economical, reasonable, and the route necessary for the business being conducted. OSU has contracted travel agents who provide planning services for the traveler which are billed directly to the University. In addition, the agents have access to unrestricted city pair tickets which can represent a significant savings to units and allow flexibility to change or revise travel plans. OSU promotes the use of contracted travel agents; however, their use is not mandated. 

All airfare travel booked through the contracted travel agencies require authorization by the designated unit’s representative for ticketing and billing. An authorization email, providing the authorization for travel and related expenditures, index, and account code for billing must be sent within 24 hours after the itinerary is confirmed to complete the booking. The price for the airfare is not guaranteed until the transaction has been finalized.  Fees associated with exchanges, refunds and cancellations will be billed to the designated unit. The traveler (not OSU) will be personally responsible for fees unless the changes made are necessary for OSU’s business needs or are outside the control of the traveler

City-Pair Fares - The state contracts with various airlines enabling the University to buy unrestricted airfare to various cities - called "City-Pairs". These fares allow the traveler to book a ticket up to the day of the flight, fly with no Saturday night stay, and cancel or rebook the ticket - all without an additional cost. These special fares are only available from our contracted travel agencies. A link of the city-pairs can be found on Business Affairs website under Travel.

International Flights - Foreign travel charged to Federal funds must comply with the Fly America Act.  U.S. flag air carriers must be utilized when the airfare is paid with federal funds on a grant or contract - this includes “flow through” funding. (In FIS Banner, indexes funded with federal dollars will have a fund type “31”.) The OSU Fly America Act policy, the Foreign Travel authorization forms, and the mandatory Fly America Act Waiver Checklist are located in Grant, Contract & Gift Manual GCG 209-09: Fly America Act (Federally Funded Air Travel).

Purchasing Airfare from a Non-Contracted Vendor - Travelers also have the option to purchase airline tickets from a vendor other than a contracted agent. A traveler choosing this method may use their OSU issued corporate/travel card or personal funds to purchase airfare.  In most cases these types of airfare purchases are restricted tickets and the traveler assumes all risk and costs, if changes or cancellation occur.

If an OSU compensated traveler (OSU staff or faculty) chooses to utilize an outside source for air travel, the traveler must do so in an economical and reasonable way. Only regular, coach class fares are allowed to be used (additional charges for upgrade or premium seats will not be reimbursed). Note: if the traveler chooses to use a non-contracted vendor and chooses to pay for it personally, the traveler (not OSU) will be responsible for cancellations, itinerary changes, or other charges unless the charges are necessary for OSU’s business needs or are outside the control of the traveler. 

If you are a non-compensated traveler, such as a student, volunteer, or visitor and are able to utilize OSU’s contracted travel agents it would be beneficial to the University. Although you are encouraged to do so, it is not required.

Airfare Reimbursement – Airfare purchased from non-contracted vendors will be reimbursed after the trip is completed. The traveler will not be reimbursed for any interest or late fees associated with the purchase.

Reimbursements to travelers require a copy of the on-line documentation showing the payment method and the itinerary.

The on-line confirmation or itinerary should include the traveler's name, dates of travel, destinations, and seat class. 

The traveler has 60 days from date of the completed travel to request reimbursement.  See FIS 411-07 Travel Reimbursements.

Personal Travel Combined with Business Travel - Travelers may combine personal travel with business travel as long as no added expense is incurred by the University. A comparison quote showing the business-only costs is required. OSU will only cover the business portion of the trip. OSU contracted travel agencies can split the billing so that the business portion of the fare is charged to the University and the traveler is billed separately for their personal segment of the trip. Personal days must be noted on the traveler’s itinerary when requesting reimbursement of business related expenses.

An employee may request in advance to travel by personal vehicle in lieu of air travel in order to combine official travel with personal travel. Travelers choosing to drive rather than fly will be reimbursed for an amount equal to the lesser of the mileage reimbursement or the cost of round-trip airfare that would have been incurred for commercial air travel. Travelers will need to obtain a comparison quote from one of the contracted travel agencies showing the most economical direct-route travel cost. This quote will be used to reimburse the traveler after the trip is completed. Expenses resulting from the additional time required to drive are not reimbursed. See OUS Fiscal Policy Manual Section: Travel 95.100.

