Travel Overview

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Start here if you are new – Introductory information to help you understand CSU travel regulations and responsibilities relating to Travel Services

About Stanislaus State Travel Policy

The Stanislaus State President delegates authority for the oversight of University Travel Policy to the University Chief Financial Officer (Vice President of Business & Finance).  The University pays or reimburses for Official University Business Travel related expenses that are ordinary, reasonable, not extravagant, and necessary to conduct official University business.  All expense reimbursements and business travel arrangements must comply with University policies and procedures, prudent accounting practices, and applicable collective bargaining agreements.

It is expected that University employees will act in an ethical and responsible manner, regardless of whether a particular rule or policy statement addresses a specific situation.  Travelers may be held accountable for their conduct under any applicable University or campus policies, procedures, collective bargaining agreements, and/or applicable provisions of the California Education Code.  Where the provisions of this policy are in conflict with the collective bargaining agreements pursuant to HEERA, the collective bargaining agreements shall take precedence.

The University assumes no financial responsibility for expenditures incurred by individuals who fail to adhere to policy.  Travel expenses not directly related to official University business are not reimbursable.  Altering of business-related travel for personal convenience is permitted as long as there is no additional cost to the State or loss of productivity.

About Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of each individual who spends funds related to official University business travel, and for each administrator and approving authority who approves use of funds related to official business travel, to be aware of and follow the policy and related procedures in effect at the time of travel.  Authorization to travel must be obtained from appropriate administrators within the employee's organization as determined by the organization's identified delegation of authority.

About Traveler Responsibility

  • Individuals traveling on official University business must familiarize themselves with and adhere to the Stanislaus State Travel Policy and Travel Procedures and Regulations. 
  • Travelers must ensure they have documented authorization to travel prior to embarking on the trip and/or prior to making non-cancellable travel arrangements
  • Individuals traveling for official University Business who have not submitted the Concur Travel Request may not be covered by University Insurance Policies.
  • Travelers should make certain that the business related expenses they incur are ordinary, reasonable, not extravagant, and necessary for the purpose of the trip.
  • Traveler will utilize CSU preferred vendors and CSU negotiated terms and conditions whenever possible.  Use of additional waivers and discounts available to governmental employees is strongly encouraged.
  • Traveler will take all steps to minimize risk to themselves and the University.  This includes utilizing safe transportation and lodging options and acquiring appropriate insurance coverage.
  • The person due the reimbursement for travel costs incurred is responsible for:
    • Submitting travel expense reports within 60 days from the return of the trip.
    • Providing the business purpose and inclusive dates of each trip.
    • Providing the start and end times of the trip and any personal travel that is included.
    • Certifying he/she:
      • Received authorization to travel.
      • Traveled on official business.
      • Actually spent the amount for listed expenses. 
      • Has verified that the amount due is accurate.
      • Has not and will not seek reimbursement for (1) a duplicate claim or (2) from any other source.
    • Returning to the University within 30 days, any reimbursement or payment issued by the University which subsequently results in a refund to the individual.


About Stanislaus State Delegated Authority for Financial Transactions

Signature Policy

Executive Order (EO) 1000 from the Chancellor delegates to the campus President authority and responsibility for effective oversight of all state funds held by the campus and all funds held in a fiduciary capacity.  The campus Chief Financial Officer (Business & Finance Vice President) has the responsibility for the administration of these delegations of authority and responsibility.  To comply with EO 1000, the President executed a Stanislaus State Signature Policy for Financial Transactions.

Number of Signatures Required by Financial Services

  • Transactions under $10,000 can be approved by the appropriate College Dean, Assoc./Assist. Vice President, or Vice President (exceptions for Grants and Trusts).
  • Transactions $10,000 or greater must be approved by the appropriate Vice President .
  • Trust Fund transactions under $10,000 can be approved by the authorized Trustee.  Trust Fund transactions over $10,000 must be approved by the appropriate Vice President.
  • Grant Fund transactions of any amount can be approved by the Principal Investigator (PI).  No additional approval is required since the fund disbursements are defined in the Grant contract.


About Approving Authority Responsibility

The approving authority ensures all expenses are reasonable in terms of price, purpose, and necessity, and is responsible for:

  • Ensuring expenses charged to his/her accounts are supported by sufficient funds and ensuring appropriateness of use of funds.
  • Ensuring expenses requested are ordinary, reasonable, not extravagant, necessary, and supported by a business purpose or justification, as appropriate.
  • Validating, to the extent possible, that the expenses listed were actually incurred by the employee and that appropriate supporting documentation is attached.
  • Reviewing and approving the business purpose and ensuring the request is in compliance with any applicable sponsored project/grant requirements.
  • Approving/denying payment of the travel expense report in a timely manner.
  • Denying expenses not directly related to official University business.

