TUC Sponsored Programs

Reimbursement of Travel Expenses

Forms and Guides

TUC Travel Approval Procedure (PDF)

TUC Travel Quick Guide (PDF)

Travel Approval Form (PDF)


This procedure applies to travel expenses of faculty and staff working on a sponsored project. This also applies to collaborators on a sponsored project who are not employed by CSUN.

This procedure does not apply to independent contractors. Independent contractors must provide a detailed list of travel expenses with individual receipts attached and forward them to the Principal Investigator (PI). The PI then submits a check request and original receipts with the information provided by the independent contractor to The University Corporation (TUC).

This procedure addresses the following topics: Travel authorization, allowable expenses, and expense reimbursement.

Travel Authorization

Domestic Travel

Travel authorization is required for domestic travel paid by a sponsored project if:
• The traveler is a CSUN employee. A CSUN employee is an individual with a state-side/CSUN appointment. 
• If the grant requires pre-approval of travel, or travel is not budgeted in your project. Please check with your Post-Award Analyst (liaison) if you have any questions.

International Travel, Foreign Travel Insurance, and High Risk Travel

TUC follows the CSUN policy regarding international and high risk travel. The policy can be found at http://www.csun.edu/travel/risktravel. All forms and procedures noted at this link apply to international and/or high risk travel being reimbursed through funds held at TUC whether related to a grant or contract or TUC company business. Travel authorization is required for all international trips.

Additionally, a Chancellor's Office memo (RM 2011-03) dated 3/7/11 requires all CSU employees traveling internationally on university business to obtain foreign travel insurance through the CSU's recognized carrier. Prior to submitting a travel authorization for international travel, the traveler should complete an application through “myCSUNglobe” at https://mycsunglobe.csun.edu/.

Please refer to the CSUN University Travel page for more information regarding international and high-risk travel: https://www.csun.edu/travel/risktravel. Questions about the University travel policy as it affects faculty can be directed to provoffice@csun.edu.
Note: TUC does not provide for any additional coverage of health care costs during travel. Before going on an international trip, please check with your health care provider if you will be covered in the country(ies) of your destination.

Allowable Travel Expenses

Expenses incurred while traveling on a sponsored project are reimbursed based on their relevance to the project, reasonableness, allowability, and available budget. Proper supporting documentation is required, and TUC may deny a request if the traveler is unable to provide proper documentation.

The California State Board of Control determines the allowable amounts and rates for the reimbursement of travel expenses. The rates are frequently updated in order to account for inflation and cost of living increases. Please refer to the latest 'Travel Guidelines' memo issued by TUC.

Allowability by Expenditure Type

Meal and Lodging Reimbursement

  1.  Meal reimbursement is no longer separated into amounts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Effective May 1, 2014, the reimbursement of daily meal expenses will be based on actual amounts incurred subject to a $55 per day maximum meal reimbursement cap. Actual expenses for meals that are in excess of the above rates can be reimbursed in exceptional circumstances above and beyond regular travel activities and/or beyond the control of the traveler. In order to request a meal reimbursement in excess of the daily maximum rate the traveler needs to complete a detailed written explanation on the exceptional circumstance and submit itemized receipts. Please note that under no circumstances can alcohol be reimbursed as part of a government funded sponsored program.
  2. Employees and PIs are expected to seek the best value whenever they obtain lodging. The maximum limit for lodging is $275 per night, excluding taxes. When the lodging rate exceeds the $275 maximum, a justification for the higher rate must be included on the Travel Reimbursement Form. Justification for a higher rate could be geographic region, season of travel, or the necessity to stay within certain facilities. No preapproval is required at this time. 
  3. A $7.00 incidental allowance may be claimed for each 24-hour period and only when travel includes an overnight stay. Incidental allowance includes expenses such as laundry services, dry cleaning, and tips for services such as waiters and baggage handlers. It does not include cab fares, telephone calls, and other business expenses.
  4. TUC will reimburse reasonable and customary gratuities generally up to 20% of the total expense.
  5. Note for international travel: TUC follows University policy regarding international travel expenses for meals and lodging. Travelers are typically expected to find lodging for $275 per night or less, and daily meal expenses of $55 or less. In cases where meal and/or lodging costs exceed these daily caps, written justification and receipts are required. TUC will not reimburse international travel costs above the Federal Maximum Travel Per Diem Allowances for Foreign Areas, published monthly by the U.S. Department of State Office of Allowances, without prior written approval by the Chancellor’s Office. These rates may be found at https://aoprals.state.gov/web920/per_diem.asp by selecting the destination country. Receipts are required for all expense line items of $75 or more.

Air Travel

Coach or any other discounted economy-class fare shall be used whenever ticketing restrictions are reasonable. For federal projects not funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, please follow the Fly America Act and Open Skies agreement. Travelers using Department of Defense (DOD), Air Force, Army, or Navy are not permitted to take advantage of the Open Skies Agreement.

The use of frequent flyer benefits to acquire an airline ticket for business use cannot be reimbursed with the cost of a comparable ticket.

