Meals and Incidental Travel Expenses

Policy No: 
6.4
Type of Policy: 
Administrative
Effective Date: 
August 2012
Last Revised: 
September 2017
Review Date: 
September 2020
Policy Owner: 
Accounts Payable
Contact Name: 
Abbie Coker
Contact Title: 
Director of Accounts Payable & Travel
Contact Email: 
abbie.coker@business.gatech.edu
Procedures: 

I. 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 Station. The T&E System will provide the proper per diem amounts based on travel to specific cities. Daily meal allowances include taxes/meal tips and are divided into breakfast/lunch/dinner amounts to allow travelers to deduct specific meals, where required. Per diem expenses do not require receipts to be provided.

Meal per diem rates outside the State of Georgia are based on Department of Defense per diem rates (GSA for the Continental US, DoS for foreign overseas locations, and DTMO for Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico) and are automatically updated and loaded into Georgia Tech’s T&E system. Meal rates for the State of Georgia are restricted to the meal per diem allowances provided by the State Accounting Office. These are currently fixed at $36 for designated high cost areas and $28 for all other locations in Georgia.

Reimbursement for meals within a 50-mile radius of an employee's headquarters or residence 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) or approved to provide support during a campus emergency.

Actual incidental expenses are reimbursed separately and include: fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel housekeeping, and hotel staff.

II. Required Meal Claim Deductions
Employees who are provided meals during the course of travel as part of a conference fee, or when hosting or being hosted by another party while on travel status, must deduct the corresponding applicable meal claim from their 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 T&E Expense Report or paper TES (non-employees) to document this information.

III. Meal Expenses Associated with Overnight Travel (Non-High Cost Areas in Georgia)
Employees traveling overnight will be paid a per diem amount designed to cover the cost of three meals per day for all days of travel other than the day of departure and return. The maximum per diem for three meals is $28.00 per day for travel within most areas of Georgia.

Employees whose headquarters are out of state and are visiting a non-high cost Georgia location will be reimbursed for the per diem amount of $28.00 for each full day of eligible travel, other than the day of departure and the day of return.

Travelers are eligible for 100% of the total per diem rate on the first and last day of travel, and deductions must also be made for any meals that have been provided (as described in section II above).

IV. Meal Expenses Associated with Overnight Travel within High Cost Areas in Georgia
The State Accounting Office defines ‘High Cost’ areas as those locations in Chatham (Savannah), Cobb/Dekalb/Fulton (Atlanta), Glynn (Brunswick) and Richmond (Augusta) counties.

Employees are considered traveling in high cost areas of Georgia when their official responsibilities must be performed at a location in the high cost area. The maximum per diem for 3 meals per day is $36 for these areas.

Employees whose headquarters are out of state and are visiting a high cost Georgia location will be reimbursed for the per diem amount of $36.00 for each full day of eligible travel.

Travelers are eligible for 100% of the total per diem rate on the first and last day of travel, and deductions must also be made for any meals that have been provided (as described in section II above).

V. Meal Expenses Associated with Overnight Travel outside Georgia
(Domestic U.S. and International Travel)

Meal expenses will be paid for the federal per diem (less the federal “incidentals” allowance) rate established for the travel destination. The TechWorks Employee T&E 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 also be made for any meals that have been provided (as described in section II above).

VI. Meal Per Diem During Non-Overnight Travel: One-Day Trips
Employees on Institute business who travel more than 50 miles from their Residence and Primary Work Station on a work assignment, AND are away for more than four (4+) hours more than the regular work schedule may receive 100% of the allowable per diem rate, even when there is no overnight lodging . Specific meal deductions must also be made for any meals that have been provided (as described in section II above).

Each department head or their delegate is to determine the reasonableness of when an overnight stay is justified.

VII. Per diem allowances are calculated based on the last business location of the travel day.
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 Station

VIII. Entertainment Expenses
Entertainment expenses are processed through the Georgia Tech Foundation or GTRC, using appropriate Foundation or GTRC funds.

IX. 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 his delegates), unless specific authority for approval has been delegated to a department head for a period not to exceed one fiscal year.

X. 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.

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