UPPS 05.06.05 - Business Travel
UPPS No. 05.06.05
Issue No. 1
Effective Date: 6/09/2020
Next Review Date: 6/01/2022 (E2Y)
Sr. Reviewer: Director, General Accounting Office
This document defines policies and procedures for Texas State University business travel.
All Texas State business travel for faculty, staff, students, prospective employees, contractors, grant participants, or any other approved travelers will be subject to Texas State policy and procedures. Texas State policy and procedures incorporate the following, as applicable:
General Appropriations Act, as passed by the state legislature for the current biennium; and
the official interpretation of the Travel Regulations Act as outlined by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Textravel website.
All business travel requires pre-approval except for travel between the San Marcos and Round Rock campuses if it is aligned with prescribed job duties and approved by the employee’s supervisor. When business travel has been authorized in advance, Texas State travelers are entitled to reimbursement for allowable expenses incurred in accordance with Texas State travel policy and procedure during the performance of official duties. If travel is not authorized in advance, the traveler bears the risk that reimbursement may not be approved and personally assumes all liability for incidents which may occur during travel.
All travel requests and expense reports for Texas State travelers must be submitted through the university’s current travel system. Airfare travel itineraries, both domestic and international, must be uploaded in the university’s duty of care system. Upon reaching a destination by other modes of transportation, travelers must use the check-in feature within the duty of care system. This system ensures proper reporting and efficient communication regarding events that may impact travelers.
Where Texas State policies and procedures have been defined more strictly than other policies, procedures, rules, and regulations listed in Section 01.02, Texas State travel policies and procedures will be enforced.
Exceptions to the provisions of this policy may be made with approval from the president or the requestor’s respective Cabinet officer. If the traveler is a Cabinet officer, the president or the vice president for Finance and Support Services must approve the exception. The traveler may list the exception item on the travel request in the ‘comments’ section and ensure proper approval is attached to the travel request. Approval of the travel request will suffice for payment of the exception expense when included on the expense report. Otherwise, approval of the exception must be documented as part of the expense report.
Additional Approval – second approval of a travel document in addition to that of the account manager or principal investigator. Additional approval is required for non-reimbursable expenses, foreign travel, and, in some divisions, excess lodging, or out-of-state travel per Section 04.06.
Approval – a physical or electronic signature or email notification from an authorized individual.
Blanket Travel – recurring, planned travel within the continental United States for the purpose of conducting official Texas State business. This can include recurring trips to the same general location for a defined period, as well as for multiple travelers.
Blanket Travel Authorization – a method of seeking prior approval to travel on official Texas State business for recurring, planned travel for one or more Texas State travelers for an unlimited number of trips for a specified period within a fiscal year. The authorization permits reimbursements to a Texas State traveler for allowable expenses incurred on trips when allowable expenses reach the minimum aggregate amount of $50 or at the conclusion of the blanket travel period.
Business Incidental Expense – an expense with an allowable, valid business purpose incurred while traveling on official state business. It does not include a meal, lodging, or transportation expense, personal expenses, expenses that an individual would incur regardless of whether the individual was traveling on official state business, or a tip or gratuity.
Cancellation Charges – fee, charge, or payment that a provider of travel services assesses or retains because of the cancellation or change of a travel reservation or other travel plans. For example, a non-refundable purchase of an airline ticket becomes a cancellation charge when the ticket becomes unusable because of changed travel plans.
Commercial Lodging Establishment – a motel, hotel, inn, apartment, house, or similar establishment that provides lodging to the public for pay or a person or establishment that provides lodging for pay.
Continental United States (CONUS) – the geographic area encompassing the 48 contiguous states of the United States.
Designated Headquarters – the area within the boundaries of the incorporated municipality in which an employee’s place of employment is located. If the place of employment is not located in an incorporated area, the area within a five-mile radius of the place of employment is the employee’s designated headquarters.
Duty of Care System – the service used to identify where a traveler is located when away from designated headquarters. This service provides location reporting, support communication with employees who could potentially be in danger or are experiencing an emergency, verifies their status, and helps them return safely if necessary.
Duty Point – the destination, other than a place of employment, to which an employee travels to conduct official state business.
Expense Report – the document used to recap travel expenses substantiated with supporting documentation. The travel expense report will indicate the amount of reimbursement due to the traveler, or in the event an advance was received and not fully consumed, to the university.
Fiscal Year – the accounting year beginning September 1 and ending August 31.
