Fiscal Operations Manual
Section 411: Travel
Effective: 02/01/1982
Revised: 08/01/2016


Prior to departure, the traveler should contact the appropriate Business Center regarding the applicable policy for lodging expenses. Unit policy for lodging must be applied in the same manner to all travelers from the same unit.

A traveler is in travel status when it is determined that the traveler would not reasonably be expected to return to their home station.

Commercial lodging reimbursement is based upon the current per diem rate as determined by the traveler’s lodging location. For the day the traveler leaves on a trip, the per diem rate specified for where the traveler will spend the night is used. When there is more than one lodging location during the trip, use the specified rate for where the traveler will spend the night for each leg of the trip. For the last leg of the trip, the per diem rate used for their last overnight location is used.

Lodging for travel within the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia will be reimbursed at the OSU approved rates found on the Business Affairs Travel website. For travel to or within Alaska and Hawaii and foreign countries, OSU uses the federal rate posted on Business Affairs Travel page for the most current per diem rates for lodging, meal, and incidental expenses. These rates are updated monthly.

Lodging room taxes are not included in the lodging per diem rate for domestic travel; however, room taxes are included in foreign per diem rates. Lodging room taxes should be reported separately in "Other Expenses" on the OSU Travel Reimbursement Request.

Travelers have the option to have lodging within per diem rates prepaid with the PCard. Traveler should work with their PCard custodian to secure payment as a non-present card transaction. A comment should be placed on the travel reimbursement form stating lodging has been prepaid via PCard. Travelers must submit a valid lodging receipt obtained from the lodging establishment to receive reimbursement. Oregon State University requires original, itemized lodging receipts be submitted to substantiate the expense. The lodging documentation must state the overnight travel date, time, place, amount, and include a business purpose. Lodging receipts serve as proof of business travel away from the employee’s home station and document that the expense was incurred as required for an IRS accountable plan.

All lodging expenses will be reimbursed at actual cost up to the current per diem rates. Any lodging expenses over the current stated per diem rate will not be paid, regardless of funding source.  An exception request for actual and reasonable costs to the current per diem limit may be submitted to the Budget Authority and Business Center prior to travel and reimbursed with the appropriate documentation.

Lodging exceptions are as follows:

  • Portland Metropolitan Area - lodging will be reimbursed at actual and reasonable cost only
  • Conference Lodging – Reimbursed at actual and reasonable lodging expenses over the allowable lodging per diem rate when conference documentation is provided.  Appropriate documentation regarding the conference lodging rate should include a copy of conference registration information showing location, dates of conference, conference hotel(s), and single room rate. If registration materials are not available from the traveler or the conference website, the head of the department should sign and date a statement specifying that the event meets the criteria for a “conference exception”.  The statement must also include a brief description of the event, the agenda, the date(s), location, attendees, and the single room lodging rate.  This statement must accompany each attending employee’s travel reimbursement request and will be retained for audit. Lodging taxes are included under Miscellaneous Expenses.
  • Lodging Per Diem – Reimbursement without a receipt based on per diem rate only will be treated as an exception. A thorough statement documenting why an exception is needed in lieu of the actual rate must be submitted with the reimbursement request and approved by the Business Center.

For group travel, the room rate may be calculated by total room costs divided by total number of travelers (itemized receipts and a rooming list are required). Lodging taxes are considered Miscellaneous Expenses and should be recorded in the “Other Expenses” section on the Travel Reimbursement form.

AirBnB and VRBO are considered commercial lodging facilities. All fees are included in the daily rate for lodging per diem calculation. If taxes are listed, they should be reported separately in "Other Expenses" on the OSU Travel Reimbursement Request.

Non-Commercial Lodging - Travelers utilizing non-commercial lodging facilities (e.g.: travel trailer, motor home, staying with family members or friends) are provided a daily payment of $25.00 regardless of duration or location.