Travel FAQ and References

Travel Suspension Extension

The CSU has extended the suspension of all non-essential international and domestic travel for the entire 2020-21 fiscal year. The CSU has given campus presidents the authority to provide exceptions to this suspension when there are compelling reasons that support the academic and co-curricular mission of the campus. Please work with your respective vice president if you feel you have a compelling reason to seek the president’s approval to travel. Exceptions will be granted on a very limited basis. This applies to any and all University and auxiliary travel, including athletics, clubs and grant-funded travel. Review SSU Coronavirus FAQ  to access up-to-date information.

Travel References

Travel Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to complete the travel certification training before traveling?

Yes, in order to address issues related to risk management previously covered in the old “Travel Authorization” form, SSU employee travelers will complete a one-time “Online Travel Certification” training in CSU Learn acknowledging their responsibilities with regard to University travel. CSU Learn is accessible from the SSU login page. The online training, once completed, will be valid for the length of employment and required for any individual who will be traveling on University business.

Non-employee travelers including students and interview candidates/prospective employees must complete and attach the Travel Certification Form (pdf) to the completed Travel Expense Claim (xlxs).

Travel Expense Claims will not be processed unless the Travel Certification has been completed.

Will I need pre-approval to travel?

Employee Travelers

As of November 1, 2015, pre-approval of domestic travel is not required per policy unless noted by division or department. Academic Affairs personnel, please see the required form at Division of Academic Affairs, then scroll down to the Travel Authorization (pdf) Quick Link at the bottom of the page.

If traveling internationally, the CSU Travel Policy requires that all individuals traveling on University  business must secure Presidential pre-approval, utilize the Foreign Travel Insurance Program (FTIP) and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Thirty days prior to international travel, the traveler must complete and submit both the International Travel Authorization/Travel Advance Form and the Foreign Travel Insurance Request Form to the President's Office in Stevenson Hall 1062. Once the travel has been approved, both forms will be forwarded to Accounts Payable.

Non-Employee Travelers

As of April 1, 2016, pre-approval of domestic travel is no longer required per the CSU Travel Policy.

What is the process and timeline for requesting a travel advance?

If requesting a travel advance within thirty (30) days of departure, complete the International Travel Authorization/Travel Advance Form. Please allow a minimum of seven (7) full business days from the day the form is received by Accounts Payable for check issuance. Advance checks will not be released after travel has commenced. Travel advance requests under $100.00 will not be processed. Students are not eligible for travel advances.

If requesting a travel advance more than thirty (30) days from the date of departure (i.e. “Early Bird” advance), complete the International Travel Authorization/Travel Advance Form and attach back-up documentation to substantiate the expenses. An “Early Bird” advance is limited to actual expenses in order to secure discounted rates for conference/registration fees and airfare.

Travel advances must be cleared with a Travel Expense Claim (xlsx) within 10 days after the trip ended.

Can I purchase a travel package through an internet vendor (e.g. Travelocity, Priceline, Expedia)?

Travel "packages" from Internet vendors typically do not itemize expenses. Therefore, no business-related travel should be booked through such vendors unless the traveler has confirmed that each aspect of the package will be separately itemized (e.g. itemized hotel charges, airfare) and show proof of payment to assure appropriate documentation for reimbursement

Can I drive versus fly to my destination?

As noted in Section IV.A.5 of the CSU Travel Policy, if advance approval has been obtained, a traveler may use surface transportation for personal reasons even though air travel is the appropriate mode of transportation. The cost of meals and lodging, parking, mileage, tolls, taxis, and ferries incurred while in transit by surface transportation may be reimbursed.

Such costs, however, shall not exceed the cost of airfare, based on the lower of the regular coach fare available for the location of travel from a standard commercial air carrier, plus transportation costs to and from the terminals. Documentation demonstrating the cost of regular coach airfare in effect at the time of travel should be included with the travel claim form.

Am I required to use a specific rental car company while traveling on University business?

SSU travelers are required to use Enterprise or National while traveling on University business. To ensure proper rate and insurance coverage for the rental, request the "State Contract Rate" using the corporate identification number (XZCS002). The corporate identification number (XZCS002) is required along with the PIN code. Please contact Accounts Payable at apinvoice@sonoma.edu for the PIN code. Also, the renter will be required to enter a SSU Department, Sport, or Organization in order to complete the reservation. Rates will include unlimited mileage, provided the car is returned to the renting location or other drop point authorized by the company at the time of pickup. The maximum rate incorporates the rental of the vehicle, itemized list of airport access fees, vehicle license fees, State, City and County or local surcharges, and $250,000 insurance protection per occurrence for bodily injury and property damage combined. Sales tax and refueling charges are not included in the rate.

