Travel Policies and Procedures
It is the policy of the University that all reasonable and necessary expenses for official travel incurred by University employees are reimbursed according to the laws of the State of Mississippi. Penalty for presenting fraudulent claim is a fine of no more than $250.00, civil liability for the full amount received illegally, and, in addition, removal from office or position held by the person presenting such claim (Section 25-3-45, Mississippi Code 1972).
University travel policy and procedures
A W9 is required for all undergraduate and graduate students being reimbursed for travel. Faculty and Staff will need to reference their social security number on the START HERE page of the Domestic Travel Document and the International Travel Document if it is their first time to be reimbursed for travel. Payments will NOT be made until this information is provided.
The Department of Finance and Administration, Office of Purchasing, Travel and Fleet Management in Jackson has notified the university that the American Express corporate card program will be terminated. All accounts will be closed effective Tuesday, Dec. 31. Accounts should be paid in full prior to this date.
The American Express corporate card was made available for the express purpose of university business travel and was not a credit card offered for personal use.
The corporate travel cards were issued to individuals and not to the university; therefore the employee is responsible for paying all expenses charged to the card.
Each employee required to travel in performance of official duties should have prior authorization from the department chair and/or other designated officials. The originating department should be certain that the travel request form is properly completed. The Permission to Travel form is prepared by the applicant and routed to the appropriate signature authorities for signature before sending to the travel office. No Employee can approve his/her own travel, next higher approval is required. Review the following sections under PERMISSION TO TRAVEL for further details.
The approval requirements for travel are as follows:
» In-state and out-of-state business trips require approval of immediate supervisor in oral or written form (check with next higher level of authority for their policy). A completed Permission to Travel form is NOT required by the Travel Office.
*Business trip/meeting - a meeting with other USM colleagues on a different campus, teaching or training on another USM campus, meetings with potential research clients, meetings with IHL and Department of Finance within the state of MS, meetings with external agencies to promote funded research at USM, collection of field data for research, etc.
» In-state and out-of-state trips for organized meetings such as conferences, conventions, association meetings require approvals of the chair or next higher level of expenditure authority and Travel Office. A completed Permission to Travel form IS required.
*Organized meeting - when an organization (national, regional or local) organizes a meeting to promote professional development, present and discuss research, annual board meetings for the organization, collaboration with fellow colleagues, etc. Usually, but not always, there will be a brochure, marketing flyer, and/or a registration fee.
» International Travel REQUIRES approval of the chair or next higher level of expenditure authority and the Dean of your School, as well as the Travel Office, Vice President, and the President. Permission to Travel and International Travel Justification forms required. See International Travel for additional instructions. When the Travel Office receives the Permission to Travel form, it will be reviewed to make sure it has been properly completed and required approval signatures have been obtained. If the form is not properly completed, it will be returned to the employee who is traveling. Multiple departments may be charged for a single trip. Write each department and department chartfield information (Account, Fund, Program, Project/Grant) on the Permission to Travel form, indicating the amount to be encumbered from each department, and route the permission to the respective expenditure authorities. Only one Permission to Travel form should be submitted per trip. When submitting the Travel Voucher for payment, indicate how much should be charged to each department. If no division of funds is made, the distribution will be evenly divided between each chartfield listed.
Once you have completed the Permission to Travel Form, print it and obtain the necessary signatures. Make a copy of the form for your records and send the completed form to the Travel Office, Box #5104. A copy of the form will be returned to you once it has been approved by the Travel Coordinator.
Any changes in place or dates of meeting, estimated amount of travel, or department budget string should be referenced in a memo, approved by the appropriate expenditure authorities and sent to the Office of Travel with a copy of approved Permission to Travel attached.
When a Permission to Travel request has been canceled, it is the responsibility of the traveler/employee to notify the Travel Office of the cancellation. They can send a copy of the Permission to Travel request with the word "Canceled" written across the page to the Travel Office, or they can send an e-mail to the travel office with the following information: Name of Employee, Title of Meeting (do not abbreviate), Location of Meeting, and Dates of Travel.
