Biblically Centered Education
Travel Policy Section 6.74 Dept: Accounting Revised: April 17th, 2018
Archived versions

Policy Overview

This policy recognizes that from time to time university employees may be required to travel beyond their normal commute in order to further the purpose and mission of Biola and in doing so may incur travel related charges. In that vein, the policy relates what is acceptable and qualifies for compensation or reimbursement from the university. Please refer to Employee Handbook, Section 6.7 for additional information on the university’s general reimbursement and expenditure guidelines. In general, all staff and faculty must keep in mind that university funds are to be efficiently utilized and that no extravagant expenditures are befitting or honorable for those charged with being good stewards of university funds.

Reason for Policy

Biola University is a non-profit, Christian organization charged by its Board of Trustees to steward the resources bestowed upon it through generous gifts by donors and tuition and fees from parents and students. As such, the preservation and efficient use of said funds to promote the mission of the university is of the utmost importance. Travel is a privilege that must be approved in advance. Any such excursion will only be approved if traveling is the best means of completing the mission of the university.

Entities Affected by this Policy

All university employees who are approved to travel for the purpose of their work for the university must adhere to this policy and are bound by the tenants therein.

Who Should Read this Policy

Any individual who requests, plans to, or compels others to commence travel for university purposes is required to read, agree to, and remain abreast of any changes or updates to this policy.

Qualified Travel

In order to most efficiently utilize university funds for the furtherance of the mission, vision, and values of Biola, travel expenditures will be limited to situations that have a bona-fide business purpose. If a meeting or conference can be coordinated or attended through the use of technology (conference calls, video chat, webinars, etc.) it will be done and travel avoided in order to save money. However, if it not feasible to use such technologies or if they are not conducive to the nature of the meeting, travel may be reimbursed with advance approval.

Travel expenses incurred without advance approval may not qualify for reimbursement. Travel to or from events or training that is undertaken on a purely voluntary basis and is not considered a requirement of the position or of employment will not be reimbursed. All international travel or overseas transactions must be approved by the area’s vice president.

Please note that the normal commute from an employee’s home to his or her typical working location does not qualify as “travel” even if that commute is particularly long.

Qualified Persons

University employees are eligible for travel reimbursement if the travel is preapproved by the employee’s immediate supervisor, who is an authorized budget administrator, and is considered germane to employment and the fulfillment of Biola’s mission.

Multiple Employee Travel & Expenses

When more than one employee travel together and incur travel related expenses (such as paying for a business related lunch), the employee with the most seniority in rank should pay for the bill and submit the receipt for reimbursement.

In order to secure the knowledge-based assets of the university and protect against serious disruptions to university operations, the following precautions will be taken when employees travel together:

  • no more than three Vice Presidents,

  • no more than one third of the Board of Trustees or any Board committee,

  • the President and Provost together,

  • three consecutive management levels for any single department,

  • a complete department, or

  • more than a third of any group of employees with critical skills working on a project together (e.g. Banner Team)

No executive employees, as listed above, will be allowed to travel together on the same flight or in the same vehicle (car, train, plane, boat, etc). This precaution is in place to avoid a serious disruption of services to the university should a catastrophic event occur. The above groups may go to the same location (e.g. conference, restaurant, etc.), but must take different means of transportation to that location.

Non-Employee Travel

There are times when the university may decide to pay for travel expenses for non-employees including guest speakers or other dignitaries. Such travel expenditure in the amount of $100 or more must also be approved in advance by the vice president presiding over the department sponsoring the traveler. If the guest prefers to book travel through his or her own travel agent, the guest must turn in a Reimbursement Requisition with original, itemized receipts and with the hosting department’s vice president’s approval. Travel expenditure without receipt is treated and reported as taxable income pursuant to IRS Publication 463. Whenever possible, the hosting department should make travel and hotel arrangements for the guest through the normal purchase requisition process.

If it is deemed necessary, special travel arrangements may be made for a guest of the university, including upgrades to travel class and other accommodations. Such arrangements will be considered an exception and must be approved in advance by the Vice President of University Operations & Finance as well as the Director of Purchasing.

Taxable Travel Expenses

Any employee or non-employee who receives travel reimbursement for non-business related expenses or non-accountable reimbursement resulting in taxable income may be subject to federal, state, and/or local tax withholding.

