Travel Policy

In order to comply with the Internal Revenue Service Code and to maintain records that the College may be required to provide in the event of an audit, the following guidelines have been outlined for use by employees traveling on behalf of the College.


Saint Mary's College fully reimburses expenses for administrative or academic business travel, provided that such expenses fall within budgetary limits and reasonably conform to the College's travel policy. All travel and associated costs must be pre-approved by the appropriate budget unit manager who is authorized to do so. Reimbursable expenses are not considered taxable income and therefore, will not be included on your W-2.


If necessary, employees may request a Cash Advance for out of pocket travel expenses, to be approved by the appropriate authorized signer.  For further information, see the Cash Advance policy.


Expense Reports are used to request reimbursement of employee travel expenses, and are designed to satisfy IRS audit requirements.  Receipts in foreign currency are to be converted to USD and the USD amount reflected on the receipt(s).  See Expense Reports for more details and the form.

The employee should provide an Expense Report to the Business Office within 10 days after incurring expenditures. The Expense Report must identify the business purpose and include original receipts for all expenses when one is available.** Missing/lost receipt tolerance is $50 and must be fully explained.  **For example, mileage, per diem, and tips for non-meal related expenses such as baggage/hotel staff would not require receipts.

The Expense Report must be approved by an authorized signer for the account number being charged, and who is of higher reporting authority than the recipient of the reimbursement. Funds will be issued within 7 to 10 working days after the Expense Report is received in the Business Office, providing everything is in order.


College policy allows for reimbursement of all reasonable per diem meal expenses for 2019 up to $61, exclusive of tips.  Meal costs exceeding this amount must be documented with detailed receipts that show the date, name of the establishment and itemization of purchase (not just the receipt amount), and are subject to department approval.  Missing receipts will not be reimbursed unless fully explained. Meal related tips must be reflected on the receipt to which they are related.  When meals are paid for others, their names and the business purpose must be documented on the Expense Report.  Per Diem amounts will not be reimbursed for those meals provided by a conference or hotel room service.

2020 Maximum daily meal per diem breakdown: $16.00 Breakfast
$17.00 Lunch
$28.00 Dinner


Other miscellaneous business related expenses (such as taxi service or airport parking) are also reimbursable.  Not reimbursable: movie rentals, gym fees and non-business related entertainment expenses. Note: $5 tips for baggage claim/hotel staff, etc. is allowable.


The method of travel chosen must be the most economical option available. The College reserves the right to reduce a reimbursement request if it is determined a more cost effective choice was available.

Airline Travel

Reservations for air travel must be made at the lowest available rate.  First or Business Class seating is not appropriate, unless it is offered as an upgrade at no additional cost. Although the College permits accumulation of "frequent flyer" miles for personal use, reservations are not to be made with a particular airline if less expensive airfare is available from another carrier. Supplemental travel insurance is not a reimbursable expense. Please decline this insurance when scheduling airline travel.

Use of Personal Automobile/Mileage

Mileage expenses for local (see FAQ’s) travel will be reimbursed at the standard business mileage rate as set by the IRS.  (Refer to the back of the Expense Report form or contact the Business Office for the current rate.)  Mileage expenses are allowable as follows:

  • Round trip travel between the employee’s home and College office is considered to be standard commute mileage and is therefore not allowed for reimbursement. (IRS reg. 1.262-1(b) (5)).
  • When traveling on a normal working day, between home and an off campus business location, employees may claim only the mileage above and beyond the standard commute.  (ie if driving a total of 100 miles, and the employee’s standard commute is 20 miles, 80 miles may be claimed for reimbursement).
  • When traveling on a non-work day directly from home to a business location, employees may claim full reimbursement for the miles driven (note: no mileage may be claimed at any time for travel directly to the College).
  • When traveling between the College and an off campus business location, the employee may claim the round trip mileage from the office to the destination. 


  • What if I work on my day off? In the event an employee works at a College Campus on their day off, it is considered commute and is not reimbursable due to the following conditions of employment:  An exempt employee, by classification, must work as necessary to perform/complete duties as required.  Non exempt employees required to work on their regular day off are to be compensated monetarily according to California labor law.   
  • What if it is cheaper to reimburse the cost of gas for a long trip? For lengthy travel where it is more cost effective to reimburse the cost of gas, it is appropriate to do so under the following conditions:  It is agreeable to the individual driving, since the IRS rate allows for wear and tear on the vehicle; and it is reasonably evident the gas is fully used for the trip involved.
  • What if I go to several different off campus business locations during the day, including visits to the College and/or back home?  When multiple locations are visited during the day, the employee should calculate the total miles driven for the day (from beginning to end) and deduct the standard commute.

How to Report

The to and from locations, along with the business purpose of the trip, must be identified on the Expense Report for reimbursement.  For multiple trips use the Mileage Reimbursement Form (xlsx) and attach it to the back of the Expense Report Form.  Employees whose positions require regular or semi-regular travel should submit requests on a monthly basis.

Insurance Claims

In the event  of an insurance claim while using a personal vehicle, the employee's auto insurance would be primary.  (Questions regarding insurance issues should be directed to Administrative Services at extension #4571.)

Rental Vehicles

Rental of an automobile is authorized when necessary while traveling. Rental arrangements should be made at the lowest available rate and well in advance of the travel date. It is not appropriate to seek reimbursement for automobile rental expenses if less costly transportation is available or if the automobile is rented strictly for personal use. SMC's insurance policy covers all employees renting an automobile while on company business. Therefore, when renting a vehicle for College business travel, supplemental insurance coverage should be declined. It is not a reimbursable expense and, therefore, WILL NOT be reimbursed.

Motor Vehicle Record (MVR)

In order to be covered under the college's insurance policy, all SMC employees, students and volunteers must have an approved MVR on file. This includes operating a personal vehicle, college vehicles and rental cars while conducting company business. This also includes employees who may only occationally drive on college business. 

For example:

  • Employees who run college or job-related errands, such as post office or store runs, picking up customers at the airport, bank deposit runs etc...
  • Individuals attending seminars and conferences
  • Individuals who rent cars on business trips




Employees are responsible for obtaining their own hotel accommodations at the lowest rate possible. Corporate rates should always be requested. Accommodations may be made in advance with a purchase order to the vendor if they will invoice the College. If not, a check made payable to the vendor can be issued for the estimated cost of the stay. A Check Request with the hotel confirmation and costs attached may be submitted to the Business Office and either mailed in advance to the hotel or picked up and given directly to the hotel upon check in. Another option is to submit a requisition to use the College Procurement Card to secure hotel confirmation and make payment for the stay. Most hotels require provision of a credit card upon check-in to cover incidentals. Employees who have their own P Card may use that to reserve and/or pay for lodging.



All faculty and staff traveling abroad as part of a College-Sponsored or Supported International Travel program are required to register with the Travel Risk Assessment Committee (TRAC) prior to departing. Required travel information may include, but is not limited to, travel dates and locations, flight information, local contact information, and accommodations. Failure to submit the required information may result in delays or forfeiture of reimbursement from the college. Additionally, a failure to register may prevent the traveler from accessing college international health and insurance benefits and may result in a delay in the ability for the college to provide logistical support in the event of an emergency.