Travel Policy Updates Coming Jan. 1 (More details to come)

Travel Policy

Anyone traveling on University business (University Travelers), must abide by the CSU travel policy, the CSU travel procedures, and Cal Poly's travel guidelines. It is each University Travelers responsibility to read and understand ALL these policies and procedures and abide by them since together, they form Cal Poly's travel policy. In no way does the guidelines on this page replace the CSU travel policy or CSU travel procedures, but enhances it.

Campus-wide Travel Audit

NOTE: It is recommended to review this page each time before you travel since Cal Poly will be rolling out a new travel program in 2019. This will ensure you are up to date on Cal Poly's travel guidelines.


Before committing any funds for university travel, including conference fees, etc. all University Travelers must receive authorization to travel. To receive approval, the University Traveler must:

  • Request authorization via Concur Request or a Travel Pre-Authorization form or “1A form”
  • Clearly identify the University Traveler (name) and traveler type (student, faculty or staff, guest, partner or other non-employee)
  • Sign the "Certification of Minimum Liability Insurance" section in the form if a private vehicle will be used
  • Include an itinerary (such as conference agenda, etc.) explaining purpose of travel
  • Provide a budget breaking down travel expenses (air, car, hotel, conference fees, meals, etc.)
  • Include a Cash Advance request, if needed, see below
  • Get proper signatures for international travel, see below.

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Cal Poly provides multiple payment solutions for the University including the Concur Travel card, a university liability credit card, for faculty and staff, therefore cash advances are limited to the following situations….

  • Travel to remote locations where payment cards are not commonly accepted
  • Group and student travel requiring cash for incidental expenses (E.g. meals, shuttles, taxis, tips, etc). Group travel is defined as a group leader, usually a faculty, paying on behalf of students.
  • Other instances as authorized by Travel Manager and traveler's Approving Official

Since university liability credit cards are not issued to students. Departments should pay on behalf of students whenever possible, to limit cash advances for incidental expenses (see above).

Cash Advances may only be given to faculty, staff or students.

Cash Advances must be requested and approved by an approving official prior to travel commencing. Advances are paid via EFT only to faculty and staff, and via check to students. Students are responsible for picking up their check (with proper ID) at the Cashier's office in the Administration building.

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When travelers owe money back to the University, they are required to pay via the amount owed at the Cashier’s Office in building 1 prior to submitting an expense report.

Travelers may owe money back when…

  • they use their Concur Travel Card for personal or non-reimbursable expenses
  • they did not use the entire cash advance budgeted and given for the trip

Unpaid Amounts: If not paid back within 60 days of the travel end date, outstanding charges move to taxable income bracket.

  • University Accounts Receivable will invoice the traveler
  • There will be three attempts to collect the money
  • At 180 days after the travel end date, any money owed becomes taxable income and the amount is reported to payroll

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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, etc.) to assure appropriate documentation for reimbursement. Traveler must show cost savings when purchasing bundle travel package.

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Any person traveling with students on University business or representing Cal Poly, whether travel is paid by University funds or not, MUST register with the International Center. This will ensure that proper duty of care, including insurance, is in place for the University Traveler. Not doing so may restrict your future University Travel.

Employees traveling with students on University business must register with the International Center. Employees traveling without students register through the Concur process.

All expenses must be in US Dollars. If the travel expense tool does not automatically calculate foreign currency to US Dollars, than the traveler will need to do so. Please use The Currency Site for proper currency conversion and print and submit website conversion along with the receipts.

FTIP Insurance Application Powerform

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Meals and incidental expenses are not reimbursed by the University when the start time and end time of a trip are within 24 hours of each other (for benefit beyond a doubt, the entire trip is less than 24 hours), unless an overnight stay is included and supported by a lodging receipt. In the event a lodging receipt cannot be provided (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), a statement explaining the lack of lodging receipt must be submitted along with the travel expense.

An exception to the overnight stay requirement may be granted by the approving authority. In this case, the amount of breakfast and/or dinner and incidentals reimbursed by the University are taxable, therefore 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.

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Traveler will be reimbursed for actual lodging expenses and a receipt is required. Any published amounts referenced as per diem are considered a do not exceed amount by Cal Poly.

Lodging is the only expense you may share with another individual traveler. If you share lodging with another University Traveler, only one traveler need expense the cost of the shared hotel room.

The cost of shared lodging must follow as such:

When sharing a hotel room, it shall not exceed the nightly hotel allowance

When sharing an entire apartment or house (e.g. AirBnB) the entire rental cost, including all fees (service, cleaning, non-taxes, etc.) shall not exceed the nightly hotel allowance multiplied by the number of University Travelers. For further clarity, see the below calculation to determine the reimbursable amount:

Number of Nights
Number of People
Nightly Allowance per Person ($)
Reimbursable Amount ($)

In-state hotels may provide a tax discount or waive taxes for University Travelers. The hotel needs an approved Tax Waiver Fee form as proof of traveling on University business. Waving of such fees is at the hotel's discretion.

