Skip to content Skip to navigation

Traveling for Stanford

Stanford has suspended all university-sponsored travel, both domestic and international, until further notice. For recent guidance, visit the FMS Updates Related to COVID-19 website.

Effective June 15, 2020, university funds may only be used to purchase or reimburse new university-sponsored travel expenses when booked through one of the Stanford Travel booking channels: Casto, Egencia, and United Corporate Direct. This policy applies to Stanford faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students booking airfare, hotel, or rental cars for university-sponsored travel.

Traveling for Stanford

  • Exceptions to the university-sponsored travel suspension must be requested well in advance of travel. Please review the COVID-19 Guidance for Stanford Travelers section of the Health Alerts website for up-to-date information about the restrictions and how to seek an exception.
  • Individuals who have traveled outside of Northern California are restricted from returning to Stanford campuses for 14-days – unless they receive testing at, or after, day 5 post-return and receive a negative result.
  • Effective June 15, 2020, university funds may only be used to purchase or reimburse new university-sponsored travel expenses when booked through one of the Stanford Travel booking channels: Casto, Egencia, and United Corporate Direct. This policy applies to Stanford faculty, staff and students booking airfare, hotel, and/or car rentals. Visitors and guests are not required to use Stanford Travel.
  • All travel must be booked in the faculty member’s name. With rare exceptions, Stanford Financial Management Services will not permit the reimbursement of expenses booked under a name other than the Stanford-affiliate.
  • A Stanford-issued Travel Card may be used to purchase airfare, lodging, and ground transportation expenses.
  • Other expenses should be made on a personal credit card and submitted for reimbursement at the conclusion of travel.
  • Round trip Bay Area Airport Transportation expenses are now capped to not exceed $200. This includes taxi, shuttle, mileage for personal car and parking fees.

Stanford Travel: Booking Travel Expenses

Effective June 15, 2020, university funds may only be used to purchase or reimburse new university-sponsored travel expenses when booked through one of the Stanford Travel booking channels. Special Stanford-negotiated rates for air travel, car rental, and lodging can all be booked through Stanford Travel. Per Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2, use of Stanford Travel is expected, as it supports the guiding principle to spend appropriately, eliminates the administrative requirement to provide documentation demonstrating the expense is reasonable, and connects travel reservations to International SOS. Additional benefits include: ad hoc waivers and favors such as preferred seats, priority boarding, name changes, change-fee waivers, and unused ticket extensions.

Stanford Travel offers an array of travel services to meet the University’s specialized needs, including:

  • Egencia, a full-service travel agency with an online booking tool and travel arranger functionality.
  • Casto, an on-site travel agent, helpful for complex international travel or trips with multiple travelers. Local passport and visa services available.
  • UNITED Corporate Direct, a United airlines Traveler’s Mileage Plus profile linked to Stanford negotiated rates. Stanford Travel discounts available on united.com or United app (a one-time advance registration is required).
  • Uber for Business, for ground transportation needs.
  • AirBnB for Work, for business-ready accommodations for Stanford-related trips.
  • Lyft Business, for ground transportation needs.

Exclusions from the Stanford Travel Booking policy include:

  • Conference hotels, which may be booked directly with the hotel at the conference rate per the Lodging Policy.
  • Airline ticket reissues or exchanges.
  • Travel purchases booked outside of the U.S. for employees of Stanford’s affiliated global subsidiaries and branches. Non-employees affiliated with activities managed through these subsidiaries and branches, for example, coaches or volunteers are also excluded.
  • Group travel bookings for 10 or more travelers going to the same destination.
  • International travel for foreign airlines, hotels, or car rental companies not available in the United States, if no other option is available in Stanford Travel.

Lodging

Effective June 15, 2020, university funds may only be used to purchase or reimburse new university-sponsored travel expenses when booked through one of the Stanford Travel booking channels.

Stanford affiliated business travelers can pay for lodging using one of the following methods:

  • Travel Card: Purchase lodging using a Stanford-issued Travel Card, and submit the actual hotel costs for verification/clearing. Itemized lodging bill indicating the cost of the room and payment information is required.
  • Folio Reimbursement: Purchase lodging using a personal credit card and seek reimbursement for the actual hotel costs. Itemized lodging bill indicating the cost of the room and payment information is required.
  • Per Diem Reimbursement: Purchase lodging using a personal credit card and seek the lodging per diem rate only. Per diem rates are set by the U.S. Government for both Domestic and International travel. No receipt is required.

The department recommends seeking lodging per diem in most instances, as it is the most flexible option.

The Travel Card and Folio Reimbursement options require the traveler to book the lowest standard room rate available and are subject to maximum nightly room rates (excluding taxes/fees) not to exceed 200 USD per night for most Domestic and International locations. Exceptions include:

  • New York City, Geneva, & London - not to exceed 350 USD per night.
  • Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Hong Kong, Paris, Shenzhen, Tokyo - not to exceed 300 USD per night
  • Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Accra, Bangalore, Beijing, Nairobi, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Toronto, Vancouver - not to exceed 250 USD per night

Stanford Travel will flag for non-negotiated hotel rates above location guidelines to alert the traveler.


Travel Meals

A Travel Meal is defined as an individual meal incurred while traveling for University business.

  • The purpose of these reimbursements are to defray the cost of eating while traveling on business.
  • Travel Meals are reimbursed only by electing Meal Per Diem. Per diem rates vary by location are set by the U.S. Government.
  • No additional justification is needed for travel meals as long as it occurs within the travel period.

