Financial Services Manual (FIN)

[horizontal rule]

Effective: 6/3/2016


[horizontal rule]
[ASU logo]

FIN 501: ASU Travel Policy

[horizontal rule]


[horizontal rule]

To provide the framework (ASU Travel Policy) for faculty, staff, and others to travel on authorized university business and receive timely reimbursement for all necessary and reasonable business expenses resulting from ASU business travel.

[horizontal rule]


[horizontal rule]

Internal Revenue Service: Publication 463, Publication 15 (Circular E)
Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 38–621 to –627, §§ 35–181.01, 181.02, 182, 192.02

State of Arizona Travel Policy, Arizona Accounting Manual, Section II-D

ABOR Policy 3–603

University policy

[horizontal rule]


[horizontal rule]

University travelers seeking reimbursement for expenses incurred during approved university travel must comply with ASU Travel Policy. University travelers include faculty, staff, or students and other individuals such as visiting scholars, consultants, and job candidates whose travel is paid by the university either directly or through reimbursement. ASU Travel Policy governs all university travel, unless a sponsoring agency has more restrictive rules that cannot be waived.

Refer to RSP 504–01: Sponsored Projects Travel for ASU Employees if travel expenses will be paid on a sponsored project account.

[horizontal rule]


[horizontal rule]

ASU Travel Policy is based on State of Arizona Travel Policy, which contains the allowed reimbursement rates for mileage, lodging, and meal/incidental expenses.

ASU's travel reimbursement policies are designed to conform to Accountable Plan rules published by the Internal Revenue Service so that reimbursements are not considered taxable to the traveler. These policies include a written benefit to ASU for the travel expenses (valid business purpose) and the timeliness of expense report submission and excess reimbursement.

[horizontal rule]


[horizontal rule]

All travel on official university business will be properly authorized, reported, and reimbursed according to applicable ASU Travel Policy standards. The traveler is responsible for reporting his or her actual travel expenses in a responsible, timely and ethical manner in accordance with ASU Travel Policy. The travel should be fair and reasonable for the traveler, but planned for the benefit of the university, using the most economical means to accomplish the purpose of the travel.

The university shall authorize employee travel in accordance with the following principles.

  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 1: Roles and Responsibilities
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 2: Preauthorization of Travel
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 3: International Safety and Compliance
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 4: Arranging for Travel
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 5: Air Travel
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 6: Ground Transportation
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 7: Lodging
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 8: Meal Allowances
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 9: Conference Registration
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 10: Travel Cash Advances
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 11: Unallowable Travel Expenses
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 12: Personal Component of Official ASU Travel
  • ASU Travel Policy Standard 13: Reimbursements

ASU Travel Policy Standard 1: Roles and Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of every university department to help ensure that the university's financial information is accurate and complete, which includes ensuring that all travel related costs are appropriate and comply with ASU Travel Policy. Each department is responsible for providing direction and information about approved travel to its personnel. For information related to fiscal/fiduciary responsibility of university employees, see FIN 119: Public Purpose Served, FIN 124: Misuse of Public Monies, and FIN 129: Ensuring Financial Integrity.

Accordingly, all travel

  • reimbursements should be supported by a public purpose that indicates the benefit to the university resulting from the travel and expense
  • should be authorized before expenses are incurred or the travel begins
  • arrangements should reflect an understanding of the ASU Travel Policy
  • should use the most efficient and economical method of transportation and the traveler's time consistent with conducting university business


  • to a convention or meeting outside of the state should typically be held to a minimum number of ASU attendees within the department.

The traveler is responsible for activity related to his or her travel and should be familiar with the ASU Travel Policy. The traveler should consult with the ASU Travel Service Center or their department or college business officers if they have questions or concerns.

Travelers are responsible for the following:

  • Obtain appropriate authorizations before travel begins or expenses have been incurred.
  • Understand and comply with ASU Travel Policy, including if traveling on a grant account, RSP 504–01: Sponsored Projects Travel for ASU Employees.
  • Arrange for travel and obtain any required passports, visas, immunizations, and additional international medical insurance.
  • Review the requirements for travel to at-risk destinations, if applicable.
  • Submit and certify an accurate and complete expense report with receipts and proofs of payment within 30 days of the trip end date.
  • Inform the Travel Service Center if a trip is canceled and promptly return any travel advance and/or allocate ASU Travel Card expenses associated with the trip.

The trip approver should be an authorized signer on the account to which the travel will be charged. It is the trip approver's responsibility to do the following:

  • Ensure that the account(s) listed represent appropriate funding sources.
  • Approve travel requests and expense reports before the documents are routed to the Authorizing Travel Official (ATO).
  • Verify that the approvals, expenses, and documentation are appropriate and comply with ASU policy.

