Skip to Content
California State University, Long BeachCalifornia State University, Long Beach

V. Subsistence Expenses

An official University business trip begins when the traveler leaves his/her residence or normal work location, whichever occurs last, and ends when the traveler returns to his/her residence or normal work location, whichever occurs first. Subsistence expenses for travel within 25 miles of an employee’s headquarters or residence shall not be reimbursed.

Subsistence expenses incurred while on travel status consist of charges for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses. Incidentals includes fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel housekeepers, stewards or stewardesses and others in ships, and hotel servants in foreign countries; transportation between places of lodging or business and places where meals are taken, if suitable meals cannot be obtained at the temporary duty site; and the mailing cost associated with filing travel expense claims and payment of employer-sponsored charge card billings.

Expenses reimbursed must be ordinary, reasonable, not extravagant, and necessary to accomplish the official business purpose of the trip. Actual expenses must be documented in accordance with Section IX.B.2, Documentation Requirements to be eligible for reimbursement.

If the traveler is unable to provide a required receipt, they must include a statement with the Travel Claim explaining why a receipt is not available.

No expenses for meals or incidentals will be reimbursed for travel of less than 12 hours except under the circumstances listed below in Section C., Travel of Less Than 24 Hours.

  1. Lodging

  2. Travelers may secure lodging when traveling on business more than 25 miles (one way) from their normal work location or home, whichever is closer. Refer to Sections XII., Travel to Alaska, Hawaii or the U.S. Possessions and XIII, International Travel for guidance regarding lodging outside the contiguous United States.

    1. Maximum Limits for Reimbursing the Costs of Lodging

      The nightly lodging rate for domestic travel may not exceed $ 275.00 per night, not including taxes and other related charges.

      Expenditures above the cap are the responsibility of the traveler unless a documented exception is approved. Consideration will be given to the location in which lodging occurs, and justifications must include an explanation of the necessity to stay within certain facilities (e.g. near or adjacent to meetings or other activities for which travel was approved).

      University employees are always expected to seek the best value whenever they obtain lodging.

    2. California City and County Transient Occupancy Taxes Exemption

      In some California cities and counties, University employees traveling on official business are granted an exemption from the payment of occupancy taxes imposed by these cities or counties on the transient rental of rooms.

      Travelers should identify themselves as University employees and claim exemption from the tax upon arrival. The traveler may be required to complete an exemption certificate. The option to grant the exemption is at the discretion of the hotel.

      State of California Form STD 236, Hotel/Motel Transient Occupancy Tax Waiver (Exemption Certificate for State Agencies) may be found at:


      The hotel/motel may have an adapted version of the form.

    3. Use of Non-Commercial Facilities

      When non-commercial facilities such as cabins, house trailers, vans, field camping equipment, or other such facilities are used, the traveler shall be reimbursed a daily amount based on an estimate of actual expenses up to 100% of the applicable federal per diem lodging rate for the appropriate geographic area (see Appendix C).

    4. Lodging With a Friend or Relative

      When a traveler lodges with a friend or relative while on official business for the University, a non-cash gift, such as flowers, groceries, or a restaurant meal, may be provided to the host. Gift cards are not allowed under this policy. The actual cost of such a gift may be reimbursed up to $75. Only one reimbursable gift per stay may be provided to a host.

  3. Meals While Traveling

  4. The reimbursement of daily meal and incidental expenses for travel within the contiguous United States will be based on actual amounts incurred subject to the daily maximum reimbursement cap set forth in Appendix C. The meals reimbursement cap should not be treated as a per diem. The definition of Meals and Incidental Expenses Reimbursement Cap may be found in Appendix A, Definitions. Expenditures above the cap are the responsibility of the travelers unless a documented exception is approved.

    Reimbursement guidelines relating to travel outside the contiguous United States are found in Sections XII., Travel to Alaska, Hawaii or the U.S. Possessions and XIII. International Travel of this document.

    1. Meals Provided as Part of the Event

      In the event the traveler must forego the provided meal for health or business reasons, an explanation for the purchase of the meal replacement must accompany the claim. Supporting documentation may be requested and required.

    2. Hospitality Meals

      Expenses for meals incurred by employees who provided hospitality while on travel status are reimbursable in accordance with CSULB Policy on Hospitality Expenditures.

  5. Travel of Less Than 24 Hours

  6. When the entire length of a trip is less than 24 hours, Internal Revenue Service regulations state that meals and incidental expenses shall not be reimbursed unless the travel includes an “overnight stay” as supported by a lodging receipt. The overnight-stay requirement does not apply to meal reimbursements authorized as hospitality under the CSULB procedures. If the traveler is unable to provide a lodging receipt, he or she must include a statement with the Travel Expense Claim explaining why a receipt is not available (e.g., the traveler lodged with a friend or relative, stayed overnight at the airport, or took alternative transportation that required the traveler to be away overnight).

    For a trip of less than 24 hours within the contiguous U.S. that includes an overnight stay, reimbursement shall be authorized for the actual cost of lodging, meals and incidental expenses, subject to the daily maximum amount set forth in Appendix C for Travel of Less Than 30 Days. The maximum amount for a single day shall be authorized for the entire trip, even if the trip takes place over two consecutive workdays.

    1. Overnight Stay Exception

      If an exception to the overnight-stay requirement is allowed by the Appropriate Administrator, the amount of the meal(s) reimbursed becomes reportable and taxable. The amount will be reported to Payroll and included in Box 1 of the employee’s W-2 form. Under no circumstances will expenses for lunch be reimbursed for travel of less than 24 hours.

    Appendix D provides additional information and examples on the reimbursement of meals and incidental expenses for travel of less than 24 hours.

  7. Payment of Group Subsistence

  8. The University may negotiate agreements with restaurants, hotels, and similar establishments to furnish subsistence to a group or groups of University employees when it is to the University's advantage. Under such an agreement, the vendor may be paid either by the group leader or by billing the University.

    Reimbursement of such expenses may be claimed by group travelers as follows:

    • Group leaders who pay all or part of the group's expenses may be reimbursed by submitting a claim for the actual expenses incurred. The claim must be accompanied by the vendor's invoice/receipt showing payment in full.
    • Members of a group who have some portion of their subsistence expenses paid by the group leader may claim reimbursement for the remainder of their subsistence expenses.
  9. Personal Travel Combined with University Business Travel

  10. Generally, there are two reasons for altering business-related travel for personal convenience:

    • Utilizing a different method of transportation, and
    • Extending travel for personal reasons

    When a different method of transportation is used for personal convenience, such as driving instead of flying, the Campus will pay the lesser cost of the two methods. If the alternate method is used and requires additional time, the staff member must use his/her own personal time.

    When travel on state business is extended for personal reasons, the Campus will only reimburse the staff member for expenses during the time he/she would have been required to travel were the trip not extended for personal reasons.