|Responsible University Administrator:||Vice President of Finance and Administration|
|Responsible Officer:||Director of Procurement and Contract Services|
|Current Revision Date:||02/20/13|
|Next Review Date:||02/20/17|
|End of Policy Date:||N/A|
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).
This policy is required for the effective communication of university policies regarding travel.
All members of The University of Southern Mississippi community.
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.
An option for our frequent travelers is the American Express Corporate Card. The card fee has been waived by American Express and the card will be provided at no cost. When your airline ticket is purchased with the card you will receive Accident Insurance Coverage of $350,000 for any USM business travel. This coverage begins when the employee boards a flight, ends when they arrive back at their home, covering the employee on the ground and in the air.
If your ticket is purchased with the American Express Corporate Card, your checked luggage carries an additional insurance of $500.00 and carryon baggage is insured up to $1,250.00. As per Section 111.B. of the Travel Manual, American Express Corporate Charge Card, "the agreement between the State of Mississippi and American Express stipulates that the use of the corporate card must be limited to reimbursable expenses incurred on official state business travel."
The American Express Corporate Card is for the express purpose of business travel and is not a credit card offered for personal use. To ensure compliance with the agreement, the State Travel Office has blocked Merchant Category Codes (MCC) that are non-travel related. A list of the MCC codes that will be blocked can be found at http://www.dfa.state.ms.us/Purchasing/Travel/mcc_block.pdf. If you qualify to receive the American Express Corporate Card, they will issue it to you and not to the university. You are responsible for any and all charges 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.
Business travel and vacation/personal leave may be combined when ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS ARE MET:
The approval requirements for travel are as follows:
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.
Registration fees are paid by the traveling employee.
Registration Check Request forms are located within the Domestic and International Travel Forms found on the Travel Forms page.
Effective October 1, 2007, there will not be a scheduled Aircraft Transportation Services state contract. For those of you that have utilized this contract in the past, it is recommended that you contact your state contract travel agency (Pro-Travel or Magnolia Travel of Hattiesburg) for assistance. This change is the result of lower prices available using Internet Websites.
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.
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.
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.
There are times when travel does not allow you to comply with the Mississippi Travel Policy. When this happens, you must submit a Waiver Request form. The Waiver Request form must be approved by the signature authority and/or dean, chair, or next higher authority and the agency head or designee. The approved copy of the waiver will be faxed or scanned and emailed back to you and needs to be attached to your Travel Voucher. To expedite the reimbursement process, the waiver should be approved before the travel commences.
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
Employee Travel Vouchers received in the Travel Office by 5 PM Wednesday will be paid within three weeks after submission UNLESS the voucher has to be returned to the employee for a correction or missing documentation. Employee Travel reimbursement checks will be mailed to the department's box number.
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.
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.
Payment checks for travel expenses are currently done on a weekly basis and are sent to the employee’s campus box listed on file.
The State of Mississippi prohibits the reimbursement of expenditures incurred by family members while accompanying an employee on a trip. 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.
When traveling, reimbursement for meals involving non-employees will be considered entertainment, development and business expenses and will be reimbursed. The university policy for entertainment will apply; see Entertainment Reimbursement Guidelines on the Accounts Payable website. Attach the USM Business Related Expense form to the Travel Voucher along with the original itemized receipt of the expense. The BREF is located within the Travel Voucher document. Total meal tips should not exceed 20% of the reimbursable amount of the meal (excluding the price of any alcohol purchased).
Long distance telephone charges must be documented on page two of the Travel Voucher. No personal calls will be reimbursed.
Reimbursement for meals will be at a reasonable amount with the following maximum daily limits:
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.
Meals for official university travel that do not require overnight lodging are taxable income and will NOT be reimbursed.
A copy of the conference literature showing the conference hotel and rate or a copy of the registration form which includes the housing reservation MUST BE ATTACHED to the Permission to Travel in order to be reimbursed.
A Waiver Request must be completed justifying any lodging reimbursement greater than the conference rate.
An employee traveling on official state business is expected to exercise the same care incurring expenses as would a prudent person traveling for personal reasons. Travel for business should be conducted at a minimum cost for achieving the success of the mission. For all reservations which are not booked through one of the contract Travel Agencies, the traveler is required to request a government rate for the room reserved.
