Guidelines for Travel Expenses

Substantiation of Travel Expenses

All travel expenses submitted in support of business travel for the University should be on a University travel voucher or on a credit card reconciliation form and include:

  • Names of all individuals and their University affiliation
  • Date
  • Place
  • Amount
  • Specific business purpose for the expenditure

Receipts must be obtained for the following:

  • Hotel/Lodging – detailed hotel folio is required
  • Meals – receipts detailing all items purchased are required
  • Any other business/travel expenditures – detailed receipts are required

In addition, certain Sponsored Accounts awards may have their own specific receipt requirements, based on the sponsor award guidelines, the sponsor award document, or government regulations. When sponsored awards limit reimbursement to set per diem rates, a statement appears on the project brief/sponsor regulation form indicating that a per diem rate limitation is applicable. Questions regarding specific sponsored accounts can be addressed to Sponsored Accounting at 315-443-2059.

It is preferred that receipts be taped to 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper, sorted in day order, appropriately referenced and/or identified, and stapled to the travel voucher.

The University’s policy is one of reimbursement for reasonable business travel costs. The University may reimburse travelers via a per diem rate.


If a travel agency is used, either the employee’s University credit card should be charged or the transaction should be billed directly to the University by the travel agency or airline.

Reimbursement is made for coach airfare, unless an exception for business class airfare or first class airfare is authorized by the Chancellor. Documentation of an exception must be included with the travel expenses voucher pertaining to the authorized flight(s). An explanation is required for airline routing to cities that are not a part of the regular routing or business purpose of the trip or for dates of travel beyond the time frame of the business travel. The explanation should include a quote of the cost (identifying the source of the quote) for a direct flight to the business destination.

Prior approval is required for a foreign-flag air carrier when travel is charged to a sponsored account. Contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at 315-443-2807 to request sponsor approval.

Foreign Currency Exchange

When receipted travel costs are in a foreign currency, the following additional information is required for each receipt:

  • Date of payment
  • Description of expense (hotel, dinner, toll, etc.)
  • Amount in the foreign currency and the U.S. dollar equivalent amount
  • Rate of exchange
  • Source of rate of exchange

The format in which the information is submitted can vary, depending on the length of the trip and the number of foreign currencies involved. It is preferred that a worksheet be provided for trips with more than twenty receipts.

Absent specific documentation, such as a copy of a credit card statement showing the actual converted amount, or receipts from the currency exchanger, the employee can use OANDA Currency Converter to convert each receipt for the dates that expenses were incurred. It is recommended that the employee document with a receipt the exchange of all funds into the local currency, since the published rate may represent a less favorable rate than actually received. If you have questions, please call Disbursements Processing at 315-443-2484.


The Internal Revenue Service requires that travel expenses for which an advance has been received or which has been directly paid for by the employer must be substantiated within a reasonable time after the expenses are incurred. By law, expenses that are not substantiated timely must be included in the employee’s current taxable income, subject to tax withholding, and must be reported on the employee’s Form W-2 as taxable income. The University policy of a four calendar week substantiation will generally prevent this occurrence.

Internal Revenue Service regulations also state that only temporary travel reimbursements are not taxable. The reimbursement of indefinite travel is taxable to the traveler. The following examples highlight possible situations:

Temporary Travel: Non-Taxable

If a person’s employment away from home in a single location for a period is realistically expected to last one year or less, and in fact does last for that period, then the employment is generally considered temporary.

Indefinite Travel: Taxable

If a person’s employment away from home in a single location is realistically expected to last for more than one year, or there is no expectation that the employment will last one year or less, then the employment is indefinite, regardless of the fact that the actual travel may not exceed one year.

If a person’s employment away from home in a single location is realistically expected to last for one year or less, but at some later date the expectation becomes more than one year, the employment will generally be treated as temporary until the date the taxpayer’s realistic expectations change.

If you have questions, please call the Payroll Office at 315-443-4042 option 2.