Fly America Act

The Fly America Act is a federal regulation that requires the use of U.S. carriers for travel that will be reimbursed from federal grants and contracts. Travelers who will be reimbursed from federal grants and contracts can also use foreign air carriers with code-sharing agreements with U.S. flag carriers. If there is no U.S. carrier to your destination, you must travel on a U.S. carrier as far as possible. Additional cost for U.S. carrier flights is not sufficient justification to fly on foreign carriers. Please note that the same rules apply to a foreign visitor's flights supported by federal funds.

Code-sharing agreements with foreign air carriers, whereby American carriers purchase or have the right to sell a block of tickets on a foreign carrier, comply with the Fly America Act Regulations. The ticket, or documentation for an electronic ticket, must identify the U.S. carrier's designator code and flight number.

Note: Some funding sources may not recognize code-sharing as being compliant with Fly America Act regulations. When fund source policy is more restrictive than University travel policy, the more restrictive policy applies.

Open Skies Agreement Exception from Fly America Act

The most well-known exception to the Fly America Act is when an Open Skies agreement is in place between the United States (U.S.) government and the government of foreign country. Under the Open Skies agreement, the use of a foreign carrier is allowable when that airline is a member state carrier or between two points outside the U.S., subject to certain restrictions. Please note that open skies agreements do not apply when traveling on U.S. Department of Defense funds.

Travelers funded by federal grants and contracts should review GSA publication Federal Travel Regulations Section 301-10.106 for any City-Pair requirements and Section 301-10.135 for any Open Skies requirements.

A list of countries the U.S. has Open Skies agreements with is available at the U.S. State Department website: https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tra/ata/index.htm

Other Exceptions from the Fly America Act

Travel that is to be reimbursed from federal grants and contracts must be booked through U.S. carriers except in the following additional circumstances:

• When the use of U.S. carrier service would extend travel time (including delay at origin) by 24 hours or more
• When the costs of transportation are reimbursed in full by a third party, such as a foreign government or an international agency
• When U.S. carriers do not offer nonstop or direct service between origin and destination. However, a U.S. carrier must be used on every portion of the route where it provides service unless, when compared to using a foreign air carrier, such use would:

  • Increase the number of aircraft changes outside the United States by two or more
  • Extend travel time by at least six hours or more
  • Require a connecting time of four hours or more at an overseas interchange point.

Note: When one or more of the above circumstances apply, an explanation indicating the appropriate exception must be provided on the travel request.

Automobile Rental/Rental Cars

A vehicle may be rented when renting would be more advantageous to TUC than other means of commercial transportation, such as using a taxi. Advance reservations should be made whenever possible and a compact, economy or intermediate class vehicle requested. These classes should be used unless a no-cost upgrade is provided or if the recommended sizes are not adequate to meet the business purposes of the trip. The rental car agency's TUC identification number should be given to the agency at the time of rental in order to secure the contracted rate and ensure that the vehicle is covered by physical damage insurance.

As member of the CSU Auxiliary Organizations Risk Management Alliance, The University Corporation participates in a preferred customer program with Enterprise-Rent-A-Car. When reserving or booking a vehicle, please specify our corporate account number which can be provided by your liaison and the company name is CSU. The negotiated rates are available nationwide at any Enterprise location, with the exception of New York. A valid credit card and driver's license must be presented at the time of rental.

Please note: The above is not an endorsement of Enterprise-Rent-A-Car. The decision of choosing a car rental agency should be based on safety concerns, practicality and price-worthiness. For insurance reasons, this program can only be used while conducting official business of TUC, including in the conduct of work related to a sponsored project; private use of this program is not permitted.


 1. Use of a private car for traveling on a sponsored program will be reimbursed with the current mileage rate set by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Effective January 1, 2023, IRS standard mileage rate is 65.5 cents per mile.

 2. When using a private vehicle, qualified drivers are responsible for carrying and maintaining liability insurance. The minimum prescribed liability insurance coverage is as follows

  • $15,000 for personal injury to, or death of, one person;
  • $30,000 for injury to, or death of, two or more persons in one accident; and o $5,000 for property damage.

 3. Individuals requesting mileage reimbursement are certifying that the number of miles driven is accurate. When two or more persons on University business share a vehicle, only the driver may claim reimbursement for mileage. TUC will reimburse the standard mileage rate set by the IRS.

 4. Mileage shall ordinarily be computed between the traveler's normal work location and the common carrier or destination. Mileage expenses may be allowed between the traveler's residence and the common carrier or destination if University business travel occurs during the traveler's non-working hours, or during a regularly scheduled day off.

 5. When a traveler is authorized to drive a private vehicle to or from a common carrier terminal, mileage may be reimbursed as follows:

  • One round trip, including parking for the duration of the trip; or
  • Two round trips, including short-term parking expenses, when an employee is driven to a common carrier.

 6. If an employee has a temporary assignment away from campus, (e.g. single day workshop, local conference, training, etc.) that does not require an overnight stay, reimbursement shall be made for mileage expenses incurred between the campus and the assignment location, or home and the assignment location, whichever is less.