About Travel Delegate Responsibility

Each University Department assigns at least one person (can be more than one) to be the travel delegate for the department, and each Grant Principal Investigator (PI) assigns a delegate for their grant travel documents.  The travel delegate is responsible for:

  • Reading, understanding, and conforming to the Stanislaus State Travel Policy and Travel Procedures.
  • Preparing Travel Requests in Concur prior to the date of travel for individuals in their department.
  • Preparing and submitting complete and accurate Concur Travel Expense Reports within 60 days after the date of travel.
  • Be the departmental liaison with the Travel Office regarding all travel matters.

About Travel Office Responsibility

  • Periodic review of Defensive Driving and Form 261 status on employee travel.
  • Paying registration fees in advance if a part of the proposed travel.
  • Audit and pay all expense reports within 10 business days of receiving them.  
  • Provide campus training sessions for new employees and/or refresher courses for staff and faculty.
  • Ensure that all pending travel for current fiscal year is encumbered before year-end.
  • Ensure that all pending travel for grants that expire within the fiscal year is encumbered before grant expiration date.


About Defensive Driving Clearance

University personnel who will be driving an automobile (personal or rental) must have current certification that the Defensive Driver course has been completed.  Defensive Driver certification is received after completing an online course.  The course covers advanced defensive driving techniques to reduce risk associated with driving a motor vehicle.  Register for the Defensive Driver course.

Once the course is completed an online certificate of completion is available for printing. Please keep a copy of the certificate for your records. The certificate is valid for four years.

The Defensive Driver log of valid certifications is maintained by Safety and Risk Management.

About Using Private Automobile (Form 261) for University Business

If a person plans to use a privately owned vehicle when traveling on University business, the person must have official authorization to do so.  The Authorization to Use Privately Owned Vehicles (Form 261) is required to be kept on file within the department and be updated every year.  Authorization forms will be valid for a period not to exceed one year. An employee’s personal automobile insurance policy is primary coverage for liability and damages in the event of an accident while on University or State business when driving his/her personal vehicle (Insurance Code 11580.9).

View the Use of University & Private Vehicles Guidelines

About Rental Cars for University Business

In some cases renting a car for transportation to a destination may be necessary and/or more cost effective than using a personal vehicle.  Also, renting a vehicle at a destination location may be more cost effective than public transportation, shuttles, or taxis.  The CSU has a contract with Enterprise to provide car rentals at a discount rate.  A compact, economy or intermediate class vehicle should be requested unless these sizes are not adequate for the purpose of the trip.  The car should be returned with a full tank of gasoline to minimize costs.

About Rental Cars for Personal Use

The CSU contract with Enterprise allows for discounted rates for University employees private use.

About Arranging Travel

Travel for University business must be authorized by the appropriate delegated authority prior to the date of travel.  Authorization must be submitted in the appropriate format to the Travel Office.  Travelers will not be reimbursed if the correct procedure is not followed.

Once the Travel Request has been approved, arranging the details (e.g., airline tickets, hotel reservations, etc.) is handled by the departmental Travel Delegate and/or the traveler.

About Allowable Expenses


Personal car (Form 261 required), rental car, air, rail, bus, passenger ship, and local public transport or taxis.  Two modes of transportation (motorcycles and bicycles) are not authorized for official University business and costs incurred in the operation of these modes will not be reimbursed.

Subsistence Expenses (lodging, meals, and incidental expenses)

Incidental expenses are usually small expenses like tips and fees for baggage carriers, housekeeping, etc.  The timeline for reimbursement of these expenses begins when the traveler leaves his/her residence or normal work location (whichever occurs last) and ends when the traveler arrives back to residence or work location (whichever occurs first).


Travelers may be reimbursed for lodging expenses when traveling on business 25 miles or more (one way) from their work location or home, whichever is closer.  For the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and United States Possessions, short-term lodging will be reimbursed for actual costs, documented with an itemized receipt.  As with all other expenses, lodging costs are expected to be reasonable and not extravagant.

Because international travel can be more expensive and currency exchange volatile, travelers will be reimbursed in accordance with the published federal per diem rate for the location where the expense is incurred.  Due to varied receipting practices in other countries, currency conversions, and language translation issues, receipts will not be required for reimbursement.  The signature of the traveler and the signature of the approver will serve as verification that the lodging expense was incurred.  The federal per diem rates are published by the Department of Defense and are readily accessible from any internet connection at www.defensetravel.dod. The Internal Revenue Service recognizes these rates for purposes of allowable business expense levels so that reimbursements are not considered taxable.


