Business Travel Expense Policy & Procedures

Modified 10/23/2010

The University will reimburse its faculty and staff for expenses incurred for official University business travel that are properly authorized, reasonable and appropriately documented as submitted on a Travel Expense Reimbursement Report (Drexel/ Drexel College of Medicine/ The Academy Of Natural Sciences). It is expected that all University faculty and staff will exercise appropriate care in incurring all such travel expenses as reported on either a Travel Expense Reimbursement Report or the University Purchasing Card Statement of Account. Because the University is a non-profit, charitable, educational institution, or 501(c)(3) organization as defined by the IRS, such expenses should be moderate both in frequency and in amount.

The Executive Air Travel Policy limits the number of senior managers traveling together on University business in the same aircraft. Consult the policy before making travel arrangements for University executives.

The University’s business expense reimbursement policy qualifies as an “accountable plan” in accordance with Section 62 of the Internal Revenue Code.  Under an accountable plan, employees are reimbursed for expenses incurred, without tax consequences, when the following five conditions are satisfied.

  1. Business Connection:All charges are for business expenses paid or incurred in connection with the performance of services as an employee.

  2. Substantiation:  All payments must be substantiated by the employee within a "reasonable period of time" (e.g., 30 days) after the expense is paid or incurred.

  3. Advance Reasonably Calculated to Cover Expenses: Any expense advance must be "reasonably calculated not to exceed the amount of anticipated expenses" and must be paid within "a reasonable period of time" or 7 days prior to the day the anticipated expense will be incurred.

  4. Specific Identification:  The reimbursement or advance is identified or paid separately from wages.

  5. Plan Must Require Return of Unspent Advances: The employee must be required to return to the employer within "a reasonable period of time" any part of the advance in excess of substantiated expenses. This requirement is met if the employee substantiates the expense within 30 days after it is incurred and returns any unspent funds at that time.  If an employee does not return an unsubstantiated advance within 30 days, the entire advance is subject to FICA and income tax withholding.   

Only actual expenses will be reimbursed. Employees should neither gain nor lose personal funds while conducting business for the University. It is the responsibility of each traveler, as well as the supervisor approving the expenses, to comply with the provisions of this travel policy.

By signing the travel forms, both the traveler and their supervisor certify that the travel reports are complete and accurate. Payment of travel related expenses will not occur without such certification and approval, as well as all required information and documents including justifications and receipts. Reimbursement of out-of-pocket travel expenses is made only when the traveler submits an accounting of those expenses via the Travel Expense Reimbursement Report.

To access the travel forms, click on http://www.drexel.edu/depts/compt/ap/.
When possible, travel expenses should be paid using the University Purchasing Card (“P-Card”). Travel expenses paid via the P-Card are reported on the monthly P-Card Statement of Account (“Statement”). The traveler’s supervisor must approve all travel expenses by signing the Statement. Original receipts are required and must be reviewed by the traveler’s supervisor prior to approving the Statement. The original receipts are retained in the department, along with a copy of the Statement, for audit purposes. P-Card holders making travel arrangements for individuals other than their direct reports must obtain the approving signature of the traveler’s supervisor prior to submitting the Statement to the Procurement Office. Refer to the P-Card overview at http://www.drexel.edu/procurement/card/overview.html for more information on using the P-Card for travel expenses.

Travel on sponsored projects charged to the P-Card requires prior approval from the Office of Research Compliance and Administration (ORCA) using the Pre-Authorization Form. Consult http://www.research.drexel.edu/administration/Travel/Travel.aspx for the complete ORCA travel policy.

It is recommended that travel arrangements be made with a University authorized travel agency via the Procurement Office Travel Portal at http://www.drexel.edu/procurement/travel/travelAgent/. Use of these vendors will insure the best rates for trains, airfare, hotels and car rentals as well as offer additional services to University travelers. Authorized agencies should be used for all travel costs including those paid with the P-Card, expenses paid in advance by University check as prepaid expenses or any other travel arrangements.

