Travel Policies & Procedures

The following policies and procedures were compiled from the Mississippi Department of Finance Travel manual and rules and regulations set forth by Mississippi University for Women. The following procedures should be understood before planning any official travel for Mississippi University for Women. If you have questions, please call University Accounting (x7219) before making any travel arrangements.

Authorization of Travel

Before travel arrangements are made, the “Travel Authorization” section (Section I) of the Travel Authorization and Reimbursement Form (Travel Voucher) must be completed and signed by the traveler and approved by the Budget Manager or Budget Manager’s Supervisor. On page 2 of the form is a worksheet (Section X) for estimated costs that should also be completed before authorization.

Cash Advance for Travel Purposes

A cash advance can be received when traveling in-state, out-of-state, or internationally.

In order to receive a cash advance, the MUW employee should fill out Section I (page 1 of voucher) and Section X (page 2 of voucher) of the Travel Authorization and Reimbursement form and have it approved by the Budget Manager or Budget Manager’s Supervisor. If the cash advance is for group travel, a list of students going on the trip will also need to be included.

The request should have the appropriate organization number. The account code for a cash advance will always be 11404.

Send a copy of the travel voucher (both pages) to the Comptroller’s office. For a cash advance, there is no need for a Purchase Order or a Direct Pay form.

Cash advances will not be issued earlier than 20 days before the travel start date.

As soon as the employee returns from the travel, the Travel Authorization and Reimbursement Form must be completed and the advance settled. Any money left over from the advance should be hand delivered to the Comptroller's Office along with the completed Travel Authorization and Reimbursement form. Please make sure that the amount returned plus the amount claimed on the voucher equal the amount of the cash advance.

If you spend more than the cash advance and will be reimbursed for those expenses, you will receive your reimbursement through Accounts Payable.

IMPORTANT: The traveler is liable for all funds given to him/her. If the advance is not settled within ten working days after the end of the month in which travel was completed, it may be deducted from employee's paycheck.

Only TWO travel advances shall be outstanding at one time.

PRIOR-TO-TRIP EXPENSE

The Prior-to-Trip Expense (PTE) allows travelers to be reimbursed for lodging or public carrier ticket purchases that are required to be paid prior to traveling. The PTE is necessary for payments that are required to be made in advance. The PTE should only be incurred if it is in the best interest of the university. PTE can be paid anytime prior to the trip.

Registration fees are NOT considered a PTE expense and will not be reimbursed to the employee until after the travel has taken place.

TRANSPORTATION

Whether by public transportation, privately-owned vehicle, state-owned vehicle, etc., reimbursement will be made for the most direct practical route. The least expensive method of transportation should be used.

Business travel and vacation/personal leave may be combined when all of the following conditions are met:

The primary purpose of the trip is official state business;
The employee uses approved leave for the personal part of the trip;
The university incurs no expenses beyond what it would have incurred had there been no
personal travel involved in the trip.

If travel is by other than the most direct route between points where official university business is conducted, the additional costs must be borne by the traveler.

Private Vehicle

Reimbursement for the use of a personal vehicle for official university business is based on actual miles traveled. Section 25-3-41, the Mississippi Code of 1972, mandates that State officers and employees traveling on official State business in their private automobiles be reimbursed at the same rate federal employees are reimbursed for official federal business in private automobiles. Effective January 12, 2010, the rates are determined by the availability of a MUW vehicle.

If there is not a MUW vehicle available and the employee is required to drive their personal vehicle for business purposes, the reimbursement rate is $0.535 per mile. To request a vehicle, go to http://www.muw.edu/resmgmt/docs/vehreq.pdf. The form should be sent to Resources Management for approval. When a MUW vehicle is not available, this form should be attached to the travel voucher.

If there is a MUW vehicle available and the employee chooses to drive their personal vehicle for business purposes, the reimbursement rate is $0.17 per mile.

When two or more employees travel in one private vehicle, only one travel expense at the authorized reimbursement rate per mile shall be allowed. The person claiming reimbursement shall report the names of other university employee passengers. Private vehicle mileage reimbursement cannot exceed the lowest cost of round trip airfare. If a cost comparison must be made between driving vs. flying cost, the cost of flying should be multiplied by the number of passengers and compared to the cost of driving.