Foreign Travel – any travel where the departure or the destination is located outside the 50 states and the possessions and territories of the United States.
Government Service Administration (GSA) Rate – GSA per diem rate for meals and incidental expenses or for lodging.
Gratuity – something given voluntarily or beyond obligation, usually in response to or in anticipation of a service.
Group Travel – travel which includes at least one faculty or staff and at least one student traveler.
Itemized Receipt – the document provided by the vendor that shows the vendor name, date, breakout of the charges, total amount paid, and method of payment. For airfare and lodging receipts, traveler name is also required.
Meal & Incidental Expense (M&IE) Per Diem – a pre-approved, predetermined amount used to reimburse Texas State travelers for meals and personal incidental expenses incurred while on travel status. M&IE per diems are set by the GSA for domestic travel, by the U.S. Department of State (DoS) for foreign travel and are based on the overnight stay’s location on the date of travel. M&IE per diems are meant to serve as a reasonable reimbursement for those expenses incurred and are not intended to be a reimbursement of actual expenses. Receipts are not required to claim the M&IE per diem or a lesser amount.
Meals – includes food and non-alcoholic beverages. Not included are food and non-alcoholic beverages provided by a common carrier, complimentary food and beverages provided by a hotel or motel, or a continental breakfast (consisting solely of items such as pastries and coffee) provided to conference attendees. Full breakfasts, lunches, or dinners provided to conference attendees are considered meals.
Out-of-State Travel – any travel where the departure or destination is located outside the state of Texas but is within the United States or its possessions or territories.
Personal Incidental Expense – a personal expense that includes, but is not limited to, tips, laundry, dry cleaning, or snacks. Tips for taxi-type services are not included in this expense.
Significant Changes – changes in the travel destination, dates of travel, or overages in costs exceeding the current allowed tolerances.
State Appropriated Funds – funds provided to Texas State by the General Appropriations Act or other state agency, which are deposited in the State Treasury.
Substitute Approver – a Texas State employee who is assigned the ability and responsibility to approve on behalf of another Texas State employee with approval responsibility.
Tolerance – a dollar limit approved by the vice president for Finance and Support Services, up to which a minimal amount of actual expenses in excess of pre-approved estimated expenses are acceptable without further verification or approval from the account manager or additional approver. An allowable tolerance serves to distinguish significant changes in costs and insignificant changes in costs. No tolerance applies to M&IE per diems or the base hotel allowances.
Travel Assistant – an employee of Texas State who has completed an approved training course on Texas State policies, procedures, and systems related to travel. Travel assistants provide travel support to other faculty, staff, and approved travelers.
Travel Request – a request to travel on official Texas State business approved and submitted for approval in advance of the date of departure. A travel request serves to authorize, in advance, an official Texas State business trip and encumber any estimated expenses for the travel.
Traveler – includes Texas State faculty, staff, student, prospective employee, contractor, grant participant, or any other individual traveling on behalf of Texas State to conduct official Texas State business.
Zero-Dollar Travel Request – a method of documenting approval to travel when no company-paid expenses or reimbursement is expected to occur.
Texas State travelers and account managers or principal investigators shall ensure that each travel arrangement is the most reasonable and cost-effective, considering all relevant circumstances. Account managers, principal investigators, deans, or vice presidents may elect to enforce stricter travel policies in their areas if travelers are adequately notified prior to travel.
Account managers or principal investigators must ensure enough funds are encumbered and available to process the travel reimbursement or payment. If a travel reimbursement or direct-billed travel expense is submitted with insufficient funds to cover the expenditure, it will be returned to the department to identify an allowable, alternative funding source or to process a budget transfer.
All travel reimbursements and direct bill expenses will be processed according to the following timelines:
For reimbursements through the Texas State travel system, no later than the tenth business day after the Travel Office receives a complete and accurate travel expense report.
Travel expenses billed directly to Texas State will be paid in accordance with the State of Texas Prompt Payment Act.
PROCEDURES FOR TRAVEL REQUESTS
Travel must be planned and conducted to achieve maximum economy and efficiency considering all relevant circumstances while complying with the guidelines set forth in this travel policy. Travel expenses must be reasonable, properly authorized, and appropriately documented. In some instances, travel may involve alternative lodging choices and ride-sharing services versus conventional hotel and taxi services. The traveler must use discretion when making any travel arrangements.
