Travel Information & Policies

Bemidji State Travel

This page is intended to advise you of the procedures for undertaking official Bemidji State University travel.

We hope to answer the usual questions regarding State of Minnesota travel rules. For more detailed instructions, refer to the Travel Office in the Business Services office at 755-2850, Deputy 202.

As a traveling employee you must realize that BSU attempts to secure a fair and reasonable reimbursement for most, but not necessarily all expenses, which you incur on official university business trips.

Also, please note that BSU does not make all the rules. Most regulations must be done through negotiations of collective bargaining agreements and legislative process.

Before Traveling

Before travel can occur for faculty, staff or students a Travel Request or Student Travel Request must be completed and approved. Please refer to the below ‘routing’ section for required approvals.

Attached to this request should be documentation of the conference, meeting, or other activity, including the dates (e.g. conference web page, email confirming a presentation or performance, or a description of who you will be meeting with, and what activities you will be engaged in). The Travel Request should not be approved without this information.

Things to remember:

  • Even if you will not incur any expenses from your travel; a Travel Request form should still be completed and approved indicating either 0 in the estimated expense section, or a note with “no expenses will be submitted”.
  • The Travel Request will need to include a completed page three, BSU/NTC Student Travel Roster, if you are traveling with students.
  • Below policies apply to students traveling for BSU purposes.
  • Signatures must be original on ALL forms submitted.
  • Employees should not be covering other employees expenses. If needed an employee can seek an advance. See Travel Advance.

Please be sure to visit the ‘IRS Tax Policy on Expenses’ section to ensure you submit your documents on time to avoid tax!

Jump to:


Automobile Expenses

Faculty, Staff & Students have a couple options for vehicles when traveling for BSU/NTC purposes.The below chart compares all the vehicle options for travel & may answer some of the questions you have.

Vehicle Comparison

 

Bemidji State Fleet Vehicles

Located in Deputy 350, employees are urged to use the facility whenever feasible.

If you have never driven a BSU vehicle you will need to complete a Vehicle-Driver Agreement form & return to Deputy 350. When requesting a BSU vehicle, a Travel Request form should be completed & sent to the Travel Office at box #5.

To find out availability of vehicles please contact Vehicle Services 218-755-2531

A list of BSU vehicle options & rates can be obtained under the Vehicle Services page below.

Vehicle Services

Personal Vehicle

If you choose to use your personal vehicle, you can be reimbursed at the mileage rate listed below. For each trip you will need to keep track of actual odometer readings in order to claim mileage. If you have local, BSU work related, travel in addition to your to/from location, you will also want to keep track of those readings. Remember, trip miles (official mileage between BSU and destination) and local miles (miles driven to accomplish your objective after reaching destination) must be separated on your expense report.

State owned vehicle NOT available : 54.5 cents per mile. (All bargaining units)
State owned vehicle available  : 47.5 cents per mile. (All bargaining units)
Use of motorcycle : 15 cents per mile. (All bargaining units)

When an employee does not report to his/her permanent work location during the day or makes business calls before or after reporting to his/her permanent work location, the allowable mileage shall be:

  • the lesser of the mileage from the employee’s residence to the first stop or from his/her permanent work location to the first stop;

  • all mileage between points visited on State business during the day;

  • the lesser of the mileage from the last stop to the employee’s residence or from the last stop to his/her permanent work location.

Rental Vehicles

The local rental vehicle agency is Enterprise Rental Car, 218-759-9960. This agency is located at the Bemidji Airport. In order to rent, an approved Travel Request must be on file with the indication of rental car. Once received by the Travel Office, approved dates with the name of the employee renting will be provided to Enterprise. It is up to the employee traveling to call and make arrangements with Enterprise. Employees may only rent a standard size vehicle, larger vehicles require prior additional approval. A BSU ID and valid driver’s license will be required at the car rental office.

Rental vehicles from Enterprise are billed directly to BSU, gas needs to be paid personally by the employee & reimbursed via Employee Expense Report upon return. Tolls can be reimbursed, but any citations or other fees cannot.

*If you choose to rent from National please note that you will have to pay personally & seek reimbursement.

For rental vehicles originating out of state: The University requires a written justification statement of the use of a rental car vs. public transportation along with the approval of the Travel Request form prior to travel. Although the alternatives to a rental car are not as convenient or as attractively advertised, we would urge you to use good judgment and discretion prior to approving or using a rental car. If you are approved to rent out of state, Enterprise is the preferred vendor. Please contact the travel office for more details on renting out of state.

