The purpose of this guideline is to define reimbursable travel expenses and the documentation required for submitting travel vouchers. As an employee traveling on business for the State of New York, you are performing a valuable service. At the same time, it is your responsibility to spend this travel money as efficiently and economically as possible. The basic rule to remember is that only actual, necessary, and reasonable business expenses will be reimbursed.
Travel includes numerous scenarios and modes of transportation. This guideline encompasses the most popular transportation modes, lodging, meals, foreign travel, and incidental charges. This guideline also summarizes Travel Authorizations, how to calculate meal allowances, and how to complete travel related forms.
SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam employees that engage in travel as a function of their employment have the option of obtaining a state issued Citibank Travel Card. This card can be used by the employee when in travel status for the purpose of paying for travel expenses as authorized by OSC Travel Policy. This card allows the employee to travel with no outlay of personal funds, while providing the campus the benefit of associated rebate dollars.
Employees also have the option of utilizing their own funding source (cash, personal credit/debit card, etc.) at their discretion for the purpose of paying for travel expenses as authorized by OSC Travel Policy. Under no circumstances will the campus reimburse an employee that chooses this option for any interest charges or other penalties that may be assessed by their personal credit card company as a result of its use for state travel. Reimbursement will be made upon submission of a completed voucher after the completion of the authorized trip.
Official Station: The Office of State Comptroller Travel Manual states, "The official station is the employee’s usual work location. The official station is designated by the agency and must be in the best interest of the State. The purpose of an official station is to establish when the employee is in travel status and eligible for reimbursement of travel expenses. Travel between the employee’s home and official station is considered commuting and is not reimbursable. The employee’s home is considered to be in the city or town in which the employee primarily resides when working at his or her official station. For all travel purposes at Potsdam and Canton "Official Station" is the college you work for; Potsdam, Canton, Rome, etc unless HR has your official station as your home due to the work that you do for the college. Only a letter from HR will exempt a traveler from the "official station" rule.
Please note: The Office of State Comptroller (OSC) Travel Manual states, “The expense of meals or lodging within the proximity of the official station will not normally be reimbursed, unless it is in the best interest of the State or determined by the head of the agency’s finance office…subject to the audit of the Comptroller.”
For employees traveling within 35 miles from both their official work station and home, travel reimbursement for personal car mileage will follow the Lesser of Mileage Rule as is stated in the OSC travel manual. No meals will be reimbursed. The Office of State Comptroller (OSC) Travel Manual also states, it is the traveler’s responsibility to know State travel rules and regulations and the agency’s specific travel policies and procedures.
- A Travel Authorization Form (T-1) must be completed, regardless of the funding source, and sent to the Travel Office PRIOR to trip, so the funds can be encumbered. A Travel Authorization Form must be completed even if the traveler will not be personally reimbursed for expenses. If traveler is not being reimbursed, the form should state “for insurance purposes only.”
- All trips must be preapproved by the traveler’s account manager. For over the max justification, Melissa Tulip's signature must be obtained. For out of state travel, the Vice President's signature must be obtained. Traveler should verify that the account manager has also provided an account number at time of signature. All appropriate signatures must be obtained on the T-1 prior to airfare, lodging, or registrations being purchased by the traveler.
- This process requires that all airline reservations be booked via our authorized State travel agency. The state contract travel agencies require the use of a state issued Travel Card in the name of the traveler. Should the traveler choose to use their personal credit card, travelers will procure coach class airfare from the lowest cost provider.
- Our University uses the services of Child Travel New York. Contact information is as follows:
Child Travel New York PS66730
d/b/a Child Travel, A direct Travel Company
30 Corporate Drive
Clifton Park, NY 12065
After Hours Emergency Assistance: 800-774-0655, Option B
When booking airfare you will be asked for a 5 digit code. Our agency code is 28360.
Keep in mind: Airline and rail transaction fees through the Online Travel Reservation System (Concur) is only $4.95. This is significantly less than the agent-assisted airline transaction fee of $14.95 and is less than fees charged on most airline travel sites.
- Traveler completes a Travel Authorization Form. The form must include traveler’s name, destination, date(s) of travel, account number to be charged, authorized reimbursement amount, traveler’s signature and account manager's signature.