When hotel rooms are blocked for conferences, conventions, associations, annual meetings, etc., and a special discounted hotel rate provided, the employee should go through the conference housing bureau or directly to the hotel to obtain lodging. A copy of the conference literature showing the conference hotel and rate or the registration form which often includes the housing reservation must be attached to the Permission to Travel in order to be approved. The conference literature is required even if you are staying at a less expensive non-conference hotel (State Policy). A memo from the employee is acceptable if there are no rates listed on the brochure OR the conference website.
A waiver request form is required for any lodging reimbursement greater than the conference rate and shall be attached to the Travel Voucher for reimbursement.
Reimbursement to employees for hotels guaranteed (deposits) prior to completion of travel can be done by submitting a Travel Voucher along with proof of payment and the approved Permission to Travel to the Travel Office.
Registration fees are paid by the traveling employee. Reimbursement for the registration can be obtained prior to the scheduled travel by filling out a Travel Voucher and submitting it to the Travel Department with a copy of the approved Permission to Travel attached and proof of payment.
1-Registration will be paid by the University if a group of four or more employees are attending the same conference. Submit one Registration Check Request for all employees along with a copy of the Permission to Travel and a copy of the companies registration form for each employee involved must be attached. This must be submitted four weeks prior to the registration due date. If the due date has passed, the registration will be returned to the employees for payment.
2-When the registration is larger than $750.00.
3-When the employee has been denied a credit card from American Express (must provide proof of denial).
Registration Check Request forms are located within the Domestic and International Travel Forms found on the Travel Forms page.
House Bill 1488, effective July 1, 2002, allows state agency employees to make reservations for all travel arrangements, either through one of the state contract travel agencies or by other methods. Basically, this means the employee has the option of booking flights over the Internet if they can save money. If reservations are made over the Internet or by other methods, a receipt and itinerary shall accompany the request for reimbursement. For all flights which are not booked through one of the contract travel agencies, the state agency must maintain in its files a cost comparison showing a minimum of two (2) fares. This cost comparison must show the fare and any issuance cost and must show a savings, and shall be submitted along with the employees Travel Voucher. Neither of these quotes should be through a travel agency if they will not be used. The least expensive routing shall be used. If the employee must book a flight at a price in excess of the lowest rate on the cost comparison, an eWaiver request is required to justify using that fare and must be attached to the travel voucher.
Any bonus or promotional gratuity received as a result of official state travel shall be used to offset or reduce the cost of subsequent official state travel. Under no circumstances can the traveler keep a bonus or other promotional gratuity so earned for his own personal use. As sufficient mileage, earned as a result of state-paid travel, is accumulated, free ticket coupons will be applied for and used to offset official state travel costs. Follow airline procedures to exchange the miles for a ticket.
Frequently, employees are concerned about receiving the reimbursement check via the processing of the Employee Travel Voucher in sufficient time to satisfy the payment due date of the credit card company. In order for an employee to be issued payment for airfare costs prior to completion of the trip, the university will require submission of a completed Employee Travel Voucher. A copy of the airline E-ticket reflecting payment, a copy of the passenger receipt, or copy of the credit card statement (credit card number should be marked out) reflecting the airline charge MUST be attached to the Employee Travel Voucher, along with the signed copy of the permission to travel.
Upon an employee's return from a trip, a second Employee Travel Voucher should be completed reflecting the additional travel costs incurred, such as hotel, per diem for meals, parking, etc. Attach all required sheets to the Travel Voucher.
Some examples of when this would be required include:
— Requesting authority to pay an amount greater than state contract
— Requesting authority to rent a vehicle with a cost greater than the medium size
— Requesting authority to purchase car rental insurance
— Requesting authority to pay a hotel other than the conference hotel
The Waiver Request form is located on the Travel Forms page and detailed instructions are included.
Immediately upon returning from a trip, the traveler should submit a Travel Voucher for reimbursement of travel expenses. If the traveler received an Advance and the Travel Voucher has not been filed within 15 days any Advance received will be deducted from the traveler’s paycheck. If the Travel Voucher is submitted after several months have passed, there may not be available funding to pay the reimbursement without another source of funds.