When an employee is authorized in advance to travel by personal vehicle instead of a commercial airline, they may be reimbursed for the following costs associated with air travel between his or her official station and destination:

  • The cost of round-trip commercial airfare for the most economical direct route that would have been incurred. The contract travel agency provides airfare quotes that must be submitted with the travel reimbursement request.
  • Private vehicle mileage to and from the air terminal that would normally be used for departure.
  • Lodging, meal, and incidental expenses that the employee would normally incur with air travel. Expenses resulting from the additional time required to drive are not reimbursable.

Travel associated with official business while at the destination may include:

  • Vicinity mileage from hotel to official business sites.
  • If personal car is not available for vicinity mileage on official business, other normal means of transportation may be used.

Charter aircraft or air taxi service may be taken when the cost is shared by three or more people. The charter is normally restricted to flights of less than 600 miles one way. Trips made by fewer than three people or flights greater than 601 miles one way must be approved in advance by the VP of Finance and Administration or their designee. The aircraft must be piloted by the company pilot and not an OSU employee.

Charter aircraft used transporting people from one location to another in lieu of routine transportation would be coded 39xxx Travel and non-travel activity (crop-dusting, aerial photographing) would be coded 24010 Equipment Rentals.

Travel by private aircraft (employee-owned or rented) may be authorized when advantageous to the University or for the employee’s convenience. Reimbursement for expenses is for use of the aircraft regardless of the number of passengers. If an employee elects to use employee-owned or rental aircraft for personal convenience, reimbursement for travel expense will not be greater than the lowest cost method of travel. Use of employee-owned or rented aircraft will normally be restricted to flights of less than 600 miles one-way, unless approved in advance by the VP of Finance and Administration or designee.

Only employees who hold a Private, Commercial or Airline Transport Pilot Certificate and are properly certificated, rated, and qualified under the current Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) regulations with apply to the operation of the flown aircraft may pilot aircraft on OSU business.

Mileage allowances for employee-owned or rented aircraft are governed by the following policies:

  • Current rate per shortest air mile when use of the aircraft is advantageous to the institution. In an unusual situation, additional mileage may be authorized when supported by the circumstances.
  • Current rate per highway mile for motor vehicle travel when travel by car is appropriate. Additional expenses from use of the aircraft are not reimbursed. Reimbursement is limited to the current Privately Owned Vehicle (POV) Airplane Mileage Rate as specified by the US General Services Administration.

Employees operating aircraft on official business must carry their own personal aircraft insurance or be covered under private insurance on leased or controlled aircraft. The University requires the employee pilot to have a current medical certificate and meet the pilot qualifications for the aircraft type used.

Travel Awards and Frequent Flyer Mileage - Because the cost of recordkeeping outweighs any monetary benefit, and consistent with Board policy, OSU will not recapture airline bonuses awarded employees for frequent flyer miles. The value of frequent flyer bonuses redeemed for official university travel is not a reimbursable expense. In addition, the terms of some grants and contracts may restrict the traveler from earning frequent flyer miles.

411-02 Ground Transportation

Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 9/27/2013

Vehicle rental expenses may be reimbursed. Vehicles may be rented only when it is the most economical/efficient means of transportation. Receipts are required for vehicle rentals. Travelers should consider renting vehicles from the OSU Motor Pool. Rental cars may be used in conjunction with travel by common carrier when use is reasonable and authorized in advance. 

University travelers will rent compact or economy cars whenever possible. The rental of SUVs and luxury vehicles is not allowed. If you receive an upgrade because other vehicles are not available, have the rental car agency make a notation on the rental agreement that the vehicle rented was the only one available and that you paid the rate for the lower cost vehicle.

Due to the number of University Travelers on a single itinerary, it may be economical to rent a van for transportation purposes. Keep in mind that OSU does not permit the use of 15 passenger vans due to safety advisories published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Employees are encouraged to use the State of Oregon Contracts for rental cars. The contracts with Enterprise Rent-a-Car, National Car Rental, and Hertz Car Rental include insurance coverage. For this reason, collision damage insurance (sometimes referred to as CDW or LDW), personal accident insurance (PAI), and liability insurance supplement (LIS) should be declined and are not a reimbursable expense.

Employees not using the State of Oregon contract with Enterprise Rent-a-Car, National Car Rental, or Hertz Car Rental must purchase limited collision damage insurance to cover loss or damage to the vehicle. If a rented vehicle is damaged, and the OSU employee declined the CDW/LDW, the deductible doubles from $2,500 to $5,000 and Risk Management will only cover the amount in excess of that value. Personal accident insurance (PAI) and liability insurance supplement (LIS/SLI) should be declined. These are not a reimbursable expense.