Mileage should be referenced on Section V (Travel by Private Auto, page 2 of travel voucher) from city to city. Travel in and around the city of destination, for official university business, should be specified separately within the same section.

Travel by Rental Vehicle

When a rental vehicle is used in lieu of a personal vehicle for official state business within the state, only the actual cost of the rental vehicle and fuel can be claimed for reimbursement when such rental is less expensive than the current mileage calculation.

The Bureau of Financial Control requires that you show the comparison of the total rental vehicle expense to the total mileage expense. Reimbursement for the lesser of the two expenses shall be shown and claimed on the Travel Voucher.  This reservation does not require the use of a state contract travel agency and should be made by the employee.
Charges for rental cars shall be allowed only when there is a demonstrated cost savings over other modes of transportation.   The following conditions would justify use of rental cars:

  • When the employee reaches intended destination by commercial carrier and several locations within the same vicinity must be visited.
  • When transportation between commercial carrier terminal and destination is needed and taxi-limousine service is not available.
  • When the employee’s schedule cannot be met through the use of common carrier.

The university will not reimburse for rental cars obtained for personal use, such a sightseeing or optional travel to and from restaurants while on official duties.

An intermediate size vehicle is normally the largest rental that will be reimbursed.  Naturally, there will be occasions for which a larger vehicle will be required in order to carry out university business.  A waiver request should be obtained before travel and submitted along with the Travel Authorization and Reimbursement form for reimbursement.

Effective December 1, 2009 through November 30, 2010, our state contract for car rental within the State of Mississippi, has been awarded to multiple In-State Vendors.   Complete vendor information can be found on page 3, 4, & 5 of this contract.  During the term of this contract no rental of the enclosed-designated services from the designated contractor shall be made at a rate in excess of that established by the price set out in this contract.

Please use the following link to access In-State Rental Contract Vendors and obtain all contact and pricing information for each.
We suggest that you print a copy of this contract for easy reference purposes as it contains Car Rental Contract Information – Vendors, contract numbers, rates, identification numbers, name of representatives and phone numbers of each State Contract Car Rental Agency.

http://www.dfa.ms.gov/dfa-offices/purchasing-travel-and-fleet-management/purchasing-and-travel/competitive-contracts/v-w-xyz/vehicles-rental-services/

The rental car contracts include unlimited mileage and free collision insurance. The option to purchase insurance should always be declined and will not be reimbursed on the above rental contracts. If at the time of booking your rental is not under the contract rate and provisions, then you must make sure that the rental includes CDW/LDW insurance at no additional cost and you must submit a waiver to our office.

All rentals require a personal credit card.  Be prepared to show proper identification when picking up rental vehicle.

Fill the vehicle with gasoline prior to return.  You may be charged up to the amount per gallon as listed in the state contract for a full tank of gasoline even if the tank is ¾ full when returned.

If a better rate is obtained from a different car rental agency, a cost comparison will need to be made between the state contract agency and the other agency showing a savings.  You must always be covered by insurance either provided by the contract or by purchase, should you utilize a vendor that is not on state contract.

The waiver request form, if requesting vehicle rental larger than intermediate size on state contract, or to purchase vehicle rental insurance, or to rent a vehicle not on state contract can be found at http://www.dfa.ms.gov/media/1533/ewaiver.pdf.

All of the above including contract period, policies, rules, regulations and restrictions apply to Out-Of-State Vehicle Rental Services.

Please use the following link to access Out-Of-State Rental Contract Vendors and obtain all contact and pricing information for each.  We suggest that you print a copy of this contract for easy reference purposes as it contains Car Rental Contract Information – Vendors, contract numbers, rates, identification numbers, name of representatives and phone numbers of each Out-Of-State Contract Car Rental Agency.

http://www.dfa.ms.gov/dfa-offices/purchasing-travel-and-fleet-management/purchasing-and-travel/state-contracts/v-w-xyz/vehicles-rental-services/ 

State-Owned Vehicle

When driving a university vehicle, travelers should always utilize Fuelman for gasoline purchases. University vehicles are reserved through Resources Management and they will give the traveler the Fuelman information. If a Fuelman location is not available, reimbursement will be made for the actual cost of the gasoline purchase. No mileage reimbursement will be made for state-owned vehicle use.