Any missing receipt item in the amount of $75 or more or any receipt more than 30 days old, if reimbursed or paid for by the university, is treated and reported as taxable income. Such taxable reimbursement is added and reported to the employee’s payroll. Should the taxable expenditures be incurred by a non-Biola employee, the reimbursement is treated as taxable compensation reportable on Form 1099-Misc and is subject to applicable tax withholdings.

Non-Resident Foreign Nationals and Non-California Residents

The Federal tax withholding rate on U.S. sourced income to non-U.S. persons or to non-U.S. entity is 30%. The California tax withholding rate on California sourced income to non-California residents or non-California entity is 7%. Appropriate tax withholdings must be processed upon payment issuance. Therefore, any reimbursement or compensation to be given to non-U.S. persons, non-U.S. entities, non-California residents, or non-California entities must first be approved by the Assistant Director of Accounting Operations. Special requirements and forms may be applicable. Over two dozen international treaties exist between the U.S. and other countries and must be reviewed prior to authorization.

Form W8-BEN is required from all non-U.S. persons. Form W8-BEN-E is required from all non-U.S. entities. Additional documentation or certification, such as Form 590 and Form 8233 are required in advance for applicable tax withholding exemptions.

Non-Employee Companions

While the university generally does not reimburse travel expenses of spouses, family members, or friends of employees, it does not preclude them from accompanying employees. All costs associated with travel companions are to be paid for by the employee. This exclusion includes a travel companion who is also employed by the university, but does not have a significant role or is not traveling for the same approved Biola business purpose. For example, the university will pay the single room rate for the employee and the employee will pay the difference for a double room rate or extra person fee charged by the hotel. Any extra airfare, meals, or any other companion-related expenses will be borne by the employee or, if reimbursed, counted as taxable income to the employee. Reimbursement or university funding of such expenses must be approved in advance by the area’s vice president, the Budget Office, the Director of Purchasing, and the Vice President of University Operations & Financial Affairs.

There may, on occasion, be a time where there is a legitimate purpose for the presence of a spouse or companion of an employee to accompany the employee on university business. These occasions require prior approval and the proposal with detailed job duties should be submitted for approval from the area’s vice president, Senior Director of Human Resources, and the Vice President of University Operations and Finance.

Generally, it would be difficult to justify spousal travel reimbursement without appropriate compensation to demonstrate a true working or university business relationship. A complete spousal itinerary must be provided demonstrating at least five hours of business related work or activities on the majority of travel days to justify the travel expense. If a spouse or companion only performs incidental duties, carries out clerical duties, or serves as a chaperone, his or her presence does not constitute a significant business purpose and any amount paid by the university will be counted as taxable income to the employee. Please refer to IRS Publication 17 and 463 for more details.

Mixed Business and Pleasure

Vacation time may be mixed with business travel if there is a clear demarcation between the two and only if there has been previous approval. Any vacation, hotel amenities, or personal activities that are not business related (sightseeing tours, souvenirs, movies, magazines, etc.) are not reimbursable and should not be paid with university funds. The university will only pay for hotel nights related to business purposes. Any extended nights, additional travel, or travel costs (such as extra baggage fees) will be paid for by the employee. In addition, Biola is only responsible for the business portion of the flight. The requestor needs to specify on the purchase requisition request what is business and what is personal. Purchasing will then pull up a fare quote for what it would have cost Biola for the Biola business portion on flight(s). The traveler will be responsible for any fare difference to Biola.

Non-Student Travel Tours

Travel tours organized for constituents and employees that include sight-seeing or recreational activities are almost always considered non-business activities and thus do not fall under Biola’s tax exemption. All travel for such groups and purposes must be approved by Financial Affairs prior to booking.

A travel tour can only be approved under the premise that it clearly furthers the mission of the university and has ample backup to prove how it furthers the mission of the university. Further, all travel tours must be booked through a third party travel agent in order to avoid Unrelated Business Income as well as limit liability to the university for such travel.

If a travel tour is approved, the Purchasing Department will be contacted to contract with a travel agent and ensure all proper insurance and contract obligations are fulfilled and necessary signatures attained. Neither the university, nor individual departments will take on the role of travel agent. Additionally, all payments for such travel will be made directly to the travel agent and no funds will pass through the university.