While the University’s insurance will cover the cost of damage to a rental car, the person (or Unit) renting the vehicle will be responsible for any applicable deductible.

The state’s automobile insurance coverage is valid only in the United States, its possessions, territories and Canada. If it is necessary for the traveler to have a rental vehicle in a foreign country (especially Mexico), OSU recommends contacting Risk Management at least two weeks in advance of the travel so they can arrange any specific insurance for the foreign country and purchasing the insurances available (including SLI and CDW).

When a rented vehicle is damaged in an accident and CDW insurance has not been purchased, the rental agency may require payment of the deductible even when a third party is at fault. The employee should first explain that the university is self-insured through the State of Oregon, and the State Insurance Fund will cover damages up to the deductible amount.

If the rental agency still requires payment, the employee may charge the cost of damages to the OSU Travel Card or to a personal credit card and file for reimbursement. The employee should notify the OSU Risk Management Office as soon as possible and provide related information.

The renter of a car has all normal and some special responsibilities after an accident. Most fall into two areas: data collection and accident reports. The individual should collect and record all pertinent data relating to the accident such as:

  • Time and place of the accident
  • Traffic and weather conditions
  • Circumstances contributing to the accident
  • If another vehicle is involved, the driver’s name, address, driver’s license number, insurance company and policy number
  • Name, address and telephone number of any witness
  • Investigating police officer’s name
  • Description of damage to all vehicles involved
  • Name and phone number of the rental car company claims agent

The driver should promptly report the accident to all concerned parties, including:

  • Local police
  • Local or state authority for accident reporting (e.g. Department of Motor Vehicles in Oregon)
  • Rental car company, and
  • OSU Risk Management Office

Failure to report an accident may void all protection from the company’s insurance. The accident must be reported to the OSU Risk Management Office within 60 days to avoid loss of coverage. The OSU Risk Management Office will report the accident to the State of Oregon, Department of Administrative Services Risk Management Division (RMD).

The driver must keep a copy of all pertinent information and provide copies to the OSU Risk Management Office to assist in settling a claim. This includes all data collected, accident reports, repair estimates, and a receipt for any payment made.

When non-employees (seminar speakers, interviewees, etc.) are invited to OSU and a car rental is anticipated, they are personally responsible for the costs. It must be made clear to the traveler that they ARE NOT COVERED by OSU/State Insurance and they should check with their own insurance company to determine their rental vehicle coverage. Collision Damage Waiver (CDW or LDW) is reimbursable, if purchased.

  • The traveler should determine if they have a credit card that will pay the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance.
  • The traveler should check with their own insurance company to see if they are covered when driving rental vehicles.
  • If either of the above does not apply, it is strongly encouraged that the applicable unit tells the non-employee traveler to take out the CDW insurance. It will be reimbursed.

With prior OSU budget authority permission, at no additional cost to the University, and at their own risk or the personal risk of the driver, an employee’s family member may ride in “state” vehicles (owned or rented), per OAR 125-155-0420. When there is mixed use (business & personal) for a rental vehicle; it is the employee’s personal responsibility to pay for adequate insurance which will not be reimbursed.

Private Vehicles - Travel including business trips in the vicinity of the official station may be authorized in advance subject to campus guidelines.  An employee carrying passengers while using a private vehicle for business travel must comply with campus rules. Employees and agents may be authorized to use their privately owned vehicles for official business when it benefits the campus. Expense reimbursement is for use of the vehicle regardless of the number of passengers.

Mileage for the most direct, usually traveled route may be reimbursable at the current published OUS rate. Use the Oregon Mileage Chart within the OUS Fiscal Policy Manual, Travel and Transportation Administration and Expenses 95.100, or actual odometer readings. Out-of-route miles must be justified. Mileage must be from official work station or their home, whichever is less. Travelers may not claim commute mileage from home to official work station as part of their mileage reimbursement request.

If the traveler needs to claim vicinity miles, show the vicinity miles as a separate line item for the location on the reimbursement request form. Private vehicle mileage is reimbursed at the current published OUS rate.