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 at http://www.dfa.state.ms.us/Purchasing/Travel/Travel.html
Registration fees paid by the employee at the conference will be reimbursed on a Travel Voucher when supported by a paid receipt.
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. The state does not reimburse taxi fares for optional travel to/from restaurants.
Major expenses incurred by an employee while on official travel for the university require itemized receipts. The receipts must be originals and not copies.
Expenses that Require Original Receipts
— 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.
Expenses that do NOT Require Receipts
— 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 Card is NOT ALLOWED to be used for ANY Travel related expenses.
EXCEPTION: 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.
A Purchase Order is NOT ALLOWED for ANY Travel related expense.
EXCEPTIONS: 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.
Whether by public transportation, privately-owned vehicle, state-owned vehicle, etc., reimbursement will be made for the most direct practicable route. Transportation authorized for official travel includes private vehicles, common carriers, and rental cars. The least expensive form of transportation shall be used.
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 university uses The Rand McNally Standard Highway Mileage Guide as reference to determine mileage between cities. 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.
The following situations justify the use of private vehicles for travel:
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.
Reimbursement is based on the shortest distance between the university or the employee’s official work base and the destination. Please use the Rand McNally mileage calculator http://www.randmcnally.com/mileage-calculator.do
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.
Employees are reimbursed for actual airline and train fares. If, for some reason such as restricted schedules, the employee must book a flight at a price in excess of the lowest unrestricted rate, the traveler, prior to booking the flight, must submit a Wavier Request for approval by the signature authority and/or dean, chair, or next higher authority and the agency head or designee. A copy of this waiver must be attached to the Travel Voucher when submitted for reimbursement. A Wavier Request is not required if the cost comparison shows a savings.
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.
All rental car reservations MUST be made with the State Contracted Agency. The use of any other rental car company requires a waiver approved by the signature authority and/or dean, chair, or next higher authority and the agency head or designee. The waiver with instructions can be found on the TRAVEL FORMS page.
If a rental car is required, the employee should use the worksheets provided under Vehicle Rental Information.
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, who will 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.
Contact the State Contract Car Rental Agency to see if there is a franchise located in the country you will be traveling to. If there is not one, you may book your car rental with the agency of your choice. Be sure to purchase Collision Damage Waiver/Loss Damage Waiver insurance.
Use the worksheet located under Vehicle Rental Information for renting a 15-passenger van.
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:
Fares for taxis, limos, or shuttles (airport transportation service to and from motel) in excess of $10.00 require a receipt which must be attached to the Travel Voucher to receive reimbursement. The State does not reimburse taxi fares for optional travel to/from restaurants or for personal use.
Employee Travel Voucher should be submitted to the travel coordinator within 10 days after the return date of the trip. Should an employee have unspent Travel Advance funds, please send to the travel coordinator along with the Employee Travel Voucher.
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.
Employee Travel Vouchers received in the Travel Office by 5 p.m. Wednesday will be paid within three weeks after submission UNLESS the voucher has to be returned to the employee for correction or missing documentation. Travel reimbursement checks will be mailed to the department's box number.
State law prohibits cash advances for travel within the state.
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.
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.
When a department is traveling with a group of students, the following will be required for reimbursement:
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.
Graduate Students must comply with the same requirements as faculty and staff.
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
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:
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:
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
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:
The Director of Procurement and Contract Services is responsible for the review of this policy every four years (or whenever circumstances require immediate review).
Permission to Travel form available from https://eduprod.usm.edu/procurement-contract-services/travel-forms-and-instructions
International Travel Justification form available from https://eduprod.usm.edu/procurement-contract-services/travel-forms-and-instructions
Registration Check Request available from https://eduprod.usm.edu/procurement-contract-services/travel-forms-and-instructions
Employee Travel Voucher available from https://eduprod.usm.edu/procurement-contract-services/travel-forms-and-instructions
Waiver Request form available from https://eduprod.usm.edu/procurement-contract-services/travel-forms-and-instructions
Business Related Expense form available within the Travel Voucher at https://eduprod.usm.edu/procurement-contract-services/travel-forms-and-instructions
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 at http://www.dfa.state.ms.us/Purchasing/Travel/Travel.html
Amendments: Month, Day, Year – summary of changes
11/01/11: Formatted for Institutional Policies website.
02/20/13: Formatted for template. Minor editing throughout.