Travel Regulations

[Procedure] Last Updated: November 2014
Prior Manual Number: 4-30

Travel regulations are issued by the Illinois Higher Education Travel Control Board and apply to all employee travel regardless of source of university funds. For additional information and for the most up to date travel regulations please visit the Illinois Higher Education Travel Control Board website. This procedure is intended as a guide and summary of the Illinois Higher Education Travel Control Board regulations.

I. Designation of Official Headquarters

The official headquarters is the post of duty or station at which official duties require the employee to spend the largest part of working time. Headquarters shall ordinarily be the corporate city limits in which the employee is stationed or may be a designated geographical area. Headquarters shall be designated by the University in accordance with policies established by Illinois Higher Education Travel Control Board.

The President shall designate official headquarters for each employee. Generally, the official headquarters of an employee is the place where official duties will require the largest part of the individual's working time to be spent during the coming fiscal year. For most employees, the city of DeKalb is their official headquarters. Form TA-2 will be completed and filed with the Legislative Audit Commission for any individual whose headquarters has been designated as a location other than that at which official duties require the largest part of working time. The reports shall be filed no later than July 15 for the period from January 1 through June 30 of that year and no later than January 15 for the period July 1 through December 31 of the preceding year. If an agency has more than one facility or institution, the report shall indicate on its face to which facility or institution the data pertain.

II. Authority to Travel

The University is responsible for maintaining a system of controls over travel expenditures to adhere to budget requirements and to allow travel when necessary to meet the needs for the efficient and economical conduct of its business. Authority to travel is established by the Department Head for members of a given department. Travel by department heads is approved by a dean or division head. Travel by a dean or division head is approved by the appropriate vice president.

III. Direct Billing to NIU

  1. General Ruling--Direct billing to the University for travel expenses incurred by faculty and staff is not allowed because individuals traveling for the University are not authorized to obligate the University. All travelers must pay their own expenses and submit a travel voucher to request reimbursement. NIU personnel may request a group travel advance for expected cash expenses in situations involving group travel with NIU students. See Travel Advance Procedure for the minimum requirements as well as the conditions that must be met to be granted a group travel advance.
  2. Reservation Deposits for Accommodations--A traveler is responsible for paying motels and hotels for deposits required to reserve accommodations.

IV. Reimbursement Limitations

The following sections V. and VI. of these regulations establish two distinct categories of allowable expenses: Transportation Expense and Living Expense. Subject to availability of funds, travel shall be reimbursed in accordance with the provisions contained in sections V. and VI. of these regulations. It is likely that resource limitations will permit the reimbursement of only a predetermined part of travel expenses. The university should, of course, administer such reimbursement as equitably as possible.

