Policy Notes: Foreign Travel

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.

Review Overview: Foreign Visitor Travel for important information on topics including compliance issues, visa types, letters of invitation, requesting payment and how to get help.


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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 booked through Stanford Travel. Per Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2: Business and Travel Expenses, use of Stanford Travel is expected, as it supports the guiding principle to spend appropriately, eliminates the administrative requirement to provide documentation demonstrating the expense is reasonable and connects travel reservations to International SOS.

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 exceptions are when travel is at a lower total cost if the traveler stays over a weekend or holiday, with department approval and/or when traveling more than 8 time zones, travelers may arrive one day ahead of the event (for example, the conference starts on Monday, it is ok to arrive on Sunday). The traveler must document the reason for this extra expense 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.

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