The Authorizing Travel Official (ATO) authorizes, before the trip begins or expenses are incurred, all travel with an overnight stay and all group travel, attesting that trip is appropriate, is for the university's benefit, and is using the mode of transportation that is the most suitable and economical for the trip. The ATO's approval indicates authorization of proposed trip expenses. If the expense report exceeds the original authorization by the greater of $200 and 20%, it will be routed to the ATO for review and approval.

Dean/VP approval is necessary for any trip greater than $5,000 or to an at-risk destination, and for any exception to ASU Travel Policy.

The Travel Service Center will process all approved travel requests and expense reports. The Travel Service Center will assist travelers, trip approvers, and ATOs with any policy or procedure question, but it is the responsibility of each department to know and enforce travel policy.

ASU Travel Policy Standard 2: Preauthorization of Travel

All travel with an overnight stay should be authorized by an ATO prior to the trip start date or when expenses are incurred. The ATO cannot approve his or her own trip. Any travel exceeding $5,000 requires approval from the appropriate Dean/VP. Travel to an at-risk destination requires additional approval from University Risk Management. Please see ASU Travel Policy Standard 3.

Travel without an overnight stay can be approved by the traveler's supervisor. If the trip is an implicit part of an employee's position and related to job duties, such approval is implied at the time of hire and no trip-by-trip approval is needed.

Travelers on university business whose travel expenses are paid by outside sources or where there is no reimbursement should file an approved zero dollar travel request prior to the trip start date. This will provide information for the university's duty of care responsibilities.

All group travel (which is considered three or more university-related personnel, with one employee being responsible for all expenses) should be authorized in advance by an ATO prior to the trip.

ASU Travel Policy Standard 3: International Safety and Compliance

For travel to countries or regions designated as a Travel Warning Area, as defined by this policy, the following provisions apply:

  1. The Provost may authorize or restrict ASU travel to specific regions within a Travel Warning Area.
  2. ASU students and employees shall not be required to travel to a Travel Warning Area.
  3. ASU travel by employees and students to countries and/or areas designated as a Travel Warning Area requires advance review and approval by the Provost's Office or designee. As appropriate, the International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC), established by the Office of the President, serves as the review body for travel proposals and provides a recommendation concerning whether the proposed travel should be approved.
  4. In addition to the travel request, employees, students, and volunteers may need to submit supplemental information regarding the travel risks, the necessity of travel, and departmental approval. The supplemental information shall include a recognition of the travel risks.
  5. ASU Study Abroad programming in a Travel Warning Area requires approval from the Office of the Provost and, in appropriate circumstances, the ITAC.

A country or region is designated as a Travel Warning Area by the university if any of these conditions exist:
  1. a current Travel Warning has been issued by the U.S. State Department,
  2. A current Travel Health Warning has been issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
  3. the university has designated any country or region as restricted for ASU travel.

Insurance coverage is not provided to university employees traveling in sanctioned countries unless the State of Arizona Department of Administration, Risk Management Section, purchases the insurance for the trip separately. Individuals should consult with both the ASU Office of Research Integrity and Assurance as well as ASU Insurance/Risk Management to determine authorization requirements.

Export control regulations and their applicability should be evaluated during the planning process for international travel. ASU travelers should review ASU's Export Control website for guidance related to international travel well in advance of committing to a trip abroad. In addition, if the travel will be paid by external grants or contacts, departments are urged to check with appropriate agencies such as the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, or the university's Office for Research and Sponsored Projects Administration (ORSPA) to determine whether special requirements apply. For more information, see RSP 214: Export Control.

Air travel to and from an international location under sponsored project awards must be on a U.S. flagship carrier. If a carrier other than a U.S. flagship is used, the airfare may be disallowed on the grant and the traveler or department may be responsible for the cost. You may contact ORSPA to determine an airline's flagship status. For more information on air travel to and from an international location under sponsored project awards, see RSP 504–01: Sponsored Projects Travel for ASU Employees.

Student travel as part of an ASU program must be authorized in advance, depending on the type of travel, as follows:

  1. Participation in Study Abroad programs for ASU academic credit requires registration through the ASU Study Abroad Office.
  2. Students who take a leave of absence from ASU enrollment to travel on their own, or through non-ASU Study Abroad programs, are not subject to this policy.

NOTE: Travel for personal reasons to countries under CDC travel warning is strongly discouraged, and ASU requests that all faculty, staff, and students who travel to any of the affected nations notify ASU Health Services both prior to travel and upon return to the university. ASU Health Services staff will provide pre-travel advice and information on required post-travel monitoring.