Rental of 15-passenger vans is prohibited. A 15-passenger van means any van manufactured to accommodate 15 passengers, including the driver, regardless of whether the van has been altered to accommodate fewer than 15 passengers.

NOTE: The airport Enterprise and National locations unfortunately print the rental car receipts with an “amount due,” therefore the traveler must request a second receipt while at the Enterprise booth that will then show a zero-balance or the traveler will need to print a receipt from the company’s website to submit with the travel claim.

Should I purchase rental car insurance?

Travelers should not agree to purchase rental car insurance and will not be reimbursed for insurance charges within the 48 Contiguous U.S. The cost of full collision coverage for rental cars used in Alaska, Hawaii, the U.S. Possessions, and foreign countries, is allowable. Additional charges for insurance coverage will not be reimbursed if a non-contract agency is used, unless no car rental company in the area has such an agreement with the University. Adequate justification for use of a non-contract company will be required on travel expense claims to obtain reimbursement.

What payment options are acceptable for the rental car?

Personal credit cards are acceptable methods of payment for Enterprise and National. An original, itemized, zero-balance receipt is required for reimbursement for all rental car expenses

What can I claim when I use my private vehicle?

Mileage may be reimbursed up to the current mileage reimbursement rate of $0.560 cents per mile. This rate takes into account all actual automobile expenses such as fuel and lubrication, towing charges, maintenance and repairs, tires, depreciation, vehicle registration, and insurance. Refer to Section IV.C.3 of the CSU Travel Policy to review allowable mileage expenses for domestic travel.

Can I claim mileage from home versus SSU?

Reimbursement shall be made for round-trip mileage between home and the assignment location, or between the normal work location and the assignment location, whichever is less. Refer to Section IV.C.3 of the CSU Travel Policy to review allowable mileage expenses for domestic travel.

When there is an overnight stay, mileage expenses may be allowed between the traveler's residence and the common carrier or destination if University business travel occurs during the traveler's non-working hours, or during a regularly scheduled day off.

What forms are required to drive my personal vehicle on University business?

When using a private vehicle on University business, qualified drivers are responsible for carrying and maintaining liability insurance. The Authorization to Use Privately owned Vehicles (Std. 261) form certifies that the traveler has a valid driver’s license and proof of liability insurance. The form must be completed prior to using your personal vehicle, retained in your department, and renewed annually.

Should I purchase a fully refundable flight?

Transportation expenses shall be reimbursed based on the most economical mode of transportation and the most commonly traveled route consistent with the authorized purpose of the trip. Typically airfare is purchased in advance to secure the most economical rate and because of that, it is in the best interest of the University for the traveler to purchase a fully refundable flight as unforeseen circumstances may cause changes in the itinerary.

Travelers who are unable to honor a reservation shall be responsible for canceling the reservation in compliance with the cancellation terms established by the hotel, airline, etc. Charges or lost refunds resulting from failure to cancel reservations, registrations, etc. shall not be reimbursed unless the traveler can show that such failure was the result of circumstances beyond the traveler's control

 

Am I allowed to purchase airfare "extras," such as travel insurance or early boarding?

Airfare “extras” are non-reimbursable, but can be purchased at the traveler’s expense.

How is "subsistence" defined in the CSU Travel Policy?

Subsistence expenses incurred while on travel status consist of charges for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses. Subsistence expenses may be claimed for University travel occurring more than 25 miles one way from an employee’s normal work location or residence, whichever is closer.

Is there a maximum lodging rate?

The nightly lodging rate for domestic travel may be found in the CSU Travel Policy, Appendix D. The maximum lodging rate does not include taxes and other related charges. University employees are always expected to seek the best value whenever they obtain lodging.

What is the California City and County Transient Occupancy Taxes Exemption?

In some California cities and counties, University employees traveling on official business are granted an exemption from the payment of occupancy taxes imposed by these cities or counties on the transient rental of rooms.

In order to claim the tax exemption, travelers should identify themselves as University employees upon arrival. The traveler may be required to complete an exemption certificate. The option to grant the exemption is at the discretion of the hotel.

State of California Form STD 236, Hotel/Motel Transient Occupancy Tax Waiver (Exemption Certificate for State Agencies)  The hotel/motel may have their own adapted version of the form.

How should I claim meals & incidentals for travel in the 48 contiguous U.S.?

The reimbursement of daily meal and incidental expenses for travel within the contiguous United States will be based on actual amounts incurred subject to the daily maximum reimbursement cap set forth in the CSU Travel Policy, Appendix D. Alcohol will not be reimbursed on a travel expense claim. Subsistence expenses cannot be claimed within the 25-mile radius of SSU.