The Travel Voucher with required original receipts attached should be completed and submitted to the Travel Office. If the Travel Voucher does not correspond to the Permission to Travel form, the voucher will be returned for clarification and resubmission. If there are changes, see CHANGES AND CANCELLATION OF TRAVEL REQUEST. Vouchers submitted with errors other than mathematical errors will be returned with an error sheet.
Travel expenses will be reimbursed only for the employee's own expense. One employee cannot submit expense for reimbursement on the same voucher with another person.
If members of the family accompany the University representative, request the hotel clerk to note the single rate on the bill; otherwise, reimbursement will be made for one-half the cost of the room. Expenses as a result of unofficial stopovers, side trips, telephone charges, or any other items of a personal nature should not be submitted for reimbursement.
Please see Meal Allowance Index by State for specific city/state information. http://www.dfa.state.ms.us/Purchasing/Travel/convertedrates.pdf
Reimbursement up to the maximum daily limits are set by the Department of Finance and Administration and listing of those limits and high cost city limits will be provided by the Travel Office.
A Waiver Request must be completed justifying any lodging reimbursement greater than the conference rate.
Reimbursement will be made for lodging expense incurred in a hotel or motel on the presentation of a paid original itemized receipt. Express check-out receipts which do not provide an itemized hotel bill are not acceptable.
When a room is shared with other employees on travel status, reimbursement will be calculated on a pro-rata share of the total cost. The other traveler must submit a copy of the lodging receipt indicating that the room was shared. An employee on travel status, if accompanied by spouse who is not an employee on travel status, is entitled to reimbursement at the single room rate. Request the hotel clerk to note the single room rate on the receipt.
The Department of Finance and Administration has negotiated special rates with a number of hotel chains. Savings can be realized by requesting the State rate from these hotels. A listing of the published hotel rates approved for use by State employees may be obtained at the State of Mississippi Travel Policy, Contract, & General Information link.
Tips and taxi service should be included as part of other expenses on the Travel Voucher. Tips reported here include baggage handling tips when arriving and departing a hotel or airport. Each taxi-limousine fee in excess of $10.00 requires a receipt. If multiple taxis are used, list individually. The state does not reimburse taxi fares for optional travel to/from restaurants.
— Lodging (itemized receipt)
— Rail, bus or plane (e-ticket acceptable)
— Registration fees
— Car rental receipt
— Telephone expense (only as listed on hotel receipt)
— Gas for rental vehicle
— Taxi-Limousine in excess of $10.00
— Parking/Tolls in excess of $10.00
— Airline Baggage Fees — Tips in excess of $10.00 require receipt (over $10.00 without a receipt MUST be itemized with dates, amounts, and payees).
It is recommended that employees maintain for their own record copies of all receipts and approved travel forms.
— Meals, including tips
— Mileage of personal vehicle
— Tips for less than $10.00
— Taxi-Limousine less than $10.00
— Parking/Tolls less than $10.00
— Tips for baggage handling less than $10.00. USM allows up to $10.00 day of departure and up to $10.00 day of return.
The University Procurement Office has arranged with the State Contracted Rental Car Agency to provide a way for employees to use the University Procurement Card as an option to pay for the rental of a vehicle.
Review the worksheet located in the P-Card section before renting a vehicle with the Procurement Card. Refer to the P-Card Policy for additional procurement policies and procedures.
When faculty or staff will be traveling with a group of 6 or more students, a PO can be created for the motel and airline tickets.
No PO will be processed for Registrations. A Registration Check Request (with a copy of the Permission to Travel attached) will need to be sent to the travel Department four weeks prior to the due date for ALL USM pre-paid registrations for groups.
If travel is by other than the most direct route between points where official University business is conducted, the additional cost must be borne by the traveler. No traveler can claim transportation expense when he/she is gratuitously transported by another person, or when he/she is transported by another traveler who is entitled to reimbursement for transportation expense.
The following situations justify the use of private vehicles for travel:
When travel is required at such time or to such places that common carrier transportation may not be reasonably available.