ASU Travel Policy Standard 4: Arranging for Travel

Travel arrangements should utilize the most economical method of transportation in terms of expense to the university and the traveler's time away from the office. Utilizing the online booking tool within My ASU TRIP or calling the university's contracted travel agency are the preferred methods of booking travel. If My ASU TRIP or the contracted travel agency are not used, the traveler should load his or her flight itinerary in My ASU TRIP to support the university's duty of care (to help ASU contact the traveler in case of emergency).

If traveling to an international destination, ASU Travel Policy Standard 3 should be reviewed prior to committing to a trip. The traveler is responsible for obtaining the proper passports or visas and following specific requirements for travel on grant accounts (RSP 504-01: Sponsored Projects Travel for ASU Employees). If a passport is required for authorized university business travel and the traveler does not already have a passport, the expense is an authorized reimbursable travel expense. The cost of a visa and associated fees are authorized reimbursable university business travel expenses. If these purchases are not on an ASU Travel Card, receipts are required for reimbursement.

The traveler is responsible for obtaining any required immunizations or international medical insurance, and the fees for these are reimbursable business travel expenses with a receipt.

When faced with conflicting federal, sponsoring agency, or ASU travel policies, the more restrictive policy is followed. However, to ensure the consistent and equitable treatment of all ASU travelers, if the restriction results in a lesser reimbursement from a sponsored account, the department should consider covering the difference from a non-sponsored account.


ASU Travel Policy Standard 5: Air Travel

The traveler should select the lowest coach airfare using the most direct route that meets the traveler's scheduling needs and the business purpose of the trip. If a non-coach fare is more economical or if the business purpose of the trip or the traveler's medical needs support a non-coach fare, the reason should be provided. If flights are not booked through My ASU TRIP or the university's contracted travel agency, an itemized receipt showing the passenger name, flights, flight dates, and class of service is required. ASU will only reimburse travelers for out-of-pocket expenses. The use of personal frequent flyer miles for ASU business travel is not reimbursable.

If a traveler prefers a higher class of airfare, the excess cost will be considered a personal expense and is not reimbursable. To calculate the reimbursable portion, the traveler should submit documentation from the time of booking that shows the lowest coach airfare. The traveler should pay for a higher class airfare with personal funds and seek reimbursement for only the business portion/coach fare when filing an expense report after completion of the trip.

Restrictions apply to which air carriers can be used when the travel is paid for by a federal granting agency. Refer to RSP 504-01: Sponsored Projects Travel for ASU Employees for information on the U.S. Flag Air Carriers requirement for international air travel charged to sponsored projects.

Airline fees necessary for the business purpose of the travel are reimbursable. Expenses not charged on an ASU Travel Card that exceed $50 require a receipt.

Charter flight services must be authorized and licensed by the Arizona Department of Transportation. All arrangements for the rental or lease of charter aircraft must be pre-approved by University Risk Management and an invoice from the charter company is required for payment/reimbursement.


ASU Travel Policy Standard 6: Ground Transportation

ASU travelers should choose the most economical ground transportation that is suitable for the business purpose of their trips. The university will reimburse the traveler for the cost of renting a car when other means of transportation are not practical or an economical choice. The size of the car rented should be the most economical for the business purpose of the trip. Provide a reason if a car of a higher class than standard is necessary. The use of 12- and 15-passenger vans is prohibited and will not be reimbursed. ASU will not reimburse for collision damage waiver insurance coverage for vehicle rental travel wholly within the borders of Arizona, as the authorized use of a rental vehicle for ASU business purposes will be covered under ASU's self-insurance policy. If the traveler is authorized to rent a car while on out-of-state or international travel, the cost of insurance will be reimbursed. An itemized receipt is required for reimbursement of the car rental.

An ATO may authorize travel by a privately owned vehicle if it is in the university's best interest due to cost, efficiency, or work requirements. The driver must have a valid driver's license and current insurance on the vehicle. The driver's privately owned vehicle liability coverage is the primary coverage should an accident occur while operating the vehicle while on university business. Regardless of fault, any comprehensive or collision damage will not be reimbursed. Refer to EHS 705–02: Vehicle Loss Insurance Recovery for more information on the use of private vehicles on university business.

Reimbursement is made at the State of Arizona mileage rate (State of Arizona Mileage & Lodging Reimbursement Rates). If two or more authorized travelers are transported in the same vehicle, only one claim for mileage will be allowed for the lesser of actual mileage or the cost of total airfare for all authorized travelers. Travelers are paid for actual miles traveled from their home or campus duty post, whichever is less, to their travel destination. Only the miles driven in excess of the normal commute are reimbursable. Mileage claims need to specify the address of departure and destination locations. In addition to mileage reimbursement, the traveler may be reimbursed for reasonable parking expenses and tolls, but the university will not reimburse the traveler for fuel, vehicle repairs, parking fines, or moving violations.

