The University pays reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the course of University-related business travel. For travel in excess of 200 miles, commercial air travel is generally the most economical and practical, however, other forms of travel such as bus, rail or ship may be also, in certain circumstances, be allowed. For travel of 200 miles or less, travel by bus, shuttle service, ride service, taxi, rental car, private automobile, or some combination of these is likely to be the most economical. University payment for travel requires prior approval by the appropriate authority, must be accomplished using the most economical mode of transport, and must be properly documented.
On this page:
- Approval Authority
- Booking and Payment
- Ground Transportation as Part of Non-Local Travel
- Documentation of Expenses
- Use of Rental Cars
- Use of Private Automobiles
- Railroads, Non-local Buses, Commercial Vessels
- Modes of Transportation that Include Meals or Lodging
- Automobile in Lieu of Commercial Air Travel
- Automobile Trips of More than One Day
- Temporary Off-Campus Assignment
- Commuting Expenses
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.
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.
Ground Transportation as Part of Non-Local Travel
Non-local travel will usually consist of a combination of air and ground transportation. Ground transportation is likely to be required as more than one component of a trip (e.g., travel from home to the airport, travel from the airport to lodging, travel from the airport to home, etc.). When planning and requesting approval for University-related business travel, the traveler should consider all aspects of the total trip to achieve the most economical result.
Transportation to/from the Airport
Travelers should use the most economical means for travel to and from the airport. When the cost of airport parking is considered, shuttle or ride services usually provide the most economical solution.
Documentation of Expenses
Expense reports with relevant supporting documents attached must be completed for all travel expenses paid by the University. For expense reports that include ground transportation a ticket or receipt (or electronic image of the ticket or receipt) that shows proof of payment (e.g., card being charged) must be included. For car rental, the receipt is the contract, itemizing all charges, and showing proof of payment.
The University does not require receipts for expenditures under $75; however, schools and departments may require receipts for expenditures.
Use of Rental Cars
Class of Vehicle
When the use of a rental car is the most economical form of transportation, the University will pay rental fees for compact or standard size automobiles and automobile-related expenses, such as fuel, tolls and parking. Before renting a car, the traveler should consider shuttle services, ride services and taxis, particularly for transportation between airport and lodging.
University Name on Rental Agreement
Car rental agreements for both employees and non-employees renting for University business should, for insurance reasons, include "Stanford University" with the name of the individual whenever possible. Use of the University-provided travel card serves this purpose for employees.
Car Rental Insurance
DO NOT ELECT additional car rental insurance within the continental United States. The University self-insures against risk for all employees, visitors, and students who rent a car from any agency while on University business within the continental U.S.
Travelers should DECLINE all additional insurance coverage, including:
- Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)
- Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)
- Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)
- Personal Effects Coverage
- Liability Coverage
No expense for car rental insurance will be paid by the University except when renting in a foreign country or Hawaii. Travelers should accept additional car rental insurance in foreign countries and Hawaii. Copies of the University's "Certificate of Self-Insurance" can be obtained through Stanford's Office of Risk Management.
Driver and Location Limitations
For the traveler to be covered by the rental agency's basic insurance, the rental vehicle may not be driven by persons other than the renter or leave the state in which it is rented without the rental agency's permission.
Car Rental Local to Stanford
Enterprise Rent-A-Car offers a special discount to Stanford at its on-campus location. This arrangement is not available on Stanford Travel's online booking site. Ask for the Stanford rate and show your University ID Card.
- Hours: Monday – Friday 7:30 am – 6:00 pm and Saturday - Sunday 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
- Address: 360 Oak Road, Stanford (Stock Farm Parking Structure #5, Ground Level)
- Phone: 1-650-833-8060
- Stanford Customer Number: 23J2266
Car Rental Accident While on Stanford Business
In the event of an accident involving a car rented for University business, the traveler should:
- Obtain names, addresses, and phone numbers of all persons involved, including any witnesses
- Request the name, address, and phone number of the legal owner of each vehicle involved
- NOT admit liability or make any statement, except to police officers
- For accidents on campus, report to Stanford Police at 1-650-723-9633
- For accidents off-campus, report to local police
- Promptly notify Risk Management of the accident by submitting the information electronically to Risk Management. The traveler may also call 1-650-723-4555. Refer involved parties to Risk Management for insurance responses.
Personal Use of Rental Cars
Any portion of the cost of a rental car attributable to the personal use of that car by the traveler must be subtracted from the total rental bill before requesting reimbursement. The personal portion is calculated by prorating the total cost of the rental over the number of days for personal use and number of days for University business use.