V. Allowable Transportation Expenses

  1. Definition
    1. Modes of transportation authorized for official travel include automobiles, railroads, airlines, buses, taxicabs and other usual means of conveyance. All travel shall be by the most economical mode of transportation available considering travel time, costs, and work requirements. All modes of transportation must be the least costly, reasonably available alternative. Travel vouchers shall be supported by receipts in all instances for all modes of transportation.
    2. The use of employee-piloted aircraft on University business is not authorized. An employee-pilot is defined as a full- or part-time employee of Northern Illinois University who may also be qualified and licensed as a pilot, but who is not employed by the University for this purpose.  
    3. Transportation may include fares and such expenses incidental to transportation as baggage transfer, official telephone messages in connection with items classed as transportation, and reasonable gratuities, as allowed by the State of Illinois and Illinois Higher Education Travel Control Board.
    4. When the use of public transportation or common carrier is a reasonable alternative, the mileage payment shall not exceed the cost of its use. A reasonable alternative exists when the cost of travel taking into account both transportation time and per diem expenses, would be less if public transportation or common carrier were used. Supporting documentation confirming the selected mode of transportation was more economical is required with the travel voucher.  
    5. Where the nature and location of the work at a temporary duty station are such that suitable meals cannot be procured there, the expenses of daily travel required to procure meals at the nearest available place shall be considered necessary transportation. A statement of the necessity for such daily travel shall accompany the travel voucher. Necessity may be shown by lack of refrigeration or cooking facilities, or lack of restaurants at the site, or need to accommodate special dietary needs.
    6. Transportation between place of lodging and place of business at a temporary duty station shall be allowed as a transportation expense.
    7. As a condition of employment, employees expect to incur commuting expenses between their residence and headquarters. These expenses are not reimbursable. Expenses associated with University business in excess of commuting expenses are reimbursable. An employee whose travel does include travel through headquarters shall be reimbursed for all mileage in excess of commuting mileage. “Travel through headquarters” is defined as: any travel to or through the corporate city limits of the employee’s designated headquarters, regardless of whether the employee made a stop at the work site or changed vehicles or modes of transportation.
  2. Routing of Travel--All travel shall be by the most direct route. Expenses due to deviations for convenience shall be borne by the employee. Distances between destinations shall be as shown on the Illinois Highway Map published by the Secretary of State, or by Internet services that calculate exact miles between addresses, such as MapQuest, Google Maps or Bing Maps. Mileage in and around a city of destination may be claimed as such.  
  3. Mode of Travel--All travel shall be by the most economical mode of transportation available considering travel time, costs and work requirements.
  4. Airplane Accommodations
    1. Travel on airplanes shall customarily be coach class.
    2. Reimbursement for first-class or business class accommodations on commercial air carriers shall be explained on the travel voucher and shall be permitted only when:
      • regularly scheduled flights between authorized origin and destination points provide only first-class or business class accommodations, 
      • space is not available in coach accommodations in time to carry out the purpose of the travel.
  5. Train Accommodations
    1. Sleeping car accommodations: one standard roomette when night travel is involved.
    2. Parlor car and coach accommodations: one seat in a sleeping or parlor car will be allowed unless the travel order or other administrative determination specifies that coach accommodations be used. Where adequate coach accommodations are available, officials authorizing travel will assure that coach accommodations are used to the maximum extent possible on the basis of advantage to the agency, suitability and convenience to the traveler, and nature of the business involved. 
  6. Use of Privately Owned Vehicles  
    1. Employee use of privately owned vehicles in the conduct of University business is not encouraged except when such use is necessary or desirable due to a lack of other convenient means of transportation or is otherwise advantageous to the University. Accordingly, when the use of a privately owned vehicle is necessary or desirable and considered advantageous to the University, approved reimbursement will be at the maximum rate per mile as set by the State of Illinois. To qualify for the mileage reimbursement employees must have insurance coverage in an amount not less than required by the Illinois Vehicle Code. Prior to such authorization the University shall require employees to file a statement certifying that they are duly licensed and carry at least the minimum insurance coverage or shall require such certification to be noted on the travel voucher.
    2. Mileage will be payable to only one of two or more individuals traveling in the same vehicle. The names of all travelers and their employing agencies shall be stated on the travel voucher.

Reimbursement for the cost of automobile parking fees and bridge, road and tunnel tolls shall be allowed.

      1. Use of Rented Vehicles--Every effort shall be made to obtain other suitable transportation rather than to use rented vehicles. Where rented vehicles are utilized, the most economical vehicle available and suitable for the conduct of the University's business shall be obtained. Chartered aircraft, boats, trains, buses, or other such conveyance, shall be used only as a last resort or if proven to be most economical for the circumstances. A full explanation for the use of such transportation must accompany the voucher. In these circumstances, the actual cost may be charged and a full explanation for use of a rented vehicle will be provided with the travel voucher. The rental of an automobile while on travel status is allowed, if circumstances require. The collision damage waiver and personal accident insurance on rental vehicles are not reimbursable.

VI. Allowable Living Expenses

Personal living expenses for all employees while traveling shall be reimbursed on the basis of either "expense incurred" or a per diem allowance.

