Travel Standardized Documentation-Foreign M&I Per Diem Clarification

From:  Bobbi McCracken, Associate Vice Chancellor of Business & Financial Services and Controller
Sent: Tue, Sep 27, 2016 4:01 PM
To: MSOADM and Travel Coordinators Lists
Subject: Travel Standardized Documentation-Foreign M&I Per Diem Clarification

In December 2015, the campus announced a campus-wide standard approach to documenting lower value items related to travel, business meetings and entertainment required to promote administrative efficiencies and consistency across departments. At the request of Vice Provost Kalu, additional clarification is being provided on documentation requirements for meals & incidentals (M&I) while traveling to foreign locations. Consistent with UC policy, receipts are not required to support foreign per diem M&I claims; however, UC policy requires the traveler only claim per diem up to actuals (policy excerpts follow below). Therefore, it is important to clarify what is included in the M&I per diem and provide guidance on expectations.

UC Business & Finance Bulletin G-28 Travel policy defines per diem as "the daily subsistence allowance authorized under the federal per diem rates for a location of travel" and states:

  • The payment of a per diem does not require supporting receipts.
  • The incidental expenses portion of the federal per diem rate includes fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel maids, stewards or stewardesses and others on ships, and hotel servants in foreign countries.
  • Per diems are authorized for all foreign travel.

Effective immediately, travelers will not be required to provide receipts to support foreign per diem M&I amounts, and campus departments should not require receipts in these situations. However, to comply with the spirit of UC policy, travelers should be aware of the M&I related expenses incurred during the business portion of a foreign trip; and if the per diem M&I amount exceeds the travelers estimated actual expenses, the travel should request a reduction in the per diem amount reflected on their travel reimbursement. Travelers will continue to certify the appropriateness of expenses claimed and be responsible for adhering to the other aspects of UC Travel Policy, Business & Finance Bulletin G-28 (BFB G-28). The goal of this common documentation standard is to reduce the administrative burden on travelers, travel coordinators, and others. Please refer to BFB G-28 (http://policy.ucop.edu/doc/3420365/BFB-G-28) for complete information on travel expense reporting requirements.

Please submit questions and comments to travelfeedback@ucr.edu or https://ucr.service-now.com/ucr_inc.

UC Business & Finance Bulletin G-28 edited excerpts on foreign travel:

Foreign Travel - Assignments of Less Than 30 Days
Foreign travel shall be reimbursed in accordance with the Federal Maximum Travel Per Diem Allowances for Foreign Areas published by the Department of State. Travelers should only claim actual M& I travel expenses up to the per diem rate.*

Foreign Long-Term Travel - Assignments of 30 Days or More
The per diem allowance authorized for long-term travel is actual costs up to 100% of the applicable federal per diem rate.*

Indefinite Foreign Travel - Assignments that Exceed One Year
The subsistence reimbursements must be paid through the payroll system as additional income subject to withholding.

*UCR note: the M&I amounts for faculty-led programs (e.g. education abroad) will be negotiated based on location and costs to students and may be lower than the per diem amounts published by the Department of State.

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