Employees and agents authorized to use their private vehicles for official business are required to have personal automobile liability insurance to provide the primary coverage for any accidents involving that vehicle. State-provided automobile liability coverage will apply on a limited basis after the employee's primary coverage limits have been used. The state does not provide physical damage, uninsured motorist and personal injury protection for private vehicles. State coverage does not apply when the vehicle is used outside the scope and course of employment, such as during vacation time taken in conjunction with a business trip. For additional information, contact Risk Management.

Only authorized passengers may ride in a state-owned vehicle. This includes any vehicle rented through the OSU Motor Pool. See the Motor Pool Policy Manual MPL 201 Authorized Drivers & Passengers for these guidelines.

Transportation by common carrier is recommended when it is more appropriate and economical than travel by state or private vehicle. Fares may be reimbursed or billed to the unit for travel.

Airport shuttle companies in Corvallis make several trips per day to and from the Portland International Airport or the Eugene Airport. This can be a very cost effective way of getting to and from the airport because it eliminates the need to pay mileage reimbursement and airport parking. Scheduled or charter buses may be used. Charter buses are primarily used for team travel.

Trains can be used if justification is provided that it is the most suitable and economical mode of transportation. Coach accommodations should be booked whenever possible. When booking Amtrak tickets through a contracted travel agent, the agent may charge a fee which is paid directly by OSU. A roomette is allowed if special accommodations are approved because of the trip’s nature or the traveler’s health. A bedroom is allowed if no roomette is available.

The use of taxi service, shuttles, ferries and mass transit may be reimbursable. Airport bus service to and from terminals is also reimbursable.

411-03 Lodging

Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 01/15/2014


Prior to departure, the traveler should contact the appropriate Business Center regarding the applicable policy for lodging expenses. Unit policy for lodging must be applied in the same manner to all travelers from the same unit.

Commercial Lodging reimbursement is based upon the current per diem rate as determined by the traveler’s lodging location. For the day the traveler leaves on a trip, the per diem rate specified for where the traveler will spend the night is used. When there is more than one lodging location during the trip, use the specified rate for where the traveler will spend the night for each day of the trip. For the day the traveler returns from the trip, the per diem rate specified for the last location where the traveler stayed overnight is used.

Travelers must submit a valid lodging receipt obtained from the lodging establishment to receive reimbursement when it is determined that the traveler would not reasonably be expected to return to their home station. Oregon State University requires original, itemized  lodging receipts be submitted to substantiate the expense. The receipt must state the overnight travel date, time, place, amount, and include a business purpose. Lodging receipts serve as proof of business travel away from the employee’s home station and document that the expense was incurred as required for an IRS accountable plan.

All lodging expenses will be reimbursed at actual cost up to the current per diem rates. Any lodging expenses over the current stated per diem rate will not be paid, regardless of funding source.  Exceptions to the current per diem limit may be reimbursed at actual and reasonable cost with the appropriate documentation.

  • Portland Metropolitan Area - lodging will be reimbursed at actual and reasonable cost only
  • Conference Lodging – Reimbursed at actual and reasonable lodging expenses over the allowable lodging per diem rate when conference documentation is provided.  Appropriate documentation regarding the conference lodging rate should include a copy of conference registration information showing location, dates of conference, conference hotel(s), and single room rate. If registration materials are not available from the traveler or the conference website, the head of the department should sign and date a statement specifying that the event meets the criteria for a “conference exception”.  The statement must also include a brief description of the event, the agenda, the date(s), location, attendees, and the single room lodging rate.  This statement must accompany each attending employee’s travel reimbursement request and will be retained for audit. Lodging taxes are included under Miscellaneous Expenses.
  • Lodging Per Diem – Reimbursement based on per diem rate only will be considered an exception. A thorough statement documenting why an exception is needed in lieu of the actual rate must be submitted with the reimbursement request and approved by the Business Center. In this instance, lodging receipts to substantiate the expense would not be required.

For group travel, the room rate may be calculated by total room costs divided by total number of travelers (itemized receipts and a rooming list are required). Lodging taxes are considered Miscellaneous Expenses and should be recorded in the “Other Expenses” section on the Travel Reimbursement form.

Lodging for travel within the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia will be reimbursed at the OUS approved rates as shown in the Section .710 Summary of Travel and Transportation Rates under OUS 95.100 Travel and Transportation Administration and Expenses. For travel to or within Alaska and Hawaii, the federal rate using the Federal Specific Locality Table will be used as the per diem rate for lodging, meal, and incidental expenses.

