WSU Travel Policy

Can you summarize the per diem policy as it applies to travel meals and incidentals?

Per Diem rates are used for employee travel meals and incidentals for domestic travel (defined as destinations outside the contiguous U.S. including Hawaii, Alaska, and U.S. Territories & Possessions) and foreign travel.

Travelers are limited to federal per diem amounts categorized as the Meals and Incidental Expenses Rate (M & IE Rate). Domestic per diem rates currently range between $55 and $76 for domestic cities. Rates for foreign per diem vary among countries and specific regions. Per Diem rates are available on the General Services Administration (GSA) web site at

While not recommended, it is permissible for departments and units facing fiscal constraints to pay per diems that are less than the published domestic and foreign per diem rates, using the Per Diem for Meals and Incidental Expenses guidelines.

Per diems are allocated as a reimbursement at the conclusion of the travel, following submission of the expense report, approval by the unit, and successful audit.

When must I file my travel expense report?

The Travel Expense report must be filed in a reasonable amount of time upon return form your trip.  The IRS requirement for an "accountable plan" states that employees must "adequately account for your expenses within 60 days after they were paid or incurred".  Therefore, 60 days is the latest one should file.  However, there are other factors that need to be considered.  Receiving reimbursement or having the University Travel Card paid directly requires the Travel Expense report to be filed and approved.  In addition, late submissions reduce the quality of the university's financial records.

Can travelers be reimbursed for travel expenses before a trip takes place?

The University's Travel Policy does allow for reimbursement for expenses in advance of the trip (e.g., for airfare, conference registration/fees, etc.).  The traveler can file a preliminary Travel Expense Report to capture these costs and generate reimbursement to the traveler or payment to the University Travel Card Company.

How do I calculate mileage if I use my personal vehicle to travel to and from the airport before and after a trip?

Reimbursement for mileage to and from the airport is generally calculated based on the traveler's work/office location. For example, if you reside in Macomb and you work in Detroit, you would calculate your mileage to and from DTW airport based on your home location and subtract off your daily commuting miles.

Can I stay at the hotel hosting a conference even if less expensive hotels are available elsewhere?

The policy provides that the traveler should select the lowest lodging rate option while keeping proximity to the business location and safety in mind. The policy does not preclude travelers from staying at a hotel hosting a conference. Travelers planning to stay at a conference hotel should, however, ask if other discounts (e.g., government rate) are available that may result in a lower rate than the conference rate. If there are no other applicable discounts, the conference rate for single room occupancy is an allowable expense.

If I travel to a city away from my university office for half a day, will I be reimbursed for mileage and per diem?

You will be reimbursed for mileage, but you would not be eligible for the per diem because the trip is less than 12 hours in a single day.

Is taxi transportation to/from the airport or to/from business meetings while on travel status part of the per diem?

No. Ground transportation to and from the airport (e.g., taxi, shuttle), and ground transportation to and from business meetings while on travel status are not part of the per diem. These are reimbursable travel expenses.

Can I still use my current travel agency?

Use of the designated travel agency is not mandated, but the university strongly recommends that units utilize Conlin Travel when arranging travel to take advantage of discounts.

Per diems

What does per diem mean?

The definition of per diem is "by the day" or "for each day." The University is using the per diem allowance set by the U.S. government to cover meals and incidentals (not lodging) while on business travel status. Per Diem amounts are published by the General Services Administration (GSA) and are specific to major cities. Receipts are not required when claiming per diem.

Why has the university implemented a travel meal per diem?

The use of per diem for travel meals and incidentals complies with federal policies, and is an approach that most of our public peers have already put into place. Per Diem also reduces the administrative burden for faculty and staff by eliminating the need to collect and submit receipts.

Does the per diem policy apply to foreign travel?

Yes. WSU's new Travel Policy, effective for travel beginning on and after April 1, 2012, provides for the use of per diem rates for all meals and incidentals for both domestic and foreign travel.

Can units pay less than the per diem if their budgets are limited?

While not generally recommended, it is permissible for departments and units facing fiscal constraints to pay per diems that are less than the published United States General Services Administration (GSA) per diem rates. Departments and units are not permitted to reimburse at rates higher than federal per diems for meals on travel status.

Where do I find per diem rates for my destination?

To view per diem rates, visit the GSA per diem website at: and select Per Diem Rates from the main menu. Use the M&IE rate listed by location.

What if I can't locate the city I'm traveling to among the list of cities on the government's website?

Domestic cities not appearing in the GSA per diem table may be located within a county for which rates are listed. To determine what county a city is located in, visit the National Association of Counties (NACO) website (a non-federal website). Note: If neither the city nor the county is listed, the location is a standard GSA destination with a rate of $55.00 for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE).

If a foreign city does not appear in the per diem table for a specific country, use the M&IE rate listed for other. Note: Some foreign locations may not list per diem rates with the M&IE heading, In this case, per diem is equal to the rate listed for Local Meals + Local Incidentals.

What per diem am I allowed during my travel day? For example, if my flight leaves at 11:30 p.m., how much would I claim?

Per diems are granted for business trips that require an overnight stay.  Per Diem allowances for the first and last dates of travel are limited to 75% of the daily total regardless of the time of day. When a trip involves stays in more than one city, the per diem rate for the destination city of that day should be used. If a conference or meeting provides a meal, the traveler should adjust their per diem downward accordingly.  If the traveler choses to eat elsewhere, justification should be provided and attached to their expense report in order to receive the per diem amount.  For additional information, please refer to APPM section 7.2.4 and work directly with your Business Manager.