Accounts Payable

West Vandenberg Hall, Room 121
502 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4452
(location map)
payables@oakland.edu

Travel FAQ

This FAQ assumes that you have general knowledge of OU’s policy and procedure for business travel. For the full travel policy, please find OU AP&P Travel in the left sidebar under AP/Purchasing Policies.

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CONFERENCE FEES
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1. How should I pay for conference registration fees?

The recommended payment method for conference fees is an OU P-Card.  If you do not have a Pcard please contact your department administrative staff for their assistance as most offices have someone with a card available for this purpose.  It should be noted that the Travel Policy 1200 has been updated this year.  The section on “Prepayment By Payment Voucher” indicates, if a traveler makes any pre-trip expenditures from their personal funds, those expenses will only be reimbursed on the TES following the return from the trip. 

Please always obtain a conference itinerary to include as supporting documentation when you turn in your TES form.

2. Does the University pay for extra excursions or events offered at an additional cost at conferences?

If a traveler would like to attend entertainment activities for an additional cost at conferences it is a personal expense for the traveler and will not be reimbursed or paid for by the University.


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RECEIPTS
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1. What receipts do I need to provide?

Original and itemized receipts must be provided for every expense over $25 that was not covered by per diem. Any missing receipt over $25 needs a Lost/Missing Receipt form and must be included with the corresponding TES/P-Card Statement.

2. If my travel expenses were paid via OU P-Card, do my original receipts go with my P-Card statement or my Travel Expense Summary?

The p-card statement should always include the original receipts. Therefore, copies should be provided with the TES.



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TRANSPORTATION
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1. Am I allowed to rent a vehicle to drive to my business destination?

Rental vehicles will only be allowable when it is the lowest cost alternative or when it is a business necessity. A cost comparison should take all of the following into consideration for the rental:

  • Estimated rental fee
  • Estimated fuel for the rental
  • Anticipated parking expenses 
  • Anticipated toll expenses

If the location is within a reasonable driving distance, then compare the rental to the cost to drive your personal vehicle. If the location is further, then compare the rental to the cost to fly. Refer to the Drive/Fly Comparison Worksheet for the expenses to take into consideration.

The cost comparison must be approved by the AP Manager prior to the travel taking place.

2. If I fly to my business destination, am I allowed to rent a vehicle to get me around the city?

Unless you have multiple work locations, this will likely not be the most cost effective option. Generally, you will just need a shuttle or taxi to get you from the airport to the hotel and then to get you from the hotel back to the airport. In most cases, the University should not incur any other transportation expense at your business destination. However, there will be instances where the rental vehicle is a business necessity or it can be proven that the rental is the most cost effective option. Please contact the AP Manager prior to booking the rental if you would like to obtain approval to rent a vehicle at your business destination.

3. After a rental vehicle is approved, should I purchase the insurance offered by the rental agency?

It is not necessary to purchase the insurance as you are covered by OU's insurance when you are traveling on University business.

4. Does Oakland University have any corporate rates for renting vehicles?

Yes, the Accounts Payable Department has specific charge cards for Avis, Budget and Hertz. These cards may be signed out from the A/P office for business travel only, and the university will be billed directly for the particular rental contract.

5. Can I be reimbursed for toll and parking fees?

Toll and parking fees are reimbursable when traveling on University business.

6. Do I need to complete a Drive/Fly Comparison Worksheet if more than one employee or student is traveling together?

The worksheet will NOT be required when 2 or more employees/students are driving together in one vehicle roundtrip 1,500 miles or less.  When this is the case, always include the names of all travelers on all of the TES'.

7. When should I book my flight?

Airfare should be booked as early as reasonable and made through a least cost arrangement.

8. Are baggage fees reimbursable?

Yes, one extra bag beyond your carry-on is reimbursable.

9. Do I have to book my arrival flight for the first day of the business event and the departure flight for the last day of the business event?

