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 core responsibility, guiding principles and IRS regulations with regard to Business and Travel Expense policy in Administrative Guide Policy 5.4.2: Business and Travel Expenses.
There are two types of meals that constitute reimbursable business expenses. A business meal is a meal where university business is conducted; a travel meal is an ordinary meal that occurs while traveling on university business. Learn more about each meal type below. For information about meal costs associated with an employee morale event, for example, a retirement party, visit the Other Business Expenses page.
On January 5, 2022 the university released updated guidance on indoor events, gatherings, and activities at Stanford, including meals. For more information, please visit FMS Updates Related to COVID-19.
A business meal is a meal at which faculty, staff, students and/or guests are present for the purpose of conducting university business. Business meals must take place at a restaurant or catered by an approved supplier. A business meal may occur while traveling, but is differentiated from a travel meal. A business meal must have a business purpose that is connected to the university mission. In addition, the business meal must be deemed reasonable and necessary under university policy. The university has established maximums for business meal reimbursement. Specific policy, guidance and limits are available on the Business Meal Policy page.
A travel meal is defined as an ordinary and necessary meal that a traveler has while traveling on university business. The primary purpose for reimbursing a travel meal is to defray the cost of meal expenses when traveling on business.
Travel meals typically occur as a part of a business trip outside of one’s local area, which is defined as 50 miles away from home or Stanford work locations, whichever is greater. Employees commuting to their Primary Stanford Work Location (as defined in AGM 2.1.20) are not eligible for meal reimbursement, regardless of distance.
When a travel meal is incurred, there is no additional justification needed as long as the meal occurs within the travel period and scope of the business purpose of a trip. The cost of the travel meal must still be deemed reasonable under university policy; as such, the university has established maximums for travel meal reimbursement. Specific policy, guidance and limits are available on the Travel Meal Policy page. Specific policy, guidance and limits are available on the Travel Meal Policy page.