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.

In order to be able to more effectively support university travelers, Stanford requires the use of a centralized travel booking program (Stanford Travel) when faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students are booking airfare for university-sponsored travel unless it is specifically exempted from the booking policy. Travelers may also use Stanford Travel when booking hotels and rental cars for university-sponsored travel. 

Stanford Travel automatically sends booking updates to the registry when itineraries change, supports compliance with reimbursement policies and procedures and offers discounts, waivers, and perks to travelers. More booking policy details are available in the Business and Travel Expense Policies 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 Global Risk team. 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: May 25, 2023