Room taxes are not included in the lodging per diem rate for domestic travel; however, room taxes are included in foreign per diem rates. Report room taxes separately in “Other Expenses” on the OSU Travel Reimbursement Request.

Non-Commercial Lodging - Travelers utilizing non-commercial lodging facilities (e.g.: travel trailer, motor home, staying with family members or friends) are provided a daily payment of $25.00 regardless of duration or location.

411-04 Meals

Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 12/19/2012

Reimbursement for meals will be based on approved meal per diem. Actual meal receipts are required for group travel, when the claim for meal costs or food supplies (i.e. groceries purchased from a store or other entity) is greater than the allowed per diem,. Note: OSU’s purchasing policies should be followed when buying any non-consumable item(s).

Meal per diem rates are determined by the traveler’s lodging location. A deduction from the daily Meals & Incidental Expenses (M&IE) per diem is necessary for meals provided by others and as dictated by the departure/return time to the claimant’s official station.

For group travel, the employee responsible for the group must submit an itemized, valid receipt obtained from the eating establishment to receive reimbursement. Athletic team meal expenses exceeding the OUS per-diem rate require written justification and approval of the Athletics Director or the Associate Athletics Director that the coach reports to. Student group meal expenses exceeding the OUS per-diem rate require written justification and approval of the department head.

For hosting of non-employees, refer to OSU’s hosting policy in FIS 410-05 Hosting Groups and Official Guests.

The cost of alcoholic beverages will not be reimbursed, regardless of funding source.

Direct-bill invoices from vendors have the same written justification and approval requirement for meal expenses exceeding OUS per-diem rate.

For the day the traveler leaves on a trip, the per diem rate specified for where the traveler will spend the night is used. When there is more than one lodging location during the trip, use the specified rate for where the traveler will spend the night. For the day the traveler returns from the trip, the per diem rate specified for the last location where the traveler stayed overnight is used. The traveler is eligible for 100% of the daily per diem if the trip concludes at 6:00 pm or later, 50% of the per diem if the trip concludes between 12:00 pm (noon) and 5:59 pm, or 25% if the trip concludes prior to noon.

Clarifications in regard to reimbursement of meal per diem:

  1. Meals provided at a conference included in the conference registration fee are not to be claimed.
  2. Breakfast is not to be claimed when staying at a bed and breakfast, as it is considered part of the lodging cost rather than “complimentary.”
  3. Meals & Incidental Expenses per diem will not be reduced for a complimentary meal provided by a common carrier or hotel/motel.
  4. When a meal has been provided, or is not claimed, a deduction from the full daily rate is made using the following methodology established by OUS: Breakfast 25%, Lunch 25%, Dinner 50%.

Particular guidelines as shown in FIS 410-29 Meals on One Day Trip (no overnight stay) must be followed when determining what constitutes an allowable payment for meals on a one day business trip.

Meals & Incidental Expense rates for travel to and within the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia are the OUS approved rates as shown in the OUS Fiscal Policy Manual –Travel and Transportation, Section 95.710 Summary of Travel and Transportation Rates and Section 95.730 Travel – Federal Out-of-State (Continental U.S.) High-Cost Localities Eligible Table.

For travel to or within Alaska and Hawaii, the OSU Lodging and M&IE per diem rates equal the federal rate using the Federal Specific Locality Table.

To obtain the correct rate table use the link on the Business Affairs Travel Reimbursement Website. These rates are also updated monthly in OSU Travel Reimbursement Entry System (TRES) tables.

411-05 Conference Expenses

Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 01/31/2011

The OSU Purchasing Card is the preferred method for registration.  This card may not be used to pay any costs associated with social functions held in connection with the conference. Contact your unit purchasing card custodian. Keep a copy of the registration form to submit with the TRES form. DO NOT claim this expense on the traveler’s reimbursement form since it has already been paid.  Note that it has been paid with the purchasing card in the OTHER EXPENSES section of the form.  The same instructions apply if any meals are associated with the registration fee.  See FIS 1402-12: OSU Purchasing Card.

Direct Bill - A conference host may be willing to invoice the unit for a traveler attending the conference. 

“Prepaid” is when the university (not the traveler) pays the registration fee for the traveler before the conference, function, or event takes place.  Attach a completed original registration form and one copy of the registration form to the Payment Request form.  The registration form should show the amount of the registration fee.  Send these documents to the appropriate Business Center where an invoice is prepared so a check can be mailed with the original registration form to the vendor.

