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Office of Sponsored Programs and Research.

Office of Sponsored Programs and Research (SPAR)

Travel Reimbursement ProceduresPage Title




Air Travel

All travel must be booked using the lowest available fares in economy class only, with the exception of Amtrak Business Class between stations in the Boston/Washington DC corridor. Approval for any other exceptions to economy class travel to accommodate a medical condition, special circumstances, etc., must be requested in advance and may require specific documentation as determined by your sponsor.

All flights must be booked using the lowest available fare in economy class on U.S. Flag air carriers, per the Fly America Act, or on an authorized European Union carrier per the U.S.- EU Open Skies Agreement (see European Union countries for a map of those countries) or on a Swiss, Australian, or Japanese carrier, as permitted under separate government agreements. For use of U.S. air carriers that have code-sharing arrangements with foreign air carriers, other than with European Union countries, Switzerland, Australia or Japan, the ticket must be issued with the U.S. air carrier's call letters (the two characters that precede the flight number) and flight number to qualify for reimbursement. 

Note: Written justification must be provided whenever a foreign air carrier, other than a European Union, Swiss, Australian or Japanese carrier, must be used. Lower cost is not an acceptable justification for use of a foreign carrier instead of a U.S., European Union, Swiss, Australian or Japanese carrier. 

Car Rental/Gas and Mileage

Car rental is only allowed when other transportation is unavailable or impractical, or when use of a rental car can be economically justified. Standard models should be rented and justification for the use of a rental car must be noted on your Travel Expense Voucher or in an accompanying statement.

Direct purchase of gasoline for use with rented vehicles is reimbursable. Mileage reimbursement cannot be claimed in conjunction with car rental.  When renting a vehicle for business purposes, please purchase the comprehensive auto insurance offered by the auto rental agency and charge the expenses to your project. 

For a listing of car rental discount programs visit Hotel/Car rental discounts.

Authorized use of a personally-owned automobile is reimbursed at the rate of 53.5 cents per mile effective Jan. 1, 2017.  Direct purchase of gasoline for use of personally-owned automobiles is not reimbursable. 

For transportation to and from your home/office to the airport, train station, etc.:

  • reimbursement up to $10.00 each way without receipts or
  • reimbursement for full amounts, depending on the distance involved, with receipts, including up to a 20% gratuity.

All tolls incurred on project-related travel are also reimbursable.

Note: Save all receipts, ticket stubs, and boarding passes. Credit card slips are not adequate documentation for travel expenses or proof of travel.

Meals, Lodging, and Incidental Expenses

New York State has devised two methods for calculating travel expenses. The first is a flat per diem rate to cover both meals and lodging.

Unreceipted Method (Method I)

  • For NYC, LI, Rockland and Westchester: $50.00
  • For anywhere within a fifteen mile radius of Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse: $40.00
  • All other locations in New York State: $35.00
  • All out-of-state locations: $50.00

If using this method, you don't need receipts to be reimbursed.

If actual or expected travel expenses exceed the above amounts, it may be advantageous to use the second method, which reimburses actual expenses up to allowed maximum for certain expense categories.

Receipted Method (Method II)

  • Current Federal per diem rates (which have also been adopted by NYS) for lodging and meals and incidental expenses for locations throughout the continental U.S. and non-continental U.S. locations may be found at GSA Per Diem Rates.  These rates can be used for travel within NYS as well. The per diem meal rates include a provision for incidentals expenses such as laundry, tips to bellmen, porters, hotel maids, etc.  These expenses may not be claimed separately (except for reasonable laundry expense if travel exceeds five days).  If certain meals are included in meeting or conference arrangements or if you participate in business meals while in travel status in the continental U.S., the corresponding meal rate must be deducted from the full per diem allowance.  For the amount to be deducted, consult the table at: M&IE rate table.
  • The State Department sets the per diem rates for foreign travel, which can be found at Foreign Per Diem Rates.
  • Receipts are required for lodging, but not for meals, while in overnight status.  For prepaid arrangements made online, please request a statement when checking out of the hotel so that detail of charges is available for audit purposes. 
  • Taxes on lodging are reimbursable over the published per diem rates except in Florida, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Tennessee where RF is tax-exempt. RF is also exempt from NYC Hotel Occupancy Tax. For copies of tax-exempt certificates, contact OTPS Team.
  • If your lodging expenses exceed the maximum, you may use a portion of your meal allowance to offset them.
  • Use of hotels designated by conference organizers as the conference hotel, for which the organizers generally negotiate a special rate, is acceptable even if the rate exceeds the published per diem.  Be sure to indicate on your request that the hotel was the designated conference hotel.  In other cases where expenses for lodging exceed the maximum per diem, provide documentation that demonstrates why the additional expense was unavoidable. If, for example, all hotel rooms at or below per diem rates are booked at the time of your trip, you may be reimbursed for the full amount of the expense incurred as long as you document the search made to find lodging within the acceptable rates.  Such document should list the hotel names, addresses, phone contacts and rates quoted.
  • A traveler staying free of charge with relatives or friends is entitled to the same meals and incidental expenses per diems as given below, but may not claim a lodging allowance.
  • For extended stays, it may be more economical to make lodging arrangements other than with hotels.  Whenever possible, payments to individuals, landlords or real estate agents should be made directly by RF on your behalf so that we may report rental income properly to IRS.  To be reimbursed for lodging paid to individuals, landlords or real estate agents, you must be able to provide a complete W-9 form for the payee to allow us to report the rental payments to IRS as if we had made the payments directly on your behalf.  See also section (b) of Confirming Purchases.

