The University pays reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the course of University-related business travel. University business travelers are expected to use lodging accommodations that are necessary and reasonable. The cost of lodging should be kept to a minimum consistent with a reasonable level of comfort, convenience, and security for the traveler. Standard room rates are generally the most reasonable. University payment for lodging requires prior approval by the appropriate authority.

On this page:

Approval Authority

Authority and responsibility for approving travel by employees and guests of the University rests with the person responsible for the account (PTA) to which the expense will be charged. Travel expenses are payable only when all required approvals, including any required approval from government agencies or other project sponsors, are obtained before incurring the expense. Employees may not authorize travel or approve expense payments for themselves, or for a person to whom they report directly or indirectly.

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Booking and Payment

Stanford Travel is the University's preferred travel management service for travelers and arrangers. Special Stanford-negotiated rates for air travel, car rental, and lodging can all be found on Stanford Travel's Online Booking Tool.

Stanford Travel Card is the University's preferred method of payment, but the same guidelines must be followed in the case of reimbursement payment to the traveler.

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Reimbursement Options

The traveler may be reimbursed for actual lodging expenses or be paid a per diem rate in connection with official University travel. The method selected must be used for the entire trip.

See Resources: Per Diem Rates, including:

  • General Per Diem Information
  • Reviewing Per Diem Rates
  • Automatic Adjustments to Per Diem Rates
  • Multiple Stops

Departments may elect to pay per diem for fewer days than the actual stay and may decrease the amount of per diem to reflect actual expenses.

Foreign and domestic travel expenses are payable by the same methods. See Reviewing Per Diem Rates on the Resources: Per Diem Rates page.

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Non-Business Days

Weekends, holidays, and other necessary standby days may only be counted as business days only if they fall between business travel days. If a traveler chooses to arrive early or to stay longer for non-business reasons, the University does not pay for expenses during additional personal days. The only exception is when travel is at a lower total cost if the traveler stays over a weekend or holiday, with department approval. The traveler must document the total cost savings in order to support the non-business-day payment.

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Local Travel

Local travel is defined as less than 50 miles one way from Stanford or the traveler's residence –– whichever is greater. Barring exceptional business reasons, local travel does not qualify for an overnight stay.

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Travel Expenses of Spouse or Other Traveling Companion

In general, the expenses of a spouse, family member, or other person accompanying the business traveler are not payable. Such expenses are only payable if the accompanying person has a position with the University and is traveling to make a significant contribution in furtherance of University business.

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Documentation of Expenses

Expense reports with relevant supporting documents attached must be completed for all travel expenses paid by the University. For lodging expenditures, an itemized bill showing all charges and proof of payment must be attached to the lodging line in the expense report via the Expense Requests system. See demo on attaching supporting documents.

No receipt is required when claiming per diem reimbursement for lodging.

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Sabbatical Lodging

Sabbatical lodging expenses are paid only if the faculty member incurs two sets of living expenses simultaneously and there is a stated Stanford business purpose for the expenses incurred during the sabbatical. If the primary home is rented out, the faculty member may not be paid for lodging expenses at a location away from Stanford.

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