You can book as much as one day before the business event and one day after, within reason. For example, if your business event was in Chicago beginning at 5pm, it would not be reasonable to fly in the day before.  However, if your business event was in Las Vegas at 5pm, it would be reasonable to fly in the night before due to the time change and the flight time.

10. Is travel insurance reimbursable?

Yes, travel insurance is reimbursable.

11. What should I do for ground transportation when I arrive at my business destination?

Employees are required to choose the most cost efficient mode of transportation, such as shuttles, taxis, and car services. For the most part, a shuttle will be the most cost effective option. Gratuities for these services should not exceed 20%.

For a traveler looking to estimate their taxi costs, please follow the link provided here.

12. Are there any limitations for where I can and cannot park at the Detroit airport?

There are no specific limitations, other than to keep cost-effectiveness in mind.

Detroit airport on-site parking ranges from $9/day (“green lot”) to $21/day (“McNamara Long Term Parking”).

Off-site parking lots cost about the same as the green lot at $8 - $9/day, but they allow online booking so employees without OU p-cards could pre-pay for parking on a departmental p-card to reduce their reimbursable expenses.

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LODGING
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1. Is there anything I need to know before I book lodging?

Oakland University will reimburse employees for the actual cost of single-rate or conference-rate lodging. For foreign travel, reimbursements are limited to the lodging per diem rates located on the U.S. Department of State website.

When booking conferences, try to book a hotel near the conference that is within walking distance or offers shuttle service to the conference.

2. Can I share a room with another employee?

Yes, this is a great way to save costs!

If the employees are not in the same department, one employee may pay the expense (hopefully via OU p-card) and a Journal Voucher will need to be submitted upon their return to ensure the charges get allocated to the proper funds.

When sharing a room with another employee, only one traveler needs to claim the lodging on their TES but they must be sure to indicate on the TES the name of the employee in which they roomed, and conversely, the other employee must note that their lodging was paid for by another employee and provide their name.

3. Can I seek reimbursement for non-standard lodging?

If you stay with a friend or family, there will be no lodging subsidy provided.

If you find a rental location that is not a standard hotel, such as an apartment or a rental home, you must ensure that payment can be made by University standard payment methods and that the payment will be made to a company and not an individual. The rental location must be more cost effective than the single-rate or conference rate options for your location.  This comparison must be approved by the AP Manager prior to the travel taking place.


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MEALS & INCIDENTALS PER DIEM
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1. Do I still need to provide receipts for my meals?

No receipts are required for meals or incidentals.

2. Can I receive actual meal cost reimbursement or per diem reimbursement for my meals and incidentals for non-overnight travel?

Actual meal cost reimbursement is only allowable for hosting purposes (see OU AP&P #208 in the left sidebar under AP/Purchasing Policies) and travelers are only eligible for meal reimbursement when traveling overnight.

3. Which per diem rate should I choose if my business trip includes multiple work locations?

In this case, choose the per diem for the city in which you have booked lodging.

4. What is the meal breakdown for my per diem?

  • For domestic meal breakdown please follow the link provided here.
  • For foreign meal breakdown please follow the link provided here.
  • For Alaska and Hawaii, use the following percentages on the meal per diem amount only:
    • 17% for breakfast
    • 27% for lunch
    • 56% for dinner

5. If the per diem rate for meals seems too low for the location, can I be reimbursed at a higher rate?

Meal reimbursement is strictly limited to the per diem rate as defined by the GSA.

6. If my business destination city is not listed what rate should I choose?

For domestic travel, the search will provide the nearest cities in the county. The county will likely have all of the same rates so you can go with whatever that rate is.

For international travel there is an "Other" rate designated for each country.

7. The conference includes a "continental breakfast" (rolls, cereal, juice, coffee). Can I eat a full breakfast elsewhere and claim the per diem?

Yes.

8. Are there limitations on how the per diem can be spent?

The purpose of per diem is to reimburse employees a flat rate for travel-related meal and incidental expenses. How to spend the per diem is at the traveler's discretion.

9. While colleges and departments may not establish policies different from the University's policy, can travelers claim less than the per diem?

