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 travel in excess of 200 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 travel of 200 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.

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.

In order to be able to effectively support university travelers, Stanford requires the use of a centralized travel booking program when faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students are booking air fare, hotels, or rental cars for university-sponsored travel. The centralized booking program, Stanford Travel, automatically registers travel reservations in the university’s Travel Registry, which connects to Stanford’s provider of medical, personal, travel and security assistance. This provides the university with the ability to locate and support its travelers in the event of an emergency. More policy details are available in the Business and Travel Expense policy overview.

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 Provost. Specific guidelines and details are documented on the Airfare Policy page.

The Stanford Travel Card (TCard) is the preferred payment method for travel expenses. Alternatively, personal funds may be used, then a request for reimbursement can be submitted after the trip. For more information about payment and reimbursement methods and associated policies and guidelines, refer to the Airfare Policy page.

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