- Traveler should use their CITI Travel card to book all flights. If you do not have a travel card, please call the Travel Office (386-7868) to get information on how to obtain the travel card for your trip. The use of personal credit cards or other means of reimbursement is prohibited for airfare. The passenger's portion of the airline ticket or e-ticket must be submitted with the travel voucher/ travel card statement.
Transportation (other than Air Travel)
Travel should be by the most efficient and cost-effective method of transportation available. When choosing the method of transportation you should consider several factors, such as distance traveled, time to travel this distance, number of travelers, and type of transportation available. Traveler should schedule all travel assignments effectively to minimize expenses whenever possible.
Common Carrier – Train or Bus
- Travel by a common carrier usually results in the least costly and most expeditious means of transportation. When possible, travel should be scheduled using NYS travel services contracts
- Coach fares should be used whenever possible. If a more costly method is used when a more economical one is available, you may only be reimbursed the common carrier rate without proper justification. The original ticket must be submitted with the traveler’s voucher.
Expenses to and from Transportation Terminal
- Traveler may incur charges traveling to or from a transportation terminal, such as an airport, train or bus station. Traveler will be reimbursed actual costs for taxi or common carrier between residence and transportation terminals, or for personal car mileage in accordance with their bargaining unit. Agencies are responsible for determining if costs are reasonable and necessary.
- When determining whether to request or not to request a State vehicle, keep in mind that liability rules will not cover spouses or family members. A personal vehicle should be used. Only individuals affiliated with the college will be covered and should be in the state vehicle.
- When a state car is being requested, please fill out the top right hand side of the T-1 and submit the T-1 to the Physical Plant. The Physical Plant will assign a car if one is available and then forward the T-1 to the Travel Office at SUNY Canton. Do not send multiple copies of your T-1 for signatures (unless requested by the Travel Coordinator for expedited processing), as this creates confusion for all signers of the form.
- Each vehicle contains a Wright Express credit card in the glove compartment to be used for fuel, oil purchases, and minor repairs specifically for that vehicle. To use the card, traveler must input their business pin. It is the travelers responsibility to obtain their own pin prior to traveling. An odometer reading of the vehicle must be entered when prompted at the pump. The Wright Express credit card receipt should be turned in with the vehicle keys and Trip Ticket Form (Canton) or with Mileage envelope (Potsdam). Traveler will need to sign the form and write in the ending odometer reading. In rare instances, you may have to purchase fuel and/or oil using your own credit card or cash. In this case, to be reimbursed for the purchase, you must turn in your receipt with your Travel Voucher.
- If the traveler plans to leave their personal vehicle on campus while traveling, it must be parked in the designated area for the state car that you are using.
- The rental agreement should be submitted with the Travel Voucher. The state has a discount program with Enterprise Rent-a-Car for rentals. When renting a vehicle for State business, the traveler should rent in the name of New York State and sign the agreement as agent for the State. Contact information for Enterprise is as follows:
Vehicle Rental Website
- Any gasoline purchases, as well as any other direct costs associated with the vehicle will be reimbursed.
- Reasons for using a rental car may be public transportation not available or a rental car is cheaper than alternative transportation.
- A personal vehicle may be used when common carrier transportation is not available or cost effective. Mileage will be reimbursed in accordance with the current collective bargaining agreement, regardless of the number of passengers. Link to Mileage rate reimbursement for personal car
- Map quest directions should be submitted with your Mileage Worksheet as back up for the miles traveled.
- Charges for fuel, accessories, repairs, depreciation, antifreeze, towing and other similar expenditures will not be allowed. These are considered operating costs of a vehicle and are covered in the mileage allowance.
- All reasonable and necessary parking, taxi and shuttle fares, business related telephone and internet charges, baggage transfer charges, and tolls can be reimbursed. Traveler may go online to check Thruway Tolls. Tolls may also be reimbursed if paid for through EZ Pass. Note: EZ Pass does not work in Canada except on the Peace Bridge.
- Registration can be paid by the traveler with reimbursement on the Travel Voucher OR the traveler can use their procurement or travel card to pay for registrations. Travelers may also ask to have the registration be paid by the Travel Office, if credit cards are not accepted. Put all pertinent documentation on the T-1 form and attach a copy of the registration form. Please allow 4 weeks processing time if Travel Office is to make registration payment.