If the traveler purchases extra insurance for a domestic, mainland car rental in order to be covered during the personal portion, the entire cost of the insurance coverage for the entire rental period will be a personal expense. However, if the rental occurs in a foreign country or Hawaii, the cost may be prorated.
If personal expenses are included in the amount charged to a Stanford Travel Card, they will be subtracted from the total amount due for reimbursement on the traveler's expense report.
Use of Private Automobiles
The University will pay a standard rate per mile for official travel by private automobile based on the actual driving distance by the most direct route (not more than 105% of the most direct mileage indicated by Google Maps). The standard mileage rate is in lieu of all actual automobile expenses, such as fuel and lubrication, towing charges, physical damage to the vehicle, repairs, replacements, tires, depreciation, insurance, etc. In addition to the standard mileage rate, necessary and reasonable charges for the following automobile-related expenses are allowed: tolls, ferries, parking, bridges, tunnels, and liability and physical damage insurance coverage for driving in foreign countries or Hawaii. Traffic ticket and parking ticket expenses are personal and will not be paid by the University.
Computation of Starting Point
Expense for ground transportation may be computed from the traveler's home when travel occurs during weekends, holidays, or outside normal business hours (usually 8:00 am to 5:00 pm). Expense for ground transportation must be computed from home whenever the trip does not involve a business stop at Stanford and the distance from home is less than the distance from Stanford.
Two or More People Traveling Together
Because payment for private automobile expenses is intended to reimburse the owner for use of the car, mileage and related expenses are payable only to one of the two or more persons traveling together in the same vehicle. The person paid is usually the owner / operator of the vehicle.
Insurance and Accidents
For more information about Insurance and Accidents when using a private automobile while on University business see Administrative Guide Policy 8.4.2: Vehicle Use.
Railroads, Non-local Buses, Commercial Vessels
The University will pay the cost of the lowest priced accommodations available for the trip. Payment will not exceed the lowest available commercial airfare that would be payable for the same trip. The charge that would have been incurred as the lowest available commercial airfare must be documented within two business days of initial approval of the travel with a screen shot of relevant fares available at the time of booking (e.g., the screen display from an online airfare search engine). If post-travel dated airfare comparison is submitted as backup, Travel and Reimbursement auditors will calculate an online comparison at the time of processing, and will pay based on the lesser of their own comparison or that provided by the traveler.
Modes of Transportation that Include Meals or Lodging
Some types of transportation such as rail, bus or ship may include meals and/or overnight accommodation in the fare charged for travel. For each night that railroad or bus accommodation is used, an amount equal to the lodging allowance will be deducted from the per diem rate, if applicable. Payment of per diem will not be allowed for the period of travel aboard a ship or other vessel where the cost of subsistence is included in the fare for passage and stateroom.
Automobile in Lieu of Commercial Air Travel
- Use of a private automobile has been authorized in accordance with Administrative Guide Policy 8.4.2: Vehicle Use
The use of a rental car is authorized and the private or rented automobile is used in travel for which air is generally most appropriate and economical, payment will be made according to Use of Private Automobiles or Use of Rental Cars but in either case payment will not exceed the lowest available commercial airfare that would be payable for the same trip.
The charge that would have been incurred as the lowest available commercial fare must be documented, within two business days of initial approval of the air travel, with a screen shot of relevant fares available at the time of booking (e.g., the screen display from an online airfare search engine). If post-travel dated airfare comparison is submitted as backup, Travel and Reimbursement auditors will calculate an online comparison at the time of processing, and will pay based on the lesser of their own comparison or that provided by the traveler. If two or more people travel together by automobile for a business purpose, the equivalent airfare calculation is the sum of airfare plus ground transportation costs for all of the travelers.
Automobile Trips of More than One Day
When an automobile, private or rented, is used for a trip of more than one day, the University will pay travel expenses as described in Automobile in Lieu of Commercial Air Travel – including documentation requirements, with the addition of meals and lodging to the expenses being compared to the lowest available commercial airfare that would be payable for the same trip. For this purpose, the University will calculate an en-route per diem based on an average driving distance of 400 miles per day by the most direct route, or actual number of days taken, whichever is less. Each passenger claiming payment for meals and lodging must prepare a separate expense report.
Temporary Off-Campus Assignment
When an employee has a temporary assignment away from campus, payment will be made for the expense of ground transportation between campus and the assignment location or between home and the assignment location, whichever is less.
The University will not pay employees for commuting expenses between home and campus.