Driving vs. Flying

When travel is by private vehicle, the total travel expenses reimbursed, including meals and lodging, shall not exceed the cost of the lowest unrestricted air fare. A comparison of “total driving” and “total flying” expenses must show that it is less expensive to drive than to fly. If the employee chooses to drive and expenses exceed the cost of the lowest unrestricted air fare, reimbursement will be limited to cost of flying.

To determine reimbursable driving expenses the "total cost of driving" must be compared with the "total cost of flying".

  1. "Driving total cost" shall include enroute meals, enroute lodging, and the official rate for mileage reimbursement when a private vehicle is used for university business.
  2. "Flying total cost" shall include the lowest unrestricted air fare, any charges for shipping of equipment and/or supplies required at destination, all required ground transportation at destination (e.g., taxis to/from meeting site.), and mileage to and from airport. Be sure to include State Contract Agency fee (because the amount varies, be sure to ask the agency at time you request quote). If a vehicle is deemed by the agency head to be required at the destination, then the cost of a rental vehicle will also be included in this total cost of comparison.

If a cost comparison must be made between driving vs flying cost, the cost of flying should be multiplied by the number of passengers and compared to the cost of driving.

Cost comparisons must be made before travel begins and the documentation turned in with the travel reimbursement request.


AIR TRAVEL

House Bill 1488, effective July 1, 2002, allows city and county officers and employees to utilize the State of Mississippi Travel Agency Services contract. This bill allows state agency employees to make reservations for all travel arrangements, using a state contract travel agency or booking flights over the Internet. A receipt (passenger receipt) and itinerary shall accompany the request for reimbursement.

For all flights which are not booked through one of the contract travel agencies, the employee must obtain a cost comparison showing a minimum of two (2) fares. This cost comparison must show the fare and any issuance cost and must show a savings, and should be submitted along with the employees reimbursement request. Cost comparisons must be made before ticket is purchased.

If the employee must book a flight at a price in excess of the lowest rate on the cost comparison, the employee must, prior to booking the flight, submit a Waiver Request (http://www.dfa.ms.gov/media/1533/ewaiver.pdf) to the Office of Purchasing and Travel and include the amount of cost and the justification of using that fare on the waiver.

Travel in first class or business class is not a reimbursable expense.

Frequent Flyer Program Awards

Any bonus or promotional gratuity received as a result of official state travel shall be used to offset or reduce the cost of subsequent official state travel. Under no circumstances can the traveler keep a bonus or other promotional gratuity so earned for his/her own personal use.

Payments to state contract travel agencies must always be made by the traveler from his/her personal funds to be reimbursed by the university. Purchase Orders or Direct Pay forms made payable to the state contract agency is not acceptable.

In State Hotel - Motel
The State has negotiated State Contract Rates with various locations around the state. It is recommended that, whenever possible, travelers make arrangements to stay at one of the contract locations. A listing of the locations is shown in the Mississippi Department of Finance travel manual. “State rates” must always be requested by all travelers and the rate confirmed both at the time reservations are made and at check-in. A list of Hotel/Motel services can be found at http://www.dfa.ms.gov/dfa-offices/purchasing-travel-and-fleet-management/purchasing-and-travel/state-contracts/g-h-i/hotel-motel-services/

Out of State Hotel - Motel
The traveler should make reservations for accommodations which are economical and meet the needs of the individual traveler. Always request a government rate when travel is not conference related. The state contract travel agencies will check for the government rate or lowest rate available.

Reimbursement for Hotel - Motel (In State or Out of State)
In order to be reimbursed you must have an itemized copy of the hotel bill. Express checkout receipts which are not itemized are not acceptable. The single room rate should be clearly stated on the bill or on the conference literature. Otherwise, the traveler should have the single room rate written across the face of the receipt and signed by the hotel clerk/personnel.

