format_list_bulleted Topic Overview

Other Business Expenses

The university pays directly or reimburses individuals for expenses that are necessary and appropriate to conduct university business. Expenditures must be consistent with the university’s purchasing policies and guidelines as well as the guiding principles and IRS regulations with regard to Business and Travel Expense policies.

Those who are making purchases on behalf of the university must use the appropriate purchasing and payment method. For example, some business expenses should be paid via a non-PO (purchase order) payment request, which is a direct payment from Stanford to the payee. Other expenses may be procured directly with a university purchasing card (PCard) or personal funds and then reimbursed with appropriate documentation. For purchases in support of university business, such as supplies, books and equipment costing $4,999 or less, the university PCard or a purchase through the iProcurement system are the preferred purchasing methods.

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, and a request for reimbursement can be submitted via Expense Requests after the trip. The same policies and guidelines must be followed regardless of payment or reimbursement method.  For more information on reimbursement methods, see the Topic Overview: Business and Travel Expense Policies page.

It is the responsibility of the individual making the purchase or incurring expenses, those who assist others with incurring expenses and those involved in the preparation and approval of reimbursement requests or financial transactions to exercise good stewardship of university funds and to adhere to university policies. The individual incurring the expense and the appropriate administrator must ensure that all costs are in compliance with university travel and business expense policies prior to purchasing. These roles and responsibilities are outlined in Financial Transaction Approval and Reimbursements and Expense Requests.

The university pays reasonable and necessary travel expenses within limits and guidelines when they are incurred in the course of university-related business travel.  

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.

Specific reimbursement guidelines are available for the following travel expense categories:

Other Common Reimbursable Expenses

The following are other common reimbursable expenses, and their associated policies and resources. 

Expense Type Policy
Business Meals The university will pay for business meals, which is defined as a meal at which faculty, staff, students and/or guests are present for the purpose of conducting university business. Specific policy, guidance and limits, is available on the Business Meal Policy page.
Cell Phones and Internet Service The use of mobile equipment (e.g., cell phones, PDAs, PCs and similar devices) by Stanford employees in the course of their work is common. Stanford may provide cell phones, related devices and/or data or internet services to employees in order to improve communication, productivity and work efficiency; facilitate telecommuting and working between multiple campus locations; and to otherwise enhance the contributions of employees. Administrative Guide Policy 8.1.3 outlines the policy and process for these expenses in further detail and UIT maintains the process for selecting approved mobile equipment. Employees must obtain approval from their school or unit before purchase.
Clothing Reimbursement is allowed for clothing that is required for an employee to conduct specific university business, such as commencement regalia; if the employee is required to wear the clothing as a condition of employment; and if the clothes are not suitable for any other use and not appropriate for everyday wear.
Conference and Training Fees
  • Generally, for conferences or training that require travel, the preferred method of purchase is the Travel Card (TCard). If no travel is required, the Purchasing Card (PCard) may be used for conference or training fees.
  • Conference registration fees may be submitted for reimbursement at the time of purchase to avoid tax implications. However, departments should keep track of the event to ensure that Stanford is reimbursed for registration fees if the conference is later canceled.
  • A conference or training fee does not need to be submitted with any associated travel reimbursements.
  • A conference program or agenda that includes the schedule of events is a required attachment to the expense report as supporting documentation. A link to a conference website alone is not sufficient documentation because the site may be updated or removed over time.
  • Meals included in the conference registration fee or hotel rates must be indicated and deducted from the meal reimbursement portion of the expense report.
  • Expenses for travel companions (such as spouses), including lodging, meals, or activities at the conference, are not reimbursable.
  • The university provides tuition and training assistance programs, such as the Staff Training Assistance Program (STAP), which is administered by University HR. See more on the Cardinal at Work website.
COVID-19 Testing Costs and Reimbursement The purchase of rapid antigen tests for COVID safety plans and testing protocols for visitors, events, and conferences is allowable and will be a reimbursable expense. To learn more about purchasing tests, visit the Rapid Antigen Tests page on Health Alerts.
Dues and Subscription The university will pay for memberships to professional organizations and publications related to university business. The business purpose must include the length and duration of the membership.
Employee Gifts

Per Administrative Guide Memo 2.2.10: Gifts and Awards for University Employees, at the discretion of each department or school, gifts or awards may be made to university employees for non-performance related recognition, such as to acknowledge years of service or celebrate retirement. More guidance on employee gifts is available on Topic Overview: Categories of Purchases.

Employee Morale
  • The university pays or reimburses for occasional employee morale activities, local retreat and team-building events. For example, costs of employee service and retirement awards, recognition, flowers (for bereavement, serious illness or family crises), retirement party food and recreational activities. 
  • Employee morale cannot be charged to Federal sponsored awards.
  • Non-SU employees cannot be charged to employee morale expenses.
House Hunting Relocation Expenses for New Employees As outlined in Administrative Guide Policy 2.1.19: Relocation of Faculty and Staff, expenses are subject to tax reporting and will be submitted to Payroll.
Human Subjects

Human subjects are people who participate in research studies. Specific guidelines dictate how human subjects can be compensated. More detail is available on the Human Subjects overview page.

International/Foreign Travel Expenses Stanford will pay actual costs for Stanford travelers to acquire passports, visas, tourist cards, necessary photographs, birth certificates, required inoculations, immunizations, health cards and fees for the conversion of funds to foreign currencies. For more details, refer to Topic Overview: International Travel for more information.
Laundry Service Laundry service is a reimbursable expense only if the business trip exceeds six days.
Recruitment Expenses for Prospective Employees Expense payments such as airfare, hotel, and meals incurred for the recruit during the recruitment process (including expenses related to the recruit familiarizing themselves with the Bay Area) are not taxable. However, payment for expenses incurred for family members accompanying the recruit is considered taxable by the IRS and will be reported on a Form W-2 issued to the recruit.
Miscellaneous Expenses Purchases such as supplies, books, and equipment costing less than $2,500 are eligible for reimbursement under the Miscellaneous Expense type. The preferred purchasing methods for purchases of more than $2,500 are iProcurement, which provides users with access to shop from Amazon Business and SmartMart catalog suppliers, or the Purchasing Card (limited to purchases of $4,999 or less).


A list of common non-reimbursable expenses is outlined on the Business and Travel Expense Policies fundamentals page. If a purchase or expense is identified as non-compliant, Stanford may consider the acquisition effort null and void and decline to pay or reimburse the expense.

Last Updated: Aug 1, 2023