Travel Policies

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Primary Policy Sources: Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2, 5.4.3 and 5.4.4


Export Control / Trade Sanctions Compliance

Stanford University personnel (faculty, students and staff) must comply with policy related to Export Control, Trade Sanctions and travel to countries identified as "State Sponsors of Terrorism." Refer to Policy Notes: Export Control / Trade Sanctions Compliance Requirements to ensure compliance.

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International Travel

Stanford University strongly recommends against, but does not prohibit, travel to countries where the U.S. Department of State has issued an official Travel Warning, or where there is other reliable information of significant health or safety risks. The final decision about making a trip to such a country is up to the individual making the trip, however the University reserves the right to require the execution of an appropriate release or waiver before permitting such travel.

When it comes to undergraduate students, Stanford-sponsored or Stanford-organized trips are prohibited to countries where a State Department Travel Warning has been issued or where there is other reliable information of significant health or safety risks. No University funds can be used, or University sponsorship provided, in support of travel to these locations.

See International Travel Policy memo from Provost John Etchemendy.

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Air Travel

  • Travelers should book lowest available airfare. Stanford authorizes air travel in coach class for domestic and international flights. Business class is permissible for international flights with a duration of eight hours or more (including connecting domestic legs, provided there are no layovers). See Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2.
  • If airfare is charged to a government contract or grant, flights must be booked in compliance with the Fly America Act and Open Skies Exceptions. Compliance with this Act takes precedence over booking the lowest available fare.
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Car Rental

  • Stanford carries blanket car rental insurance policy for travelers. Travelers should not accept any other insurance for car rental within the continental US.
  • Outside of the continental US (including Hawaii and Alaska), traveler should accept insurance.
  • Prorated cost of car rental during personal days must be deducted from reimbursable expenses.
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Conference Expenses

  • If conference expenses are charged to a sponsored project, the conference must directly support the purpose of the sponsored project. A copy of the conference agenda or program should be included electronically with the submitted backup documentation.
  • When authorizing expenses associated with undergraduate, graduate or post-doctoral students traveling to conferences, reimbursement requests should include a signed certification letter or a program showing the participant as a speaker at the conference. If no certification (or program) is submitted, the expenses will be considered tax-reportable by the IRS. See also Authorizing Travel for Others and Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2 Section 11 for complete requirements.
  • Reimbursement payments cannot include expenses for spouses, such as lodging, meals, or activities at the conference.
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Foreign Receipts

  • Foreign receipts must be converted to U.S. dollars. To convert foreign receipts, use the currency converter at

In the above Oanda web site, enter date of receipt, or date the plane ticket was issued (not necessarily the travel date) to get proper conversion.

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  • Travelers are expected to use lodging that is necessary and reasonable, selecting the lowest standard room rates available.
  • No overnight stay is allowed when traveling 50 miles or less each way from Stanford or from home, whichever is farthest.
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Meals During Business Travel

  • You may claim actual meal expenses or per diem based on city visited.
  • If claiming actual expense reimbursement for meals, receipts for transactions of $75 or more are required.
  • When claiming meal per diem and purchasing a business meal for a guest, only the guest's meal may be claimed.
  • Tips cannot exceed 20 percent unless there is a mandatory charge for a large group.
  • When a meal(s) is provided by a conference, deduct partial per diem. See instructions at U.S. General Services Administration web site.
  • No meals or per diem may be claimed for one-day travel unless your destination is greater than 50 miles from your point of origin.
  • See also: Expense Guidance for Business Meals.
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Required Documentation for Travel Reimbursement

  • An itinerary receipt for airfare, showing proof of payment, from a travel agency, airline, or online booking tool.
  • Itemized hotel bill for lodging (if claiming actual expenses reimbursement).
  • Receipts for meals and other miscellaneous expenses, i.e. taxis and shuttles, costing $75 or more. If no itemized receipt is submitted for a meal, traveler must indicate amount of alcohol included, or state that there was no alcohol included in the meal.
  • Itemized car rental agreement for a car rental expense. Amount submitted for reimbursement should not include charges for insurance unless in Hawaii or a foreign country.
  • Receipts should include proof of payment. A credit card statement is proof of payment but does not qualify as an itemized receipt.
  • If conference expenses are charged to a sponsored project, the conference must directly support the purpose of the sponsored project. A copy of the conference agenda or program should be included with the backup documentation.
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Use of Personal Auto

  • Use shuttle instead of personal auto if two travelers are making the same two round trips to airport, or one traveler is making round trip plus parking for short trips.
  • Auto mileage + parking should be comparable to shuttle costs.
  • Mileage from home to airport may be claimed when traveling weekends or outside business hours: otherwise, mileage is the distance from Stanford to the airport.
  • For local travel or errands, keep a log with date, odometer readings and destination.
  • Driving in lieu of flying cannot exceed the cost of airfare plus ground transportation.
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For complete information on Travel at Stanford, including overviews, quick steps, policy, resources and job aids, forms, and related training, see:

  • Travel in the Staff section of this web site.
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