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The College instituted a per diem meal reimbursement process for all trips beginning after May 31, 2012.  Basic information is included in the “PER DIEM Frequently Asked Questions” below.

If you would like to have someone from the Business Office provide additional information or training, either to a group or an individual, please contact us.

A sample of a completed Per Diem Expense Report is available here: 

PER DIEM Frequently Asked Questions (Revised May 2012)

What is a per diem system?

A per diem system is a simplified approach for reimbursing meal expenses when an employee is travelling.  It is simpler because there is no need to keep and submit receipts for meals covered by the per diem amount.

When will this new system start?

Several departments have been voluntarily using the per diem model for over a year.  Everyone at Lewis and Clark will start using per diems for trips starting after May 31, 2012. This approach may only be used for trips taking place in the United States. Overseas trips will still require the employee to submit itemized receipts for reimbursement.

What is covered by the per diem?

The per diem covers all meals and snacks, including alcohol and tips, while the employee is traveling on College business in the United States. IRS and College policy require that per diems may only be used along with overnight travel.

Why is an overnight stay required for per diems?  Are there exceptions?

Both the IRS and the College consider meals associated with travel that does not involve an overnight stay to be personal and not reimbursable.  There are limited exceptions to this rule, the most common being meals for entertainment purposes approved by the employee’s supervisor. If reimbursement is sought for a meal that is considered an exception, it will be necessary to obtain and submit an itemized receipt in order to be reimbursed.

How does the per diem method for reimbursement of meal expenses for travel within the United States work.

Reimbursement of meal expenses is based on a daily allowance rather than the actual cost of the meals.  The per diem rate is broken down into separate amounts for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If a third party, for example meals included as part of a conference, is providing any of your meals, the amount claimed for that day must be reduced by the portion represented by the meal provided. Meals which could reasonably be eaten at home on the dates of departure or return should also be deducted from the daily rate.

How is a claim for reimbursement made?

Employees should file the familiar travel expense report for reimbursement, available on the Business Office website).  In the fields for meals, simply show the per diem amount for each meal that a per diem reimbursement request is being made. Remember that the College will not pay for meals twice.  For example, if the College is paying the conference fee and meals are included, the College has already paid for that meal and a reimbursement request should not be made.  This is true even if the employee decides to eat elsewhere.  The College has scarce resources and should not be paying for the same meal twice.

What are the rates?

The rates below represent the maximums that will be reimbursed.

The current rate is $55.00 which is broken down into individual meals is as follows:









The following areas are considered high cost for travel: the states of Alaska and Hawaii, and the metropolitan areas of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC. The per diem rate for these high-cost areas is $66.00 per day. You may use this higher cost rate for days when you will be staying in one of the listed areas at the end of the day.  The breakdown of the higher cost daily rate into individual meals is as follows:









It will not be necessary to submit receipts for meals under the per diem plan.

 Please remember, however, the IRS does not allow the use of per diems for travel outside the United States. Therefore when traveling outside of the country, it will still be necessary to submit original receipts in order to be reimbursed.

 In some rare circumstances, entertaining a donor for example, it may still be appropriate to seek reimbursement for the full cost of the meal.  In that instance, it will be necessary to submit an original receipt and deduct the per diem value of that meal from your per diem request. The Business Office may also request that a Vice President or Dean also approve the exception.

 Can I use my corporate credit card for meals?

Yes. Per diem amounts should still be listed on the Travel & Entertainment Expense Report as mentioned above.  In the Reimbursement Summary section of the report, the actual amount paid for meals using your corporate card must be reported. You will be reimbursed at the per diem rates, less the actual amount paid by your corporate credit card.  If meals paid by corporate card exceed the per diem rate, your travel reimbursement will be reduced accordingly or, in some cases, you will need to reimburse the College for the difference.

 When should I seek reimbursement for meals covered by the per diem?

As with all other reimbursement requests, you should file as soon as you get back from your trip.  In any case, the deadline is 60 days from the end of the trip.