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Travel Reimbursement Rates

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Sponsored Projects: Sponsors may have more restrictive or different policies than stated below. Travelers are responsible for being knowledgeable and compliant with the Sponsor’s requirements.


Most travel related costs can be determined prior to travel. Documentation should be obtained to demonstrate cost comparisons; anticipated savings to support any deviations from standard policy(cheaper airfare can be obtained if an extra day of hotel costs is incurred) must net a saving to the University and submitted to the appropriate approver for consideration prior to confirming travel arrangements. Examples of documentation; screen prints of on-line fares, hotel rates, documentation from travel agencies, etc. Travelers should consult with their departmental approvers to confirm their requirements.


Lodging rates are expected to be the least costly rate that meets the scheduling and business needs. Travelers are expected to pay a reasonable rate for lodging.

Non-Conference Travel

The University employs a formula, using the US Government General Services Administration (GSA) lodging per diem rates  for domestic travel or the U.S. Department of State  for international travel, to determine 'reasonableness' of rates. Travelers are reimbursed for actual expenses up to 150% of the GSA or State Department rate (excluding applicable taxes).

  • Examples: the GSA rate for Atlanta, Georgia is $115. 150% of the GSA rate is $173. This means that rooms that are less than $173 (excluding applicable taxes) for Atlanta are allowable. Please note that the GSA site shows multiple rates for some destinations, due to pricing fluctuations based on the time of the year.
  • The State Department rate for Chennai, India is $248. 150% of the State Department rate is $372

If the lodging rate will exceed the limit, pre-approval from a supervisor/manager who is at least one level higher in authority than the traveler or the appropriate designee must be obtained by completing the Request for Lodging Exception. If a request for reimbursement is made for non-conference lodging, which exceeds the guideline and was not pre-approved, the supervisor/manager may deduct the overage from the reimbursement request.

Conference Travel

For conference travel, the allowable lodging rate is that which has been pre-negotiated by the conference.

Travel Meals

Employees in travel status (travel requiring an overnight stay) on University business are reimbursed up to the per diem rate for travel related meal expenses for their travel destination. Receipts are not required (under any circumstances) for reimbursement of travel meals.

  • Domestic Travel: Reimbursements will be made in accordance with the Federal State Department Per Diem daily amounts as published on the GSA website. Per Diem rates vary by county and city. Travelers will not be reimbursed for meal expenses exceeding the maximum meal rate for the city/county where their meals were purchased. Maximum meal rates include tax and tips. For a listing of current federal Domestic Per Diem Rates, refer to the GSA website for domestic travel and select the appropriate year and state. To find the county a city is located within see the National Association of Counties Website (NACo).
  • International Travel: Reimbursements will be made in accordance with the U. S. Department of State per diem daily amounts. Per Diem rates vary by country and city. Travelers will not be reimbursed for meal expenses exceeding the maximum meal rate for the country/city where their meals were purchased. Maximum meal rates include tax and tips. For a listing of current federal international Per Diem Rates, refer to the U.S. Department of State website.
  • Meals included with a conference will not be reimbursed.
  • Travel begins when the employee leaves their home/office for their trip destination.
  • First and last days of travel will be reimbursed at 75% of the per diem. If meals are included with a conference on the first or last day of travel then only the meals where the traveler incurred an expense should be reimbursed at the full per diem rate for that meal.
  • The breakdown of the meal per diems can be found by clicking the "Meals and Incidental Expense Breakdown" link found at the GSA website on the left side of the screen.
  • Suggested server tip cannot exceed 20% of the bill.

Incidental Expenses

  • Employees may include the daily incidental amount when determining the maximum meal per diem rates.
  • The full incidental amount is allowed for each day of travel.
  • Baggage carriers, bellhops and hotel maids are included in the allotted daily incidental amount, and should not be submitted/reimbursed as separate expense items.

Note: Special expenses such as meals in conjunction with business entertainment and alcoholic beverages are covered in Administrative Policy: Hospitality, Alcoholic Beverages and Other Special Expenses.

Extended Day Travel Meals (twelve or more hours in duration not requiring an overnight stay)

The University will reimburse employees (faculty and staff) for dinner expenses only, if incurred during extended day (at least twelve hours in duration) travel business trips. For extended day travel, breakfast and lunch are never reimbursable expenses.  According to federal statutes regarding traveling away from home on business, there cannot be any tax-free reimbursements for meals relating to extended day travel.

The University will reimburse employees for dinner expenses only, at the applicable per diem rate, incurred during extended day travel if the following conditions apply:

  • The extended day causes the employee to be away from home during the evening dinner meal time, and does not require an overnight stay. (For example, an employee of UMD who departs Duluth at 7:00 a.m. for a meeting in the Twin Cities and returns home at 7:00 p.m. is considered in "extended day" status.)


  • Reimbursements are made to the employee on an occasional basis, which means that tracking the frequency of the reimbursements is not administratively practicable.

*Note: Some employees have unique circumstances (such as an outstate location) that require frequent travel (more than on an occasional basis); depending on the length of the trips, these employees may not be in either extended day travel or overnight travel status. If those circumstances exist frequently and cause a financial hardship to the employee, managers are encouraged to provide additional, incremental compensation to those employees (salary augmentation). Consult the University Tax Department for additional guidance on taxable meal allowances, at (612) 624-1053 or Contact Payroll Services at for the applicable pay code.

Business Mileage

Calendar Year (Travel Occurred) Mileage Rate
2015 - January 1 - December 31 $0.575 per mile
2014 - January 1 - December 31 $.56 per mile

The mileage rate includes gas, vehicle maintenance, insurance, and other personal vehicle related costs. Reimbursement (mileage and en-route expenses) must not exceed the lowest cost of comparable coach airfare (e.g. advanced booking, Saturday stay over).

Vehicle Rental

When renting a vehicle for domestic and international travel, two types of insurance are required:

Physical Damage: Covers damage to the rental vehicle. This insurance:

  • Is NOT provided by the University
  • Is provided automatically when renting vehicles for the Big Ten contracted rental vendor
  • Must be elected when using any other vendor

Liability: Covers damages to other parties arising from the use of the vehicle. This insurance:

  • Is provided by the University for vehicle rental in the US. Travelers do not need to purchase
  • Is NOT provided by the University for rental outside the US. International travelers should purchase liability insurance from the rental vendor to ensure full compliance with local law and practice

Fleet Services
Fleet Services vehicle rental rates are posted for the Twin Cities and coordinate campuses in Administrative Policy: Using Vehicles for University Business.

International Vehicle Rental
When renting a commercial vehicle, confirm whether an international driver's license is needed.

Currency Exchange (International Travel)

Foreign expenses must be submitted in U.S. dollars using the exchange rate in effect during the dates of travel. Include documentation indicating what exchange rate was used to make the conversions. Currency exchange rates can be found at OANDA. If purchases were made via credit card, use the exchange rate provided by the credit card company.

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Last modified on October 27, 2014