Except for travel between the San Marcos and Round Rock campuses, a travel request with authorized approvals must be submitted to the Travel Office before requesting direct billing of travel expenses or in advance of departure, when seeking reimbursement. Each traveler must have their own travel request unless the provisions of Section 04.04 on group travel apply. Each travel request must include an estimate of all expected allowable business travel expenses (airfare, lodging, M&IE per diems, rental cars, business incidental expenses, etc.) unless the expenditure has been encumbered through a purchase order or is paid directly to the vendor through an e-NPO document.
A blanket travel authorization may be utilized to authorize recurring, planned travel. Examples of recurring travel include, but are not limited to, employee recurring travel within the designated headquarters of either the San Marcos or Round Rock campuses, student recruitment, donor relations, student teaching supervision, athletic recruitment, and extended research projects. A blanket travel authorization may not cross over into another fiscal year. Reimbursements during the travel time frame must meet or exceed $50 before the reimbursement may be processed unless the reimbursement is processed at the close of the travel period for the final travel expenses under the blanket travel authorization.
Group travel is allowed when at least one faculty or staff and at least one student travel together on Texas State business. For group travel, only the faculty or staff member who receives an advance or will seek reimbursement for the entire group’s travel must submit a travel request. The remainder of the travel party may be detailed on the group leader’s travel request; however, any travelers in the party who will seek reimbursement for expenses incurred on the trip must submit their own travel requests. The traveler type must be specified for each traveler (i.e., faculty, staff, or student). Students traveling without a faculty or staff person may list each traveler on the travel request if the trip itinerary is the same for each traveler.
A zero-dollar travel request is required for employees who travel but do not seek reimbursement.
Travel requests must be approved in accordance with the signature authority delegation approved by the president.
All travel requires prior approval of the account manager or principal investigator.
Unless the respective Cabinet officer has opted out for their division, excess lodging requires their additional prior approval.
Unless the respective Cabinet officer has opted out for their division, out-of-state travel requires their additional prior approval.
Check the approval chart on the Travel Office Approvals & Tolerances webpage for a current listing of each Cabinet officer’s decision regarding opting out.
Travel paid from sponsored programs requires the additional prior approval of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.
Foreign travel requires the additional prior approval of the president, or designee. The Office of Research Integrity and Compliance must approve the travel if the traveler is an employee or student. Foreign travel has some additional restrictions and requirements in certain situations based on the DoS travel advisory level for the country:
The travel advisory level is determined by the DoS as listed at U.S. Travel Advisories and should be determined before proceeding with the travel request.
Travel to a region of a country with a Level 1 or 2 travel advisory is allowed for employees and students.
Students are not allowed to travel to a region of a country listed with a Level 3 or 4 travel advisory regardless of the rationale for travel. If the advisory changes to a Level 3 or 4 while in a region of a country, the travel or program is subject to cancellation and the student is required to immediately return to the United States.
Employees may travel to a region of a country listed with a Level 3 travel advisory.
Employees are not allowed to travel to a region of a country listed with a Level 4 travel advisory, regardless of the rationale for travel. Travel may never be required to a region of a country with a Level 4 travel advisory. If the advisory changes to a Level 4 while in the region of a country, the travel is subject to cancellation and the traveler is required to immediately return to the United States.
The traveler is responsible for monitoring the travel advisory level for their pre-approved travel before traveling to any foreign region or country as the advisory level may change at any point based on available information or occurring events.
The International Travel Release of Liability, Indemnification, and Assumption of Risk Agreement (Form T-4) must always be attached to the travel request.
When significant changes occur, the account manager or principal investigator’s approval is always required; however, previous additional approvals remain effective and confirmation of the previous additional approvals is not required. Should a significant change create a situation where additional approval is needed and no previous such approval exists, the additional approval must be obtained before the reimbursement will be paid.
An approver may not designate a substitute approver for any travel document when the substitute approver is the traveler or preparer of the travel document or when policy and procedure do not allow further delegation or substitutions.
PROCEDURES FOR REIMBURSEMENT
Reimbursement is limited to allowable travel expenses, which must be incurred while in travel status. To be reimbursed, travelers must submit a travel expense report to the Travel Office using the university’s current travel system. Expenses discovered after an initial expense report has been completed, non-employee traveler expenses, non-company paid expenses, or non-overnight recurring travel expenses may be reimbursed using Texas State’s current travel system or via e-NPO unless the expense report is required to be processed through the Texas State travel system.