Keep an additional copy of the registration form showing the dates of the conference to include when submitting the Travel Reimbursement form.  On the Travel Reimbursement form, put a notation in OTHER EXPENSES section stating that the registration fee has been prepaid.  Do not carry the amount over into the total column of the reimbursement form.

Units may elect to make registration payments via wire transfer, especially when paying an agency overseas. Upon receipt of a fully completed Request for Wire Transfer form (a typed form is preferred with the appropriate supporting documentation), the Cashier's Office will initiate the wire transfer request and the State Treasury will complete the transaction. The form must be signed by a unit supervisor and not by the same person who filled out the Request for Wire Transfer form.

When stating the name of the vendor, do not use initials or acronyms.  State the full name of the vendor since this information is required for the vendor history file.  However, if the initials are the name of the vendor, note that fact on the Payment Request.

A person’s name cannot be listed as the vendor when paying a registration fee.  The check must be made out to the conference name, although the check can be mailed to a person.  It is very important to read the registration form to determine where the check is to be sent, since that address may be different from the place where the conference is being held.

A conference attendee traveling on official university business may pay the registration fee and be reimbursed for it after the event.  Claim reimbursement in the OTHER EXPENSES section of the reimbursement form.  Reimbursements to travelers require either:

  1. When a registration fee is paid by the claimant, a signed receipt or a computer receipt showing the amount paid must be attached. 
  2. If a cancelled check is used as proof of payment, the claimant will need conference materials showing the registration amount and copies of both sides of the cancelled check.

A Journal Voucher (JV) may be used for a registration fee when a unit on campus sponsors a conference.  The debit will go to the attending unit’s general fund on an expense account code 2XXXX.  The credit will go to the sponsor’s workshop fund on an income account 09XXX.

When a conference registration includes meals and lodging, these items should be broken out into their proper account codes, if possible.  If not possible, include all in the registration account code.  Do not request reimbursement for meals included or prepaid with the conference.

411-06 Miscellaneous

Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 01/10/2013

Miscellaneous expenses must be itemized on the OSU Travel Reimbursement Request (TRES) form as “Other Expenses”.  Commercial ground transportation requires receipts if over $75.00 per item; all other miscellaneous travel expenses require receipts if over $25.00.  Miscellaneous reimbursable travel expenses may include:

  • Telephone.  Business calls must include purpose of call.  A personal call home on the first day of travel and alternating days thereafter may be reimbursed with limits of up to five minutes or $5.00 (whichever is less). 
  • Fax
  • Internet
  • Postage – indicate what was mailed and business purpose
  •  ATM Cash Advance fees
  • Materials and supplies purchased to meet an immediate business need (receipt required)
  • Reference materials (receipt required)
  • Parking
  • Tolls
  • Lodging taxes (domestic)
  • Energy surcharge
  • Fuel for rental car
  • Charges for airline baggage fees in excess of two checked bags should include an explanation of the necessity for the excess baggage.”

Gratuities -Tips paid by OSU employees for services received while on travel assignments are personal expenses and cannot be reimbursed.  An exception is made for reimbursement of group travel actual meal expenses.  In such cases, a gratuity of up to 15% of the meal expense may be reimbursed when supported by a receipt.

The M&IE per diem includes costs which are incidental to travel – laundry, cleaning/pressing of clothing, and fees or gratuities for services such as waiters, bell hops, and baggage handlers. These types of expenses cannot be listed or reimbursed separately.

Travelers in a unit may be subject to the unit’s travel policy that is more restrictive than the standards expressed in this policy.  A travel policy more restrictive than the OSU policy requires review by the appropriate Business Center and prior approval by the Vice President for Finance and Administration via the Director of Business Affairs.  It also must apply to all travelers within the unit.

411-07: Travel Reimbursements

Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 4/22/2013


Travel Reimbursement Request forms will be used for the reimbursement of travel expenses of employees, students, and non-employees on official university business, regardless of the funding sources. Requests for reimbursement are to be submitted within 60 days after the trip has been completed, but no later than the close of the fiscal year in which the travel occurred. If the trip is exceptionally lengthy, interim filings may be permitted with prior approval. In no case can a reimbursement request be submitted after the close of the fiscal year in which the cost was incurred.