Shuttle/taxi fares that are necessary for university business will be reimbursed. Fares over $50 not purchased with an ASU Travel Card, require a receipt for reimbursement.


ASU Travel Policy Standard 7: Lodging

The university reimburses travelers for the cost of lodging and any applicable taxes and fees when the traveler is in overnight travel status. When making lodging arrangements, the traveler should request the lowest available rate.

Lodging reimbursements are limited by maximums set by the State of Arizona. The city where the lodging is located dictates the applicable lodging rate. An exception to exceed the maximum lodging rate may be approved by the ATO. ATO approval indicates that the lodging rates are reasonable and appropriate for the business purpose of the trip.

For conference-designated lodging, a copy of the conference brochure should be provided. The brochure normally includes opening and closing dates of the conference, the meals provided, and the lodging rate. If the conference brochure is not included with the travel request, the approvers should adjust the traveler's expense report to the regular index rate for the location. Lodging at alternate hotels in the immediate vicinity of the conference may be considered conference-designated lodging if there are no vacancies at the conference hotel and the traveler has obtained comparable rates at an alternate hotel, or if the traveler stays at a hotel with a lower lodging rate than the recommended hotel.

A receipt for lodging is required for reimbursement. The receipt must include the following:

  • The traveler's name
  • The name and address of the lodging establishment
  • Check–in and check–out dates
  • Itemized expenses, i.e., room charges, applicable taxes and fees, room service, movie fees, telephone expenses, internet service fees, etc.
  • Proof of payment

A traveler may only claim reimbursement for the room in which he or she stayed. If a room is shared with another authorized university traveler, one traveler should claim the total lodging expense. Each expense should include an explanation of the transaction and the name(s) of the other traveler(s). When lodging is shared with an individual not in authorized university travel status (such as a spouse or friend), reimbursement is not to exceed the single room rate.

With ATO approval, travelers may stay at private residences (non-commercial lodging), excluding property owned or rented by the traveler, their relative, or domestic partner, if it is in the best interest of the university and is the most economical choice and suited to the business purpose of the travel. If a private residence is used, the allowable lodging reimbursement is up to 50% of the allowable hotel lodging rate for that location and the use should be clearly documented on the travel request. If the traveler is staying in a property he or she owns, no lodging expense will be reimbursed.

If a traveler is assigned to a location for more than 30 days outside the 50-mile radius of his or her designated duty post, the ATO on a case–by–case basis will establish the lodging allowance based on the location. This allowance is established when the trip is approved and should not exceed the regular maximum rates. The lodging allowance is inclusive of all related costs (i.e., rent, electricity, gas, water, telephone, etc.) and are reimbursable with itemized receipts up to the established allowance amount.


ASU Travel Policy Standard 8: Meal Allowances

When a traveler is in overnight travel status, meal and incidental expenses are reimbursed up to maximum rates based on lodging location. Receipts supporting the actual cost of meals and incidental expenses are not required. The amount expended for meals and incidentals is at the discretion of the traveler, but only the allowance will be reimbursed.

A meal allowance reimbursement should not be claimed for meals provided at a conference, on a plane/train, or reimbursed by the filing of a Business Meals and Related Expenses Form. However, travelers required to purchase a meal offered at the conference that is in excess of the meal allowance may be reimbursed for the actual expense with a receipt and explanation.

Travel status/meal eligibility begins two hours prior to flight departure and ends one hour after flight arrival.

Travelers are eligible for the breakfast per diem when in overnight travel status and travel commences at or before 6:00a.m.
Travelers are eligible for the lunch per diem when in overnight travel status and travel commences at or before noon (12:00p.m.).
Travelers are eligible for the dinner per diem when in overnight travel status and travel commences at or before 6:00p.m.

Meal reimbursements approved for travelers who are not traveling overnight are processed through payroll and treated as taxable wages in accordance with federal tax rules. To request such meal reimbursements, the traveler's department should complete and submit a Payroll Transaction Request (PTR) to Payroll. The meal reimbursement will be included in the employee's next regular paycheck, net of applicable tax withholding, and will be reported as additional compensation on the employee's annual W-2.


ASU Travel Policy Standard 9: Conferences/Meetings

Attendance at a conference or meeting outside the traveler's home state by more than two persons from a single academic or administrative unit or department should be supported by a valid business purpose.