    1. Living Expense Incurred--When travel does not qualify for the per diem allowance as defined in B below, living expenses shall be allowed on the basis of living expenses incurred. Detailed receipts are required for reimbursement. Maximum amounts per meal, including gratuities, which can be allowed to an individual traveling on the basis of living expenses incurred are as follows:


      Within the State of Illinois Outside the State of Illinois
      Breakfast $5.50 $6.50
      Dinner $17.00 $19.00

      Please see the Travel Day Trip Meal Eligibility (PDF) flowchart to assist in determining meal reimbursements.

      Employees in travel status may pay the meal expense of a guest, including lunch, in reasonable and proper amounts, so long as the expense is incurred in connection with official state business and the guest is not a state employee. For purposes of reimbursement, reasonable and proper shall mean a guest meal costing up to 50% in excess of the maximum per meal allowance as provided in the travel regulations (i.e., lunch $5.50 plus $2.75 = $8.25 total).

      It is required for employees to submit receipts with their travel vouchers to support their own meal expense. They must also submit detailed receipts to support expenditures for meals purchased for guests. The name and affiliation of each guest must be included on the travel voucher. Employees may not submit receipts for meals for other state employees.

      1. Per Diem Allowance--Per diem shall be paid for travel which includes overnight lodging and is 18 or more continuous hours. It is given in lieu of the living expense and is to cover the cost of meals and meal tips incurred. Receipts need not be submitted to support this allowance.  The per diem allowances provided in these regulations represent the maximum amounts allowable and is given in lieu of the expenses allowed on the basis of "living expenses incurred." Please see the Travel Day Trip Meal Eligibility (PDF) flowchart to assist in determining meal reimbursements.

      The per diem allowance for meals while traveling on official business consists of the following elements and may be authorized and approved within the following maximums:

      • Within the State of Illinois, $28.00; Outside the State of Illinois, $32.00 to cover the following:
        • The cost of meals. 
        • Gratuities related to food. 
        • Room service and other hotel meal/refreshment services.

      Receipts need not be submitted to support this allowance.

      Per diem shall be based on the Quarter System for computing the allowance for days or fraction thereof. Each quarter shall be 6 hours commencing at midnight, 6:00 a.m., noon, and 6:00 p.m. The traveler shall be allowed one-fourth of the allowance for each period of 6 hours or fraction thereof. The travel period commences with the departure from headquarters or the traveler’s home and ends with the return to headquarters or the traveler’s home.

      Per Diem - Meals Per Diem Allowance (within Illinois) Per Diem Allowance (outside Illinois)
      Per Day $28.00 $32.00
      Per Quarter $7.00 $8.00
      • Conference Expenses

      When the cost of meals for approved seminars or official meetings is an integral part of the registration fee or when such meals are provided free of charge, the traveler shall deduct the following amounts from the daily per diem allowance and the traveler on "living expenses incurred" shall deduct the following amounts from the per meal allowance:

      Deduct (within Illinois) Deduct (outside of Illinois)
      If breakfast is included in the registration fee, or provided free or charge $5.50 $6.50
      If lunch is included in the registration fee, or provided free or charge $5.50 $6.50
      If dinner is included in the registration fee, or provided free or charge $17.00 $19.00
      1. Hotel Accommodation--The maximum allowable cost of accommodations may be found at the Illinois Higher Education Travel Control Board Lodging Allowances website. It is the responsibility of each employee to request the lowest available lodging rate at the time of making reservations. However, a person who due to a handicap may require special lodging consideration may be reimbursed for the actual cost of the least costly lodging that is substantially accessible. The traveler should require confirmation that “State rates” offered by hotels/motels are within the maximums allowed. Employees should be prepared to provide identification and proof of State employment to obtain State lodging rates.
          • Conference Hotel Expenses

          When an employee attends a recognized conference in the conduct of official Agency business and obtains overnight accommodations at the hotel or motel where the conference is being held, or at a hotel or motel where conference officials arrange for accommodations, the individual may be reimbursed for room cost in an amount greater than the maximum room allowance provided by the Illinois Higher Education Travel Control Board Lodging Allowances website if the room rate is the lowest available at that hotel or motel. A copy of the conference agenda depicting the hotels must be attached to the travel voucher.