Overnight Travel

  • Except for NYS-sponsored travel, the amount allowable for meals and incidental expenses on the first and last day of travel is 75% of the published per diem rate for both domestic and foreign locations.
  • For NYS-sponsored travel, you cannot be reimbursed for lunch. The meals per diem is intended to cover dinner for one day and breakfast for the following day.  If the traveler has to leave more than one hour before normal work start time on the first day of travel or return at least two hours later than their normal work ending time on the last day of travel, they are entitled to the breakfast and/or dinner portion of the meal allowance, per the per diem meal allowance specified for the particular area of travel (see NYS Meal Per Diem Breakdown). 

Non-overnight Travel

  • Except for NYS-sponsored travel, the 75% of federal meals and incidental expenses allowance rate is permitted for non-overnight travel if the traveler is in travel status for more than 12 hours. 
  • For NYS-sponsored travel, a maximum of $5.00 for breakfast everywhere and $12.00 for dinner (including gratuities) is allowed, without receipts, for non-overnight travel. With receipts, you may be reimbursed up to the maximum amount of the per diem meal allowance specified for the particular area of travel (see NYS Meal Per Diem Breakdown).  Charges for alcoholic beverages are not allowed.  These rates apply if you must leave at least one hour earlier than your normal work starting time and/or return more than two hours later than your normal work ending time.

Other Reimbursable Travel Expenses Include: 

  • Local travel expenses, including buses, subways, taxis, and bridge and highway tolls. Save your receipts!
  • Business phone calls. List the phone number, person, organization, and purpose of the call when requesting reimbursement.
  • Baggage handling charges for bulky or heavy presentation items only, unless the person is physically handicapped. Attach documentation that shows that the expenditure was necessary and appropriate.
  • Reasonable luggage charges assessed by transportation companies.
  • Internet connection if required for business purposes.
  • Business meals.  Provide documentation regarding the purpose of the meals, list of attendees and project position, and detailed restaurant/catering receipt.  Reimbursement will not be made on the basis of a credit card slip only.  Charges for alcoholic beverages are not allowed.

Note:  Additional charges for special seating requests or other transportation amenities are not reimbursable.

IMPORTANT: While you don't need receipts to be reimbursed for personal meals at the per diem rate while in over-night travel status, original detailed receipts for all other travel-related expenditures must accompany your travel expense voucher.

Note: Sponsors and/or your particular award agreement may have additional restrictions.

  1. Save your airline or train ticket stubs, e-tickets, boarding passes, detailed hotel bills, car rental bills, and receipts for all expenses other than personal meals. Credit cards slips are not adequate documentation for travel expenses, proof of travel, business meals or other travel-related exenditures even if in a foreign currency.
  2. For all travel, including local travel, complete the E-Payment Travel Expense Voucher and Request for Payment Form, sign, then scan and and upload it along with scans of all other supporting documentation via the e-Payment system as soon as possible after the trip. Also attach documentation of the purpose of your trip to your travel voucher.
  3. In all cases, the traveler must sign the Travel Expense Voucher or electronic Travel Expense form to certify that the reported expenses are accurate and correct.  Project Directors or other account signatories may not certify on someone else's behalf.
  4. You may retain the original documentation for your records.
  5. If you received an advance, indicate the amount in the space provided. If the advance was more than the total of travel expenses, attach a check for the difference owed made payable to Research Foundation of CUNY.

In the event that you require clarification or have any questions, you may contact Zolicia Abotsi, (646)312-2211 in the SPAR Office.