Meals are normally reimbursed when travel includes an overnight stay and the reimbursement is not reportable as income to the IRS.  Travelers are expected to expend funds in a prudent manner with total meal expenses for the day capped at a daily allowance amount.  Meals for groups can be paid by one individual.  Attendees at such a group event cannot separately claim such meals.  The following table responds to some frequently asked questions regarding meal reimbursements.





With an overnight stay




Less than 12 hours

Reimbursable if travel begins 2 hours before regular work hours. 

Amount is reportable as income.

Not reimbursable unless there is a specific business purpose.

Reimbursable if travel ends 2 hours after regular work hours.

Amount is reportable as income.

Other Reimbursable Travel Expenses

Beyond meals, lodging, and incidentals there are other reimbursable travel expenses that may be incurred.  These expenses could include:

  • registration fees for conferences, conventions, meetings of professional or learned societies;
  • tips and taxes that are reasonable and customary and have not been included in items already covered; 
  • business expenses such as photocopying, mailing, equipment rental, local and long distance phone calls; and
  • expenses that would not ordinarily be reimbursed but arise because of special or unusual circumstances and are approved with documentation as an exception.

Non-Reimbursable Expenses

Within the CSU Travel Procedures and Regulations document is a section devoted to expenses that cannot be reimbursed and are not covered elsewhere.  Some examples of non-allowable reimbursements include personal domestic ATM/credit card fees, fines/citations, clothing, commuting expenses, personal entertainment, and dependent/pet care.

Reimbursable Situations for Non-University Travelers

Situations occur where travel expenses for non-University travelers should be reimbursed.  Travel expenses for the following travelers will be covered given a bona fide business purpose and if all applicable regulations are followed:

  • prospective employees coming to a campus for interviews or other meetings;
  • independent contractors and consultants working temporarily for the University;
  • foreign visiting scholars;
  • spouse/registered domestic partner; and
  • witnesses to litigation matters.

Review of the CSU Travel Procedures and Regulations prior to making arrangements is strongly recommended.

About Travel Requests

All university travel must be approved through an authorization by the appropriate authorities.  This process requires completing the Concur Travel Request.  The Travel Request identifies what travel costs can be paid or reimbursed to the traveler using University funds.  The authorized Travel Request must be submitted in Concur prior to the travel occurringIndividuals traveling for University business that have not submitted a Concur Request may not be covered by  University Insurance Policies and may be traveling at their own risk. 

About Blanket Travel Requests

Some departments have personnel that will travel during the year to the same place, or in the same area, several times.  To eliminate the need to prepare a Travel Request for each date of travel, the Travel Delegate or Traveler can prepare a "Blanket Travel Request."  The request will indicate an amount that is expected to be expensed for this travel during the fiscal year.  As Travel Expense Reports are submitted, the amount of the "blanket" will be reduced.  Once the full amount is spent, a new travel request must be submitted.  Please refer to the Concur Traveler and Delegate Handbook for specific instructions.

About Blanket Travel Request for Driving Within the Six-County Service Area

Stanislaus State, located in Stanislaus County, serve students primarily from a six-county service area: San Joaquin (location of Stanislaus State Stockton Center), Stanislaus, Merced, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa.  Several departments prepare blanket travel requests at the beginning of each fiscal year for specific personnel who will be traveling within this service area throughout the year.  The Blanket Travel Request will state "six county area" as the destination.

About International Travel

Employees planning to travel to foreign destinations must request approval from the University President prior to making any travel arrangements and should contact the Risk Management Office for guidance.  Travel to countries on the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs Current Travel Warning List or those deemed high hazard risk requires approval from the Chancellor's Office.  Refer to the information provided by System wide Risk Management under International Travel Resources.

International Trip Less Than 30 Days

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 by the U.S. Department of Defense (see Appendix C).  Receipts will not be required for reimbursement.

If actual expenses are claimed due to special or unusual circumstances, the traveler must document such circumstances by submitting a written explanation with the Travel Expense Report.  The amount reimbursed, however, may not exceed 300% of the applicable federal rate established for the location of travel.  The reimbursement of actual expenses must be supported by receipts, as specified in Section IX.B.2. Documentation Requirements

International Travel with Personal Use

International travel frequently consists of both business and personal components.  According to the IRS, there is a taxable event if BOTH of the following conditions are met:
a. The total period of the trip is longer than one week, and
b. At least 25% of the trip is personal

In the event that both conditions are met, a portion of the common business expenses that are incurred by the traveler, including airfare, is taxable to the traveler.  This requirement applies only to travel outside the 50 United States and the District of Columbia.  When a travel day consists of both business and personal time, the day will be classified as a business day in order to determine the percentage of personal time associated with the trip.