For local rentals: The Business Office will submit an approval authorization to the appropriate rental agency that includes the faculty or staff member renting the car, with the dates of approved business travel, once an approved Travel Request is on file. Please indicate rental vehicle on the Travel and Vehicle Request form. We do want to stress that the rental agency will be looking for these authorizations from the Business Office.

Non BSU/NTC employees or family members are not allowed to ride in rental cars paid for with BSU/NTC funds.  (See Travel Management procedure 5:19:3 quoted at the end of this section).

An employee will not be reimbursed for any of the following expenses: LDW- which is loss/collision damage waiver, PAI-personal accident insurance, or PEI/PEP-personal effects property protection. This is considered a personal expense.

Authorized Drivers

Authorized drivers are:
•    State employees
•    Contractor’s employees or independent contractors, if authorization to drive a state vehicle is specifically mentioned
•    Students who have been given permission by college or university administration
•    An individual assisting an employee with a disability, if approved by the employee’s supervisor
•    An individual assisting a student with a disability, if approved by college or university administration

Only authorized person are permitted to ride in state vehicles.  A spouse or other individual may accompany a traveler, including students, on a business trip at the traveler’s expense.  However, personal guests, including spouses, are not allowed to travel in a state-owned, rented, or leased vehicle.
Authorized persons include:
•    State employees
•    Other persons participating in related state programs
•    Volunteers as provided in System Procedure 4.0.1
•    An individual assisting an employee with a disability, if approved by the employee’s supervisor
•    An individual assisting a student with a disability, if approved by the college of university administration

 

Procedure 5.19.3 Travel Management
State-owned, rented or leased vehicles are to be used for official state business only.  A driver shall have a valid state driver’s license, complete a Vehicle Use Agreement Consent to Obtain Driving Record form, and observe all ordinances and laws pertaining to the operation of motor vehicles, System Guideline 5.19.3.1 Driver’s License Record Check, and Consent Form – Vehicle Use Agreement and Consent to Obtain Driving Record(s).


Airplane Expenses

Any out of state travel requires that the Travel Request be approved by a Vice President.

If travel is occurring out of county the Travel Request must also be signed by the University President and should include a signed Additional International Travel Form* form. Employees should insure that the travel location is not under a travel warning via the site below.

Travel Advisories

Purchasing Plane Tickets

After travel has been approved, employees have two options when purchasing plane tickets.

  • BSU will only allow for the lowest cost airfare.
  • Purchase personally & seek reimbursement via Employee Expense Report. Paid receipt should be attached. Remember to seek reimbursement within 60 days of purchase to avoid tax implications.
  • Charge ticket to Travel Office purchasing card. In order to set up a day and time to come up to purchase your ticket please contact the Travel Office.

*BSU cannot reimburse for any type of travel insurance, travel protection. This would be a personal cost.

Mileage Instead of Airfare

An agency may authorize out-of-state travel for employees requesting travel who use their personal vehicles under special circumstances. Please note this requires prior approval to travel and should be indicated on your Travel Request.

An agency may authorize out-of-state travel for employees requesting travel who use their personal vehicles under special circumstances. The reimbursement for transportation to and from the trip destination (including any additional expenses that result while en route such as mileage, additional meals, or lodging) is limited to the lowest round trip airfare (based on the number of days the employee would have attended if traveling by air). If the lowest round-trip airfare can only be obtained by the employee arriving early and/or staying an additional night(s), the cost of the additional necessary hotel accommodations and/or meals may be included in computing the amount of the lowest airfare for the purpose of determining the expense reimbursement. An airfare itinerary must be attached to the Authorization for Travel form. The lowest round trip airfare must be listed on the Employee Expense Report or in the description of the expense in Self Service business expenses. If additional hotel accommodations and/or meals are included in computing the lowest airfare, these additional costs must be itemized and attached to the out-of-state authorization.

Commercial or public transportation should normally be used for out-of-state travel except to communities which border Minnesota (for example, Fargo -Moorhead). Travel to border communities is treated as in-state travel.


Reward Programs Policy – Airfare, Hotel, Other

Minnesota State requires any credits or other benefits issued by an airline, hotel, credit card or other reward programs to a public employee, who uses public funds to pay for BSU travel, to accrue to the benefit of the public body providing the funding. This includes hotels that may provide free lodging after staying a specified number of days. Employees or board trustees who frequently fly and have airline frequent flyer programs for their personal travel shall obtain a separate airline frequent flyer program number to record and report receipt of credits or other benefits when using state funds or remove the frequent flyer number before booking travel. Employees must certify that they have not claimed frequent flyer rewards or hotel rewards for personal use when applying for travel reimbursement. Any benefits received belong to the state.


