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Penn State University Libraries

Policies and Guidelines




  • Meals
  • . . . . Business Group Meals
  • Lodging
  • Parking
  • Tolls
  • Communication Expenses
  • Registration
  • Telephone Charges
  • Miscellaneous Expenses
  • Receipts
  • Lost Receipts
  • Combining Business and Personal Travel
  • International Travel
  • Cross References


Meal expenses and any tips related to meals will be reimbursed based upon the meal and incidentals per diem. The claim for reimbursement should represent only those meals consumed and paid for by the employee while on business travel. Employees may not claim more food costs than actually expended (including tips) and costs cannot exceed the calculated meal and incidentals per diem. The per diem rates are established by the General Services Administration of the federal government and vary by geographic location. Meal receipts are not required, unless related to a group meal. Reimbursement of alcoholic beverages is not permissible unless prior written approval is requested and received from the University Libraries’ Budget Executive prior to the expense being incurred.

If meals are provided by a conference or host, then the meal per diem for that trip will be adjusted to correspond with the meals that were provided. In the event that all meals for a day are provided by a conference, a business group meal, or another source, no meal per diem may be claimed for that day. Meals on partial days of travel will be prorated as follows: 20% for breakfast, 30% for lunch, 50% for dinner.

Reimbursement for meal expenses when no overnight travel is involved requires that the meal reimbursement be reported to the IRS as taxable income.

Business Group Meals:

Business group meals are those taken with guests, colleagues, or donors during which focused business discussions take place. The cost incurred for business group meals must be prudent, reasonable, and in the best interest of the University. Expenses for partners of University employees in attendance at business group meals or meetings are not approved from general funds and are only permitted on unrestricted donor funds if the there is a University business purpose for the partner’s presence. The cost per person may not exceed the established full meal per diem for that location.

The employee hosting the business group meal must complete a Business Group Meal Form listing those in attendance, the specific business purpose, the date, cost, and location of the meal. An itemized receipt is required for business group meals to verify the cost per person, and to ensure any alcohol purchased is properly charged to an unrestricted donor fund.


  1. Purchaser (cannot be the same as the budget administrator)
  2. Host (if not the same as the purchaser)
  3. Budget Administrator (can be the same as the host)


Faculty and staff are encouraged to share hotel rooms with colleagues or other conference attendees. When University employees share a room, the costs will be divided accordingly. If a room is shared with one or more non-University employees, the lodging expenses must not exceed the single occupancy rate and must be supported with receipts. The receipt must state the traveler’s name, amount of the charge, the date, the name and location of the establishment, and an explanation of the charge. Express checkout service, where the hotel bill is placed under the guest’s door on the morning of departure is an acceptable receipt if the traveler has reviewed it and the above requirements are stated. Charges for lodging, meals, phone calls, parking, or other services must be itemized. The University will not reimburse costs that may appear on a hotel bill such as personal phone calls, in-room movies, etc.

With the use of online hotel booking, it is not always possible to obtain a receipt from the hotel one has booked online. In this case, the online printed receipt when the hotel is booked will serve as an acceptable receipt provided it reflects the dates of the traveler’s stay, the location, and the amount charge.

When a reservation will not be needed, it is the traveler’s responsibility to cancel it. The traveler will not be reimbursed for any charges for fees assessed due to the failure to cancel a reservation unless there are circumstances beyond the traveler’s control.

In the event a traveler lodges in a private residence in lieu of a commercial establishment, the traveler is eligible for a reimbursement of actual expenses not to exceed $25. The traveler is required to provide the name and address of the residence in which they stayed. This is only available for employees while on travel status and is not intended in situations where an employee is lodging with another employee at their residence. This reimbursement is also not available when the residence is owned by the traveler.


Parking fees will be reimbursed if receipts are provided. If no receipts are provided, parking expenses must be itemized as miscellaneous subject to the $5 per day provision for miscellaneous expenses.


Tolls are eligible for reimbursement and receipts are not required.


All costs for business communications will be reimbursed, including the costs to send and receive faxes, phone calls, documents, packages, and costs to prepare and copy meeting materials. Connections to Internet services will not be reimbursed from sponsored research projects, but are eligible for reimbursement from other sources. Receipts are required for all of these expenses.