Travel associated with sabbaticals will be treated as official University business.

For details on other International Travel durations and reimbursement go to the CSU Travel Guidelines.

About Insurance Coverage and Requirements

California State University travelers are expected to minimize risk to themselves and to the University while traveling.  Travelers should maintain the appropriate insurance coverage while traveling.  Employees are routinely covered 24 hours a day, worldwide, against accidental death or dismemberment while on official University business.  Note that international travel to areas on the United States Department of State's Travel Warning list requires prior written approval from the Chancellor or appropriate designee and special insurance.

Employees who regularly use a private vehicle on University business must maintain adequate insurance coverage.  The levels are defined in the CSU Travel Procedures and Regulations. Rental vehicles should be obtained from agencies with which the University has contracts because insurance coverage is provided.

Additional Insurance

The Travel Procedures and Regulations contains additional insurance information regarding

  • privately owned aircraft and boats,
  • loss of personal property and baggage, and
  • emergencies occurring while in travel status

About Hotel/Motel Transient Occupancy Tax Waiver (STD. 236)

When traveling on University business the lodging tax will be waived if Form STD.236 is completed and given to the hotel/motel.  This reduces the expense to the University.  On Form STD 236 you certify that you are traveling as a representative or employee of the State agency and that the charges for the occupancy will be paid for by the State of California.

About Travel Expense Reports

Formerly known as claims

The Travel Expense Report must be completed and submitted in Concur within 60 days after the authorized travel has been completed.  Reimbursement of authorized personal expenditures by the traveler is substantiated by the Travel Expense Report.  If the traveler used a Corporate Travel PCard (US Bank) the Expense Report will also be used by the traveler as supporting documentation attached to the Travel PCard monthly statement.

The Travel Request that was submitted prior to the travel event must be attached to the Travel Expense Report (actual expenditures).  The traveler will only be reimbursed for those items paid personally.  Itemized receipts are required for all transactions over $75.  

Responsibility of the Traveler

  • Complete and submit a Concur Expense Report within 60 days of the end of a trip. 
  • Provide the start and end times of the trip and any personal travel that is included.
  • List each expenditure by date and location. 
  • If meals and incidentals exceed the daily allowance, reduce the amount accordingly.
  • Provide accounting information (fund, account, department code) to allow for accurate posting to the accounting records.
  • Attach all receipts for any expense over $75 or a written explanation of why the receipt is not available.
  • Attach Concur Travel Request electronically.

Responsibility of the Authorized Approver

  • Confirm that the Concur Travel Request is attached.
  • Verify that the dates and purpose of travel noted are accurate.
  • Confirm that all expenses claimed are reasonable and appropriate, include the correct rates for reimbursement, and are supported by itemized receipts for all transactions over $75.
  • Ensure the accuracy of the account coding.
  • Approve the Concur Request and/or Expense Report to verify that all of the above information is approved and is eligible for reimbursement.

Responsibility of the Travel Office

The Travel Office relies heavily on the verification of the authorized approver as to the appropriateness of the travel expense and the accompanying documentation.  Unless the Expense Repoert is incomplete and must be returned, this is the final step before a reimbursement payment is made.

  • Review the submitted Expense Repeort to ensure proper authorization according to the current delegation of authority records.
  • Check to make sure all required receipts or explanatory letters for missing receipts are included.
  • Verify and deduct any outstanding advances or pre-payments.
  • Process reimbursement and apply charges to accounting records.
  • Retain the Expense Report for audit review according to the records retention schedule.

About Corporate Travel Credit Card (Travel PCard)

Travel PCards are issued to employees who frequently travel on university business.  The Travel PCard program offers a timely and reliable way to pay for travel.  It eliminates the need to pay for travel personally and then seek reimbursement.  US Bank is the issuer of the CSU Travel PCard.

The Travel PCard charges automatically go against the departmental chart string that was established at the time of card setup.  If the traveler wants to allocate the charge to a different chart string that option is available through U.S. Bank Access Online web site.

The Travel PCard is not intended to avoid or bypass appropriate Travel Policy and Travel Procedure. Failing to abide by the Travel Policy and by the guidelines set forth in this Travel PCard Handbook violates California State University, Stanislaus Contracting and Purchasing Policy.

About Travel PCard Policy

A Travel PCard offers the same conveniences as a personal credit card.  However, keep in mind that the charges automatically go against a University account.  If unapproved charges are made with the Travel PCard, the Cardholder will be required to reimburse the University.

