Business Procedures Manual

Essential business procedural components for University System of Georgia institutions.

4.10 Corporate Charge Cards and Travel Advances

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

The Statewide Travel Policy as provided by the State Accounting Office is located at https://sao.georgia.gov/state-travel-policy. The Policy provides the following on purpose, authority and applicability:

“The purpose of this Policy is to provide guidelines to state agencies for payment of travel expenses in an efficient, cost effective manner, and to enable state travelers to successfully execute their travel requirements at the lowest reasonable costs, resulting in the best value for the State. Teleconferencing instead of travel should be considered when possible. Each agency is charged with the responsibility for determining the necessity, available resources and justification for the need and the method of travel.

The Policy is based on travel industry best practices and with total cost management in mind. As such, it is important for employees to understand the intent of the Policy and work with their management on managing work related travel, accordingly.”

In accordance with the Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 50-5B-5, “The State Accounting Officer in cooperation with the Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) is authorized to and shall adopt rules and regulations governing in-state and out-of-state travel and travel reimbursement that promote economy and efficiency in state government and which treat employees fairly and equitably.”

The Statewide Travel Policy applies to all State Agencies, including Units of the University System of Georgia (USG), therefore, USG institutions shall be guided by general travel regulations set forth in this section when employees are required to travel away from headquarters in the performance of their official duties. Therefore, all USG employees, especially those responsible for authorizing, approving and paying travel costs, should establish a good working knowledge of the travel regulations in the Statewide Travel Policy. The Sections below will provide additional narrative and guidance on various areas of the Statewide Travel Policy in order to provide more clarity, especially if USG applies a more stringent interpretation of travel requirements. SAO provides as follows “Agencies are not authorized to set more lenient policies than the Statewide Travel Policy; however, agencies may establish policies that further restrict an employee’s travel if the agency determines that stricter policies are necessary, except that a mileage rate that is different than the rates established by SAO/OPB in accordance with OCGA 50-19-7 may not be adopted”. Note: Guidelines for requesting exceptions to the Statewide Travel Policy are found in Section 8 of the Policy. SAO and OPB are responsible for issuing any exceptions. Any requests for exceptions for the USG must be handled through Fiscal Affairs.

Note: As you read through the Statewide Travel Policy you will see numerous references to the State of Georgia’s TTE System. This is the State’s travel system that is used by many agencies. We do not use this system, so please disregard references to usage of the TTE system. Since we do not use this system and since the Statewide Travel Policy is written with the usage of that system in mind, at times throughout this section of the BPM we will elaborate on USG’s policies and procedures related to proper protocol for submission and documentation for travel expense statements as produced by our USG institutions.

Note: Users also may wish to consult Section 19.0, Miscellaneous, of this Manual for additional guidance in the following areas related to travel reimbursement:

  • Section 19.7 – Employee Group Meals
  • Section 19.8 – Purchase of Food Using Institutional Funds
  • Section 19.9 – Non-Employee Travel

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Travel advance refers to any payment to an employee for travel expenses made prior to the time that expenses will be incurred for a scheduled, future trip. Please refer to Sections 6.3 through 6.5 of the Statewide Travel Policy for guidance on travel advances. More specific guidance on authority and approval procedures is addressed in the following sections.

Note: Institutions are authorized to set specific policies and procedures regarding travel advances, provided the policies and procedures do not conflict with any regulations addressed in Statewide Travel Policy.

Office of Planning and Budget OPB Policy Memorandum No. 1 (Revision 6, January 2104) Section 3 defines the Internal Revenue Service Requirements for travel advances. Employees who receive corporate charge cards are authorized to use the charge cards for business purposes only.

(Last Modified on April 19, 2016)

See Section 3.1 of Statewide Travel Policy for guidelines on payments for employee lodging expenses.

See Section 3.5 of Statewide Travel Policy for guidelines on payments for lodging expenses associated with a seminar/conference held at hotel/motel providing lodging.

Exception: Statewide Travel Policy states that when lodging is shared “the traveler paying for the lodging seeks reimbursement for the full expense”. Our employees who share rooms should prorate the room costs, if practical, to properly reflect each employee’s share of the lodging expense. This allows for a more accurate cost split, especially for employees funded by multiple sources.

When a state employee on travel status is accompanied by someone who is not a state employee on travel status, the employee is entitled to reimbursement at a single-room rate.

Note: Employees who take annual leave while on travel status may not be reimbursed for lodging expenses incurred during the period of leave.

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Employees are encouraged to utilize institution-owned vehicles, if available, for travel within the state of Georgia, and, when appropriate, for travel outside the state. However, if institution-owned vehicles are not available, employees may choose between using a rental vehicle or personal vehicle. Institutions may reimburse employees for the mileage incurred during the employee’s use of a personal vehicle. The employee and supervisor must determine if mileage reimbursement should be made using Tier 1 or Tier 2 rates, enabling the traveler to successfully execute travel requirements at the lowest reasonable costs, thus resulting in the best value for the State.

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

State employees are encouraged to travel by state-owned or personal vehicles when feasible and cost-effective. However, when commercial transportation is necessary, employees may be reimbursed for the expenses incurred. Employees will be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred, provided the appropriate steps are taken to obtain the lowest possible fare or cost.

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Miscellaneous travel expenses are necessary and reasonable expenses incurred by an employee while traveling on official business other than meals, lodging, mileage or transportation costs. Section 5 of the Statewide Travel Policy provides a listing of reimbursable and non-reimbursable miscellaneous travel expenses. Employees may receive reimbursement only for reimbursable type expenses that are work related. Employees requesting reimbursement for work-related, reimbursable expenses must include adequate explanations. Also, appropriate supporting documentation must be submitted with the travel statement.

Note: Even if an expense item is included in the reimbursable expense listing, if it is for personal use or benefit, it cannot be claimed on the travel statement.

(Last Modified on April 19, 2016)

This section includes links to the following standard forms associated with employee business travel:

  1. In-State Travel Expense Form

  2. Out of State Travel Expense Form

  3. Foreign/Special Travel Expense Statement

  4. Exemption Form For Local Hotel/Motel Excise Tax

  5. Travel Advance Authorization Form

4.2.1 General Provisions

(Last Modified on April 19, 2016)

General reimbursement requirements and required documentation for travel expenses are included in Section 7 of the Statewide Travel Policy. See Section 4.9 of this BPM section for a link to USG’s Standard Travel Expense Statement (Utilized by institutions that do not use an electronic travel expense system). Institutions are authorized to modify the standard form without prior approval by USG; however, any revised form must include all required elements as in original form.

Employees should submit travel within 45 calendar days after completion of the trip or event. Expenses submitted more than 60 calendar days after completion of the trip or event, if reimbursed, are taxable income per the IRS.

Institutions should encourage employees to enroll in direct deposit to reduce the overall cost and processing time of an expense reimbursement request.

The following sections, Sections 4.2.2 through 4.2.6, provide additional guidance on documentation and approval procedures required for USG institutions. These may differ slightly from those included in the Statewide Travel Policy, in that we do not use the State’s TTE System to create expense reports. However, we must include, at a minimum, all items required by State travel regulations.


4.2.2 Travel Expense Statements/Requests for Reimbursement

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Requests for reimbursement should include the following information:

  • Location, date, and time of departure should be included for single day trips;
  • Location, date, and time of return should be included for single day trips;
  • Lodging, mileage, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses, the types of which and their allowable limits are discussed in subsequent sections;
  • Listing of meals included in conference registration fees, etc.;
  • Itemized listing of expenses related to authorized meals not covered by the per diem allowance;
  • Explanations of any expenses exceeding the established limits;
  • Explanation of any unusual expenses submitted for reimbursement;
  • Explanation of the purpose for the trip; and,
  • Description of the type(s) of transportation used during the trip.

Employees must sign (manual or electronic) their travel expense statement, attesting the information presented on the form is accurate and complete. Employees who provide false information are subject to criminal penalty as a felony for false statements, subject to punishment by fine not to exceed $1,000, or imprisonment for one (1) to five (5) years.


4.2.3 Travel Expense Receipt Requirements

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Employees must submit receipts for the following expenses:

  • Lodging, with an itemized breakdown of costs such as room charge, parking, WIFI, laundry, etc.;
  • Airline or railroad fares;
  • Rental of motor vehicles;
  • Registration fees;
  • Visa/passport fees; and,
  • All single expenditures of $25 or greater.

If an employee does not have a receipt for one of the items listed above, the employee must include an explanation of the expense on the travel expense statement. Credit card receipts are acceptable forms of documentation, provided they contain complete details of the expenditure.


4.2.4 Approval Requirements

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

A traveler’s immediate supervisor or higher administrative authority must approve a travel expense report before reimbursement will be issued. Institutions may require multiple approvers for certain expense reports; in these instances, all approvers in the submission process are held accountable. The approver should be in a higher level position of authority that is able to determine the appropriateness and reasonableness of expenses.

Exception – Presidents of institutions of the USG are excluded from the requirement that their expense reports must be approved by their immediate supervisor or higher administrative authority. However, processes should still be in place for their expense reports to be reviewed for appropriateness and reasonableness.

The specific provisions of the accounting review process related to travel expenses will be left to the discretion of each institution. However, the institution’s accounting review process must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. Department heads and deans should designate a person (or persons) to examine and approve claims for reimbursement under these travel regulations.
  2. Claims should be reviewed to ensure they are reasonable, accurate, and cover expenses actually incurred by the employee during the authorized travel dates and times.
  3. Claims exceeding established limits should receive special scrutiny to ensure the explanations are sufficient to justify the higher amount. Employees should not assume all expenses exceeding allowable limits will be automatically approved for reimbursement.

By approving travel expenses, the approver is attesting that each transaction and supporting documentation has been thoroughly reviewed and has verified that all transactions are allowable expenses. Each transaction must be consistent with departmental budget and project/grant guidelines.

Upon granting approval of expense transactions, approvers are certifying:

  • Appropriateness of the expenditure and reasonableness of the amount;
  • Compliance with funding agency regulations and State reimbursement policies;
  • Completeness and accuracy of documentation.

4.2.5 Institution Responsibilities

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Responsibility for appropriate audit, approval, and reimbursement of travel expense statements is vested in the appropriate institutional officials. Institutions may impose additional requirements for travel expense reimbursement and reporting at their discretion.


4.4.1 General Provisions

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Lodging expenses for hotels/motels outside Georgia may exceed the maximum reasonable rates set by an institution. Employees traveling out-of-state should refer to the federal per diem rates to identify high-cost areas of the United States, and to determine whether higher expenses are “reasonable and customary”. Use the Link to GSA Per Diem Rates tab in SAO’s Statewide Travel Policy website to access per diem rates for Out of State travel.

Note: The rates published by the federal government should only be used as a guide to determine whether an expense is “reasonable and customary.”


4.4.2 Tax Exemptions

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

The following excerpts from Section 3.3 of the Statewide Travel Policy apply to USG employees:

  • State and local government officials and employees traveling within the state on official business are exempt from paying the county or municipal excise tax on lodging (“hotel/motel” or “occupancy” tax) [OCGA 48-13-51 (H) (3)], regardless of the payment method being used. (This exemption does not apply to travelers staying at an out-of-state hotel/motel.) Travelers must be able to provide proper identification to document their employment as a state or local government employee.

  • Additionally, as an employee traveling on official State business, the lodging is eligible for exemption from State of Georgia Sales Tax when the payment method being used is either direct bill to the agency, or a State of Georgia issued credit card. Travelers should make every effort to avoid payment of sales tax when payment method is other than a personal payment method.

  • Travelers are required to submit a copy of the Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Form. See Section 4.9 for link to form.

  • If the hotel refuses to accept the form at check-in, the traveler should attempt to resolve the issue with hotel management before checking out at the end of their stay. If the matter is not resolved by check-out time, the traveler should pay the tax. The employee should explain the reason for paying the hotel/motel tax on the travel statement.

  • Failure of the employee to submit the Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Form to the hotel/motel may result in non-reimbursement of the tax to the employee.

  • Per the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, effective July 1, 2015 hotels in the state of Georgia will charge a $5.00 per room per night hotel tax to travelers. This tax is not exempted for State Employees.


4.4.3 Other Lodging Charges and Fees

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Employees may be reimbursed for work-related internet usage charges. These charges should be separately identified on the itemized hotel/motel bill, but should not be listed on the travel expense statement as “lodging.” Rather, these charges should be treated as miscellaneous expenses, included in the “voice/data communications” section of the travel expense statement.

Travelers should not book non-refundable rates or rates that require deposits unless required by conference lodging. It is the employee’s responsibility to understand cancellation rules. Non-refundable rates cannot be changed or cancelled; therefore, the employee is accepting the risk of a non-reimbursable cancellation fee.

If a cancellation fee is charged and all efforts to have fee remove have been exhausted, the employee may include it on the travel statement with thorough explanation. The department head, dean or other responsible official should review the request and determine if reimbursement is appropriate.

Some hotels include a charge for “resort” or other fees. These fees should be reimbursed as an eligible lodging expense.


4.4.4 Georgia’s “Green Hotels” Program

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has developed a program to identify and certify lodging properties that are taking significant steps to reduce their demands on Georgia’s natural resources and acting as good corporate citizens. These certified “Green Hotels” meet a stringent standard for environmental stewardship and operational efficiency. By using less toxic cleaning and maintenance chemicals, these hotels provide healthier conditions for guest and employees.

When traveling on state business and hosting meetings, state employees are encouraged to explore opportunities to support these properties where cost-competitive. The current list of certified properties is available at: http://www.greenseal.org/FindGreenSealProductsandServices/HotelsandLodgingProperties.aspx


4.5.1 Rental Vehicles

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

The State has entered into mandatory statewide contracts with specified car rental vendors. Employees should rent vehicles from one of these vendors when the use of a rental vehicle is the desired form of travel. Renting outside the statewide vendor contracts requires an approved waiver. The waiver form can be found on the Department of Administrative Services (DOAS) website. Approved waivers must be attached to the travel statement. Section 2.2 of the Statewide Travel Policy states as follows:

a. Approved car rental sizes are Compact, Intermediate or Full Size. Other vehicle sizes require a business-related justification. Vans may be rented when there are more than 4 travelers.

b. Reimbursement will be made for reasonable fuel charges. (This excludes renters who pick up cars from the Capitol Hill location and are furnished a fuel card and are billed based on a specific calculation for that location.) Travelers must decline optional fuel offerings offered by the car rental vendor. Maintenance and oil changes are the responsibility of the rental company and will not be reimbursed by the State.

c. Rental cars under the Statewide Car Rental Vendor Contract should be returned with the same amount of gas that it had when it was picked up. Travelers should pay close attention to the fuel amount when they pick up the vehicle to ensure there are no overcharges for gas upon return of the rental car.

d. Employees traveling on State business inside the Continental U.S. in any rented motor vehicle are covered by the State’s liability policy; therefore, liability coverage should be declined when renting a motor vehicle. Loss Damage and Collision Damage are also covered for vehicles rented under the Statewide Car Rental Vendor Contract. When traveling to destinations outside the Continental U.S. (OCONUS), with the exception of Canada, the State Risk Management Department recommends that travelers accept collision insurance when renting cars. Contact the DOAS Risk Management Services Department regarding any other questions related to rental car insurance coverage.

e. NOTE: The State liability policy is only in effect while the employee is using the rented vehicle for official State business. For this reason, personal use of the vehicle, including allowing friends or family members to ride in a State rented vehicle, is prohibited.

f. NOTE: For any exceptions to the policy with regard to Rental Cars please contact Department of Administrative Services.

g. In the event of an accident while driving a rental vehicle, contact the Risk Management Office at 1-877-656-7475, as well as the appropriate car rental vendor, for claims handling.


4.5.2 Use of Personal Vehicles

(Last Modified on April 19, 2016)

Section 2.3 of Statewide Travel Policy governs the business use of personally-owned vehicles. Guidance is provided on the following:

  1. Appropriate use of Tier 1 and Tier 2 reimbursement rates. See Mileage Reimbursement Rates Policy tab at https://sao.georgia.gov/state-travel-policy for authorized Tier 1 and Tier 2 reimbursement rates.
  2. Proper methodology for calculating reimbursable business miles versus normal commuting miles: Commuting miles are the miles traveled on a regular basis from an employee’s residence to the primary work station. This should be a standard distance that does not change from one reimbursement request to the next. The primary work station is the location to which an employee regularly reports to for work. Examples are provided in Appendix A of the Statewide Travel Policy.
  3. Allowability of reimbursement for tolls or other parking fees or charges.
  4. Extent of State insurance coverage.

4.5.3 Use of Institution-Owned Vehicles

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Institutions maintaining a fleet of vehicles should establish the necessary policies and procedures consistent with the state fleet management policy for employees to request, utilize, and maintain the vehicles. If the vehicle should break down while traveling, the institution responsible for maintaining the vehicle should provide for repairs and roadside assistance to the driver.


4.6.1 Air Travel

(Last Modified on April 19, 2016)

Air Travel is covered in Section 1 of the Statewide Travel Policy. This Section addresses booking (including exchanges, cancellations and voids), selecting appropriate air fares, upgrading to Business and First Class (as deemed appropriate by Appendix B of the Statewide Travel Policy), international travel and use of private aircraft.

The following items are provided in conjunction with Section 1 of the Statewide Travel Policy to offer additional clarity and guidance on Air Travel.

  1. Employees who choose to travel by motor vehicle, whether personal, state-owned, or commercial, when air transportation is more cost-effective, may only receive reimbursement for the cost of the lowest available airfare to the specified destination.
  2. Many travel agents now charge fees for issuing tickets. These fees, if reasonable, are part of the cost of travel. Employees may, therefore, be reimbursed for such costs, regardless of whether the airfare tickets were purchased through the state airfare contract or not. However, employees are strongly encouraged to use the internet in order to avoid travel agent fees.
  3. Travel agents used for making travel arrangements should not be related to the employee making, authorizing, or approving the arrangements. The travel agents also should not be related to the employee actually traveling. A “related” party would include any members of the employee’s family or any organizations in which the employee or his/her family members have a financial interest. The purpose for not using such travel agents is to maintain the state’s integrity in financial matters. The actions of all state employees must be above reproach.
  4. It is the state’s policy that state officials or employees traveling by commercial air carrier should travel in the most cost-effective manner and utilize the lowest possible coach fares. Generally, officials or employees traveling by commercial air carrier will not be reimbursed for the portion of non-coach (first class, business class, etc.) airfare that exceeds the cost of the lowest available fare on the same flight. The travel provides some exceptions for international travel and travel of employees with medical conditions. See Section 7.10 of Statewide Travel Policy for medical exceptions.
         a. Note: Institutional officials are responsible for obtaining the necessary medical certifications for any employee who requires special air travel arrangements due to a medical condition. Institutional officials also should obtain information specifying the expected length of time such condition would have an impact on travel needs.
         b. Institutions should maintain such information in a manner that would enable the auditors to readily determine who is subject to these special travel provisions.
  5. Occasions may arise when airlines overbook, change, delay or cancel flights, thereby imposing travel inconveniences on their passengers. In these instances, airlines often offer the affected passengers indemnification for these inconveniences. Examples of indemnification that may be offered by an airline include vouchers for meals or lodging, upgrades to non-coach travel, and credits toward future flight costs. State employees are authorized to accept such indemnification if the travel inconvenience was imposed by the airline and there is no additional cost to the state.

4.6.2 Other Public Transportation

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Other forms of public transportation include trains, taxis and shuttle services. These are discussed in Section 2.1 of the Statewide Travel Policy. It is up to the employee to obtain the best rates available. See Section 7.4 of the Statewide Travel Policy for receipt requirements.


4.8.1 Authority to Advance Cash for Travel

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Since corporate charge cards are now available to employees, institutions should minimize the use of cash advances. However, institutional personnel still should consider issuing cash advances for the following circumstances:

  • For justifiable reason(s), the employee has not received a corporate charge card;
  • For employees who generally do not travel and are making a one-time trip; or
  • For special exceptions approved by the department head, dean or his/her designee.

Note: The Office of Planning and Budget OPB Policy Memorandum No. 1 (Revision 6, January 2104) states that travel advances are available only to an employee whose current annual salary is $50,000 or less when traveling within the United States. Travel advances are available to an employee, regardless of salary level, for international travel.

The department head, dean, or his/her designee is authorized to advance state funds to employees traveling on behalf of the state. Funds may be advanced for anticipated subsistence (meals and lodging), as well as for mileage and other transportation costs that are reimbursable under these travel regulations. Travel advances are not required by state law or by these regulations, but are left to the discretion of the department head, dean, or his/her designee.


4.8.2 Approval of Cash Advances for Travel

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Department heads, deans, or their designees are required to specifically authorize each cash advance made to an employee. The written authorization for a cash advance should be included on the Travel Cash Advance Authorization form. This form also should be signed by the employee to document that the cash advance was received.


4.8.3 Amount of Cash Advance

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Each institution may establish its own policies regarding cash advance limits. Institutions should consider the nature and probable duration of the travel when determining cash advance limits. The amount of a cash advance shall be related to the estimated cost of travel, as outlined on the travel authorization form, but shall be held to a minimum and allowed only when the department head, dean, or his/her designee determines that an advance is warranted.


4.8.4 Employee and Institution Accountability of Funds Advanced

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Each employee receiving a cash advance shall sign and date the travel advance authorization form, acknowledging cash advance of the funds. All employees are fully responsible for funds advanced to them and shall account for the funds in accordance with the statewide travel regulations. Employees are liable for any advanced funds that are lost or stolen.

Neither state law nor these regulations, however, in any way relieve the department head, dean, or his/her designee from the responsibility of accounting for all funds expended for travel purposes.


4.8.5 Recovery of Cash Advances Made for Specific Trips

(Last Modified on April 19, 2016)

When the actual travel expenditures reported on the travel expense statement exceed the amount of the cash advance, the employee shall be reimbursed for the additional travel costs incurred. Cash advances for specific trips shall be recovered under the following three circumstances:

  1. When the actual travel expenditures reported on the travel expense statement are less than the amount of the cash advance, the employee shall reimburse the institution for the difference. This reimbursement shall be made at the same time that the travel expense statement is submitted.
  2. In the event of cancellation or indefinite postponement of authorized travel, any cash advances that were made shall be refunded immediately.
  3. Outstanding travel advances should be recovered from terminating employees. The department head, dean, or his/her designee shall establish procedures to ensure that terminating employees do not have outstanding cash advances and have turned in their corporate charge cards.