Personal Travel During Work Travel

If an employee is combining personal travel during their work travel, the employee can only be reimbursed for expenses that are incurred during the work portion of the trip. Ex: if you are flying and leaving three days prior from your work event because those three days are personal travel, you will need to pull an estimate flight for just the days required to travel for the work event. This document will need to be included with your Travel and Vehicle Request.


Food

Employees are to claim actual expenses for meals, but reimbursement cannot exceed the maximum amounts listed below. Maximum rates are set by labor negotiations and Department of Employee Relations. These rates may change for any or all of the different Unions each time contracts are re-negotiated.

Food Cost Limits

The maximum meal allowances for all bargaining units that have been set as of January 2018 are:

In State and Out State
B-$9
L-$11
D-$16

High Cost meals:
For all bargaining units certain major out-of-state metro areas are reimbursed at a higher rate.
B-$11
L-$13
D-$20

High Cost Metro Areas

The MnSCU Administrator and MSCF plans provides for higher meal reimbursement rates for Hennepin and Ramsey counties in Minnesota as well.

Things to Remember:

The breakfast meal is allowed when your trip begins before 6:00 a.m.

The dinner meal is allowed when your trip ends after 7:00 p.m.

The noon meal is allowed when the employee is 35 or more miles from his/her work station providing that the assignment extends through the normal lunch period.

Special meals, such as banquet meals exceeding the maximums, require the filing of a Special Expense Request in advance of the event.

According to IRS regulations, reimbursements for meal expenses on trips not involving an overnight stay are taxable income. Therefore, when the expenses are paid, federal, state, FICA, and Medicare taxes will be withheld from the employee’s pay, and the amount of the expense will be included in wages on the employee’s W-2 form. The overnight stay distinction applies whether or not the employee incurs a lodging expense. (For example, if the employee stays with friends or relatives at no charge, any meal expenses for that trip are considered Meals With Lodging (not taxable,) even though there will be no lodging expense reimbursement.)


Lodging

Employees are asked to use their discretion in selecting reasonable priced accommodations. Remember to ask for the Government Rate, many motel/hotels in MN have cheaper rates for State employees.

Employees must stay at a licensed lodging facility. Employees cannot be reimbursed for staying at the house of a relative, friend or personally-owned property. (this includes Airbnb, VRBO, etc.)

Things to remember

  • Original receipts are required for all types of lodging, including campground fees.
  • If lodging costs were shared between employees, it should be noted on the expense report. One employee should use the original receipt for reimbursement and the other should use a copy.
  • The State of Minnesota allows reimbursement at a single rate. The employee should have the establishment certify single rate on the receipt.


Conference Registration

Conference registration fees can either be paid personally and reimbursed via Employee Expense Report or if you are able to pay online, you may contact the Travel Office to set up a day/time to come up and use the Travel purchasing card.


International Travel

In order to travel Internationally a Travel Requestmust be approved. Remember, it will also require the University President’s approval and should have a signed Additional International Travel Form attached. Faculty or staff will want to ensure the location traveling to is not under a travel warning via the link below.

Travel Advisories

Things to remember

  • You will be reimbursed at the current high cost out of country travel meal rates.
  • Make sure to convert your amounts into US dollars.
  • Receipts are required for all lodging, transportation, conference registration, currency exchange expenses.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Allowable Miscellaneous expenses for reimbursement

Include, but are not limited to:

  • Taxi
  • Parking Fees
  • Baggage Fee
  • Ferry & Bridge Tolls
  • Telephone – Actual documented personal phone calls will be reimbursed in the following manner: Maximum reimbursement for each trip shall be the result of multiplying number of nights away from home by $3.00. Council 6 is $2.00.

Non Reimbursable Expenses

Non-reimbursable expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Annual fees or interest for personal credit cards
  • Upgrades, extras (including travel insurance, trip protection, etc)
  • Late payment fees or interest on state-issued purchasing card
  • Expenses of traveling companions or family members
  • Expenses related to vacation or personal days while on a trip
  • Loss or theft of personal cash or property
  • Entertainment or recreation costs, including movies
  • Gift cards
  • “No-show” charges
  • Optional travel or baggage insurance
  • Traffic or parking tickets
  • Incorrect or incomplete expense reports
  • Laundry or valet service is only reimbursed at the actual cost not to exceed $16.00 per week for each week after the first 5 consecutive days that the employee is in travel status without returning home.