Texas State travelers are authorized to seek reimbursement for recurring, planned travel authorized under a blanket travel request when the reimbursement meets or exceeds the minimum allowable amount of $50. When a traveler’s expenses for recurring, planned travel do not meet or exceed $50 within a fiscal year, the traveler will submit a single reimbursement request no earlier than August 25 of the current fiscal year and no later than September 5 of the following fiscal year to be reimbursed for all allowable expenses incurred during the current fiscal year.
Reimbursements must be approved, certified, and submitted by the traveler, but require no additional approvals unless significant changes exist between the approved travel request and the travel expense report, non-reimbursable expenses are included, or allowable tolerances exceeded.
Allowable tolerances are approved by the vice president for Finance and Support Services. Tolerances do not apply to per diems (meals or lodging). Current tolerances are posted on the Travel Office webpage.
Reimbursable business travel expenses include, but are not limited to:
expenses for the traveler’s transportation, mileage, lodging, and M&IE per diems;
upgraded fare class for VIP guests of the university. These guests include high-profile visitors, dignitaries, distinguished lecturers, etc. The sponsoring department must have approval for the upgraded fare class from their Cabinet officer, as well as have funds available to pay for the additional costs;
business incidental expenses for the traveler’s parking, baggage fees (one checked bag unless additional baggage is required to support the travel requirement or transport equipment materials), business calls, internet usage, mandatory commercial lodging charges, athletic team laundry, toll charges, fuel for rental or university-owned vehicles, tips for taxi-type services (including ride-sharing services), required immunizations, or passport or visa charges where travel is required;
allowable travel expenses for a student or student group when the faculty or staff is the traveling sponsor of the student or student group; and
registration fees and membership fees (if applicable) when due at the time of registration for the event.
Non-reimbursable business travel expenses for any type of traveler include, but are not limited to:
expenses incurred on behalf of another individual (other than those included with a student or student group);
fares other than coach class, preferential seating, more than one seat for one traveler, or priority or early boarding fees;
travel purchased using frequent flyer miles, personal flight or travel credits, or other travel reward programs;
passport fees where attendance is not required;
rentals of scooters or bicycles as these are not allowed for use by university travelers;
personal incidental expenses such as nonbusiness-related excess baggage charges, laundry (other than athletic team laundry), tips or gratuities for meals (other than for student group meals), tips for hotel staff, alcoholic beverages, personal entertainment, or expenses related to the operation or maintenance of a personally-owned vehicle;
if the traveler incurs any non-reimbursable expense (e.g., first-class airfare, early bird access, or other upgrades), those expenses must be paid for personally or an exception approval for reimbursement must be obtained from the traveler’s Cabinet officer. If the traveler has a medical note from a physician pertaining to a reason a different fare class is needed, it must include an end date for the condition (if appropriate) and the traveler’s Cabinet officer must approve the increased fare requirement; and
if an executed contract with a non-employee traveler exists, any normally non-allowed travel expenses will be allowed accordingly.
Approval, as defined in Section 01.06, is required for reimbursement of non-reimbursable expenses, unless prohibited by law.
M&IE per diems and lodging rates are based upon the GSA policy and regulations for domestic destinations and the DoS policy and regulations for foreign destinations. Refer to the Travel Office webpage for current GSA and DoS rates.
M&IE per diems and lodging rates are based on the location of the traveler’s overnight stay. For locations with seasonal lodging rates, the applicable per diem is based on the date of travel.
M&IE per diem rates are applied to each day of travel; however, the first and last day of travel are limited to 75 percent of the daily rate. Daily rates may not be increased for any reason.
M&IE per diems are not allowable for non-overnight travel. Though travelers may be eligible for a non-overnight meal allowance. Refer to Section 06. for further information.
Meals provided by Texas State through another form of payment, such as a business meal, registration, or conference fees, must be deducted from the allowable daily M&IE per diem rate using the appropriate GSA breakdown for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
State of Texas hotel occupancy taxes are not reimbursable. Travelers must present a State of Texas Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate to the commercial lodging establishment. Non-employees are not authorized to present this state of Texas exemption certificate; therefore, those who personally pay for lodging and seek reimbursement will be reimbursed.
A personal incidental expense component is included in the M&IE per diem for personal, non-reimbursable items such as laundry, hotel staff, meal gratuities, excess baggage charges for personal belongings, personal entertainment, and expenses related to the operation of a personal vehicle. When M&IE is allowable, the incidental component is always allowable.