At the traveler's discretion, they may choose to claim less than the per diem allowed. This should be explicit on the TES.

10. If two or more employees in travel status dine together and one employee pays the bill, how is reimbursement handled?

The employees' should request separate checks and each claim their own per diem upon return.  In the event that this is not what happens, the employee's should handle the per diem claim the same way and work it out between them. In other words, just because one employee paid for everyone, it does not mean that they are eligible to receive the other employees' per diem nor can they claim the actual meal cost for reimbursement.

11. While hosting on travel status, am I required to stay within the meal per diem allowance for my hosting meals?
 
This type of expense falls under OU AP&P #208 Hosting. Hospitality does allow for expenses beyond the per diem with appropriate documentation. Note: Itemized receipts, list of attendees and attendees affiliation are required.

On the TES the per diem for that meal should be removed and the hosting expense should be noted on the hosting line.


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GUESTS
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1. How do we pay for a guest’s travel expenses?

Guests of OU are subject to all of OU’s travel policy requirements, the same as employees.  An OU P-Card may be used to book travel arrangements for guests, whenever possible.

2. What about foreign guests?

All the same rules apply except all foreign guests are required to provide more documentation: an International Visitor's form, IRS Form W-8BEN, a copy of their passport, an I-94 record, and a copy of their visa.

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FOREIGN TRAVEL
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1. What’s different about foreign travel?

All normal travel policy rules apply, except:

  • The per diem rates will have a large variation depending on location of travel.
  • The per diem rate is 100% on the first and last days of travel, versus the 75% it is for domestic.
  • Lodging will be reimbursed at a maximum of the U.S. Department of State lodging per diem rate.
  • Foreign currency exchange costs will be reimbursed when documented.

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MISCELLANEOUS
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1. Can I obtain a travel advance for my business trip?

Per the policy, travel advances are only provided for foreign, student or Athletics team/recruiting travel.

To obtain a cash advance for any of these scenarios, an e-mail must be sent to advance@oakland.edu by the employee’s supervisor authorizing the travel advance, with a CC to cashiers@oakland.edu. The e-mail must include the traveler’s name in the header and have the dates, destination, purpose and fund number to be charged.

2. What happens if Accounts Payable does not receive my completed and approved TES within 60 days of return from travel?

Failure to meet the required deadline may result in travel reimbursement becoming taxable income to the traveler.

3. Do I have to complete a TES even if I don't have any reimbursable expenses?

Yes.

4. What do I do if I am charged sales tax while traveling?

Oakland University is exempt from Michigan sales tax and may be eligible for tax exemptions in other states (refer to the Tax Compliance site in left sidebar). Travelers should carry an OU Sales Tax Exemption Status Card and present it while traveling. If you do not have our handy wallet-sized exemption card, please contact us.

5. How do I handle adding vacation time to my business travel?

If you choose to add vacation to the beginning or end of your trip, prior to booking your actual flight please obtain a flight comparison from a site such as Expedia, Orbitz, or Travelocity, which indicates that the actual airfare paid does not exceed what it would have cost if you traveled on the business dates.

  • Do not obtain the comparison from one airline’s website, instead use a website that provides the cost of multiple airlines
  • In the event that the cost of your flight is more expensive than it would have been on the travel dates, please do not use the OU p-card; instead, please request reimbursement for the amount of the comparison airfare

The TES dates should still only contain the normal business dates of travel, no need to use actual travel dates. Using actual travel dates will cause issues with the per diem calculation.

6. Where is my reimbursement?

Travel vouchers are processed in the order received by each AP staff member. During high volume periods, reimbursements will take longer to process. Additionally, if there are any issues found on the voucher, reimbursement will take longer to process. However, if you have not received your reimbursement within a couple of weeks, contact your department to verify the date the voucher was submitted to the Accounts Payable office. If it was submitted to Accounts Payable more than a few weeks ago, you may contact Accounts Payable to request the status of the voucher.  See "Meet the Staff" in the left sidebar.