The meals reimbursement cap should not be treated as a per diem. The definition of Meals and Incidental Expenses Reimbursement Cap may be found in the CSU Travel Policy, Appendix A. Definitions.

Can I claim any meals if I'm traveling less than 24 hours?

Meal reimbursements associated with trips without an overnight stay must be reported to the IRS as taxable income. The amount will be reported to Payroll and included in Box 1 of the employee’s W-2 form.

The general rule of thumb for claiming meals for a trip of less than 24 hours is breakfast can be claimed if departure is two hours before the normal work schedule begins and dinner can be claimed if return is two hours after the normal work schedule ends. Under no circumstances will expenses for lunch be reimbursed for travel of less than 24 hours. Meals cannot be claimed within the 25-mile radius of SSU.

What are incidentals?

Incidental expenses include fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, stewards or stewardesses and others on ships, and hotel staff in foreign countries; transportation between places of lodging or business and places where meals are taken; and mailing costs associated with filing travel claims and payment of University-sponsored charge card billings.

What expenses are not reimbursed?

Examples of non-reimbursable expenses include but are not limited to personal domestic ATM/credit card fees; fines/citations; clothing and accessories; frequent traveler program participation; account fees or deposits for FastTrack (or equivalent) that are not related to individual toll charges; club membership fees; luggage (lost luggage may be covered, see the CSU Travel Policy, Section VIII.E. Personal Property or Baggage Loss); personal entertainment; personal care; and dependent/pet care.

Is there a maximum lodging rate in Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. Possessions?

The nightly lodging rate for domestic travel may be found in the CSU Travel Policy, Appendix D. The maximum lodging rate does not include taxes and other related charges. University employees are always expected to seek the best value whenever they obtain lodging.

Lodging shall be reimbursed based on actual costs incurred as supported by an original itemized receipt up to the maximum daily lodging rate.

How should I claim meals and incidentals in Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. Possessions?

Travelers to these areas will receive a fixed amount per diem for meals and incidentals based on the Federal Per Diem rate for the destination of travel. Receipts will not be required for reimbursement.

The Department of Travel Management Office (DTMO) publishes rates for Overseas Non-Foreign areas (e.g., Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico etc.) at least once a year. Per Diem Rates Query recognized by the IRS and are in effect on the date of travel.

What documents are required prior to traveling internationally? What is the process and timeline?

The CSU Travel Policy requires that all individuals traveling internationally on University business must secure Presidential pre-approval, utilize the Foreign Travel Insurance Program (FTIP) and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Thirty (30) days prior to international travel, the traveler must complete and submit both the International Travel Authorization/Travel Advance Form and the Foreign Travel Insurance Request Form. Once the travel has been approved, forward both forms to Accounts Payable.

Travel to countries on the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs Current Travel Warning List or those deemed High Hazard Risk requires approval from the campus President and travel to War Risk Countries requires approval from the Chancellor’s Office. Refer to the information provided by System wide Risk Management under International Travel Resources.

Will any international travel-related fees be reimbursed?

Travelers may be reimbursed for unique costs associated with international travel, such as: the actual cost of obtaining or renewing a passport, visa, tourist card, and necessary photographs; cost for certificates of birth, health, identity, and related affidavits; charges for required inoculations and medical evacuation insurance; currency conversion, ATM and check cashing fees outside the U.S.; the cost of traveler’s checks; costs related to hiring guides, translators, and local labor; and the cost of full collision insurance on automobiles rented in foreign countries.

Is there a maximum lodging rate for international travel?

Travelers to foreign destinations will receive a fixed amount per diem for lodging in accordance with the Federal Maximum Travel Per Diem Allowances for Foreign Areas published monthly by the U.S. Department of State Office of Allowances Foreign Per Diem Rates.  Receipts will not be required for reimbursement when using per diem.

How should I claim meals and incidentals for international travel?

Travelers to foreign destinations will receive a fixed amount per diem for lodging, meals and incidentals in accordance with the Federal Maximum Travel Per Diem Allowances for Foreign Areas published monthly by theU.S. Department of State Office of Allowances Foreign Per Diem Rates.  Receipts will not be required for reimbursement when using per diem.

Is pre-approval for travel required for prospective employees?

As of April 1, 2016, pre-approval of domestic travel is no longer required per the CSU Travel Policy.

What forms are required for prospective employees in addition to the Travel Expense Claim form?

Vendor 204 Form

A Vendor Data 204 Form for each non-employee traveler is required to be on file with the University prior to making a payment. This is required by California State Revenue and Taxation Code, Section 18646 to facilitate tax compliance and the preparation of Form 1099 and other information returns as required by the Internal Revenue Code, Section 6109(a).

It is mandatory for vendors to furnish the information requested. Federal law requires that payments for which the requested information is not provided may be subject to federal withholding.