Meal and Lodging Expenses
- Employees may choose from 1 of 2 reimbursement methods for meals and lodging. Per Diem rates are established by the federal government. Rates are identified by county and the traveler must indicate the county as well as the city on the voucher. A full per diem is considered to be dinner the first day, lodging, and breakfast the following day. Incidental expenses such as tips to bellmen, porters, hotel maids, etc. are included in the per diem. Breakfast on the first day and dinner on the last day will also be reimbursed provided traveler meets the same requirements for arrival and departure times as for day trips and THE TIME IS PROPERLY INDICATED ON THE TRAVEL VOUCHER.
- Overnight Travel – Method I – Without a Lodging receipt
This is a flat rate per diem allowance for meals, lodging and incidentals as noted above. The rate is based on the location of travel, but is the same regardless of where lodging was obtained, including with a relative or friend. For example, there is a $50 maximum for out-of-state and foreign destinations to cover BOTH the meals and lodging. No lodging receipt is required. To receive the full Method I allowance for the specified area, it is necessary for travelers to be in overnight travel status and be eligible for both breakfast and dinner. Click here for Method I Meal Reimbursement Rates
- Overnight Travel – Method II – With a Lodging Receipt
This method provides reimbursement of ACTUAL lodging costs based on the location of travel, and an allowance for meals. Receipts for lodging are required for any meals associated with overnight travel. Traveler must attach the original lodging receipt to the Travel Voucher. If another agency or organization provides lodging, this should be indicated on the Voucher, (with a copy of the receipt). The traveler may claim the meal allowance for the area (find the Per Diem link below). Once the Per Diem rate is determined; click here for Method II Meal Allowance Breakdown.
- For travel in NYS, employees should use the Tax Exemption Certificate (ST-129) for lodging. NYS taxes cannot be reimbursed. For out of state travel, taxes are not included in the maximum lodging amount, and may be reimbursed.
- If the amount paid for lodging is greater than the maximum per diem allowed, traveler must obtain prior approval and attach an over the max Lodging Justification, signed by Melissa Tulip, approving the over per diem rate.
- Meal Allowance
- Only breakfast and dinner are reimbursable meals. Lunch is not a reimbursable expense.
- Breakfast - Employees will be allowed reimbursement for breakfast if they have to leave 1 hour before their regular work day.
- Dinner - Employees are allowed reimbursement for dinner if they return 2 hours after their regular work day.
- Overnight Trips
Employees will automatically get dinner the night of the stay and breakfast the next morning if a lodging receipt is provided. To be eligible for breakfast reimbursement on the first day of an overnight trip, the traveler must leave one (1) hour priors to their normal work hours. To be eligible for dinner reimbursement on the last day of an overnight trip, travelers must return home 2 hours after their normal work hours. NORMAL WORK HOURS and DEPARTURE AND RETURN TIMES MUST BE CLEARLY MARKED on the Travel Voucher for these extra meals to be reimbursed.
- Day Trips
Employees in travel status for day trips are allowed breakfast and dinner reimbursement based on the departure and return times of the trips. For non-overnight travel, an employee may claim the non-receipted meal allowance, (the rate now in effect is $5.00 for breakfast and $12.00 for dinner) or actual expenses up to the federal maximum meal allowances with a receipt but not more than the amount spent if less than the per diem. All meal reimbursements not associated with overnight travel are considered taxable by the IRS and will show on your W-2 Form.
- Per Diem Rates
Per Diem rates for domestic and foreign travel may be found at https://www.gsa.gov/per diem. Locate the map of the United States.
- To get domestic rates, click on the state being traveled to.
- To get foreign rates, click on the rates in foreign location (found on the right side of the US map).
- Note: These rates will change on October 1st of every year and may be adjusted throughout the year as well.
- Travel outside the continental United States is reimbursed based on the maximum per diem allowance established by the U.S. Department of State. The rates are posted on the above listed website. Expenses should be converted to American dollars, based on the exchange rate in effect during the period of travel.
- The foreign travel rates provide for lodging costs up to a maximum amount, and an allowance for meals and incidental expenses. If a traveler is entitled to the full meal per diem, the allowance is divided into 80% for dinner and 20% for breakfast.
- The passport rules are changing. It is the traveler’s responsibility to know the document requirements of the country they are traveling to!
- Incidental Expenses
Expenses directly related to lodging and meals are included in the per diem allowance and are not reimbursed. However, some expenses unique to foreign travel may be reimbursed.