When one or more persons travel to the same destination in the same vehicle and total mileage claimed does not exceed the total airline tourist fares for transporting the same number of people.
When the comparison of the "total cost of driving" and the "total cost of flying" expenses show that it is less expensive to drive than to fly.
» Total Cost of Driving includes en route meals, en route lodging, and the official rate for mileage reimbursement when a private vehicle is used for University business.
» Total Cost of Flying includes the lowest unrestricted airfare, charges for shipping of equipment and/or supplies required at the destination, airport parking, and all required ground transportation at destination.
The employee must obtain a written quote for the cost of airfare and attach to the Employee Travel Voucher (this must be done prior to travel) along with the justification showing the total cost of driving is less than flying. The employee will not be reimbursed more than the cost of the flight.
Mississippi Travel Manual mandates that State officers and employees traveling on official State business in their private automobile be reimbursed at the same rate federal employees are reimbursed for official federal business in private automobiles, and that if a fleet vehicle is available to the employee and the employee chooses not to use it but rather drive their own personal vehicle, then reimbursement would be at the lower rate. http://www.dfa.state.ms.us/Purchasing/Travel/MileageRate.pdf
If the employee is traveling directly from their residence and the distance is closer than their home work base, reimbursement should be calculated on that distance.
Use Rand McNally to Calculate Mileage http://www.randmcnally.com/mileage-calculator.do
Mileage should be referenced on the Travel Voucher from city to city. If there is travel within the city of destination, indicate mileage as "in and around" on a separate line. If the mileage is to/from specific agencies, reference the address and look up the mileage on Rand McNally Standard Highway Mileage Guide and attach it to your Travel Voucher. Printing and attaching the Rand McNally results will help expedite your mileage calculation voucher.
The employee will purchase his/her own common carrier transportation and claim reimbursement. Employees are not allowed to charge the transportation to the University. Ticket cost reimbursement must be handled through the Travel Voucher. A copy of the itinerary or passenger receipt and the credit card statement (credit card number should be marked out) reflecting the airline charge MUST be attached to the employee Travel Voucher.
Travel by airline shall be at the tourist rate, Certification that tourist accommodations are not available will be necessary when travel is first class.
Effective January 1, 1989 any bonus or promotional gratuity received as a result of official state travel shall be used to offset or reduce the cost of subsequent official state travel. Under no circumstances can the traveler keep a bonus or other promotional gratuities so earned for his/her own personal use.
Below are examples of when a car is needed:
— When a destination has been reached by common carrier and several locations in the same vicinity must be visited.
— When transportation between airport terminal and destination is needed and taxi-limousine service is not feasible or available.
— When a schedule cannot be met through the use of common carrier
If a rental car is required, the employee should use the worksheets provided under Vehicle Rental Information.
If you have any problems with car rental agencies, contact the names referenced on the worksheets for the agency.
If the State Contract Car Rental Agency does not have any rental cars available, an approved Waiver Request must be signed by the Agency Head or designee and approved by the State Travel Office in Jackson, Mississippi, for the use of another rental car agency as well as permission to obtain insurance. A copy of the approved Waiver Request must be attached to the Employee Travel Voucher.
Should the traveler feel that a vehicle larger than medium size is required, they must submit a Waiver Request for approval. A copy of the Wavier Request must be attached to the Travel Voucher.
The provisions of the approved State Contract Car Rental Agency apply only to rentals in the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii with some franchise locations exceptions. You will be advised at the time of booking if your rental is not under the contract rate and provisions. It is better, however, to always ask at the time of rental if the rental includes CDW/LDW insurance.
If you are involved in an accident while driving a rental car you should
— Contact the police immediately
— Contact the State Contract Car Rental Office where you rented the vehicle
— Obtain the Officer's badge number and the phone number of where you would call to get a copy of the accident report
— Call and request a copy of the accident report be sent to you
— Contact the Accident Liaison (601-266-4414) and inform the representative of the accident. Once you receive a copy of the accident report, forward a copy of it to the representative. They will then file the necessary paperwork for any liability damages caused in the accident.
Parking and Other Traffic Violations -- These are the sole responsibility of the driver. The rental agency, State of Mississippi, and USM are NOT liable.