Parking and telephone charges on the hotel bill, for business purposes only, should be listed on the voucher as "Other Authorized Expenses."

Conference Hotel - A copy of the conference literature showing the conference hotel and rate must be attached to the expense voucher in order to be reimbursed.

When hotel rooms are blocked for a conference, seminar, etc., and a special discounted hotel rate provided, the employee should go through the conference housing bureau or directly to the hotel to obtain lodging. The state contract travel agency will not make reservations for conference hotels. A copy of the conference literature showing the conference hotel and rate or the registration form which often includes the housing reservation must be attached to the travel voucher in order to be reimbursed. A memo from the employee is acceptable if there are no rates listed on the brochure.

A waiver request form (http://www.dfa.ms.gov/media/1533/ewaiver.pdf) is required for any lodging reimbursement greater than the conference rate and should be attached to the Travel Voucher for reimbursement.

Lodging shared with another MUW employee - Separate invoices should be requested when registering when both employees pay a portion. If one employee pays the hotel expense, both employees should note the sharing of the room on their individual reimbursement request (each employee should list the name of the other employee sharing the room).

Lodging with someone not a state employee – If a family member or other non-state employee travels with the employee, the University will only reimburse the employee the single room rate. The single room rate should be written across the face of the receipt and signed by the hotel clerk. Express check-out receipts which do not provide an itemized hotel bill are not acceptable.

Registration Fees

A receipt for registration fee must be submitted with the voucher for reimbursement. Meals required in the registration fee that would cause the employee to exceed the maximum daily allowance should be included in the registration expense.
If an employee would rather have the registration fee paid directly to the conference/seminar vendor, a Direct Pay form can be used. Make sure to attach a copy of the approved Travel Authorization to the Direct Pay form.

Phone Charges

Business related phone charges should be claimed as "Other Authorized Expenses." Calls home are considered personal expenses and are not reimbursable. Any other personal call will not be reimbursed.

Taxi Fares

Taxi Fares should be claimed as "Other Authorized Expenses." Fares for taxis in excess of $10.00 require a receipt. The State does NOT reimburse taxi fares for optional travel to/from restaurants.

Baggage Handling

Reasonable charges will be allowed without receipt. Reasonable is usually defined as $1 per bag for each level of handling. These should be claimed as "Other Authorized Expenses."

Hotel/Airport Parking

For charges in excess of $10.00, receipts must be attached to the expense voucher. These charges should be claimed as "Other Authorized Expenses."

Group Travel

Group travel involves any university employee traveling with other non-employees (students) where the university is paying for travel expenses. In this case, itemized and original receipts must be submitted for ALL expenses, including meals. A list of all travelers must be submitted with the voucher for reimbursement.

International Travel

International Travel must be approved by the Budget Manager and the President of the University. A copy of the approval must be attached to the voucher for reimbursement. If actual expenses exceed the estimated expenses shown on the approval, the original form should be resubmitted showing the excess charges and again be approved by the Budget Manager and the President of the University. If you wish to receive a cash advance, you must also attach a copy of the approval.

International travel is travel outside the continental limits of the United States. This means that travel to Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and even Hawaii would require approval. Travel to Alaska no longer requires such approval.

When converting foreign currency to dollars for the purpose of reimbursement, you must attach proof of the official rate of exchange. Any documented official statement of the official rate of exchange will be acceptable. It is recommended to obtain the official rate of exchange upon arrival at the destination so that the rate is applicable to the dates of travel documented.

     -For individual, international travel:  Expenses incurred for meals during international travel are reimbursed on actual expenditures and DO NOT require receipts by the Bureau of Financial Control. The maximum meal reimbursement rate for international travel is $50.00 per day, per person.

     -Receipts required if 1 or more students attend.

International Travel Authorization Form 

http://www.dfa.ms.gov/media/1352/132020-travel-authorization.pdf



Conferences/Seminars/Workshops

A copy of the conference literature or the registration form must be attached to the Travel Voucher in order to be reimbursed.

If attending a meeting and there is not any literature, you must attach a copy of the agenda or meeting information.