- Examples of some of these expenses include:
- Visa fees
- Cost to convert currency
- Travelers’ checks
- Laundry charges for extended stays
- Departure taxes
State Corporate Travel Card Program
- The State of New York has a Corporate Travel Card Program to provide employees with a mechanism to pay for travel expenses. Any employee who travels at least once a year may apply for a card through the Travel Office at SUNY Canton. Detailed Travel Card Program Guidelines can be found on the website.
- Only appropriate expenses for state purpose can be charged on the Travel Card. Meals will be allowed on the Travel Card, but close attention should be paid to per diem rates for the area you are in. If cardholders choose to use the Travel Card to pay for meals, the allowance for meals, including gratuities shall be limited to actual cost up to the maximum Per Diem meal allowance. A receipt for meal purchases is required. Alcoholic beverages cannot be paid with Travel Card.
Examples of appropriate expenses for the card are:
- Transportation such as rental car, taxi, airfare, or train
- Work related supplies
- Conference registration
- Improper or unauthorized charges may result in mandated reimbursement to the agency by the employee, suspension or loss of privileges related to the card, or disciplinary action.
- A travel voucher must be submitted detailing all expenses including both corporate Travel Card charges and out of pocket expenses. The travel coordinator will reimburse out of pocket expenses and pay the corporate card directly. Vouchers must be submitted timely since they provide information necessary to reconcile the corporate card bill. Revocation of the traveler's card may occur upon repeated delays in the submission of vouchers. Vouchers must be submitted for all charges whether or not out of pocket expenses were incurred.
- Advantages to using the card include:
- Charges are billed directly to the State.
- The need for travel advances will be reduced.
- Costs in processing vouchers will be reduced.
- The agency and State will be able to capture a true picture of travel expenses to the State.
- Travelers using the card will not need to carry large amounts of cash or use personal credit cards.
- The program provides automatic business travel accident insurance when transportation is charged to the card.
- All expenses must be recorded and attached to a completed Travel Voucher.
- Make sure these items are filled in or attached:
- Traveler’s New York State Employee Number (found on pay sub - starts with an N0)
- Date and time of departure - this will determine if meals will be paid for. Meals may be reimbursed on the Travel Voucher Form on a per diem basis based on location of lodging. If meals are provided or paid by another source related to the scheduled event, the traveler will not be reimbursed. If the traveler is opting to claim reimbursement at the full meal Per Diem meal allowance, then the Travel Card may not be used to purchase food and beverages.
- Conference Brochure
- Original receipts for hotel, conference registration, rental cars, airline ticket stubs, or travel agency print out.
- Method I MUST BE USED IF TRAVELER DOES NOT STAY IN A HOTEL.
- Sales tax for lodging is only reimbursable if it is out of NY State.
- Non-overnight trips: when you take a day trip and are going to claim meals, you must have a receipt for all of the claimed meals (breakfast & dinner) to get up to the listed per diem. No reimbursement is allowed for lunch. Otherwise, you will only get reimbursed $5.00 for breakfast and $12.00 for dinner. Both are taxable since these are non-overnight trips.
- WE CANNOT REIMBURSE TRAVELER FOR SOMEONE ELSE’S TRAVEL COSTS.
- Email or mail completed and signed Travel Voucher to email@example.com at SUNY Canton's Travel Office for processing. All reimbursements now come from Albany. If your paycheck is direct deposited, then your travel reimbursement will be the same. If you receive a paper check, a state check will be sent to your home address from Albany. You can expect a turnaround time of up to two weeks from the time you submit your voucher to the time you see your reimbursement. One week for Travel Coordinator to process voucher and one week for Albany to process payment.
IV. Fraudulent Claims – Section 175.35 Penal Law
Offering a false instrument for filing is a Class "E" Felony. Employees, including supervisors, who knowingly misrepresent the facts concerning travel for official business or who file or sign any Travel Form which contains deliberate false statements given with intent to defraud the State may be subject both to administrative and/or disciplinary action, including the possibility of termination and criminal action.
If you have any questions regarding these procedures, please contact the Travel Office at SUNY Canton via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 386-7555.
Office of Travel Services
French Hall 200
34 Cornell Drive
Canton, NY 13617
Fax: (315) 386-7925
Travel Card Administrator
Fax: (315) 386-7606