Meals & Lodging
Meals and lodging are subsistence expenses. The following sections define these expenses, explain actual versus per diem, and explain the conditions needed to be reimbursed for these expense types.
What are reimbursable subsistence expenses?
Subsistence expenses consist of charges for lodging, meals and incidentals (M&IE) incurred while on travel status. Meal reimbursement is allowed while on travel status if there is an overnight stay or if the meal is an integral part of a business meeting. The incidentals component is intended to reimburse the traveler for fees and tips given to waiters/waitresses, porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel maids, etc.
How does the M&IE limit differ from Per Diem?
The per day (M&IE) ceiling is the maximum daily amount authorized for such expenses. It is not a per diem, and only actual charges should be reimbursed.
Per diem is a daily subsistence allowance prescribed for a location of travel. Per diems are authorized for all foreign travel; travel within Alaska, Hawaii, and United States possessions; and domestic travel assignments of 30 days or more.
What receipts are required?
Receipts for meals are only required for meals exceeding $75 or for travelers who routinely claim the maximum daily M&IE cap. Itemized receipts are required for lodging regardless of expense, except when the traveler was hosted by a friend or relative, or when the traveler claims per diem. When staying at a friend's or relative's house, the traveler can compensate the host with a non-cash gift, up to $75 per trip. Reimbursement of host gifts costing $25 or more requires a receipt.
What signatures are required when paying a vendor?
- Form 5 submitted only for transactions where the vendor was paid directly (e.g., lodging not paid via corporate card) do not require the traveler's signature. The Form gets approved by the department head or delegate and then by Accounting and Financial Services.
- Reimbursement Rates
Subsistence Reimbursement Rates Maximum
Daily reimbursement rates for lodging as well as for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) are contingent on length of travel and/or whether there's an overnight stay. Details are available in Appendix B of Business and Finance Bulletin G-28.