A travel reimbursement request form cannot be filed before the trip is completed and must be filed in a reasonable period of time. Filing Reimbursement Requests beyond the reasonable period may result in the reimbursement payment being taxable as wages to the employee and/or being denied. For the purposes of this policy, the IRS definition of 60 days [IRS Reg 1.62-2(g)(2)(i)] will be used to define “reasonable period”.  Accordingly if an employee does not submit a reimbursement request within 60 days of the purchase date (or from the date of return from travel if the purchase is made while in the field), the business center may offer a one-time educational session, depending upon the circumstances, before they issue a Memorandum of Understanding (memo or MOU) that is signed by the employee to document their awareness and understanding of the policy and inform them that the university will not reimburse their late reimbursements in the upcoming two year period. The option to offer an educational interaction instead of immediately issuing a MOU for an infraction of this policy should only be for those rare cases where it is very clear that the employee would reasonably not have known about this policy (i.e. new employee). A second violation for this same individual would result in issuance of the memo. 

When two or more employees travel together, it may be expedient for one employee to pay and claim reimbursement for certain expenses of other employees.  Examples are:

  1. There is a single charge for a group (e.g. road or bridge toll, parking fee taxi fee)
  2. Two employees share a room.  One may pay the bill and claim the actual amount, (with an original, itemized receipt) up to the combined lodging allowance. 

Claims for reimbursement or payment of travel expenses must include a business purpose.  The business purpose should be descriptive enough to clearly answer any questions regarding who traveled, the necessity of their travel, and the benefit to OSU. 

For all claims, submit a Travel Reimbursement Request Form through TRES. When an original signature is unattainable, a faxed signature or email authorization is acceptable for payment processing.  For an email authorization to be accepted, the email must state what specifically is being authorized (i.e. dollar amount, who the TRES form is for, what was the business purpose of the trip, dates of the trip, etc.) so the email can be matched to the reimbursement request. See FIS 1403-13 e-Signature. A person other than the traveler may not sign the Reimbursement Request as the claimant.

Employees - Expenses are reimbursed with appropriate documentation.  Passports, visas, immunization shots and other miscellaneous expenses with receipts may be reimbursed when required for an international trip. Per Diem is available only while the employee is in “travel status” (official university business requiring an overnight stay away from the employee’s official station or non-overnight travel where the employee leaves/returns home two or more hours before or after their normal start and end times).  When employees travel together, it may be expedient for one employee to pay and claim reimbursement for certain expenses of other employees.  Reimbursement for multiple employees is only allowed when actual expenses are being reimbursed and are supported by receipts.  Employees involved cannot request reimbursement for such expenses paid on their behalf to another claimant.

Employees on Leave - Reimbursement for expenses incurred during sabbatical or other types of leave is warranted only in exceptional circumstances.  These costs must be pre-approved by the department head before the leave is taken.

New Employees - New employees may be reimbursed for house hunting and moving expenses when costs are necessary to employ qualified personnel.  The maximum total cost being paid must be indicated in the new employee’s letter of offer.  New employees teaching summer session only may be reimbursed for travel expenses associated with one round trip only.  See OUS Fiscal Policy Manual, Fringe Benefits- Moving Expenses 66.200.

Students - Students who travel as employees or officially designated representatives of OSU may be reimbursed for travel expenses. 

Team/Group - One state employee, such as a coach, athletic director, or group leader, may request reimbursement for expenses paid for team or group members on a single Travel Reimbursement Request form.  Other members of the same group may not claim reimbursements.

Non-employee expenses should be kept separate from employee expenses.  Detailed itemization of expenses is required and must be supported by receipts.  When team/group members are provided cash to buy their own meals, a list of the individuals’ names, their signatures, and the amount disbursed is required.  Field trips must be necessary for field instruction, observation of contemporary practices and other areas that are not readily available for classroom or laboratory presentation, but are considered by the instructor to be subject matter essential to the course.

Original, itemized receipts must be submitted as support for expenses. Photocopies of invoices, credit card statements or record of charge slips accompanying the monthly billing statement, receipts or restaurant stubs are not acceptable.  Tear tags, credit card slips, and notations on lodging folios are inadequate replacements for itemized receipts.

Unpaid Members of Advisory Committees - May be reimbursed for actual and reasonable meal expenses and mileage.  Original itemized receipts are required.