Conference registrations are eligible for reimbursement. Receipts are required. Travelers are encouraged to take advantage of special registration fees (i.e. early bird registrations).


When on International travel, two telephone calls of limited duration are eligible for reimbursement. One call upon arrival at your destination to tell family that you have arrived safely and one prior to departure to inform family of your expected time of arrival.


The University will reimburse actual miscellaneous expenses incurred up to a combined total of $5 per day with no requirement for receipts for CONUS travel. Expenses eligible for reimbursement include:

  • Baggage handling and storage – fee for hotel to store baggage after you have checked out
  • Parking Meters
  • Phone calls and use of one’s personal calling plan or cell phone

Any tips or gratuities paid to service personnel, whether related to meals, lodging, or other services, are included in the meal and incidental per diem rates and will not be reimbursed separately.


The Employee Travel Form/Worksheet for the ERS System provides details on which receipts are needed. In order to be reimbursed, detailed receipts explaining the charge are required. Receipts can either be submitted as originals or scanned to the travel coordinator, however, PLEASE do not submit both ways. Credit card slips/receipts that are not detailed and credit card statements are not adequate support.


When a receipt is lost, the traveler must make a good faith effort to obtain a duplicate, which is typically possible when one pays with a credit card. If a duplicate receipt cannot be obtained, the traveler will provide the Purchasing Card Substantiation Form for Lost or Unobtainable Receipts. In the event there are three occasions of lost receipts within a traveler’s employment at the University, reimbursement will require review by the University Libraries’ Budget Executive and the Office of the Corporate Controller.


A traveler may be reimbursed for uninterrupted business travel by the most direct route. When a traveler interrupts travel or deviates from the direct route for personal reasons, a reimbursement may not exceed the cost of the most direct route. If a traveler extends the duration of a trip for non-business reasons and the alternate rate is lower than the direct rate for the comparable period, the reimbursement shall be for the lower rate. The traveler is responsible for documentation to prove that any personal travel did not result in additional costs for the University. The traveler must provide comparable price quotes from either Travel onLion or an external travel source to document the difference in cost. The comparable quote must be obtained at the time the travel reservation is booked.


Travel to any location other than the United States and Canada is considered international travel and reimbursement is done on a special per diem basis. Meals, lodging, and incidentals will be reimbursed on a per diem basis, but all other valid business expenses require receipts for reimbursement. Written approval from the Budget Administrator is required in advance of the trip if either the lodging and/or meal OCONUS travel is to be reimbursed on an actual basis. The traveler is permitted to claim actual expenses for OCONUS without approval or receipts if the actual expenses total less than the permitted OCONUS per diem.

International travel frequently consists of both business and personal components. According to the IRS, there is a taxability issue if BOTH of the following conditions are met:

  1. The period of the trip is longer than one week, and
  2. At least 25% of the trip is personal

If both of these criteria are met, expenses that are common to both the personal and business components of the trip are taxable (i.e. airfare and airport parking).


Other Policies/Guidelines in this manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

UL-TR01 – Types of Libraries Travel
Guideline UL-TRG01 – Requests for Travel
Guideline UL TRG02 – Making Travel Arrangements
Guideline UL-TRG05 – Employee Travel Reimbursement Form
Guideline UL-TRG06 – Responsibilities of Travel Roles
Guideline UL-TRG07 – Libraries-Supported Staff Travel Funds

Form:  Travel Request Form
Form:  Employee Travel Reimbursement Form (staff only)

Effective Date: January 2004
Date Approved: January 2004 (Dean)

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • June 2014 - Revised; Editorial
  • January 2010 - Revised; Updated personal mileage reimbursement rate
  • November 2009 - Revised; Editorial, Clarification of meal tips and international travel
  • January 2009 - Revised; Updated personal mileage reimbursement rate
  • May 2007 - Revised; Clarification regarding original receipts for parking
  • December 2003 - Revised; Clarification of alcohol purchases and need of meal receipts
  • December 2002 - Revised; Clarification regarding meals included as part of a conference
  • July 29, 1997 - New guideline

Last Review Date:  June 2014