Business Travel

Definition of a Business Travel Expense

Business travel expenses are expenses incurred by an individual while on University related business.  For example - attending a conference or event. Typical expenses are: airfare, hotel, meals, ride services or mileage, and conference fees.

Requirements of a Business Travel Expense

The University will reimburse individuals for reasonable, necessary, appropriate and approved travel and business expenses incurred in the performance of University business. A purchase order is not required for travel expenses.

Travel Cancellation

If University mandated travel restrictions trigger the need to cancel paid travel bookings – you should do so as quickly as possible. The extraordinary situation occurring at this time has brought up many inquiries. Please see FAQ at: Travel Cancellation FAQ  with answers to the most common questions. This FAQ information applies to Business Travel Expenses.

It is the intent of Seattle University to make employees whole regarding their business-related travel expense reimbursements.  The University relies on departmental decision makers to be proactive and transparent – making fair and impartial decisions. 

For guidance on University related international travel including all SU exchanges, long- and short- term faculty-led study abroad programs, SU sponsored study abroad programs, service trips and other individual and group trips for spring break and spring quarter/semester please see FAQ at:

NOTE: Please process all Accounts Payable requests as soon as cancellations/rearrangements are finalized.


The University will reimburse for the most economical fare, which is generally a coach class ticket aboard a regularly scheduled commercial carrier. Exceptions may be granted to fly business class for either international travel greater than eight hours (nonstop) when budget is available, or for a documented medical reason. Business class airfare requires prior written approval from the President, Provost or Chief Financial Officer. First class air travel is not allowable. 

Air travel should be booked at least 14 days prior to departure as that will provide the best value to the University whenever possible.  An itinerary or e-ticket is the required documentation for reimbursement of fare. Both are commonly issued from online travel booking sites. The itinerary or e-ticket must include the travelers name, trip dates, price, ticket class, destination, and proof of payment. Upgraded seats, travel insurance and other nonessential expenses are not reimbursable. In accordance with the Fly America Act, commercial air travel funded by a federal grant must use a United States flag air carrier service.  The University will not reimburse the equivalent cost of the ticket when personal airline miles or credits are used.


The University will reimburse lodging for business travel to non-local destinations.  Lodging reimbursements are only allowed when traveling more than 50 miles away from Seattle University. Only expenses for standard room accommodations will be reimbursed. The paid hotel bill is required documentation for reimbursement of a hotel stay. If the hotel room is booked through an online travel reservation website, the traveler may print the itinerary rather than providing the hotel bill. The bill or itinerary must show the name/s of the person/s staying, travel dates and proof of payment. Room service charges on the hotel bill require an original itemized receipt. Movies or other entertainment expenses are not reimbursable.


The University will reimburse for meals while traveling via EITHER per diem or actual itemized receipt. For either option, individuals should not seek reimbursement for a meal that is included in some aspect of the travel such as a conference registration.

An individual may not claim both per diem and an actual meal expense on the same day. For example, reimbursing breakfast at a restaurant and then claiming per diem for lunch and dinner is not allowed. When attending a conference that provides meals per diem cannot be claimed.

Per Diem: The per diem (per day) reimbursement rate is $50. The following breakdown applies if traveling for part of the day: $10 for breakfast, $15 for lunch, and $25 for dinner. No proof of payment is required for a per diem reimbursement. Per Diem is only allowed for travel more than 50 miles away from Seattle University.

Actual Meal Expenses: Original itemized receipts are necessary when choosing not to be reimbursed through the per diem option. A list of attendees and the business purpose are required when receipt includes payment for individuals in addition to the requestee. Tips must not exceed 20%. If a meal is under $25 and the receipt is not available the request must document what was purchased to ensure it falls within the University’s meal and alcohol policy


Ground travel for University business may be reimbursed as follows:

Personal car:

A Point to Point map printout is required for documentation purposes.  The printout must include origin address, destination address, and total miles driven.  The University follows the IRS recommended mileage reimbursement rate (57.5 cents per mile in 2020). This rate may change on January 1st of each year. Please refer to the Controller’s Office website.  Please note an individuals daily commute mileage must not be included in the total for point to point travel. An example: Individual lives in Tacoma and regularly commutes to campus, a particular event requires driving to Everett.  Reimbursable mileage would only be the point to point travel from campus to Everett and back.

Bus or Subway:

Original receipts are preferred but Accounts Payable realizes that may not always be possible for these types of tickets and thus will reimburse without receipts. Bus and subway transportation are recommended cost-effective forms of travel.

Ride Services or Taxi:

Original receipts documenting date, pick up location, destination, and itemized charges are required for documentation purposes. Tipping may not exceed 20%.


Original receipts are required for documentation purposes.

Rental Cars:

Rental cars are only allowed if they are required to do University related business. The size of the car should be appropriate for the number of passengers. Expenses incurred for gas will be reimbursed when original receipts are provided. An employee renting a car for business purposes must decline insurance offered by the car rental agency.  If additional insurance is purchased it will not be reimbursed – The Universities insurance covers an employee’s use of a rental car for University business.  NOTE: ONLY in emergency circumstances are NON-University employees to drive cars rented for University business.

Incidental Expenses

Incidental expenses are miscellaneous expenses incurred while traveling. Examples of incidental expenses include laundry, internet access fees, and reasonable tips for housekeeping. The University will reimburse an individual for the actual reasonable expenses only if original receipts are provided or will reimburse the employee $3.00 per day without receipts.

Conference Fees

The University requires a paid receipt showing fees and the dates of the conference. Most conference fees can be paid directly by the University through an invoice or by the employee using a University Procurement Card.