          • Employee Owned or Controlled Housing

          State employees on travel status may stay in employee owned or controlled (rented, leased, etc.) property including motor homes and shall be reimbursed, upon request, the cost of lodging not to exceed 75% of the applicable lodging rate per day. Lodging reimbursement shall not exceed the mortgage, installment, or rental payment made by the employee. The monthly mortgage, installment or rental payment may not exceed $960.00 in the City of Chicago, $700.00 in suburban Cook County, Lake, McHenry, Kane, Will, and DuPage County, and $550.00 in the 96 downstate counties. The total reimbursement for the fiscal year shall not exceed the mortgage, installment or rental of that fiscal year. Exceptions to the monthly mortgage, installment or rental payment allowed may be granted by the Travel Control Board upon written request from the University. Once that amount is reached, further lodging reimbursement shall not be given for travel to the city or work site containing the employee owned or controlled housing. Each agency shall monitor expenses to ensure compliance with this Part and shall report to the Board when the maximum reimbursement is reached. The University shall report quarterly to the Board fiscal year-to-date expenses of the employees receiving reimbursement under this provision. Prior to receiving reimbursement, a statement giving the address of the property, mortgage, installment or rental payment, and distance from the work site must be filed with the Board. This option is not available if other costs such as mileage would make this a more expensive alternative.

          Receipts with a daily listing of room and tax charges are to be submitted with travel vouchers to support accommodation expenses claimed.

          Reimbursements for “special expenses” as provided in paragraph VI E.

      2. Time of Departure and Return
        1. The date and hour of departure and the date and hour of return shall be shown on the travel voucher. Other points visited shall be shown on the voucher, or listed in the business purpose.
        2. Where, for the traveler’s personal convenience or through the taking of leave, there is interruption of travel or deviation from the direct route, any allowance allowed shall not exceed that which would have been incurred on uninterrupted travel by a direct travel route. (See Paragraph V B.)
      3. Special Expenses

      The cost of other expenses shall be allowed, if reasonable. Expenses for which reimbursement may or may not be allowed are shown in the following table.

      Reimbursable Not Reimbursable
      Taxis including reasonable tips Alcoholic beverages
      Laundry and dry cleaning if on travel status for at least seven (7) consecutive days Entertainment
      Hire of room, exhibit space, set up, for official business Tips incurred beyond those specifically provided in this part
      Telephone calls on official business- including calls of 3 minutes or less to announce safe arrival or delay-change in plans Transportation to procure meals except to procure suitable meals at the nearest available place
      Storage and handling of baggage Late check-out and room guarantee charges
      The expense incurred to check one piece of luggage per flight when traveling on official business Coat check
      Parking tickets or other traffic violations
      Telephone calls to secure lodging Meals for other State employees or officers

      All special expenses shall be itemized on the travel voucher. Original detailed receipts are required.

      For other reimbursable expenses while not in travel status, please see “Reimbursable Business Expenses”.

VII. Exceptions to Travel Regulations

Each properly approved travel voucher involving an exception to these travel regulations, together with an adequate explanation and justification of the exception, shall be submitted to the Accounts Payable and Travel Office. When appropriate, the Accounts Payable and Travel Office will forward the requests to the Travel Control Board. Such exceptions to these rules stated herein may be approved by the Travel Control Board when necessary to meet special circumstances or are deemed to be in the best interests of the University. Exceptions shall generally apply to situations of a non-recurring nature. Amounts disbursed for travel reimbursement claims that are disapproved by the Travel Control Board shall be refunded to the University and deposited in the fund from which payment was made.

In all cases of requests for approval for payment of hotel rates which exceed the maximum rate permitted, a diligent effort must have been made to obtain lodging in a hotel honoring the State rate. A reasonable number of hotels must be contacted. Contacting three or four additional hotels in an urban area is considered reasonable.

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