Memberships

The preferred method to initiate payment for memberships and subscriptions is with a purchase order rather than reimbursement. Please see the Procurement site below for details.

Procurement & Logistics


Receipts

Original itemized receipts are required for all expenses except:

  • Meals
  • Taxis
  • Baggage assistance in the form of a gratuity or tip
  • Parking meters

Credit card receipts or canceled checks are not acceptable receipts.

Receipts should be itemized and show the following:

  • Name and location
  • Dates
  • Detailed description, and amount, of each item charged, such as lodging, meals, and telephone
  • Total amount and date paid by the employee

A notarized Affidavit for Travel Receipts should only be used as a last resort for an unobtainable receipt. Employees should always try to obtain the original receipt.  On-campus notaries link below, remember to bring a photo ID.

On Campus Notaries


Special Expense Approval & Reimbursement Procedure

Special expenses include but are not limited to; conference registration fees over $1000, banquet meals that exceed the State maximum meal allowances, special expenses for the handicapped employee who is in travel status, expenses incurred for international travel when expenses exceed out-of-state maximum reimbursement limits. A Request for Approval to Incur Special Expenses form should be completed & approved prior, except in emergency situations. Itemized receipts are required for special expense meals.


Travel Advance

Once a Travel Request has been approved and is on file with the Travel Office, employees can seek an advance for upcoming travel.

Students should only seek an advance if there is no faculty/staff on the trip. If faculty/staff are traveling; the amount needed to cover the student(s) costs should be included and noted on their travel advance agreement. See Student Travel-Advance-Agreement for what advance can/cannot be used for.

Items that can be included in advance

  • Airfare (including baggage fees)
  • Lodging
  • Conference Registration
  • Taxi, Bus, Train
  • Meals

Items that cannot be included in advance

  • Mileage

Obtaining a Travel advance

And approved Travel Request form will need to be on file. Employees should submit a Travel Advance Agreement form. Advance is obtained through the employees bi-weekly paycheck if time permits, otherwise it will be issued as a BSU paper check. Please submit advance paperwork at least 2 weeks in advance of travel. Only one outstanding advance is allowed at a time, advance must be at least $50.00.


Travel Office Purchasing Card

The Travel Office has a purchasing card that can be used towards a few employee travel expenses. An approved Travel Request form must be on file. Please contact the Travel Office in order to set up a day/time to come book.

Items the Travel office p-card can be used for

  • Flights
  • Online conference registrations
  • Student hotel rooms – immediate paid receipt required. Personal credit card will be needed upon check in for any incidentals.

Employee Expense Reports

General Instructions, Things to remember

  • All signatures must be original.
  • If you requested an advance through payroll you need to submit that report within 28 days.
  • Your expense report should be filled out in its entirety; including name, home address, bargaining unit, Payroll State employee ID #, etc. All receipts must be originals. All forms of cancelled checks and copies of credit card bills do not substitute for original receipts. Remember, the time that your trip started and ended must be on your report.
  • At the close of the fiscal year all travel expense reports must be submitted to the Travel office. If not received by deadline issued by Travel office; the expense will be charged against the next fiscal year budget.
  • After all documents are approved, originals come to the Travel Office, box #5.
  • An employee should only be submitting expenses for.
  • Employees should not be covering other employees expenses. If needed an employee can seek an advance. See Travel Advance.

IRS Tax Policy on Expenses

Business expenses are to be submitted for reimbursement within 60 days after the expense was incurred.  If not submitted within 60 days, the reimbursement becomes taxable for federal, state, FICA and Medicare: and withholding must be taken.  Example: If you purchase an airline ticket, pay a registration fee, or incur any other expense related to your travel more than 60 days prior to your trip date, you must submit your paid receipts along with an expense report before the 60 day deadline in order to avoid tax implications.  You will be reimbursed for those ‘pre-trip’ expenses and then you will follow up with the remainder of your expenses at the end of your trip.


Student Travel

Students traveling for BSU should complete & have a Student Travel Request form approved prior to travel. The same travel policies listed above apply.

Upon return, if expenses need to be reimbursed, a student should submit a Student Expense Report with applicable, itemized receipts. If the travel that occurred was related to student club/organization, a Student-Expense-Report Clubs expense form should be used.


Routing Forms

Employee > Immediate Supervisor > Department Chair, Director or Dean, Vice President > Special Accounts Coordinator (PDF,PIF,PIG), President (for international travel).

The form is then sent to the Travel office, box #5.


Travel Office Contact