Cash advances for travel will be treated in the same manner as any university expenditure or expense reimbursement and follow the same restrictions as the university’s general spending policies and expenditure guidelines. Cash advances bear significant risks and are only issued on limited basis after Purchasing, university credit card, and/or reimbursement options have been exhausted. Cash advances can never be issued to individuals who are not active or current employees. Employees who have a university credit card are generally ineligible for cash advances unless the circumstances warrant exceptions. For further information regarding the cash advance process, see the Accounting Cash Advance Policy (Employee Handbook, Section 6.7).

Student Travel Tours

All travel booked by the university for student tours or programs must be approved by the Bursars Office and the Budget Office. All funds to pay for travel must have been received in full prior to purchase of travel expenses. The university will not pre-fund travel expenses.

Non-Exempt Compensation

Employees who are hourly may claim hourly compensation for travel that occurs during and outside of their normal working hours, under the following guidelines:

  • Travel time to a job site within reasonable proximity of the employee's regular work site is not compensable. If an employee does not have a regular job site, travel time to the new job site each day is not compensable. If an employee has a temporary work location change, the employee will be compensated for any additional time required to travel to the new job site in excess of the employee's normal commute time.

  • If an employee is required to attend an out-of-town business meeting, training session, or any other event, the employee will be compensated for his or her time in getting to and from the location of that event. Compensable time includes: (1) time spent driving, or as a passenger on an airplane, train, bus, taxi cab, car, or other mode of transportation in traveling to and from the out-of-town event, and (2) time spent waiting to purchase a ticket, check baggage, or get on board. On the other hand, time that is not compensable includes time spent taking a break from travel to eat a meal, sleep, or engage in purely personal pursuits not connected with traveling or making necessary travel connections (e.g., spending an extra day in a city to sightsee before the start or following the conclusion of a conference).

  • Hourly employees will be paid at the appropriate overtime rate for any hours worked in excess of 8 in a day or 40 in a week.

Booking Travel

All travel will be booked with advanced approval through the Purchasing Department. Travel that is booked without the use of Purchasing and submitted for reimbursement may be denied. And prepaid expenses borne by employees at booking are only eligible for reimbursement at the conclusion of the event or trip. Employees will not be reimbursed for change fees or non-refundable tickets when travel plans are missed or changed due to personal reasons or due to employee’s fault.

Rewards Programs

The university will not reimburse for membership in travel clubs or for airline tickets or hotel stays paid for through rewards programs. In addition, the university will not pay extra for flights or accommodations in order for the individual to receive additional rewards. Any cash rebate obtained by an employee is the property of the university and must be returned to the university.


Hotel or overnight stay arrangements should be made through the Purchasing Department on a Purchase Requisition. Employees should request an economically priced hotel at a single room rate for business purposes. If an employee is attending a conference, he or she may stay at the conference hotel, even if it is moderately priced, for the convenience of conference attendance. If the employee wishes to stay outside of the conference hotel, Biola will only be responsible for what the negotiated conference rate is, unless it is sold out and there is no other conference alternative.

If more than one employee of the same gender is staying at a hotel for business purposes, the employees will not be expected to share a room.

In the event that an employee must be reimbursed for lodging, the IRS requires that an itemized report (i.e. hotel portfolio report) be submitted to show the itemized expenditures. Items that are considered personal expenses, such as toiletries, in-room movies, mini-bar charges, room services, or fees charged for use of the hotel gym, sauna facilities, or swimming pool will not be reimbursed and the employee will be required to reimburse the university if such expenses have been paid by the university. Room service is generally not considered an appropriate business meal option when employees travel for business purposes. However, the university understands that there may be special situations that may warrant exceptions, such as inclement weather conditions or red eye flight that make it impossible to find other dining options. Exceptions to room services are only granted based on a case by case review by the Finance Department.

NOTE: Rentals (lodging, equipment, or venue) and fees are taxable income items and are reportable to the IRS. In order to fulfill the reporting requirements, a completed and signed Form W9 with tax reporting information must be obtained from the vendor, management company, or property owner prior to payment issuance. Unfortunately, many private parties refuse or cannot furnish required tax reporting information. Therefore, Purchasing may not be able to book through vacation rental websites such as Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway. If you have any questions regarding this policy or the restricted websites, please contact the Purchasing Department. Please also note that reportable transactions will not be reimbursed by the university without proper and required tax reporting information if employees choose to make their own bookings with their personal funds.


