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Meals and Lodging

Meals and lodging are subsistence expenses. The following sections define these expenses, explain actual vs. per diem, and explain the conditions needed to be reimbursed for these expense types.

What are reimbursable subsistence expenses?

Subsistence expenses consist of charges for lodging, meals and incidentals (M&IE) incurred while on travel status. Meal reimbursement is allowed while on travel status if there is an overnight stay. The incidentals component is intended to reimburse the traveler for fees and tips given to waiters/waitresses, porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel maids, etc.

How does the M&IE limit differ from per diem?

The per day (M&IE) allowance is the maximum daily amount authorized for such expenses. It is not a per diem, and only actual charges should be reimbursed.

Per diem is a daily subsistence allowance prescribed for a location of travel. Per diems are authorized for all foreign travel; travel within Alaska, Hawaii, and United States possessions; and domestic travel assignments of 30 days or more.

What receipts are required for M&IE and Lodging expneses?

Receipts for meals while on travel status, for expenses under $75, are not required per policy. When staying at a friend's or relative's house, the traveler can compensate the host with a non-cash gift, up to $75 per trip. Reimbursement of host gifts costing $25 or more requires a receipt. Itemized lodging receipts are always required, regardless of the dollar amount. Receipt requirements may vary if traveling using grant funds; please work with your grant administrator for additional guidance.

Subsistence reimbursement rates maximum

Daily reimbursement rates for lodging as well as for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) are contingent on length of travel and/or whether there's an overnight stay. The current maximum daily limit for M&IE expenses is $79.00. M&IE reimbursement shall be limited to the actual reasonable costs incurred; subject to the daily maximum reimbursement cap set forth in Appendix B. Departments should remind their travelers that only expenses actually incurred are reimbursable. Travelers should be required to submit meal receipts if it appears that they are treating the cap as a per diem by routinely claiming the full M&IE amount. Lodging expense reimbursements are actual up to $333 per night before taxes and mandatory hotel fees and must be supported by original itemized receipts, regardless of the amounts incurred, and must be reasonable for the locality of travel. When the traveler is unable to secure lodging at $333 per night or less, the traveler must submit additional documentation such as price comparisons within the proximity of the meeting location that supports the higher lodging rate incurred. The price comparisons should be performed at the time of booking.
A traveler who is required to attend a conference where the prearranged conference lodging rate exceeds the $333 per night cap may stay at the conference hotel without exceptional approval. Details are available in Appendix B of Business and Finance Bulletin G-28 .