Guidelines for Extended Foreign Travel/Relocation Expenses
Version: November 2018
The following guidelines have been developed to address approved foreign travel situations where standard lodging and expense reimbursements are not appropriate because of an extended length of stay. These procedures are intended to supplement the Sponsored Research Guidelines for Travel Paid by External Grants, the CAS Associate Dean’s Office Guidelines for Junior Faculty Start-up Funds, and the Office of Business & Finance Travel and Entertainment policies. These guidelines apply to extended travel outside of the United States.
All travel to be paid or reimbursed by Lewis & Clark or an external grant must be justified in writing, approved in advance, and commensurate with the approved budget. Further, business expenses may not be charged unless they are necessary and reasonable, allowable, and allocable to a specific project or account. Travelers are expected to seek long‐term accommodations when it is reasonable and cost effective to do so. Personal travel expenses are never reimbursable (e.g., for a family member/companion or for personal time spent on vacation). It is the traveler’s responsibility to justify the travel, and fully document any business expenses claimed for reimbursement (e.g., receipts, logbook, detailed itinerary and/or business agenda).
Extended Foreign Travel
The following guidelines for travel outside of the United States are based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Publication 463. In short, if you travel outside of the U.S. for an approved business purpose, you meet the aforementioned guidelines, and you spend the entire time on business activities, all of your reasonable and allowable travel expenses (lodging, transportation, subsistence) are reimbursable. If international travel involves both business and personal activities, your trip will only be considered entirely for business if one or more of the following apply:
- You didn’t have substantial control over arranging the trip.
- You were outside of the United States for a week or less. One week means seven days; don’t count the day you leave the U.S., but do count the day you return.
- You were outside of the U.S. for more than a week, but you spent less than 25% of your time on non-business activities (see below on how to calculate).
- You can establish that a personal vacation wasn’t a major consideration in planning your trip.
Combining Personal and Business Travel Outside the U.S.
In some situations adding personal travel onto business travel may be acceptable, however, there are documentation requirements in doing so. If your approved foreign travel is for more than one week, please refer to the following rules and requirements:
Counting weekends and holidays:
Count weekends, holidays, and other necessary standby days as business days if they fall between business days. However, if they follow your business activity and you remain at your business destination for non-business reasons, or if you arrive early at your business destination for non-business reasons, don’t count them as business days.
Distinguishing between personal and business time:
Determine your departure and return dates, and consider the activities for each day outside of the United States. If more than 25% of the international travel is personal, the percentage of travel expenses that is determined to be personal will not be reimbursed by the College. For example, if 30% of a traveler’s foreign travel is personal, the traveler must pay for 30% of his/her airfare (except where personal days are solely at the beginning or end of the trip in which case airfare will be reimbursed based upon the explanation below) and 30% of his/her long-term accommodations. Further, the charging of subsistence expenses (per diem) is allowable only for those days considered business days per above.
Adding personal days at the beginning or end of your foreign business travel:
Document the full length of the trip and prorate (as detailed above) so that only the business travel costs incurred will be reimbursed. Alternatively, if a flight was taken, a comparison quote may be included that shows the cost of the flight without any personal time included. The traveler will be reimbursed for the less expensive of the two flights. Comparison flights should be for reasonably similar flight times and for the same fare class.
Documenting business activities in a foreign country:
Provide a daily activity log for non-conference related business For example:
- Saturday-Sunday, June 16-17: travel to UK
- Monday, June 18: met with Dr. X and Dr. Y at Oxford to discuss NSF grant XYZ.
- Tuesday, June 19: met with Dr. X at Oxford to discuss NSF grant XYZ.
- Wednesday, June 20: Gave Lecture at Oxford on NSF grant XYZ.
- Thursday, June 21: Research in library at Oxford w/Postdoc collaborating on project XYZ.
- Friday, June 22: Met w/Research Participants for XYZ project.
- June 23-24: personal days
- June 25: return travel to Portland
Adjusted per diem for extended foreign travel:
If a traveler is able to stay in long term accommodations, it may be appropriate for a grant or startup fund to cover eligible increased costs of extended foreign travel. Although Lewis & Clark does not utilize an international per diem rate, if a traveler’s accommodations include a kitchen, a maximum daily living adjustment of half (50%) of the College’s domestic per diem is standard practice. Currently (11/2018) this means that a traveler who is staying in an apartment in a foreign country may claim up to US$25 per business day for meals/incidentals, or up to US$30 for areas that are higher cost. Refer to the Office for Business & Finance website for updated per diem rates. The per diem reimbursed must be reduced by the value of the any furnished meal.