The International lodging nightly amounts are determined by the US Office of Allowances. For lodging nightly allowance, select the appropriate location and see the Maximum Lodging Rate column. When expensing, actual expenses require receipts, per diem do not require receipts.

Cash advances are not allowed, please see Cash Advance sections for details.

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All travelers must confirm they followed Environmental Health & Safety's Driver Safety program when submitting their travel claim/Expense Report. It is the traveler's responsibility (and their department) to adhere to this program.

Rental of 15 passenger vans is prohibited by Cal Poly. Enterprise & National are the CSU preferred vendors for rental cars.

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The university will not pay for any seat upgrades, including but not limited to paying additional fees for exit row, premium seats, business class or first class. See CSU Procedure for any exceptions. In the event there are only paid seats available during your check-in, these fees may be reimbursable. Baggage fee appropriate for the travel is reimbursable.

If travel will be same day, University Traveler should travel basic economy (or “Group 9”) where traveler may only carry a personal bag/ backpack.

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While traveling on University business, travelers may add extra days of personal travel. The University does not cover costs for personal travel, therefore…


University Traveler must pay with your own personal credit card for the days on personal travel. You may only use University payment methods, such direct bill or travel credit card for University expenses.


University Traveler is encouraged to turn in any rentals upon completion of University Travel since university insurance is only applicable for business travel, not personal travel. Traveler should rent their own automobile on their own personal credit card and insurance to ensure proper coverage for personal travel.


University Traveler may extend their airfare dates to include personal travel as long as traveler documents the cost of airfare for University Travel only (e.g. to conference and back) since this will be the reimbursement amount. Proper documentation includes a screenshot of air fare for University Travel, which must include university travel start date and end date, destination(s) and price. Any additional costs above reimbursement amount for personal travel is the traveler's responsibility and will have to pay the University back.

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For 2023 travel: The daily meal allowance for domestic travel is $55 total. This is not a per diem, but a do not exceed amount. Cal Poly will reimburse actuals.

Starting January 1, 2024:

Domestic meals are a per diem based on federal rates. Per diems do not require receipts. The daily per diem for domestic travel ranges from $59 - $79 based on the location of travel. This simple per diem, covers daily meals and incidentals. The daily rates are automatically loaded in Concur and will automatically be calculated when filling out the Expense Report. the travel is booked. Per diems do not require receipts.

Employee individual travel daily per diem for domestic meals ranges from $59 - $79 based on the location of travel.

Non-employee travel daily per diem is a flat rate of $59, regardless of location.


The daily meal allowance for international travel is determined by the US Office of Allowances. For meals and incidental daily allowance (1 rate), select the appropriate location and see the M & IE Rate column. When expensing, actual expenses require receipts, per diems do not require receipts.

Cash advances are not allowed, please see Cash Advance sections for details.

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Hospitality, hosting a guest or group of guests, is acceptable while traveling on University business outside the San Luis Obispo area. Travelers must follow the Hospitality Policy when doing so.

Since Hospitality usually includes a meal, it can affect the traveler's meal allowance. The table below (Table 3) outlines allowable meal expenses when hospitality is included in travel. For clarity, since another individual (host) is claiming the individual traveler's food and beverage, the traveling attendee may not claim that specific meal for the event date.

Table 3. Daily Meal Reimbursement Amounts with Hospitality

One Meal at Event
1 Meal per day provided at Event:
Meals that may be expensed by Individual Host
Breakfast X X
Lunch X X
Dinner Event Attendee Event Host
Reimbursement Amount on Event Date:
Individual meals $36.66 $36.66
Event Expense (Food & Beverage) $0 $/person X
# attendees
Two Meals at Event
2 Meals per day provided at Event:
Meals that may be expensed by Individual Host
Breakfast Event Attendee Event Host
Lunch Event Attendee Event Host
Dinner X X
Reimbursement Amount on Event Date:
Individual meals $18.33 $18.33
Event Expense (Food & Beverage) $0 $/person X
# attendees
Three Meals at Event
3 Meals per day provided at Event:
Meals that may be expensed by Individual Host
Breakfast Event Attendee Event Host
Lunch Event Attendee Event Host
Dinner Event Attendee Event Host
Reimbursement Amount on Event Date:
Individual meals $0 $0
Event Expense (Food & Beverage) $0 $/person X
# attendees

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Travel expenses shall be claimed via a Travel Expense Report (replacing Travel Claim forms). Expense Reports must

  • Be submitted by the person who incurred the expense, which must be the traveler. See CSU Travel Procedures
  • Be submitted within thirty (30) days upon the return of your travel, therefore from the last day of your trip.
    • AVP approval is required if submitted 60+ days after end of travel date
  • Be accompanied by an approved travel Request
  • Include itemized receipt for all required transactions, see Travel Expense Documentation Requirements section.
  • Clearly identify personal expenses, if any, that may have been charged to a university charge account or credit card. Traveler is responsible for all personal expenses/ charges
  • Claim actual costs incurred. Only International travel allows per diem for lodging and meals and incidentals based on the US Office of Allowances. Starting January 1, 2024: Domestic travel allows per diem for meals and incidentals, also based on the US Office of Allowances..
  • Clearly identify any cash advances given to traveler
  • Follow Hospitality policy, if hospitality is included in trip

