Content is Maintained by Strategic Business Services

Web: About SBS
Phone: 805-756-2232

Travel Guidelines and Reimbursement Rates

The following information is provided for your quick reference. For additional information please see the CSU Travel Procedures and Regulations.

Before your Trip

A Travel Pre-Authorization Form is required prior to departure. If no advance is requested, please keep this form in your department until the trip is completed, and submit with the Travel Claim Form. If a private vehicle is to be used, please sign the "Certification of Minimum Liability Insurance" section on the form. If an advance is requested, please allow 2 weeks for processing. Advances are issued in amounts over $250.00, and are issued to the individual traveler. Travel advances requested more than 30 days prior to departure must be accompanied by appropriate justification (see Travel Pre-Authorization Form for details). Advance checks are disbursed from the University Cashier's Office 805-756-2256.

Your Travel Pre-Authorization Form can also be used as approval /proof of traveling on University business and therefore make your hotel stay eligible for a tax discount.  It is the hotel’s discretion to grant the waiver of fees.

Travel Packages Purchased from Internet Vendors typically do not itemize expenses. Therefore, no business-related travel should be booked through such vendors unless the traveler has confirmed that each aspect of the package will be separately itemized (e.g. itemized hotel charges, airfare) to assure appropriate documentation for reimbursement.

After your Trip

A Travel Claim Form is required and must be filed with the Payment Services Office within 10 days of your return.

Travel Reimbursement Rates for Travel that Includes an Overnight Stay

  Type of Reimbursement Rates of Reimbursement
United States Travel Daily Meals and Incidental Expenses Actual meals expenses up to $55/day + $7/day incidentals allowance
Receipts required for any individual expenses more than $40
Lodging Traveler will be reimbursed for actual lodging expenses, receipts required
International Daily Meals and Incidental Expenses Published Federal Government Per Diem for specific location*. No receipts required
Lodging Traveler will be reimbursed for actual lodging expenses up to the Published Federal Government Per Diem for specific location
Non-Commercial Facility Daily Lodging Expenses Actual expenses up to 100% of Published Federal Government Per Diem for specific location
Receipts required for expenses more than $40
*Federal Per Diem rates for all locations:

Domestic Travel Documentation Requirements

All amounts must be itemized. Receipts must be provided for individual travel expenses over $40.00. If a receipt is not provided, a Lost Receipt Form must be submitted to obtain reimbursement. Amounts not supported by a receipt or a Lost Receipt Form will be reported to the I.R.S. as income.

Reimbursable Meals on Departure and Arrival Days

Meal reimbursements for expenses incurred for partial day travel with an overnight stay-


  • If you leave prior to 8am, you can claim up to $55
  • If you leave prior to 12pm, you can claim up to two-thirds of the $55 maximum($36.66)
  • If you leave prior to 6pm, you can claim up to one-third of the $55 maximum($18.34)
  • If you return after 9am, you can claim up to one-third of the $55 maximum ($18.34)
  • If you return after 2pm, you can claim up to two-thirds of the $55 maximum ($36.66)
  • If you return after 6pm, you can claim up to $55 in meals expenses


The reimbursement of Meals and Incidental expenses shall be calculated in multiples of the applicable federal per diem rate based on the total number of hours between the time of arrival at the foreign location and the time of departure.

For partial days, hours should be rounded to the nearest quarter day as follows:
  • 3 hours up to 9 hours equals 1/4 day or 25%
  • 9 hours up to 15 hours equals 1/2 day or 50%
  • 15 hours up to 21 hours equals 3/4 day or 75%
  • 21 hours up to 24 hours equals 1 day or 100%

Travel of Less Than 24 Hours:

When the entire length of a trip is less than 24 hours, meals and incidental expenses shall not be reimbursed unless the travel includes an “overnight stay” as supported by a lodging receipt.   If the traveler is unable to provide a lodging receipt, he or she must include a statement with the Travel Expense Claim explaining why a receipt is not available (e.g. the traveler lodged with a friend or relative, stayed overnight at the airport, or took alternative transportation that required the traveler to be away overnight).

Overnight Stay Exception

If an exception to the overnight stay requirement is allowed by the approving authority, the amount of the meal(s) reimbursed becomes reportable and taxable. The amount will be reported to Payroll and included in Box 1 of the employee’s W‐2 form. Under no circumstances will expenses for lunch be reimbursed for travel of less than 24 hours.

Special Rules Regarding International Travel

Cal Poly employees traveling internationally should visit the Cal Poly International Center website for the required travel authorizations.

Reimbursement rates are the same as above. Upon your return you must convert each receipt submitted into US Dollars. Please use this link The Currency Site to connect to a currency conversion website that should be used to determine conversion rates. Please attach a copy of the currency conversion website output to your travel claim along with your receipts.

Once approved, international travel pre-authorization forms are returned to the department to be submitted with the travel claim (reimbursement) at the completion of travel. If an advance is required, the International Center will submit a copy of the Travel Pre-Authorization Form to the Travel Coordinator for processing.

Related Content