ASU Travel Policy Standard 10: Travel Cash Advances

If necessary, travel cash advances of at least $200 are available for expenses other than airfare or conference registration, which can be paid for directly by ASU. Advances may be issued for 75% of the remaining estimated reimbursable expenses for individual travel and 100% of the remaining estimated reimbursable expenses for group travel. Advances are issued to the traveler approximately one week before departure as a direct deposit or a university check.

An expense report should be filed within 30 days of the trip end date through My ASU TRIP, and any unexpended travel advance should be repaid with the expense report. For trips that are cancelled, the traveler should return the advance at the time of the trip cancellation. Outstanding travel cash advances will be collected through payroll deduction or student accounts. Incomplete repayment of a travel advance or unallowable travel card expense prior to an employee leaving ASU will incur the remaining balance being reported as additional compensation per IRS Accountable Plan. Repeated instances of failing to reimburse ASU in a timely manner may result in losing the privilege of receiving travel cash advances for future trips.

NOTE: The university offers an ASU Travel Card to be used for travel expenses. See the ASU Travel Card Standards of Use document.

ASU Travel Policy Standard 11: Unallowable Travel Expenses

The expenses listed below represent examples of items considered personal expenses and are unallowable for reimbursement.

  • Airline or VIP club membership dues or one-day admission fees
  • Child care
  • Pet care
  • Lawn, pool, or home care
  • Over-the-counter medications and prescriptions
  • Forgotten toiletries
  • Barbers and hairdressers
  • New clothing
  • Shoe shines
  • Excess luggage not related to ASU business
  • Health club fees, saunas, massages, and spa visits
  • Magazines, newspapers, and personal reading materials
  • Snacks
  • Medical expenses while traveling
  • Expenses of a spouse, family member, or other person accompanying the university traveler
  • Expenses related to personal days taken before, during, or after the business portion of the trip
  • Entertainment
  • "No show" charges for hotel or car service
  • Loss or theft of funds, airline tickets, property, or baggage

    ASU Travel Policy Standard 12: Personal Component of Official ASU Travel

    For trips that contain a personal travel component, ASU will reimburse the traveler for only those expenses that would have been incurred had no personal travel component existed. The traveler should maintain documentation to support that the personal travel component did not add any incremental cost.

    Examples of additional costs that may be incurred by the traveler because there is a personal component and that will not be paid by ASU are:

    • double occupancy versus single occupancy lodging rates
    • per passenger charges for taxis or airport shuttles
    • additional car rental costs due to a larger vehicle need
    • airfare increases because of a different travel day
    • airfare increases for indirect routes
    • excess baggage or overweight baggage due to additional travelers


    • choice of lodging location for the convenience of the personal portion of the trip, as opposed to the convenience of the business purpose

    Please note that university insurance coverage does not apply to a vehicle when used outside the scope and course of employment, such as during the personal portion of a trip taken in conjunction with authorized university travel. If insurance is needed for the personal portion of the trip, the traveler is solely responsible for the cost.

    ASU Travel Policy Standard 13: Reimbursements

    An expense report should be filed within 30 days of the trip end date through My ASU TRIP. Receipts are required for airfare not booked through My ASU TRIP or the university's contracted travel agency, lodging, business meals, and car rentals. Receipts are required for airfare, lodging, business meals, and car rentals regardless of dollar amount. Other out-of-pocket (not on the ASU Travel Card) expenses require receipts only if they are in excess of $50.

    Travelers should exclude from the expense report travel expenses paid by a third party. If a traveler receives reimbursement from a third party for travel expenses previously claimed on an expense report, the reimbursement should be repaid to ASU.

    All ASU Travel Card transactions should be assigned to an approved trip request and accounted for on the subsequent expense report following completion of the trip. Any ASU Travel Card transactions not accounted for timely may be deemed as unallowable and considered a personal expense, subject to payroll deduction from the cardholder.

    [horizontal rule]


    [horizontal rule]

    For information on travel expenses being paid on a sponsored or grant account for domestic or international travel, see RSP 504–01, "Sponsored Projects Travel for ASU Employees".

    For information related to the fiscal/fiduciary responsibility of university employees, see FIN 119, "Public Purpose Served", FIN 124, "Misuse of Public Monies", and FIN 129, "Ensuring Financial Integrity".

    For information on export control regulations, see RSP 214, "Export Control"

    For more information on the use of private vehicles on university business, see EHS 705–02, "Vehicle Loss Insurance Recovery"

    For more information on Personnel Transaction Request procedures, see the Personnel Transaction Request webpage.

    FIN manual | ASU policies and procedures manuals | Index of Policies by Title | FIN manual contact | Financial Services Web site


    Back to Top

    Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional