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Business Travel Policy

Effective Date: September 1, 2019
Supersedes: Business Travel Expense Policy, Business Mileage Reimbursement Policy, Local Business Travel Policy and Allowable Reimbursements

Policy History

This Business Travel Policy ("Policy") combines the prior business travel-related policies, titled Business Travel Expense Policy, Business Mileage Reimbursement Policy, Local Business Travel Policy and Allowable Reimbursements. It was determined that one policy and one accompanying guidelines document would allow for clear communication and adherence.

Scope

For the purpose of this Policy, "University" refers to Drexel University and its colleges, schools, divisions, subsidiaries and affiliates. All University trustees, officers, faculty, professional staff members (except those members who are affiliated with a collective bargaining unit), and students, including student employees or who are otherwise authorized to travel for academic purposes, (e.g., academic seminars) are subject to this Policy. Students traveling under this policy are subject to the Student Code of Conduct.

Purpose and Application

The purpose of this Policy is to provide University Travelers with a reasonable level of service and comfort at the lowest possible cost to the University, while providing guidelines for use.

This Policy governs all business and conference travel for individual Travelers regardless of the source of funds, unless otherwise explicitly stated within this Policy.

This Policy will:

  • indicate what the approved methods are when procuring business travel arrangements; and
  • inform Travelers and Expense Approvers of their roles and responsibilities relative to submitting and approving Business Travel Expenses.

Adherence to this Policy will:

  • maximize Procurement Services' ability to negotiate discounted rates with preferred suppliers in order to reduce overall cost of travel, by obtaining spend data from the Travel Management Company (TMC) and discount suppliers for air, rail, hotels, rental vehicles, and other services; and
  • ensure institutional consistency, discipline and accountability over how business travel is conducted by employees of Drexel University subject to this Policy.

Travelers must be aware of any travel policies or guidelines their department(s) may have in addition to this Policy. Note that such departmental policies or guidelines may be more restrictive than those set forth in this Policy. If there is any disagreement between this Policy and a specific departmental policy, the more restrictive policy will govern a particular situation or issue. In cases where there is a discrepancy between this Policy and the policies provided by a University department, or policies required by an external granting agency (e.g. the federal government) or donor, the more restrictive policies will apply, unless specifically allowed and/or required by the external granting agency or donor.

Definitions

Business Travel Expense means reasonable, appropriate, and necessary travel expense incurred while carrying out University business and incurred while on travel from one's office to a business destination and back.

Cash Advance is defined as funds given to a Traveler prior to the trip for expenses incurred while on University business.

Expense Approver is defined as a Faculty or Professional Staff Member who is designated by a budget owner or financial administrator to approve business expenses and who is at a higher level in the organization than the Traveler(s) whose expenses they are charged with approving. A Traveler cannot function as their own Expense Approver, and temporary employees cannot be the sole or final Expense Approver of Business Travel Expenses.

Faculty Member is defined as an individual employed by Drexel University in a tenured, tenure-track, non-tenure track or adjunct position who teaches at any college, school, center or institute in the University. A Faculty Member also is deemed to be exempt under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or applicable state law.

Legitimate Travel-Related Incidentals include small-dollar purchases that occur and are not anticipated but are required for successful completion of the business trip. Examples include: wi-fi, books, office supplies and teaching supplies.

P-Card shall mean a University Purchasing Card issued via Procurement Services, including Purchasing Cards designated for Business Travel Expenses only.

Professional Staff Member is defined as an individual employed in any non-faculty category by Drexel University, including an individual who is deemed to be either exempt or non-exempt under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or applicable state law.

Proof of Payment is documentation (e.g., receipt, credit card charge slip, hotel folio) that indicates that the individual has settled the billing in-full with the supplier.

Supervisor is the Drexel University employee to whom the Traveler directly reports.

Transaction Allocation Report (TAR) is the P-Card report generated in PaymentNet, reviewed by the P-Card holder and Expense Approver, and submitted to the P-Card Office.

Traveler is defined as an employee of Drexel University, excluding members affiliated with a collective bargaining unit, or other authorized individual who incurs travel expenses on official University business and is entitled to reimbursement of those expenses.

Travel Expense Reimbursement Report (TERR) is defined as the report required for reimbursement requests of personal funds spent on Business Travel Expenses.

Travel Management Company (TMC) is the contracted, preferred travel agent for the University providing fulfillment of travel needs.

Sponsoring Unit

Administration of the Policy is the responsibility of Procurement Services, reporting up to the Office of the Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer. For inquiries regarding this Policy, please contact travel@drexel.edu or 215.895.2876.

Compliance with this Policy is the responsibility of the Traveler, Supervisor, and Expense Approver.

Statement of Policy

It is expected that all Drexel University employees will exercise appropriate care in incurring Business Travel Expenses. Because the University is a non-profit, charitable, educational institution, a 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the IRS, expenses should be moderate both in frequency and in amount. Only actual expenses will be reimbursed. Individuals should neither gain nor lose personal funds while conducting business on behalf of the University.

Drexel University is committed to supporting the continued professional growth and development of faculty and staff, subject to demonstrated business need and fiscal responsibility considerations. The primary responsibility for the appropriate selection of conferences to attend and other business travel falls to the Traveler, Supervisor, and Expense Approver.

A. Eligible Expenses and Approval Process

Drexel University will fund authorized Business Travel Expenses and Legitimate Travel-Related Incidentals incurred while conducting University business. All Business Travel Expenses incurred while conducting University-related travel must be approved by the Expense Approver. Travelers cannot approve their own expenses.

B. Travel Arrangements

It is strongly encouraged that all non-local (outside of the Philadelphia metropolitan area) University business travel accommodations be made with the University's authorized TMC, and/or authorized travel suppliers to allow Procurement Services to facilitate consistent service for Travelers and to assist in the negotiation of discounted rates with preferred suppliers. Information regarding the University's current TMC and preferred travel suppliers is available on the Procurement Services website.

Travel arrangements and Business Travel Expenses must be properly authorized, reasonable, and appropriately documented for approval and/or reimbursement.

C. Payment Methods Preferred and Nonpreferred

Preferred: Purchasing Card

Travelers are strongly advised to use a P-Card for business travel. Business Travel Expenses paid with a P-Card must be reported on a Transaction Allocation Report (TAR) monthly. The Traveler's Expense Approver must approve all Business Travel Expenses by signing the TAR. Original receipts are required and must be reviewed by the Traveler's Expense Approver prior to approving the TAR. A description of the business purpose of the Business Travel Expense must be included on the TAR for each charge.

P-Card information, including policy, trainings, and how to apply for a P-Card is available on the Procurement Services website.

Nonpreferred: Personal Credit Card Reimbursements

While the P-Card is the preferred method of payment, Business Travel Expenses paid with a personal credit card are reimbursable when submitted on a completed TERR and accompanied by all receipts/documentation, as detailed below. Business Travel Expenses paid for with a personal credit card are discouraged. The University reserves the right to refuse and/or delay reimbursement due to non-compliance with this Policy.

Nonpreferred: Cash Advance Payments

Some Travelers are permitted to request a Cash Advance for non-local Business Travel Expenses only. Cash Advances will not be granted for expenses prepaid or paid with a P-Card, or for services that should be submitted for payment via Smart Source. Cash Advances are the responsibility of the Traveler and Expense Approver and are only available to Faculty and Professional Staff. Cash Advances cannot be issued to students and non-employees. Review the Business Travel Policy Guidelines for instructions on how to request a Cash Advance.

Cash Advance overpayments must be reimbursed to Drexel University at the Cashier's Office. The cash deposit receipt representing the reimbursement must be submitted with the TERR to travel@drexel.edu.

D. Documentation and Reimbursement

Receipt Documentation

Receipts documenting Proof of Payment are required for all Business Travel Expenses, with the exception of business travel mileage reimbursement. Receipts must be legible and itemized. For business travel mileage reimbursement, review the Business Travel Policy Guidelines.

Reimbursement for Drexel Travelers

This Policy qualifies as an "accountable plan" in accordance with Section 62 of the Internal Revenue Code [PDF]. Under an accountable plan, Travelers are reimbursed for Business Travel Expenses incurred, without tax consequences, when the following five conditions are satisfied:

  1. Business Connection: All charges must be for University-related Business Travel Expenses as defined by this Policy.
  2. Substantiation: All payments must be substantiated by the Traveler within 60 days after the expense is paid or incurred.
    Please Note: In order to comply with IRS Publication 463, under the accountable plan, expenses must be adequately accounted for within a reasonable period of time. A reasonable period of time is defined by the IRS as no more than 60 days after the expenses were paid or incurred. If expense reimbursements are not submitted and approved within the 60-day limit, the amount ultimately paid to the Traveler will be included in the Traveler’s annual W-2, or in a similar form issued to non-employee Travelers, as taxable income.
  3. Advance Reasonably Calculated to Cover Expenses: Any Cash Advance must be "reasonably calculated not to exceed the amount of anticipated expenses" and must be paid within "a reasonable period of time," meaning 15 days, prior to the day the anticipated expense will be incurred.
  4. Specific Identification: The reimbursement or Cash Advance is identified or paid separately from wages.
  5. Plan Must Require Return of Unspent Advances: The Traveler is required to return to the employer within 60 days any part of the Cash Advance in excess of substantiated expenses. This requirement is met if the Traveler substantiates the expense within 60 days after it is incurred and returns any unspent funds at that time. If a Traveler does not return an unsubstantiated Cash Advance within 60 days, the Cash Advance is subject to FICA and income tax withholding.

Non-Employee Expense Reimbursements

Reimbursement for non-University individuals (Other than spouses/domestic partners, dependents, and family members/friends)

  • Requests for reimbursement of Business Travel Expenses for non-University individuals (guests of the University, candidates for positions, speakers, etc.) are made using a Check Request Form rather than a TERR. The Check Request Form should be completed through Smart Source unless the reimbursement is for a foreign individual. For any foreign reimbursement, please utilize the Manual Check Request Form available on the Accounts Payable website.

Reimbursement for Spousal/Companion Travel

Travel on Sponsored Research Programs

For information regarding travel on sponsored research programs, visit the Drexel Research Accounting Services' website.

Related Information

Guidelines For Use: Business Travel Policy

The guidelines for use that support the Business Travel Policy includes details for:

  • Allowable Business Travel Expenses
  • Allowable Business Travel Expenses with Restrictions
  • Prohibited Business Travel Expenses
  • Reconciliation
  • Audit Process
  • Tax Management

View the Guidelines for Use