Foreign Travel and Foreign Visitors

The University pays reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the course of University-related business travel. University payment for travel requires prior approval by the appropriate authority and must be properly documented.

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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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Non-Business Days

Weekends, holidays, and other necessary standby days may only be counted as business days 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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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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Stanford Employees Traveling to, from, or between Foreign Countries

What to Do Before Foreign Travel

Before foreign travel, Stanford business travelers should:

Permissible Foreign Business Travel Expenses

In addition to air travel, ground transportation, lodging and meals while on foreign travel, Stanford will pay actual costs of acquiring passports, visas, tourist cards, necessary photographs, birth certificates, required inoculations, immunizations, health cards, and fees for the conversion of funds to foreign currencies.

Reporting Expenses for Foreign Travel by a Stanford Affiliate

Expense reports with relevant supporting documents attached must be completed for all travel expenses paid by the University. See How To: Create Foreign Expense Report for an SU Payee.

Note that if a trip either originates or terminates in a foreign country, the entire cost of the trip is coded to a foreign travel expenditure type. This includes any costs for transportation, meals and lodging in the United States that is necessitated by the foreign business travel –– e.g., ground transportation to and from a U.S. airport at the start or end of foreign travel.

Supporting documentation required for expenditures associated with foreign travel are the same as for domestic travel. The University does not require receipts for expenditures under $75; however, schools and departments may require receipts for expenditures.See Policy Notes: Required Documentation for Travel Expenses.

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Inviting and Paying Foreign Visitors

What to Do Before Inviting or Paying a Foreign Visitor

Visitors are invited to Stanford from around the world to speak, collaborate, and study. Immigration and tax regulations require advance planning when making payment to a foreign visitor. The type of visa on which the visitor enters the country, the type of activity to be performed, and the type of payment to be made must all be decided before inviting the visitor.

Review Policy Notes: Inviting and Paying Foreign Visitors for important information on:

  • Compliance Issues
  • Visitor Categories
  • Visa Types
  • Letter of Invitation
  • Requesting Payment
  • Tax Information
  • How to Get Help

If air travel by a foreign visitor is funded with government monies (grants or contracts), ensure compliance with the Fly America Act.

Advancing Funds to Foreign Visitors

Foreign visitors who will be at Stanford for longer than two weeks may request an advance for the amount of the air ticket. Required documentation must be included (copy of airlines invoice / itinerary showing proof of payment). If the expense will be subject to withholding taxes, deductions will be made from the advance payment unless appropriate tax exemption forms are included (IRS Form 8233 or W8-BEN). All sensitive personal information should only be submitted through the secure Supplier Request Portal.

Reporting Expenses for a Foreign Visitor

Expense reports with relevant supporting documents attached must be completed for all travel expenses paid by the University. See:

Ensure all sensitive personal information is submitted through the secure Supplier Request Portal.

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