Business meals while in business travel status are eligible for reimbursement in accordance with FSS/PPS No. 03.11, Business Meals and Food Purchases; however, business meals are not reimbursable in addition to the M&IE per diems. A traveler’s M&IE per diem must be reduced using the GSA breakdown for any business meal paid as such. A summary must be attached to the expense report identifying the attendees and business purpose. Any other employee at the business meal must reduce the per diem amount on their expense report for a meal paid by another employee.
Meals for non-overnight travel with a student group are reimbursed as business meals.
Meal expenses within designated headquarters are governed by FSS/PPS No. 03.11, Business Meals and Food Purchases.
Mileage reimbursement rates are approved by the vice president for Finance and Support Services. Refer to the Mileage webpage for the current rate. Segment mileage is calculated as the shortest direct route between the starting point and ending point. The starting point or ending point may not always be the university location. Mileage reimbursement will be calculated based on the actual segment miles between the two points.
Only Texas State fleet vehicles are covered under the university’s liability and property insurance policy. A personal vehicle used for official Texas State business is not covered under the university’s liability and property insurance policy. When driving a personal vehicle on official Texas State business, the traveler’s personal vehicle insurance may provide coverage should an accident occur. The traveler should check their policy for coverage questions. Repairs and maintenance to a personal vehicle used for business travel are the responsibility of the traveler.
Reimbursements will not be processed if receipts or other support are not provided to substantiate the expenses. Acceptable, itemized receipts showing method of payment must be attached to the expense report when required, including receipts for company paid charges. Meals and personal incidental expenses (e.g., tips other than for taxi-type services) are reimbursed as per diems; therefore, receipts are not required for these.
Travel expense reports are due within 30 days, but no later than 60 days after the travel end date. Expense reports and reimbursement requests submitted more than 60 days after the travel end date may be disallowed entirely or company-paid expenses reported as taxable income to the traveler, expensed to the traveler’s department account.
NON-OVERNIGHT MEAL ALLOWANCE PROCEDURES
A non-overnight meal allowance may be paid to an employee whose job responsibilities require frequent and routine non-overnight travel.
In compliance with Internal Revenue Service regulations, planned and recurring non-overnight meal allowances will be processed through Texas State’s payroll system and will be included as compensation in the employee’s earnings.
An account manager or principal investigator is responsible for identifying such employees and initiating the processing of a non-overnight meal allowance.
The account manager or principal investigator must submit a Personnel Change Request (PCR) to initiate, make changes to, or cancel a non-overnight meal allowance.
The account manager’s or principal investigator’s determination of eligibility and amount must be routed for divisional Cabinet officer approval.
Non-appropriated funds must be used to pay the monthly meal allowance. For grants or other restricted funds, approval must be obtained from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs to ensure the awarding entity, donor, or governing board allows for the expense.
The calculation of the monthly meal allowance is based on the estimated number of non-overnight travel days in the month multiplied by the applicable GSA M&IE per diems for the CONUS.
If an employee or student is required to attend a full-day business meeting or training event that does not provide lunch, the lunch is reimbursable without inclusion in wages. This is the only meal which can be reimbursed without inclusion in wages as it is treated as a valid business meal. An itemized receipt is required as the actual cost of the meal, not the per diem, will be reimbursed.
TRAVEL PAYABLE FROM STATE APPROPRIATIONS
If travel is to be paid or reimbursed from state-appropriated funds, the travelers and approvers should consult with the Travel Office for further guidance.
Travel paid or reimbursed from state-appropriated funds are subject to the strict interpretation of the Travel Regulations Act, the General Appropriations Act, and the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Textravel website.
Where the state of Texas travel policies and procedures are stricter than Texas State’s policies and procedures for non-state-appropriated funds, the state of Texas policies and procedures will be enforced for travel reimbursements paid from state-appropriated funds.
REVIEWERS OF THIS UPPS
Reviewers of this UPPS include the following:
Position Date Director, General Accounting Office June 1 E2Y Assistant Director, Accounting, Accounts Payable June 1 E2Y Associate Vice President for Financial Services June 1 E2Y
This UPPS has been approved by the following individuals in their official capacities and represents Texas State policy and procedure from the date of this document until superseded.
Director, General Accounting Office; senior reviewer of this UPPS
Associate Vice President for Financial Services
Vice President for Finance and Support Services