When a Van is required for group travel, ALWAYS contact the State Contract Rental Agency at least 72 hours prior to the date needed. This will allow the Rental Agency to have the vans available for you when you need them.
If they have no vans available on their lot at the time you need them, you will need to:
1. Check around for the best rental rate on the size van you need. Be sure they include Collision Damage Waiver/Loss Damage Waiver (CDW/LDW) in their quote. You MUST always purchase insurance if the vehicle you are renting is not on State Contract.
2. You will need to complete a Waiver form. The Waiver and instructions are located on the Travel Forms page.
Travel Advances outstanding in excess of 15 days after return from the trip will be payroll deducted from the employee's paycheck. The payroll deduction instituted will be the amount of the outstanding Travel Advance, not to exceed one-half of the employee's net pay. See the Travel Advance Policy.
Updated policy effective on all advances for travel taken starting after 07/01/2009
Advances will not be issued to USM employees. Reimbursement for any prepaid travel expense can be obtained prior to the scheduled travel by filling out a Travel Voucher and submitting it to the Travel Department with a copy of the approved Permission to Travel attached and proof of payment.
The following circumstances may require a travel advance
— International Travel
— Graduate or undergraduate Student travel
— Travel by teams or large groups -- One faculty or staff member traveling with the undergraduate students. A list of the students must be attached to the Permission to Travel.
— When the advance is serving to fund programs or research start-up operations, and is approved by the Dean, VP, Associate Dean or Senior Financial Officer.
— When the employee has been denied a credit card from American Express (must provide proof of denial).
Travel Advances must be reconciled within “15 days” from trip end date. The only exception is when the second trip is within five working days of the first. In addition, a traveler must reconcile an outstanding travel advance before he or she will be issued any reimbursement, whether it be for travel or for another business-related expense.
Outstanding Travel Advances not only include instances when an Employee Travel Voucher has not been submitted to the Travel Office but also when reimbursable expenses processed on an Employee Travel Voucher are less than the Travel Advance received.
If the employee is past due a second time, the employee will be ineligible for future advances for a period of one year. Any travel during that year will be on a “reimbursement only” basis.
If an employee has had their eligibility for advances revoked and then reinstated, any further revocation will be permanent.
If it should become necessary to do a deduction from a payroll check the employee will not qualify for future travel advances. The deduction instituted will be the amount of the outstanding Travel Advance, not to exceed one-half of the employee's net pay. This deduction will continue until the outstanding Travel Advance is settled by the Travel Office.
Returned Check Policy:
When an employee submits a check to cover an amount due from an advance and the check is returned to USM by the bank because of insufficient funds, the employee will not qualify for future travel advances.
— Permission to Travel Forms: Required for the faculty or staff in charge of the group travel. Contains the estimated charges reflected for faculty/staff member plus the members of the group that is traveling. (ex: A coach is responsible for himself/herself and the team and completes one form for those expenses)
— Meals: The actual cost cannot exceed the maximum meal allowance per student. (ex. Per Diem $36.00, group of 6, actual cost cannot exceed $216.00). An original itemized meal receipt MUST be obtained from the restaurant. A list of the individuals that participated in that meal MUST accompany the receipt.
— Lodging: An original itemized receipt showing room rate, applicable charges, and individual names must be obtained from the motel. See Lodging Expense for more detail.
— Conference Registration: The total amount required for the Faculty or Staff member plus the students attending the conference (same amount referenced on the Registration Check Request should be referenced on the Permission to Travel). An individual Permission to Travel is required for all Faculty, Staff, and Graduate Students but is not required for undergraduates.
— Airfare: Actual costs with original itemized paid receipts. See Airline Travel Arrangements for more detail
— Rental Car: The original itemized paid receipt is required. See Vehicle Rental Information.
— Gasoline: Actual costs with original itemized paid receipts.
— Taxi, Shuttle, Parking and Tolls: Actual cost. Original receipt required if over $10.00 per claim.
— Van Rental: Use the worksheet located under Vehicle Rental Information for renting a 15 Passenger Van. Also review the Policy and Procedures for Van Rental for Group Travel.
