Business Travel

Definition of a business travel expense

Business travel expenses are expenses incurred by an individual while on University related business travel such as a conference or event. These types of expenses typically consist of airfare, hotel, meals, taxis and conference fees.  For more information regarding how an employee may pay for business travel expenses see Travel Expense Reimbursements and Travel Advances.

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.

Airfare – The University will reimburse for the most economical airfare that is generally a coach class ticket aboard a regularly scheduled commercial carrier. An itinerary or e-ticket is the required documentation for reimbursement of airfare. Both are commonly issued from online travel booking sites. The itinerary or e-ticket must include the travelers’ names, flight dates, price, ticket class, destination and proof of payment. Upgraded seats, travel insurance and other nonessential expenses are not reimbursable. The University will not reimburse the equivalent cost of the ticket when personal airline miles are used.

Hotel – 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 names of the people 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.

Meals – The University will reimburse employees for meals while traveling under the following options: 

  • Per Diem: The per diem reimbursement rate is $50 a day. 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 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. The receipt must document what was purchased to ensure it falls within the University’s meal and alcohol policy. A list of attendees and the business purpose are required when purchasing for someone other than the person receiving the reimbursement. Tips must not exceed 20%. For further information refer to sections Meal Policy and Alcohol Policy.
  • In either option, travelers should not seek reimbursement for a meal that is included in some aspect of the travel such as a conference registration. The traveler may not claim partial 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.

Ground Travel – Ground travel for University business may be reimbursed as follows: 

  • Personal car: A Google Map printout is required for documentation purposes to show the miles driven. The University follows the IRS recommended mileage reimbursement rate (53.5 cents per mile in 2017). This rate may change on January 1st of each year. Please refer to the Controller’s Office website or the yearly email Accounts Payable sends regarding the rate change. 
  • 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. 
  • Taxis: Original receipts are required for documentation purposes. 
  • Parking: 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 and if insurance is bought, it will not be reimbursed because an employee’s use of a rental car for University business is covered by the University’s insurance. Except in emergency circumstances, only University employees may 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, metered parking and reasonable tips for housekeeping. The University will reimburse the employee for the actual reasonable expenses if original receipts are provided or will reimburse the employee $3.00 per day without receipts.  

Conference Fees –The University requires a receipt showing what fees were paid 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.