Travel All About Per Diem

General Information

Employees traveling on University business are eligible for reimbursement for their personal meal expenses. Employees may choose to submit receipts for their actual meal expenses or they may opt to use the per diem rate; you cannot combine both methods on the same trip.

If the traveler elects to be reimbursed based on per diem rates, he/she can choose:

  • Full per diem reimbursement which covers lodging, meals and incidentals
  • Actual lodging expenses, plus meals-only per diem

The reimbursement option selected must be used for the entire trip.

Syracuse University uses per diem rates recommended by the U.S. government to take advantage of governmental cost studies and to ensure general equity with grant and contract requirements.

Determining Per Diem Rates:

Per Diem is calculated using the traveler’s time of departure and time of return. The traveler is entitled to one day per diem for every 24 hour period and one half-day per diem for any 12 hour period.

Find the city (or county if city not listed) and corresponding rates at these government sites:

  • For travel within the contiguous United States (including Alaska, Hawaii), see Domestic Per Diem Rates on the U.S. General Services Administration web site.

Note:  If the county in which you stayed is not listed, use the Basic Rate, noted at the top of the government page above the city and county listings.

  • For travel in foreign countries, see Foreign Per Diem Rates by Location on the U.S. Department of State web site.

Note:  If the location of your stay is not listed for the country selected, use the “Other” rate listed in the “Post Name” column (listed alphabetically). For an unlisted suburb of a listed “Post Name,” use the “Other” rate, not the rate listed for the location of which it is a suburb.

Adjustments to Per Diem Rates

Calculation for Per Diem on the First and Last Day of Travel:
Once you have determined the appropriate rate for the city or county visited and entered it in an expense report, the correct amount for the first and last day of travel, at 75% of the meals rate for the first day based on government listed rate for the city traveled to, and 75% of meals rate for the last day, based on the government listed rate for your place of business.

Deductions for Meals Included in Registration Fees and Hotel Charges:
When meals are included in conference registration fees or hotel rates, a deduction must be made from the applicable per diem rate. To determine the appropriate deduction amount by travel location, select Meals and Incidental Expense Breakdown from the Domestic Per Diem Rates page of the U.S. General Services Administration web site.

A SU business traveler stayed in a Marriot Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The cost of breakfast was included in the hotel rate. At the time of travel, the maximum daily per diem rate for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) for Chicago, Illinois was $64 ($12 breakfast, $18 lunch, $31 dinner, and $3 incidentals). Therefore the traveler would adjust the daily per diem rate to $52 ($64 – $12).

Stays Longer Than 30 Days
Multiply the daily rate listed on the government sites by .55.
Note:  When an individual’s original estimated travel is for more than 30 days in one location, these reduced rates (.55 x listed rate) apply from the first day. When an individual in travel status at a location is granted extension to a trip originally estimated at less than 30 days, the 30-days-or-less rate applies for the first 30 days and the more-than-30-days rate applies from the 31st day through the end of the trip.

Allowable use of per diem and actual expense reimbursement – Athletic Teams:
Coaches may arrange for sit-down meals for the team (e.g., pre-game meals) in lieu of giving a meal allowance and are encouraged to secure the best possible rates. All sit-down meals must be supported by an itemized receipt showing the name of the establishment, the total cost of the meal, and the number of people served. In addition, a signed list must be submitted with the voucher identifying who ate the meal.

Coaches may also choose to provide a per diem instead of team meals. Student-athletes cannot receive a per diem that exceeds the rate provided to all institutional employees. Student-athletes are required to sign for the receipt of meal allowances.

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