Travel PCard Policy

  • All Cardholders must sign and accept the terms and conditions of the Stanislaus State Travel PCard Cardholder Agreement.
  • All purchase transactions processed against a Travel PCard must be made by the individual to whom the card is issued.
  • The Travel PCard can ONLY BE USED to pay for PRE-APPROVED travel.
  • Travel must be for the benefit of the University.
  • Use of the Travel PCard will be governed by the most current version of the Stanislaus State PCard Cardholder Policy & Travel PCard Procedure Handbook, and the Travel PCard Cardholder Agreement.
  • The Travel PCard cannot be used for purchase transactions exceeding the designated transaction dollar limit.
  • A Travel PCard Statement of Transactions, signed by the Cardholder's Approving Official (see Cardholder Agreement), must be filed with Stanislaus State Financial Services in a timely manner (first business day of each month).
  • A monthly audit and review of Cardholder purchases will be conducted by Financial Services. Appropriate action will be taken for any misuse of the credit card (see Audit Procedures).
  • Use of the Travel PCard is subject to review by the University, California State University, or the State of California auditors at any time

Acceptable Travel PCard Uses

The Travel PCard can be used for all expenses incurred in travel situations.  However, an approved Concur Travel Request must be completed prior to the date of the travel event.

Unacceptable Travel PCard Uses

The following types of purchases are unacceptable:

  • Non-travel related purchases and expenses
  • Travel expenses that are extravagant and/or not ordinary or reasonable
  • Alcoholic beverages (request a separate bill to be paid personally)  
  • Meals exceeding the $55 per day allowance
  • Incidentals exceeding the $7 per day allowance
  • Cash advances/Travelers Checks
  • Personal travel (University authorized travel only)
  • Travel involving unusual risk (e.g. private planes)
  • International travel to areas on the State Department’s Travel Warning list

About On-Campus Interview Expense Reimbursement

Funds for personnel recruitment are very limited.  Adherence to the expense reimbursement procedure is required in order to maximize the use of funds allocated for this purpose.  Recruitment funds are not allocated for the recruitment of temporary faculty positions.

Candidates are not to be brought to campus or promised that travel expenses will be reimbursed until an On-Campus Interview (OI) number has been assigned by Accounts Payable in Financial Services.

About Student Travel

Pertains only to students not employed as a Student Assistant.  Student Assistants participating in student travel must submit a separate Concur Travel Request so as to be covered by employee insurance.

Student Field Trip (Course Related)

  • One or more student traveling for a course-related field trip.
  • Per Executive Order 1062, Field Trip Policy & Procedures, a field trip is a university course-related off-campus activity led by a faculty or staff member and designed to serve educational purposes.  A field trip would include the gathering of data for research (such as at a geological or archaeological site), museum visit, participation in a conference or competition, or visits to an event or place of interest.  The duration of a field trip may be a class period or longer, and could extend over multiple days (see matrix for procedure).
  • Faculty Coordinator must consult University Risk Management if the academic field trip involves overnight stay, hazardous or strenuous activity, or potentially dangerous locations.  A customized field trip liability release form may be required.

Student Travel (Other, Non-Course Related)

  • One or more students traveling as part of a trip for University-related business or professional development opportunities sponsored by the University, but not as a course requirement or Faculty-led Field Trip (i.e.; attendance at a conference, seminar, exhibit, or competition).
  • Student organizations are registered with the Student Leadership and Development (SLD) Office, and are required to sign a Release of Liability which places the members at their own risk for off campus activities/trips. 

Student Recreation Center Activity

  • One or more student traveling as part of an activity organized by the Student Recreation Center.
  • Student Recreation Center must consult University Risk Management if the trip involves overnight stay, hazardous or strenuous activity, or potentially dangerous locations.  A customized trip liability release form may be required

Student International Travel – University Related

One or more student traveling as part of a trip for University-related business or professional development opportunities sponsored by the University, but not as a course requirement or Faculty-led Field Trip (i.e.; attendance at a conference, seminar, exhibit, or competition)

Student International Travel – Faculty-Led Study Abroad

Course and Program Requirements

Both state support and self-support Study Abroad courses and programs at Stanislaus State are under the direction of the Office of International Education in Academic Affairs.  Course and Program approvals are made through the Office of the Provost, in consultation with the University Risk Management Officer and the Office of International Education (OIE), followed by review by the Chancellor's Office and signature by the President.

For Complete Detailed Information see Study Abroad Course and Program Planning and Approval Process.

Guidelines for Program Planning

The following guidelines are to be observed when planning Study Abroad courses or programs and are sourced from the WASC "Principles of Good Practice in Overseas International Education Programs for non-US Nationals," Good Practice International.pdf