Employees of Other State & Federal Agencies - Employees of other agencies are to be reimbursed for travel expenses by their own agency.  OSU cannot pay these individuals directly. OSU will reimburse their agency when invoiced for expenses.

Official Guests - Official guests can be, but are not limited to: faculty candidates, research collaborators, visiting scientists or lecturers, seminar or workshop speakers, observers, etc.  Pre-approval by appropriate program personnelis required prior to extending an invitation.  A clear benefit to OSU must be provided when requesting payment of invited guest expenses.

  • Faculty candidate’s family member(s) - payment of expenses require prior approval from the appropriate budget authority and will be taxable to the candidate.
  • Guest Speakers not receiving compensation - airfare and lodging can be direct billed to departments.
  • Official Guests not receiving compensation - expenses such as airfare, lodging, meals, and vehicle rental can be reimbursed to the guest when supported by original itemized receipts.  Meal per diem and mileage can be reimbursed to the guest at current OUS mileage and per diem rates.
  • Official Guests receiving compensation - all incurred expenses (including meals, lodging, transportation, etc.) are incorporated in the PSI/PSC payment amount and should be coded as appropriate to the expense; not travel account codes.

 Other Non-employees

  • Non-OUS Participantexpenses (286xx) should be coded as appropriate to the funding source.  Travel expenses reimbursed on account code 28635 require receipts for all expenses, except mileage.  Mileage is reimbursed at the OUS rate.  Travel expenses not documented with receipts are reimbursed using account code 28636.
  • Individuals on a Fellowship and not taking classes toward a degree (i.e.: post-docs) are reimbursed using 28636, because the transactions are 1099 tax reportable.
  • Volunteers are eligible to receive per diem only when travel is an assigned duty and indicated as such on their condition of volunteer service. Additional information for volunteers can be found on the website for Risk Management.

Individual units may have travel policies that are more restrictive than the minimal standards expressed in this policy.

411-08: Receipt Requirements

Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 01/10/2013

Expenditures requiring receipts need to be substantiated by original valid receipts provided by the vendor detailing the goods or services received.  If this information is not printed clearly on the receipt, and in those rare instances when a receipt has been lost or destroyed, an affidavit signed by the claimant and the unit head providing the vendor’s name and address, an itemization of the purchase, and a disclaimer that no alcohol was purchased can be substituted.  The affidavit should be used only in rare circumstances.  Since credit card charge slips and credit card statements provide proof of payment, but do not normally provide an itemization of the expense, they cannot be accepted as a valid receipt.  Small receipts should be taped (not stapled) to a larger piece of paper. 

Non-Travel Related Expenses - Any expenses claimed for non-travel related purchases (supplies) must be accompanied by a receipt regardless of the dollar amount. The approporiate 20xxx account code must be used for this part of the reimbursement.

Miscellaneous Travel Expenses -The following miscellaneous travel expenses do not require receipts.  However they must be itemized on the Travel Reimbursement Request form.

  • Meals and incidental expenses claimed at per diem rates
  • Lodging claimed at per diem rates
  • Commercial ground transportation (taxi, airport shuttle, tolls) under $75.00
  • Miscellaneous travel expenses under $25.00

International travel expenses - International travel expenses must be converted to U.S. Dollars (USD).  Include proof of the currency exchange rate. 

See Grant, Contract and Gift Accounting (GCG) Policies and Procedures Manual for receipt requirements for grant funds.

411-09 Non-Reimbursable Expenses

Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 05/05/2013

Permitted reimbursements are based on the Oregon University System's Policy, which indicates that universities are to follow applicable state statutes, regulations and administrative rules.   The State of Oregon Travel Regulations contains the permitted reimbursement amounts relating to mileage, lodging, and meal/incidental expenses. Expenses are not normally reimbursed unless specifically identified as reimbursable.  A person incurring a non-reimbursable expense is personally accountable for the expense. 

The following are some expenses not normally reimbursed:

  • Home-to-office travel
  • Deviations from the most direct and usually traveled route
  • Expenses incurred because the employee is accompanied by family member
  • Travel expenses associated with personal travel (i.e. personal travel insurance)
  • The cost of alcoholic beverages
  • Meal expenses above the per diem rates
  • Lodging expenses above the per diem rates
  • Tips/gratuity
  • Interest on personal credit cards
  • Mileage reimbursement on rented vehicles
  • GPS navigation units on rental vehicles