All air travel should be requested through the Purchasing Department and must be approved by the supervisor with appropriate signing authority of the departmental budget. For international air travel, the area’s vice president approval is also required. Airfare requested will be for the lowest logical price for economy class booked through a commercial airline. Requests should be made far enough in advance to attain cheaper prices and to avoid last minute fare hikes. Purchasing will make every effort to work with the passenger on airline, airport, time, and seat preferences. However, the purchased airfare will be the most reasonable, economy class seat, booked with a commercial airline.

The university will also pay for baggage fees and other fees associated with travel, but only for such fees as are related to the university. For example, baggage fees for university property or marketing materials will be covered, but baggage fees for traveling companion or for extra clothes for vacation will not be covered. Employees will pay for the baggage fees and submit a Reimbursement Requisition with receipt to be reimbursed according to this policy (see Mixed Business and Pleasure above). In-flight meals can be counted toward the $50 daily cap for travel meals (see Meals, below).

Additional fees such as early check in, early boarding, price protection, comfort seat, extra leg room, in flight calls, in flight movies, in flight game rentals, on demand purchases, internet connection, extra checked bag, extra carryon bags, travel insurance, baggage insurance, booking agent fees, or other upgrades of any kind are generally not covered by the university. However, special accommodations required by medical condition, health reasons, or disabilities may be requested ahead of time with prior approval from departmental chair/dean and from the Director of Purchasing. Other exceptions (such as for special circumstances) may also be considered with prior approvals based on a case by case review. Please contact the Purchasing Department ahead of time to submit exceptions for approvals.

The university will reimburse for parking fees incurred when an employee must leave his or her car at the airport while they travel; however, the university typically will only reimburse for the least expensive parking lot available through the airport, which is usually the extended stay parking lot. There may be occasions when the situation may warrant exceptions to allow other parking options. For example, the university will reimburse for terminal parking at a greater cost if the employee is flying out in the morning and returning in the evening of the same day.

If an employee is being dropped off or picked up from the airport, up to one round trip for drop off and one round trip for pick up can be claimed for reimbursement by the employee. However, an employee may not ask a student employee to serve as chauffeur for airport transportation.

When personal vehicles are used, the liability is assumed by the driver’s or vehicle owner’s personal insurance policies. Therefore, the university does not organize carpooling and therefore will not reimburse such carpooling arrangements even though employees may organize their own carpooling at their own risks and expenses. Generally, the mileage reimbursement is calculated from Biola’s physical address to the airport unless the actual driven distance is shorter.

Overnight Travel Delays

If an employee experiences an unexpected overnight stay due to an airline delay, the employee will first try to attain accommodations through the airline responsible. If accommodations through the airline are not available, Biola will reimburse the employee for the additional hotel expenses.

Alternative Travel Methods

If approved by Purchasing ahead of time, employees may request to travel by an alternative means such as boat, rail, or bus for personal reasons. However, the university will only pay for an amount equivalent to the lowest airfare cost of the same trip. The employee will have to reimburse the university for the difference in cost. For example, if an employee desires to take a boat rather than fly to Hawaii and it costs $600 more than if the university were to buy a plane ticket, the employee will have to pay the additional $600. Purchasing will calculate the reasonable reimbursement amount and/or grant exceptions based on a case by case review. If there is a significant time increase due to the method of travel chosen, pre-approval will be needed from the employee’s supervisor in connection with Human Resources to determine how to allocate labor costs and possibly paid vacation leave for time spent traveling.

Rental Car

If a rental car is needed for travel purposes while conducting university business, an employee will put a request through to the Purchasing Department and make sure they are familiar with the Approved Driver Policy (Employee Handbook, Section 3.5) and that they qualify as a driver under said policy. Please note that the Purchasing Department cannot rent large passenger vans on behalf of Biola University. Upgrades or add-on’s such as larger size vehicle, XM Radio, GPS are considered personal expenditures. If special circumstances or needs warrant exceptions, the requests must be made through Purchasing and be approved by the Director of Purchasing. At this time, Enterprise and National are the only rental companies the university uses. If an employee goes outside of the Purchasing Department to book their rental car for business purposes, Biola’s insurance will not cover accidents or losses. For this reason, employees should not rent vehicles for business purposes on their own.