Meal Allowances

Travelers can be reimbursed for meals when traveling for business purposes that include overnight stay. Reimbursement shall be for ACTUAL cost of meals, not to exceed the daily maximums for the specific location of assignment. For the maximum daily meal allowance refer to the Maximum State Reimbursement Rates. If you cannot find the city you are looking for, locate the county and use the amount listed. If neither the city nor county is listed, the Maximum State Reimbursement Rate is $41.00/day.

The reimbursement rate is not meant to be a guaranteed daily per diem. It is intended to be the maximum rate at which meals shall be reimbursed. Actual meal costs should be listed per day, per meal.

Meals shall not be claimed as a separate item of expense on the travel voucher when included in the conference registration fee. Fees charged for attending the official meetings of a convention or seminar where the meeting includes a meal which causes the employee to exceed the daily maximum meal allowance will be reimbursed if supported by a receipt from convention officials.

Meal tips should be included in the actual meal expense unless the inclusion of the tips would cause the meals to exceed the maximum daily allowance. Total meal tips should not exceed 20% of the maximum daily meal reimbursement claimed.

Meals that do not involve overnight travel will not be reimbursed.
Alcoholic beverages are not reimbursable.

 

VERY IMPORTANT

Reimbursement - "Travel Authorization and Reimbursement Form"

A Travel Authorization and Reimbursement Form (Travel Voucher) must be completed when a cash advance was received or personal funds were used for which the traveler will be reimbursed. Please make sure to do the following to ensure that the voucher is correct:

  • Employee ID number, name of traveler, and address where reimbursement should be mailed must be clearly written in designated areas. If the reimbursement check is to be picked up from the Comptroller’s office a note should be firmly attached to the front of the voucher stating so.
  • Employees should not claim expenses for other employees.
  • Purpose of travel should include a detailed purpose for the trip. Reference to organizations must show full name. No abbreviations or acronyms will be accepted.
  • Destination should include both city and state. Please do not include more than one trip on a single travel voucher.
  • The designated area for dates of travel on the front of the voucher must be completed by ALL travelers.
  • If a cash advance was received, the total advance amount should be written in the designated area.
  • Purchase Orders should not be used for Travel related payments.
  • Any amount paid by a Direct Pay (i.e. Registration fee) to a vendor and not to the traveler is not considered a cash advance. Please do not claim these expenses on the travel voucher because it is not an expense you incurred.
  • After the traveler signs and dates the voucher, the proper Budget Manager/direct supervisor must approve the voucher for payment. The Budget Manager/direct supervisor must give the organization number which should be charged along with the amount approved for payment. The Budget Manager/direct supervisor should not sign any voucher before it has been checked for mistakes.
  • The back of the voucher must be completed by the traveler. Any amount claimed without proper detailed information on the back of the voucher will result in the return of the voucher to the traveler. This will delay receipt of reimbursement.
  • Vouchers received by the Comptroller’s office by noon Tuesday will be processed for payment for the following Friday. However, if the voucher has not been completed correctly, it will be returned to the traveler, which may cause a delay in the receipt of reimbursement.
  • Please staple all ORIGINAL receipts and waivers to the voucher. The traveler should keep a copy of the voucher and receipts and waivers for his/her records. The Comptroller's office is not responsible for any documentation lost in the mail or by other departments.
  • All vouchers should be completed in ink.
  • All of the above procedures must be followed in order to receive reimbursement.

Note: The Comptroller's Office will correct mathematical errors and incorrect allowable rates for meals and mileage. All other changes will be sent back to the traveler for correction. In the case of the Comptroller's Office making corrections, a copy of the corrected travel voucher will be sent to the traveler.

Contract Travel Agencies – Follow this link for State of Mississippi Contract Travel Agencies: http://www.dfa.ms.gov/dfa-offices/purchasing-travel-and-fleet-management/purchasing-and-travel/state-contracts/s-t-u/travel-agency-services/

FORMS

To access the forms referred to in the above policies and procedures, click on the links below.

Travel Authorization and Reimbursement of Expenses

http://web3.muw.edu/images/admin/admin/accounting/Travel_Authorization_Form.pdf

Waiver Request Form

http://www.dfa.ms.gov/media/1533/ewaiver.pdf