Conference Travel

Conference expenses will not be approved unless the request is accompanied by a detailed conference program schedule or handout. If the program is only available in a language other than English, a letter on invitation from the sponsoring program must also be included in the documentation.

Conference hotels may be booked directly with the hotel at the conference rate. When multiple conference hotel options are available, choose the mid-point option.

HSDO Conference Travel Funds

The HSDO Conference Travel Fund program has been suspended in FY2020-21 and will be reinstated in future years as school finances and the COVID situation allows.

Each regular faculty is eligible for funding from the H&S Dean's Office of up to $650 once per fiscal year to offset conference travel expenses. These funds are not deposited into a faculty’s research account, but need to be requested via the department webform. Please include "HSDO Conference Travel" in the Funding Source question of the webform to elect to use the funds. You must include information about the conference and how it ties to your research in the business purpose of the webform. HSDO Conference Travel expenses may only be reimbursed within the same fiscal year that travel occurs.


Ground Transportation

Transportation Passes & Taxi/Lyft/Uber
Passenger copies of public transportation tickets, taxi fare, or Uber/Lyft receipts may be submitted for reimbursement. Documentation must contain date of transaction, fare, and payment information.

 

Car Rentals

Effective June 15, 2020, university funds may only be used to purchase or reimburse new university-sponsored travel expenses when booked through one of the Stanford Travel booking channels.
The University will pay the traveler for the cost of renting a compact or standard size car and for the automobile-related expenses, if use of the rental vehicle is the most economical mode of transportation. Before renting a car, the traveler should consider shuttle services and taxis, particularly for transportation between airport and lodging. If the traveler rents a car, the traveler must provide the department with the original car rental agreements or invoices showing proof of payment for reimbursement. Whenever possible, please include “Stanford University” in addition to your own name on rental car agreements.

Additional Insurance

  • Continental U.S.: The University's insurance policy provides coverage within the continental United States. Travelers will not be reimbursed for extra insurance from a car rental agency.
  • Hawaii or international travel: If you travel to Hawaii or a foreign country, where Stanford insurance does not have coverage, you may be reimbursed for the renter insurance costs.

Mileage for Private Automobile

If a traveler has obtained an exception through the appropriate channels to travel, they may drive instead of flying without being required to submit an airfare comparison if the round trip is under 300 miles. The University will pay a standard rate per mile (defined by the IRS) for official travel by private automobile based on the actual driving distance by the most direct route. The standard mileage allowance (rate per mile multiplied by miles traveled) is intended to cover vehicle expenses such as fuel and lubrication, towing charges, physical damage to the vehicle, repairs, replacements, tires, depreciation, insurance, etc. The use of personally owned vehicles is generally most appropriate for round trips of 300 miles or less. Commercial air travel is generally the most economical and practical means for more distant trips.

To claim mileage, you must include the date, origin address, and destination address for each portion of the trip for which you are requesting reimbursement.

Other Vehicle Expenses

In addition to the standard mileage allowance, necessary and reasonable charges for the following vehicle-related expenses are allowed: 

  • Tolls
  • Ferries
  • Parking
  • Bridges
  • Tunnels
  • Liability and physical damage insurance coverage for driving in foreign countries

Traffic ticket and parking ticket expenses will NOT be reimbursed.


Travel Card Policies

Stanford Travel Card cardholders may only use the Travel Card for University travel-related business transactions. Cardholders are responsible for ensuring that all charges comply with policy, have proper documentation, are properly itemized, and are supported by a business purpose. Additional considerations:
  • The Travel Card may not be used for any personal expenses.
  • Stanford travel cards may only be used for expenses that directly benefit the faculty member or another Stanford affiliate.  If the booking includes expenses for a non-affiliate such as a family member or a non-Stanford colleague, a personal card must be used and the amount of the faculty member’s expense should be submitted for reimbursement.
  • Travel cards may only be used for travel-related expenses such as airfare, lodging, and ground transportation. The individual must purchase all meals and incidentals on a personal card. Please provide the hotel with a personal card for any meal/incidental charges.
  • Stanford travel cards must not be used when the business travel will be reimbursed by another organization. This is a Stanford University policy.

For questions or information on how to apply for a Travel Card please contact the Assistant Manager.


Travel Advances

With sufficient notice (at least one month), the department can provide travel advances to cover the cost of pre-booked flights or hotels purchased with a personal card.


Additional Travel Considerations

  • When travel is only for one day and there is no overnight stay, such as a day trip to San Francisco or Monterey, meals and snacks are not reimbursable. The only exception to this rule with one day travel is in the case of a business meal, in which a purpose and list of attendees must accompany the receipt.
  • Per diem is only an option for trips exceeding 24 hours in length.
  • Receipts for other expenses will be reviewed and paid on a case-by-case basis.

Business Meals

A Business Meal is defined as a meal at which faculty, staff, students and/or sponsored guests are present for the purpose of conducting University business. Where possible, meetings should be conducted during non-meal hours of the day. A business meal that occurs while traveling will result in a prorated travel meal reimbursement.

Business meals require:

  • A business purpose describing connection to the university
  • An itemized receipt and a copy of the credit card authorization slip
  • A list of all attendees and their business affiliations
  • The specific topics discussed
  • The outcome (purpose) of the meeting
  • A statement outlining why the meeting was conducted during the meal (and why other times wouldn’t work)

Actual business meal expenses are expected to continue to fall below the maximum amounts permitted. The maximum is inclusive of the actual cost of food, tax, tip and alcohol (excludes room rental and non-food costs):

  • Breakfast: Up to $35 per person
  • Lunch: Up to $60 per person
  • Dinner: Up to $125 per person