4.8.6 Recovery of Cash Advances for Continuous Travel

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

For cases in which an employee is in a continuous travel status and has been given a blanket routine travel authorization, the full recovery of any cash advance is not required until the employee is removed from continuous travel status. Both the employee and the department head, dean, or his/her designee shall be responsible for ensuring that the cash advance does not exceed the expected travel expenses for one (1) pay period. Travel expenses incurred during each pay period shall be reported on the travel expense statement and submitted at the end of the period. Any reimbursement of funds to the employee must not increase the outstanding cash advance above the authorized limit.


4.8.7 Corporate Charge Cards

(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Corporate charge cards may be issued to eligible employees upon approval by the department head, dean, or his/her designee and the company issuing the corporate charge card. Corporate charge cards are beneficial because they:

  • Reduce the employee’s and the institution’s cash flow by minimizing the need for cash advances;
  • Reduce the frequency of reimbursements for travel expenses;
  • Require no annual membership fee or finance charges if paid within the terms of the agreement;
  • Provide emergency cash to the employee;
  • Eliminate the need for the institution to direct pay airline tickets, travel agents, and car rental agencies;
  • Provide guarantee for hotel rooms and other services requiring a deposit; and,
  • Provide the institution with various financial reports regarding employee travel expenses.

Corporate charge cards are issued directly to the employee, and all expenses charged to the corporate charge card are paid by the employee. Therefore, there is no liability to the state or an institution, even if the employee defaults.


(Last Modified on April 15, 2016)

Written pre-approval must be obtained when lodging is required within a 50-mile radius of the primary work site and residence. Institutions may require prior authorization for certain travel.

(Last Modified on January 20, 2011)

(Last Modified on October 27, 2016)

Per diem allowance refers to the maximum food allowance for which employees can be reimbursed per day. The amount is not a reimbursement of actual expenses incurred and receipts are not required for meal per diem amounts. Employees may only receive per diem for meals occurring while officially on travel status based on the number of meals per day for which the employee is eligible.

See Sections 4.1 through 4.5 of the Statewide Travel Policy for guidance on appropriate amounts to reimburse for per diem for meals.

Use the State of Georgia Meal Allowance document on SAO’s Statewide Travel Policy website to access daily meal limits for travel within the State of Georgia, including high cost areas. High cost areas are areas within Georgia within which meal expenses may be reimbursed at a higher amount than limits that otherwise apply to travel within Georgia. Increased per diem allowances are available in certain counties designated as high-cost areas. The high-cost areas in Georgia and the current high-cost rates for these areas are located on the Meal Allowance Schedule of the SAO Travel website.

Use the Link to GSA Per Diem Rates on SAO’s Statewide Travel Policy website to access per diem rates for Out of State travel.

Notes and Other Per Diem Items:

  1. Travelers are eligible for only 75% of the total day’s per diem rate on the first and last day of travel.
  2. Employees on State business who travel more than 50 miles from their Residence and Primary Work Station on a work assignment, AND are away for more than twelve (12) hours, may receive the total day’s per diem rate.
  3. The per diem allowance must be adjusted for any meals provided to the traveler. When meals are provided to a traveler in conjunction with travel events on a travel departure or return day, the full day per diem is reduced by the amount of the provided meal(s) after the 75% proration. For example, if the per diem allows a $28 total reimbursement, and lunch was provided at no cost on a travel departure or return day, the total allowable reimbursement for that day would be $14 [$28 *.75= $21 less $7 lunch = $14.00].
  4. If a traveler has medical restrictions and cannot eat a provided meal, the traveler does not have to deduct the amount. The traveler must include a note or other documentation with Travel Expense Reimbursement.
  5. Separate reimbursement for taxes and tips associated with meal expenses are not authorized as the meal per diem is intended to cover the total cost of the employee’s meal including taxes and tips.
  6. Employees only may receive per diem for meals occurring while officially on travel status.
  7. Employees who take annual leave while on travel status may not be reimbursed for meal expenses incurred during the period of leave.
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