SCOPE

This policy and related procedures are applicable to all University faculty and staff of all colleges, divisions, departments and units regardless of the source of funds supporting the travel. The policy and procedures apply to travel expense payments made using the P-Card, traveler’s personal credit card, University check, University cash advance or out-of-pocket cash.
If travel expenses are charged to a sponsored program, the terms of the grant or contract will take precedence if more restrictive than University policy. Requests for reimbursement of travel expenses for non-University individuals (guests of the University, candidates for positions, etc.) are made using a Check Request Form rather than a Travel Expense Reimbursement Report. The Check Request Form and instructions are available at http://www.drexel.edu/depts/compt/ap/.

PROCEDURES

  1. The University requires appropriate documentation for all expenses associated with business travel. Original receipts documenting proof of payment are required for all expenses. Photocopies of receipts are not permitted except for third party sponsored travel where original receipts are provided to the sponsor for reimbursement.

  2. A description of the business purpose of the expense must be included on the Travel Expense Reimbursement Report or P-Card Statement for each charge.

  3. Only one travel report per travel occurrence is permitted.

  4. Reimbursement of travel-related expenses will occur only when the appropriate travel reports are fully completed and approved. All information must be provided as described on the reports. The business purpose for the travel including the name and location of the business meeting, a copy of the meeting agenda, names of the participants and their relationship to University activities or projects is required.

  5.  Expenses charged to the P-Card are reported on the monthly P-Card Statement and are required to be included on the Travel Expense Reimbursement Report only at the discretion of the traveler’s supervisor.  P-Card charges included on the Travel Expense Reimbursement Report are reported as prepaid expenses.  A description of the business purpose of the expense must be included on the P-Card Statement for each charge.

  6.  All receipts must be attached to the report. Smaller-sized receipts must be taped to an 8½ x 11 inch sheet of paper and attached to the report.

  7.  In those instances when receipts are not available, travelers may "write up" their own expense receipts on 3 x 5 inch cards by describing the activity and including the date, amount, destination and signature of the traveler. Use of write-up receipts should be limited to infrequent occasions when the documents are not available and is not a substitute for the original receipts. The University reserves the right to refuse reimbursement in cases where the write-up receipts appear excessive or inappropriate.

  8. Online receipts must be submitted for reservations and registrations made through the internet. The online receipt is received via email when the reservation is completed. Itineraries that do not show proof of payment will be not accepted.

  9. Refer to the travel account definitions for each travel expense account at http://www.drexel.edu/depts/compt/procedures/travel_accounts1.html.

  10. Travel expenses paid with a personal credit card will be reimbursed only upon submission of a fully completed and approved travel report after the trip is completed (see below).

  11.  All travel expenses must be approved by the direct supervisor of the traveler. Travelers cannot approve their own expenses.

  12. When travel expenses are funded by a sponsored project, travelers must forward travel forms to ORCA for approval in advance of submission to Accounts Payable. The Pre-Authorization Form must be attached to the Travel Expense Reimbursement Form for all expenses charged to the P-Card.

  13. When foreign travel is approved, consult http://oanda.com for currency exchange rates; and convert all expenses to U.S. dollars.

  14.  Amounts due to the University for excess cash advanced or other payments must be reimbursed via personal check payable to Drexel University, Drexel University College of Medicine, or The Academy of Natural Sciences. The reimbursement must be submitted to the Accounts Payable Office along with the travel report (see below).

  15.  Within 30 days after the trip, fully completed and approved travel reports must be submitted to the Accounts Payable Office, 3201 Arch Street, Suite 400, or dropped off in the 3201 Arch Street lobby mailbox.

  16. Reimbursement is issued within three business days after entering into the Banner Financial System via direct deposit to employees who are enrolled in paycheck direct deposit.  All other travelers will be reimbursed by University check, mailed to their home address.   For additional information on business expense reimbursement via direct deposit, consult the resources at http://www.drexel.edu/depts/compt/ap/dd_expense_business.html  or contact the Accounts Payable Department at 215-895-2840 or email acctpay@drexel.edu