If gas is purchased for a rental car, the receipt can be used to request reimbursement. Please specify that the gas purchase is for a rental car. Please note that a rental car is not a borrowed vehicle from an individual. In order to qualify as a rental car, the vehicle must be rented through the Purchasing Department from a university approved rental car company.

Biola University has automobile physical damage insurance coverage (for rented or leased vehicles used for Biola business) through Travelers Property Casualty Company of America. Employees should decline optional coverage offered by rental companies. Otherwise additional coverage will be considered a personal expenditure. 

Biola's policy provides physical damage insurance for all rental vehicles on the following basis:

●    Rental car insurance is offered only on vehicles rented by Biola University. If an employee rents a car under his/her name, it is not covered.

●    Comprehensive: $1,000 deductible

●    Collision: $1,000 deductible

All rental cars must be rented in the name of Biola University for this insurance policy to be in effect. Also, this policy provides coverage for accidents and losses occurring in the United States of America and the territories and possessions of Puerto Rico and Canada. It does not provide coverage in Mexico. When going to Mexico, a policy covering driving in Mexico should be obtained prior to entry and all policy stipulations should be followed. Make sure that the rental agency allows its vehicles to be taken into Mexico as well.

In the event of an accident or incident, Risk Management must be notified immediately.

Any traffic fines or tickets incurred while traveling will be the sole responsibility of the employee and will not be reimbursed by the university.

Mileage Reimbursement

When using a personal vehicle for Biola business, authorized business use mileage can be reimbursed through a Reimbursement Requisition form. The mileage reimbursement rate is the current IRS standard rate as of the dates of travel. 

Mileage reimbursement when using your personal vehicle for business purposes is normally calculated from Biola’s physical address unless the actual mileage driven is shorter and you must document that on your reimbursement request. The IRS considers the mileage from your home to the office as regular commuting miles and not reimbursable.

In order for the mileage reimbursement to be approved and processed, 1) the Biola business reason or purpose must be clearly stated, and 2) the mileage calculation must be acceptable by the IRS’s guidelines. Hence, mileage reimbursement requests for things such as commutes, departmental fun days, outings, Christmas parties, or other social functions are not eligible for reimbursements.

Example: If an employee telecommutes one or two days a week and on those regular days is occasionally called into the main office for a staff meeting or other business purpose, the trip to the office will still be considered a normal commute and not reimbursed as business mileage.

However, if an employee who has established a permanent office in their home working for Biola (and does not have an office at a property owned or leased by Biola) is called into the office irregularly or infrequently, then the trip to the Biola main campus for a bona fide business purpose will be reimbursed or considered as business mileage.

Please itemize each destination and provide the actual beginning and ending odometer readings. Please note that the odometer reading is the accumulative running mileage number of the vehicle, not the trip distance calculator that can be reset for individual trips. If the odometer readings are not available, please attach a printout of online driving directions to substantiate the miles traveled. 

Please note that for long-distance driving (i.e. out-of-town trips), the mileage reimbursement amount will be limited to the lesser of the actual mileage reimbursement or a reasonable airfare plus standard rental car rate pre-approved by Purchasing. Therefore, prior to the trip, you must obtain a written quote or e-mail from the Purchasing Department for the airfare cost (and rental car if applicable) and submit it with your Reimbursement Requisition. The equivalent airfare price does not include other incidental charges such as parking or gas. Purchasing will calculate the reasonable reimbursement amount and/or grant exceptions based on a case by case review.


The university will reimburse employees for meals eaten while on official business travel outside of the metropolitan area that also includes an overnight stay. Meals eaten while working at a different location than where an employee typically works, but not requiring an overnight stay, generally will not be reimbursed. The IRS considers meals during the normal 8-hour workday (and not for overnight travel) taxable to the employee unless a business purpose is established or that the de minimis criteria is met. Please refer to IRS Publication 15B and 463.

For example, if an employee drives around in the southern California territory every week during recruiting season to recruit students and purchases meals during the recruiting trips, the frequent meals during the recruiting season do not qualify for de minimis exclusion and if paid or reimbursed by the university, will have to be reported as taxable income to the employee. The single day local travel meal is not reimbursable, nor is it business related. In addition, incidentals and meals that are taken without a business purpose will not be reimbursed regardless of the location (on campus or off campus).

