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Visitor Travel Reimbursement Policies

The University's policy is to pay for necessary and reasonable travel expenses incurred for authorized University business by employees and/or approved non-employee guests. The intent of this policy is for payments be fair and equitable to both the traveler and the University and consistent with federal regulations. Individuals traveling on business are responsible for complying with University travel policy, and should exercise the same care in incurring expenses as they would in personal travel.

Guest Travel Reimbursement Process

Event organizers are expected to submit a Guest Travel Expenses Form at the conclusion of a guest's travel to Stanford to participate in a hosted event. The form is to be used for:

  1.   For all travel reimbursement requests for expenses benefiting a non-Stanford affiliated guest, including a guest speaker or a guest critic.
  2.   For clearing all Stanford travel card expenses benefiting a non-Stanford affiliated guest.

Instructions and Limitations

  • The reimbursement of visitor travel is contingent upon available and allocable funding.
  • Employees booking travel for guests are expected to use the Stanford Travel program, which has negotiated rates.
  • When not using the Stanford Travel program to book travel, a screenshot of the comparable Stanford Travel rates (comp) the same flight must be included. Stanford will reimburse the lowest rate available for the requested flight.
  • A Stanford-issued Department Travel Card may be used by a department administrator to purchase airfare, lodging, and ground transportation expenses in advance, on behalf of the guest.
  • Other expenses should be made on by the guest on a personal credit card and submitted for reimbursement at the conclusion of travel.
  • Travel meal receipts are capped at $75 per day.
  • Bay Area Airport/Regional Transportation is capped at $200 for the entire trip. This includes taxi, shuttle, mileage for personal car, and/or parking fees.
  • Any receipts deemed excessive by the University or the Department will not be reimbursed.

Proof of Payment

  • Dated original receipts or invoices for expenses must be provided to the department for reimbursement.
  • In accordance with IRS rules, the documentation must support the cost and business character of the transaction, and, for a reimbursement, must show evidence of payment.
  • Credit card statements are proof of payment, but are not considered to be itemized receipts, and generally do not constitute sufficient documentation alone. Guests may be asked to seek itemized receipts from merchants if an itemized receipt is missing.
  • Stanford University does not offer per diem for University visitors, and will only reimburse from receipts which meet the University’s reimbursement policies.

Most Economical Method of Travel

Stanford will only reimburse the most economical method of travel. This usually consists of economy flights; however, sometimes alternate methods of travel are requested, such as renting a car or driving a personal vehicle. In those instances, Stanford will reimburse the equivalent value of the most economical method of travel.

For example: A traveler wants to drive from their home in Los Angeles to Stanford (either using a personal vehicle or through renting a car), instead of flying. Since both the car rental and mileage reimbursements are double the cost of a roundtrip flight, Stanford would only reimburse the car rental or mileage costs up to the value of the equivalent round-trip airfare.

Stanford Travel: Booking Travel Expenses

Stanford Travel is the University’s preferred travel management service for travelers and arrangers, supporting compliance and improving efficiency for travelers and arrangers. 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. Travel services available for arranging guest travel include:

  • Egencia, a full-service travel agency with an online booking tool and travel arranger functionality. Administrators may use this to book travel on behalf of guests.
  • Casto, an on-site travel agent, helpful for complex international travel or trips with multiple travelers. Administrators can connect Casto with the guest via email to arrange travel that meets Stanford's guidelines. Guest's Casto travel expenses may be charged to a Department Travel Card.
  • Uber for Business or Lyft Business for ground transportation needs, including pre-authorizing travel to be allocated against a Stanford Travel Card.


  • University guests are expected to use lodging accommodations that are necessary and reasonable. As such, the University will only reimburse the lowest standard room rate available.
  • Employees booking travel for guests are expected to use the Stanford Travel program, which has negotiated rates. If an alternate booking method is made by the guest or an employee, a comp of the Stanford Travel equivalent rate must be included. Stanford will reimburse the lowest available rate.
  • Palo Alto lodging may not exceed $450 per night for the lowest standard room rate available. Most other cities are capped at $200 per night.
  • An itemized lodging bill indicating the cost of the room and payment information is required.

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.
  • No additional justification is needed for travel meals as long as it occurs within the travel period.
  • Guests must provide copies of actual receipts to be eligible for reimbursement.
  • Both the itemized meal receipt and the credit authorization/payment confirmation receipt must be provided.
  • Travel Meal reimbursement is capped and may not exceed $75 per day.


  • Airfare is expected to be arranged using the Stanford Travel program (Egencia or Casto).
  • Stanford University reimburses airfare at the lowest available Standard Economy rate (including carry-on luggage). Securing Basic Economy fares is generally discouraged.
  • An invoice, itinerary, and/or receipt listing all times of departure, flight numbers, class of service, fare basis, ticket number/confirmation number, costs, and proof of payment (i.e., card being charged) is required at the conclusion of travel.
  • Additional legroom for international flights may be reimbursed only if the following conditions are met: (a) the international flight duration exceeds 8 hours of continuous flight time, and (b) the visitor provides documentation from the Department pre-authorizing the payment of the additional legroom (before travel occurred).
  • Ancillary airline fees (e.g. convenient or early boarding, seat location, baggage, in-flight meals) should be incurred responsibly and should not be excessive.
  • In-flight wi-fi and other entertainment expenses will not be reimbursed.

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.
  • Bay Area regional travel is capped at $200 for the entire trip.

Car Rentals

If use of the rental vehicle is the most economical mode of transportation, the University will pay the traveler for the cost of renting a compact or standard size car and for the automobile-related expenses. Car rentals are expected to be arranged using the Stanford Travel program (Egencia or Casto). If another reservation method is utilitized, Stanford will reimburse up to the equivalent rate listed within Stanford Travel (Egencia).

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 the guests name on rental car agreements for travel relating to Stanford business.

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.

Mileage for Private Automobile

If driving is the most economical method of travel, 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 200 miles or less. Commercial air travel is generally the most economical and practical means for more distant trips.

To claim mileage, you must provide a copy of a map of the most direct route between the origin address and destination address for each portion of the trip a mileage reimbursement is requested.

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

Traffic ticket and parking ticket expenses will NOT be reimbursed

Travel Advances

The University does not provide travel advances for guests.