The purpose of this policy is to outline requirements for meals and incidental travel expenses for Georgia Tech employees and students traveling on official business in compliance with University System of Georgia, State Accounting Office and Georgia Tech travel policies.
General Meal Per Diem Guidelines
Meals are reimbursable on a per diem basis (not actual expenses) for overnight official business travel outside the Traveler’s primary work or educational location. Georgia Tech’s financial management system will provide the proper per diem amounts based on travel to specific cities. Daily meal allowances are divided into breakfast, lunch and dinner amounts, and include taxes and tips. Travelers should deduct specific meals where required, as outlined in the “Required Meal Claim Deductions” section below. Per diem expenses do not require receipts to be provided. A formal written agenda which includes session times and any meals provided is required as supporting documentation for conferences, meetings and training.
Reimbursement for meals per diem within a 50-mile radius of a Traveler’s primary work or educational location is generally not allowable, unless in conjunction with a Georgia Tech sponsored event (see section 6.14 - Retreats and Campus Workshops for Faculty and Staff https://policylibrary.gatech.edu/business-finance/retreats-and-campus-workshops-faculty-and-staff) or approved to provide support during a campus emergency.
Required Meal Claim Deductions
If meals are provided at a conference or event, or if meals are part of a registration fee, the meals must be deducted from the per diem reimbursement for each meal provided. Meal deductions include those provided by hotels, meetings, conferences, or any other source. If a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or reception is offered as part of the travel event and the quantity of food and event timing is sufficient to serve as a meal, the Traveler must reduce the per diem by the appropriate allowance amount. If a meal is offered as part of a conference and the traveler has medical restrictions, dietary, or religious convictions that restrict or prohibit consumption, the traveler should make every effort to have the conference facilitate his/her needs by the deadline specified by the conference. If the conference does not honor the request, the traveler is not required to deduct the applicable meal allowance from the per diem. However, the traveler must include a note or other documentation with the Travel Expense Report to document this information.
Meal Per Diem Expenses Associated with Overnight Travel within Non-High Cost Areas in Georgia
Travelers staying overnight within the State of Georgia will be paid a per diem amount designed to cover the cost of three meals per day for all days of travel. See the following link to meal per diem allowances on the State Accounting Office website: https://sao.georgia.gov/state-travel-policy. Travelers staying overnight within the State of Georgia non-high cost areas will receive 100% reimbursement on the first and last day of travel, less any provided meal(s).
Travelers whose primary work or education location is out of the state of Georgia and are visiting a non-high cost Georgia location will be reimbursed for 75% of the per diem amount on first and last day.
Deductions must be made for any meals that have been provided as outlined in the Required Meal Claim Deductions section above.
Meal Per Diem Expenses Associated with Overnight Travel within High Cost Areas in Georgia
The State Accounting Office identifies ‘High Cost’ areas here: https://sao.georgia.gov/state-travel-policy
Travelers are considered to be traveling in high cost areas of Georgia when their official responsibilities must be performed at a location in the high cost area. See the following link to meal per diem allowances on the State Accounting Office website: https://sao.georgia.gov/state-travel-policy. Travelers staying overnight within the State of Georgia high cost areas will receive 100% reimbursement on the first and last day of travel, less any provided meal(s).
Travelers whose primary work or education location is out of state of Georgia and are visiting a high cost Georgia location will be reimbursed for 75% of the per diem amount on the first and last day.
Deductions must be made for any meals that have been provided as outlined in the Required Meal Claim Deductions section.
Meal Per Diem Expenses Associated with Overnight Travel outside Georgia
(Domestic U.S. and International Travel)
Meal expenses will be paid for using the United States General Services Administration established rates for the travel destination, found here: https://sao.georgia.gov/state-travel-policy. The Georgia Tech’s financial system will pull rates effective at the time of travel for the travel location where the employee spends the night.
Travelers are eligible for 75% of the total per diem rate on the first and last day of travel, and deductions must be made for any meals that have been provided as outlined in the Required Meal Claim Deductions section.
Meal Per Diem During Non-Overnight Travel: One-Day Trips
Travelers on Georgia Tech business with no overnight travel involved, or who are on one-day trips, are not eligible for any meal per diem allowance. This also applies to Travelers whose primary work or education location are based out of the State of Georgia.
Each department head or their delegate is to determine the reasonableness of when an overnight stay is justified.
Per diem Calculation
For overnight travel, the calculation is based on the location of lodging for each night of travel. For the final return date, the meal per diem is based on the location of the prior night’s lodging.
For trips involving multiple travel destinations, base the reduction on the per diem rate in effect where the night was spent as follows:
- Departure Day: Where you spend the night.
- Return Day: Where you spent the night before returning to your residence or primary work or education location.
Learn more about requirements for entertainment expenses here. Entertainment expenses in support of Georgia Tech business activities are processed through the Georgia Tech Foundation (GTF), Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC), or Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation (GTARC).
Special Approval for Meals Associated with Campus Emergencies
Meals may be allowable for extraordinary situations when Georgia Tech employees are required by their supervisor to work more than a twelve-hour workday or six hours on a non-scheduled weekend, to meet crucial deadlines or handle campus emergencies, such as weather events. All special meal (and associated hotel) needs must have prior approval from the President’s Office (or designee), unless specific authority for approval has been delegated to a department head for a period not to exceed one fiscal year.
Group Catering/Meeting Meal Expenses
Refer to the Group Meal Policy 5.2.19 for the policy regarding allowable meal expenses related to intra-departmental meetings or training sessions.
Actual incidental expenses are reimbursed separately and include fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel housekeeping, and hotel staff.
All Georgia Tech employees (faculty, staff, and students).
Employees (students, faculty, and staff) and students traveling on behalf of Georgia Tech.
The Traveler is responsible for ensuring appropriate travel authorization, supporting documentation and appropriate approval is obtained prior to the first day of travel. Travelers must also ensure any personal or external professional activities have been excluded from the reimbursement.
5.2. Expense Preparer
An expense preparer may book travel reservations on behalf of the Traveler and is responsible for ensuring appropriate travel authorization and all required supporting documentation is obtained prior to the first day of travel.
Manager and supervisors, or their delegates, are responsible for:
- Verifying the business purpose of the trip;
- Verifying the trip is allowable;
- Verifying the reasonableness of the cost of the trip;
- Verifying the travel class is compliant with Georgia Tech and USG policies;
- Verifying all required supporting documentation is submitted.
Travelers who are in violation of this Policy are at risk of not receiving reimbursement for travel expenses.
To report suspected instances of ethical violations, please visit Georgia Tech’s Ethics Hotline a secure and confidential reporting system, at: https://secure.ethicspoint.com/domain/en/report_custom.asp?clientid=7508