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Travel Expense Reports require the proper documentation to back up the expenses incurred while traveling on University business. The proper documentation, such as a receipt must:

  • Include transaction itemization for both domestic and international travel; including receipts listing what was purchased -vs- credit card receipt with total only. Receipts are not required for meals and incidentals covered by per diems.
  • Be provided for individual travel expenses over $75.00 to obtain reimbursement; a Lost Receipt Form (and any additional proof, such as a credit card bill) must be submitted if a receipt is not available. Amounts not supported by a receipt or a Lost Receipt Form will be reported to the I.R.S. as income.

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Missing Receipt Form

Can be used for missing receipts of $75 or more. Cannot be used for airfare, car rental, hotel, or Hospitality expenses. Receipts are required for these expenses.

Learn how

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Group Travel

Defined as traveling with and paying on behalf of others (students or guests).

Group travel expense types:

  • Other Accommodations (Group Only)- used when purchasing multiple hotel rooms or other lodging for group travel.
  • Team/Group Meals - to be used for Team/Group meals only. When paying on behalf of other employee travelers or guests, use HOSPITALITY expense type.
  • Entry Fee - used for team/group entry fee.

Learn more about group travel

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Guest Travel

Guests can include, but are not limited to: recruitments, donors, and/or volunteers.

Guests are not vendors (third party entities or individuals providing services in exchange for payment) including independent contractors and guest lecturers.

  • A request is not required for guest travel
  • Guest travel must follow the travel and/or hospitality policies
  • Only 1 expense report may be submitted per guest trip when reimbursement is required
    • All expenses related to a trip should be on one expense report; multiple expense reports are not allowed for the same guest trip when reimbursement is required. Departments can submit one expense report with multiple candidates/guests if there is no reimbursement required.
  • Summary of limits - for your convenience, below is a summary of limits of allowable guest expenses, this does not replace reviewing and understanding the policy.
Flights Hotel Car Rental - reimbursement only Gas Mileage Meals & Incidentals
Economy Class Only (not "Economy Plus" on United Airlines or the like), upgrades are not allowed $275 nightly rate for domestic Intermediate size only Gas only for car rental, not personal car (see mileage) Publish rate on Cal Poly Travel Website, for personal car only Only if approved by host prior to trip - per diem $59/day, no receipts required

Allowable Expenses

Allowable expense line items for guest travel, must follow appropriate policy:


The following expenses may be paid directly by the university on behalf of the guest or incurred by the guest and reimbursed by the university. These expenses must follow the Travel policy.

  • Hotel - a Concur Travel Card and credit card authorization form are required
  • Airfare
  • Car Rental - reimbursement only
  • Mileage
  • Parking
  • Meals & Incidentals


The following expenses must be expensed by the card holder, not the guest and must follow the Hospitality policy.

  • Hosted meal - meal follows hospitality policy and expensed by card holder
  • Promotional Items/ College branded items/ “swag” - follows hospitality policy and expensed by card holder

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Governor Newsom recently signed SB 447 which repeals AB 1887, the travel ban.

SB 447 lifts the travel ban and creates in its place a program to encourage acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. The program, called the BRIDGE Project - Building and Reinforcing Inclusive, Diverse, Gender-Supportive Equality - establishes a fund that could be used to create non-partisan, inclusive messaging, discourage discrimination and help members of the LGBTQ+ community feel less isolated.

What SB 447 Means for Cal Poly Travel

Effective immediately state funds may be used for travel to all states. If the travel occurred prior to the repeal, non-state funds must be used for reimbursement, however if the travel occurred September 14 or later, state funds may be used.

To change funding from non-state to state funds for an approved Request please follow these steps:

  1. Contact your department's budget analyst and request approval to use state funds
  2. Department budget analyst approval must be in writing and include appropriate chartfield string
  3. Traveler fills out Expense Report upon completion of trip and…
    1. Continues to link original approved Request (regular process), and
    2. Uploads analyst's written approval (see #2 above)

For non-approved requests, please recall request, update chartfield to state funds and resubmit.

For new requests, enter desired chartfield string and submit.

VP approval is no longer required to travel to formerly banned states.

Please contact your department budget analyst or Poly Travel at if you have any questions.

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Travel Insurance for domestic travel is not allowed. Cal Poly will not pay for or reimburse travel insurance. See International Travel section for International travel insurance.

  • Cal Poly highly recommends booking travel through its travel management company. They gives us visibility to cancelled travel and allows us to manage our unused tickets, which lets the University better manage its travel spend.

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Audit and Consulting Services (ACS) recently conducted a campus-wide audit on travel and hospitality. A detailed list of all the findings of the audit can be found at:

View the Audit.

Travel Updates