format_list_bulleted Topic Overview


The university pays directly or reimburses individuals for expenses that are necessary and appropriate to conduct university business. Key considerations and associated processes are found in Business and Travel Expense Policies Fundamentals. The university outlines its guiding principles and IRS regulations with regard to business and travel expenses in Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2: Business and Travel Expenses

The university pays reasonable and necessary transportation expenses within limits and guidelines when they are incurred in the course of university-related business travel. University payment for travel requires prior approval by the appropriate authority, and the cost of transportation should be kept to a minimum and consistent with a reasonable level of comfort, convenience and security for the traveler. 

  • For round trip travel in excess of 350 miles, commercial air travel is generally the most economical and practical; however, other forms of travel such as bus, rail or ship may also, in certain circumstances, be allowed. 
  • For round trip travel of 350 miles or less, ground transportation by personal car, bus, shuttle service, ride service, taxi, rental car or some combination of these is likely to be the most economical. The traveler may still fly to a location that is less than 350 miles round trip if it is more economical.

Before making international travel plans, travelers need to confirm the funding source that will be used for the airfare. When the trip is funded by a federal award, the Fly America Act requires all flights charged to be booked with U.S. flag air carriers. The requirement applies to all travelers, including a foreign visitor's flights when supported by federal funds. If a sponsored, non-federal award allows for other flights, documentation must be included with the expense request that demonstrates that exception. Specific guidelines and details are documented on the Airfare policy page.

It is highly encouraged that Stanford travelers use Stanford Travel booking channels when booking flights, hotels, and rental cars for university-sponsored travel. Stanford Travel booking channels automatically register itineraries and any booking updates to the Travel Registry, streamline the reimbursement process, and offer discounts, benefits, and perks to travelers. In addition, the Stanford Travel team can provide specialized assistance as needed to travelers who book through Stanford Travel.

While Stanford Travel booking channels are a great option for most domestic and international travel, there are certain types of travel that need to be booked directly with the airline or hotel. These may include regional air travel offered by local carriers, travel for field research, ticket exchanges or reissues, or certain group reservations. See the Airfare and Lodging pages for more detail on booking and managing those travel arrangements.

To advance Stanford’s sustainability goals along with its responsibility to spend appropriately, consider economical and sustainable options when booking airfare, hotel, rental cars, and ground transportation, such as booking nonstop flights or attending a conference virtually.

For information on the booking processes for various types of travelers, see Topic Overview: Planning and Booking Travel. For more information about business and travel policies see the Topic Overview: Business and Travel Expense Policies.

Individuals traveling on university business are expected to use transportation options that are necessary and reasonable. The university pays for reasonable and necessary airfare along with certain fees and charges. It is expected that there will be no exceptions to the university's airfare policies, which are designed to assure compliance with all legal and governmental requirements. Any request for exception based on extraordinary circumstances must be approved, in advance of the travel, by the appropriate authority. Specific guidelines and details are documented on the Airfare Policy page.

The Stanford Travel Card (TCard) is the recommended payment option for any travel costs that will not be reimbursed through the per diem method.  Alternatively, personal funds may be used, then a request for reimbursement can be submitted after the trip. For more information on reimbursement methods, see the Topic Overview: Business and Travel Expense Policies page. 

For more information about airfare policies and guidelines, refer to the Airfare Policy.

Last Updated: Apr 16, 2024