When the group is large enough to take advantage of group discounts with airlines or motels, a PO can be used to pay for the expense. The department needs to contact Travel for further information. See Policy and Procedures for using POs with travel.
Advances may be obtained for out of state Student Group Travel. The Faculty or Staff member traveling with the group will be designated the custodian of the funds. They will be responsible for paying for all expenses incurred during the groups travel. They will also be responsible for submitting a Travel Voucher upon returning from the trip. Advances for Student Group Travel will have the same deadlines for filing a Travel Voucher as with individual travel. If the deadlines are not met, the Advance will be deducted from the Faculty or Staff's payroll check.
See International Travel for requirements when traveling abroad with a group of students.
International Travel follows the same policies and procedures as domestic travel with some additional requirements. All forms required for International Travel must be submitted to the Travel Office 90 days prior to travel. All travel outside the continental limits of the United States (Canada, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Mexico, etc...) must be approved by the University of Southern Mississippi President.
Permission to Travel Forms Must Be Submitted 90 Days Prior to Travel
— Permission to Travel Form - Travel Forms Submit 90 days prior to travel.
— International Travel Justification Form - Travel Forms Required by Office of the Provost and Office of the President
— Employee Travel Voucher - Travel Forms
— Business Related Expense Form - Travel Forms
Required Approvals Must be Submitted 90 Days Prior to Travel
International Travel Approval Requirements:
Travel outside the continental United States (Canada, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Mexico are considered outside) requires the approval of the Chair or next higher level of expenditure authority, the appropriate Dean of your college and those of the appropriate Vice President, and The President.
Student Group International Travel
Completion of International forms is required for any international group student travel regardless of how the travel is being paid.
When a Faculty or Staff member is traveling with a group of students, the following is required:
— Permission to Travel Form: Travel Forms Submit 90 days prior to travel.
— International Travel Justification Form: Travel Forms Required by Office of the Provost and Office of the President
One each of the above forms needs to be filled out with the faculty member's name that will be the custodian of the money for the students. A list of students traveling must be attached. Estimate how much the costs of the trip will be for the students only.
Faculty or Staff Member traveling with students:
The faculty or staff member will also need to fill out all forms required for International Travel referencing estimated expenses that the faculty/staff member will incur.
It is recommended, but not required, that a State Contract Travel Agency make arrangements for international travel, including lodging and car rental services. They will also provide information on inoculation requirements, if any, and assistance in obtaining passports and visas when needed.
If the traveler is able to obtain a booking outside of the State Contract Airfare Rates that will save the University, he/she is allowed to arrange his/her own travel without the assistance of the State approved Travel Agencies. No cost comparison or Wavier Request is required if the cost of the flight is less than the State Contract Airfare Rates.
The State contract for car rental is only for within the United States. If you need to rent a car during an International trip, you may use any rental agency. Be sure to purchase Collision Damage Waiver/Loss Damage Waiver insurance on the vehicle.
No reimbursements or advances will be issued until the Travel Office has received the approved Permission to Travel form back from the Office of the President.
Reimbursement policy for International Travel follows the same guidelines as domestic travel. All receipts must be converted into US dollars. See the CONVERSION RATES FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL listed below.
NOTE: State regulations prohibit reimbursement of International Travel costs in excess of the amount shown on the Permission to Travel form. Any costs in excess of this estimated amount must be resubmitted showing the excess charges and again approved by the next higher level of expenditure authority.
Reimbursement for Meals
Reimbursement for meals will be based on the US Department of State maximum travel per diem allowances for foreign areas. Please contact the Travel Office for the per diem allowed in the area you will be traveling in.
Conversion Rates for International Travel
Live Currency Converter is a service that converts any amount from one currency to another with more than 150 foreign currencies available. Exchange rates are updated every hour.
All reimbursement receipts must be converted into US Dollars. When converting foreign currency to dollars for the purpose of reimbursement, you must attach proof of the official rate of exchange. Any documented official statement of the official rate of exchange will be acceptable.
US Department of State Travel Warnings & Consular Information Sheets