As a part of a continued effort to enhance and improve the processes and policies associated with Business and Travel Expenses, Stanford Financial Management Services has released new functionality within the Expense Request System that provides an easier way to submit a reimbursement request for a group travel meal, which is defined as an ordinary and necessary meal for a group of employees that occurs while traveling on university business.

The enhancement comes as a part of the larger Business Expense Policy initiative, which included the elimination of the requirement to itemize alcohol, tax and tip, and new guidance for meals and lodging, which was released on April 29, 2019. The continued efforts are focused on using feedback and data to make improvements to the service.

What’s New?

An enhancement was completed on Saturday, August 8 that allows for a group travel to be entered through its own expense type, so that users no longer need to use the previous workaround. This is now the best method to appropriately submit an expense for a group travel meal. 

Summary of the enhancement:

  • There are two new travel meal expense types now depending on if the meal contains alcohol. 
    • Group Travel Meal - Used when there is no alcohol as a part of the meal.
    • Group Travel Meal with Alcohol - Used if any part of the meal contains alcohol. Put the entire cost of the meal on one line, no itemization is required.
  • Two fields are now required in the Additional Information section:
    • Number of Attendees: Should be the total number of meal participants. The names of these individuals and their affiliation with Stanford should be listed in the business purpose, or attached to the transactions.
    • Meal Type: Select whether the meal was Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner so that the appropriate meal maximums may be referenced.
  • The line remarks field is a required field.

What’s Not Changing?

  • Business Meals and Individual Travel Meals will continue to use the existing Expense Types.
  • The existing policies and meal maximums are unchanged. Group travel meals should adhere to the per person travel meal limits, which are significantly lower than business meal maximums. 
  • Itemized receipts are required as attachments to the reimbursement request when the receipt total is $75 or more.
  • The business purpose of the trip explaining why the travel occurred is sufficient to cover the purpose of the travel meal as long as it occurs within the travel period, because it is considered an ordinary and necessary expense. In contrast, a business meal requires a specific explanation describing the university business that was conducted at the meal. Learn more about types of business meals on the Business Meal Policy page.
  • Meal attendees: The names of meal attendees can be entered by listing them directly in the transaction, or by attaching the list as a supporting document.

Where to Learn More:

  • If you have questions about the new group travel meal enhancement, please contact a Financial Support Specialist by submitting a Support Request.
  • Follow the Stanford Travel Slack channel #fms-stanford-travel for announcements and updates related to traveling for Stanford.
  • Check the event calendar to see upcoming Office Hours and info sessions that cover this and similar topics.
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