 7. Expenses for travel between the traveler's residence and normal work location (commuting expense) are not allowed.

Other Expenses

Other allowable expenses may include:

• Tolls
• Parking Fees
• Conference Fees
• Attendance Fees
• Telephone, Fax or Business Center Charges

The following costs cannot be reimbursed:

• First and business class airfare
• Alcoholic beverages
• Valet services
• Traffic fines
• Personal insurance charges
• Motorcycle transportation costs
• Tips (except as covered under the incidental expense allowance)
• Movies and other entertainment costs
• Personal phone calls

Allowability by Travel Duration

Traveling less than 24 hours
1. When the entire length of a trip is less than 24 hours, meals and incidental expenses will not be reimbursed unless the travel includes an "overnight stay" as supported by a lodging receipt.
2. If the traveler is unable to provide a lodging receipt, he or she must include a statement explaining why a receipt is not available (e.g. the traveler lodged with a friend or relative, stayed overnight at the airport, or took alternative transportation that required the traveler to be away overnight).
3. Receipts are required for expenses of $75 or more.

Traveling more than 24 hours
1. If you are traveling for more than 24 hours, eligibility for meal reimbursement on the last day of travel will be as follows:
       a. Breakfast if travel extends past 9:00 am.
       b. Lunch if travel extends past 2:00 pm.
       c. Dinner if travel extends past 7:00 pm
2. Total daily meal reimbursement cannot exceed $55.
3. Receipts are required for expenses of $75 or more.

Expense Reimbursement

Required Approvals
If the traveler is a TUC employee and not a CSUN employee, the claim is required to be approved by the PI.

If the traveler is a CSUN employee but not the Principal Investigator, the claim is required to be approved by the PI and the employee’s supervisor.

If the traveler is the Principal Investigator, claim is required to be approved by the PI’s department chair or designee (Director of Finance and Operations (DFO) or Dean of the college).

Coding of the Accounting String
The expense claim must be coded with an “Accounting String” to ensure the proper allocation of expenses to the correct project and the correct account. Example: 630100/S4000/24200/40014299.

AccountFund #Department IDProject 
630100 - Travel
630110 - In State Travel
630200 - Out of State Travel
630300 - Out of Country Travel
Please refer to the account number for travel in your budget.   

Request Form/System

Travel authorizations, expense reports, and cash advances for travel are submitted through the eTravel system. Travel expense claim (paper) forms can be used for the following exceptional circumstances:

• Expense claim with multiple travelers
• Expense claim with multiple cost allocations
• Expense claim to be allocated to participant support travel account
• Reimbursement for parking and mileage

eTravel System

If none of the above exceptions apply, the traveler should submit the request via the eTravel system. Please contact your Post-Award liaison if you need access to the eTravel system for a specific project. Please refer to the eTravel System document regarding Travel Authorization and Expense Report procedure.

Expense Claim Procedure

1. The claimant submits the expense claim, either via paper form or eTravel, with supporting documentation to the PI. The document must indicate the name and address of the traveler, the date and time of the travel, the destination, the purpose of the trip and the costs relating to the travel.
2. Any advances received for the trip must be deducted, and any prepaid amount, or expenses paid by another funding source(s), must be specified on the claim by either including in the notes section of the expense report or in the “Purpose of the trip” box of the expense claim form.
3. The claimant must sign the form.
4. The PI reviews the claim for correctness and appropriateness, and approves the expenditure via his/her signature or by indicating approval within the eTravel system.
5. The claim is then forwarded to TUC for processing and payment. For PIs and CSUN employees traveling on a sponsored project, please check with your chair or supervisor if (internal) approval is required before travel. All requests submitted via eTravel for a CSUN employee will route to their direct supervisor for approval.

General Information Applicable to All Sponsored Travel
1. TUC may require receipts or additional documentation at any time to determine the allowability of an expense. If a receipt or appropriate documentation is not provided, the expense may be deemed non-reimbursable.
2. Employees may request an advance to cover anticipated travel expenses. The Advance Request Form must be submitted to TUC at least 5 days before the advance is needed. The amount of the requested advance cannot exceed 75% of the expected total expenditure for employees and Principal Investigators. Students are eligible for advances up to 100% of the expected expenditure amount. Please see the “Advances” procedure for more information.
3. Reimbursable items costing $75 or more incurred while traveling on company business must be substantiated by attaching an itemized receipt. Receipts for reimbursable items costing less than $75 are no longer required to be submitted unless required by the funder or other applicable policy. This policy does not cover expenses paid by TUC purchasing card (P-card), which always requires itemized receipts regardless of purchase price.
4. If employees are traveling to attend a meeting, a copy of the meeting agenda must be submitted with their travel reimbursement information.
5. There may be specific unallowable and non-reimbursable items stated on the award guidelines that are more restrictive than the guidelines presented here. Please contact your Post-Award liaison if you have any questions about the allowability of specific expenses on your award.

Procedure Information

Date of Last Revision: 09/14/23
Contact information:

Cindy Estrella
Accounts Payable and Payroll Manager, Financial Services
Phone: 818-677-2939; Email:

Grace Slavik
Associate Executive Director, Financial Services
Phone: 818-677-3498; Email: grace.slavik@csun.edu