A Travel Expense Claim must be submitted in accordance with the requirements set forth in the CSU Travel Policy, Section IX, Reporting Travel Expenses. Travel expenses incurred by non-employee travelers shall not be reimbursed from a University fund source unless the travel has been approved in advance by the host department.

Travel Certification Form

The Online Travel Certification Training in CSU Learn is accessible to most University business travelers with the exception of non-employee students and Prospective Employees, aka “Interview Candidates.” A Travel Certification Form is required for every travel claim that is submitted for non-employee students and Prospective Employees.

 

What expenses can a prospective employee claim?

The University may reimburse the actual travel expenses related to interviewing prospective employees, when such expenses are necessary to acquire key personnel for employment at the University. Authorization shall be obtained prior to any commitment to reimburse travel expenses to the prospective employee. Reimbursement of allowable expenses is not taxable if the expenses are properly substantiated

What is the timeline for submitting the Travel Expense Claim?

The Travel Expense Claim must be submitted to Accounts Payable within sixty (60) days of the end of a trip.

What fields are required to be completed on the Travel Expense Claim form?

All pertinent information must be completed on the Travel Expense Claim form to provide a complete picture of the business trip from start to finish and the expenses incurred as a result of the University travel. The Travel Expense Claim Instructions  as well as the prompts on the Travel Expense Claim  will help guide you when filling out the Travel Expense Claim form

  • Before submitting your travel claim, please be sure to include the following on your Travel Expense Claim form:
  • The departure and return times, locations, and explain any location abbreviations (e.g. CMS = Comstock Middle School)
  • The purpose of trip and any other pertinent or helpful information in the “Purpose of Trip, Remarks, and Details” box
  • Separate the lodging, parking, meals, and/or business expenses (e.g. internet)
  • Staple rather than paper clip the travel claim, receipts, and any other supporting documentation to the Travel Expense Claim
  • White-out must not be used on the Travel Expense Claim form
  • Approver must initial any changes
How should I claim tips?

Tips for transportation related expenses (e.g. taxis) are reimbursed as part of the transportation costs. Tips for meals are reported as part of meals. Tips may be reimbursed up to 20% of the total bill.*

*Excluding alcohol. Alcohol is not reimbursed

What receipts do I need to submit with my Travel Expense Claim?

Original, itemized receipts are required for expenses of $75.00 or more. Itemized receipts indicate what was purchased, the amount due, the form of payment and a zero balance.

For group travel expenses, receipts submitted with the Travel Expense Claim for expenses less than $75.00 must also be original and itemized.

I lost a required receipt. Can I still be reimbursed for the expense?

When original receipts are required (expense of $75.00 or more) but cannot be obtained or have been lost and all measures to obtain a duplicate receipt have been exhausted, a statement should be provided explaining why such receipts are not being submitted with the Travel Expense Claim. The statement must include a certification that the amount shown is the amount actually paid and that the traveler has not and will not seek reimbursement from any other source, now or in the future.

The administrator/approving authority must provide written approval with the travel claim form for the expense. In the absence of a satisfactory explanation or administrator approval, the amount involved will not be reimbursed.

Is the ProCard an acceptable method of payment for travel expenses?

A ProCard can only be used to purchase the following items: Conference/Meeting Registration fees as well as Local Enterprise Rental Car fees. Prior to utilizing the ProCard to purchase Conference/Meeting Registrations or a local Enterprise Rental Car, the traveler, along with the ProCard holder, must complete the “Use of ProCard for University Travel Expense” form as it is required for both the ProCard Report and the Travel Expense Claim in order to cross-reference between the ProCard paid by the University and travel expenses paid by an individual.

Business Process for the Use of ProCard for University Travel Expenses

  • ProCard Report requirements:
    • Original receipts must be attached to the ProCard Report.
    • The original “Use of ProCard for University Travel Expenses” form must be attached to the ProCard Report. If a Travel Expense Claim will be submitted, a copy of the “Use of ProCard for University Travel Expenses” form must be attached to the Travel Expense Claim.
  • Travel Expense Claim requirements:
    • The copy of the “Use of ProCard for University Travel Expenses” form must be attached to the Travel Expense Claim and ALL expenses, including those paid by ProCard, must be documented on the Travel Expense Claim.
    • If a Conference/Meeting Registration fee is paid by the ProCard, an agenda must be included with the Travel Expense Claim to ensure that meals are not claimed twice.
    • If a Local Enterprise Rental car is paid with the ProCard, a copy of the rental invoice must be included with the Travel Expense Claim.

NOTE: The CSU Travel Policy prohibits duplicate payment for a cost that was directly billed to and paid by the University.