Travel Basics

The information contained on this page is only a summary. The Manual of Business Procedures and MSU "Travel at State" site should be consulted for details, exceptions, more information, etc.

Manual of Business Procedures (MBP), Section 70: Travel Policies & Procedures


  • allowable expenses for travel, including transportation, lodging, meal per diem (M&IE), Conference Fees,
  • the Travel Expense Report,
  • eligibility for travel advances,
  • travel funding information, and
  • insurance related to travel.

MSU's "Plan Your Trip"

Site provides details on pre-trip preparation. The following information is covered on this site.

  1. You need a Travel Profile before traveling as an employee of MSU for business related to MSU, including under your grant projects.
    • See Travel Forms and Procedures below.
    • Travel Tips: Travel Profile
  2. Before each trip, you mush prepare a Pre-trip Authorization.
    • See Travel Forms and Procedures below.
    • Travel Tips: Pre-trip Authorization
  3. If you are traveling internationally, you must register with the MSU Global Travel Registry.
    • See Travel Forms and Procedures below.
  4. You can pre-pay some expenses directly to an account before you travel. Learn how to do this.
  5. Using a preferred Travel Agency can minimize your trip planning hassles.
  6. Understand which expenses can be reimbursed before you travel to minimize unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses.



On this page generally allowed and not allowed travel expenses are included. If traveling on grant or other restricted funds, further guidance may be necessary; check the Terms & Conditions regulating the funds.

Travel Reimbursement

  • Travelers may receive reimbursement when travel has been pre-approved in accordance with MSU policy and legitimate business purposes for travel and expenditures are incurred and reported.
  • Generally, travel expenses are reimbursed to the traveler.
    • Understand reimbursable expenses before you go. 
    • Reimbursement summary: At a Glance chart
  • No travel expenses may be guaranteed or paid for with the Purchasing Card.
  • Utilize pre-payment options via MSU Preferred Travel Agencies and Michigan Flyer that charge directly to an MSU account.
  • American Express: Any MSU employee who travels on MSU business is encouraged to obtain and use the card for payment of his or her travel expenditures. The card is only intended for Michigan State University business travel.

Use an MSU Preferred Travel Agency

Traveling on Contract and Grant Accounts

  • The dates of travel must be within the dates of the project, or expenses should be prorated accordingly.
  • Always consult the Terms & Conditions of the funding to determine travel restrictions and allowances.

Traveling with Research Samples

  • Travel Tips - customs, federal agency considerations, pre-planning

Other Information Sources


Transportation Basics


  • Airfare itinerary is required.
  • Fly America Act must be followed for travel on government grant accounts. 
  • All airline coach/economy seating for which an additional fee is charged (e.g., preferred, economy comfort, exit row) is not reimbursable. See MBP Section 70 for exceptions.
  • In case of indirect routing for personal reasons, the extra transportation costs will be at the traveler's expense.
  • University travelers are permitted to collect and retain frequent flyer miles.
  • MSU will reimburse travelers for up to 2 checked bags.

Car Rental

  • Justification for car rental is required.
  • Fuel top-up by rental agency is not reimbursable; fill up at gas station and submit receipt for reimbursement.
  • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) are not reimbursable when renting in USA. When renting outside of the U.S., it is recommended that travelers purchase liability insurance.
  • Global Positioning Services (GPS) are not reimbursable.
  • Use of a rental car for travel to/from restaurants and sightseeing is deemed to be personal and will not be reimbursed.
  • If ground transportation is only needed for travel between the airport and lodging location and/or work site (conference location), university travelers are encouraged to use shuttle services and taxis.

University Vehicle

  • Transportation Services operates a charter bus service; leases sedans, station wagons, vans and trucks to university departments.
  • Direct billing to department using an authorized account number.
  • Travel Tips

Personal Car Use

Taxi/Car Service/Ride Share

  • Taxi/Car Service/Ride Share expenses are allowable for travel related to business.
  • Tips for taxi/car service/ride share or limousine service are reimbursable.
  • Taxi/car service/ride share from hotel or place of business to a restaurant to eat a meal or taxi/car service/ride share for sight–seeing trips are not reimbursable.
  • Read more for details and unallowable costs: Manual of Business Procedures, Section 70, III. A. 2.

Getting to and from Airport

  • Consider Michigan Flyer; can be charged directly to an MSU account.
  • Airport parking
  • If ground transportation is only needed for travel between the airport and lodging location and/or work site (conference location), university travelers are encouraged to use shuttle services and taxis.
  • Reasonable transportation costs to and from the airport are allowed; many federal agencies will NOT allow excessive (when compared to other options – car, bus, taxi for short distances) limousine fees.

Traveling to Satellite MSU Offices

  • Travel between MSU East Lansing campus and satellite offices may be reimbursed when traveling for MSU business purposes.



  • Lodging is allowable when the purpose of the domestic travel includes multiple stops and/or meetings in multiple cities on contiguous days, including travel within the State of Michigan.
  • Lodging in the local area is not reimbursable. See MBP Section 70 for exceptions.
  • Proof of lodging is required in order to justify Meal and Incidental (M&IE) per diem reimbursement; if no M&IE per diem is being claimed, lodging documentation is not required.
  • If two or more MSU business travelers share a room and share the expense, individual room receipts should be requested.


Per Diems

  • Rates
  • Receipts are not required.
  • To be reimbursed Meal and Incidental Expenses (M&IE), travelers must be in overnight status. See MBP Section 70 for exceptions.
  • When meals are furnished without charge, (including conference meals such as continental breakfast), the M&IE claim is reduced by the amount allocated for that meal as represented in the daily M&IE per diem allowance.



  • Conference registration fees are allowable - Pcard can be used.
  • Travel Expense Reports submitted for conference–related travel must include copies of the conference schedule/agenda (documentation of specific items, such as meals, lodging and shuttle included in conference fee).



  • The purchase of insurance to cover trip interruption, cancellation, baggage, or any other travel related insurance is considered a personal expense and is not reimbursable by Michigan State University. See MBP Section 70 for more information.



  • Expenses attributable to spouse travel are not allowable (see MBP Section 70 for specific exceptions).


International Travel Extras

International travel using contract and grant accounts may require agency pre-approval. Check before booking.

MSU Global Travel Registry

  • Registration is required if traveling abroad.
  • Travel Tips - Global Travel Registry

Fly America Act

  • Travelers who are charging flights to federally funded sponsored program (RC) accounts must comply with the Fly America Act.


  • Outbound International Travel
    • Non-Office for Education Abroad individuals traveling on an approved MSU travel authorization
    • Students participating in a MSU Education Abroad Program through the Office for Education Abroad
  • Inbound Travel to the US
    • This coverage is available for a fee to all individuals traveling to the United States on an approved MSU travel authorization.

Currency conversion

International Travel Tips

International Travel Support at MSU

How to Pay for International Activities (MSU)


Travel Forms and Procedures

Online forms

Excel forms

  • Pre-trip Authorization
  • Travel Expense Report
    • Step by Step Instructions
    • Travel Expense Reports should be submitted within 30 days of the return date of the trip.
    • Each traveler must submit a separate Travel Expense Report for his/her own expenses unless the travel is team travel.
    • Each traveler is required to provide a detailed description of the purpose of their trip.
  • Cash Advance 


ANS Contacts

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