In general, travel meal expenses incurred during business trips should not exceed $50/day. Please note that the $50/day guideline is not intended for any given meal per day, but for the sum total of all meals in one day (approximately $10 for breakfast, $15 for lunch, and $25 for dinner). Actual cost of travel meals incurred during university business trips will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $50 per day provided that the business purpose is clearly documented and the expenditure can be substantiated with an itemized receipt. Please submit your itemized receipt and proof of payment for university credit card Comdata, with a Reimbursement Requisition, or the Cash Advance Expense Report.

Generally, room service is not considered an appropriate business meal option when employees travel for Biola business purposes. However, the university understands there may be unusual situations that may warrant exceptions, such as inclement weather or late check-in that would make it unreasonable to expect employees to find other dining options. Exceptions on meals may be granted based on a case by case review by Accounting.

NOTE: Any meal receipt that is considered lavish, extravagant, or non-Biola business related is not eligible for reimbursement or to be recorded as a business expense. For example, a $50 cheese platter for appetizer is considered extravagant and is not an eligible business meal item. Coffee at Starbucks before attending a meeting or lunch at the Biola Caf’ after the conclusion of a meeting does not demonstrate sufficient Biola business purpose. Additionally, in order to remain consistent with the Biola Employee Handbook codes of conduct and to our call to be Christ-like, employees and non-employee visitors to the university will not be reimbursed for or be provided alcoholic beverages under any circumstances.

If the meal receipt includes items for another person other than the person requesting the reimbursement, all the participants’ full names must be documented. Please note that an authorized approver who is also a participant of the expenditure cannot approve the expenditure or expense. If any of the listed individuals is a relative of a Biola employee, the relative’s portion will not be covered or reimbursed as a university expense, unless his/her presence is also related to the business of the university and has been approved, in writing, by the vice president of the area and the Vice President of University Operations and Finance, prior to the event. Any meal receipt including non-Biola business participants will be prorated accordingly.


Biola covers reasonable and customary tips and gratuities. Gratuities or tips for meals or food are capped at a maximum of 18% of the meal charges (excluding tax and fees). Any fee, charge, or gratuity charged to the meal expenditure beyond the 18% of the meal charges is considered a personal out-of-pocket expense (see Employee Handbook, Section 6.7). Some establishments have mandatory group gratuity or service fees for a large party. In these cases, exceptions may be granted with proof of establishment’s policy and based on a case by case review by Accounting.

Other Travel Expenses

The university may decide to cover certain travel expenses for employees who travel frequently or for long periods of time. For a more detailed list of travel expenses that will or will not be reimbursed, see Further Travel Reimbursement Restrictions below. Generally, gifts are personal expressions and are not to be purchased with university funds. Please refer to University Gift Policy and Employee Handbook, Section 6.7 for more details. The IRS sets $25 as the maximum limit on business expense deduction for gifts businesses give to clients or customers. However, the IRS has also determined that cash or cash equivalent gift is always taxable and reportable regardless of the dollar amount (i.e. gift card or gift certificates).

Further Travel Reimbursement Restrictions

This is not to be considered an exhaustive list, but rather a guideline concerning common expenses, which may or may not be reimbursed.

Reimbursable Expenses

Non-Reimbursable Expenses

Laundry and Dry Cleaning for Travel Over 5 Consecutive Days

Laundry and Dry Cleaning for Travel Less Than 5 Days

Long-term Parking and Toll Fees

Personal Care Items (Hygiene, Clothing, etc.)

Airline and Hotel Internet Access for Business Purposes

Reading Material for Travel

Bellhop, Housekeeping, and Other Tips

Minibar Hotel Charges

Mandatory Resort Fees

Childcare, Pet Care, Housesitting, etc.


Fines for Traffic or Parking Fees


Hotel Club Fees (Fitness, Massages, Sauna, etc.)


Hotel Movies


Meals Bought with Flex Points on Employee ID Card without Business Reason


Motorcycle Rental


Helicopter Service for Airport Transfers

Travel Reimbursement

When expenses are incurred during the course of business travel for the university, an employee may submit a Reimbursement Requisition to the Accounting Department within two weeks of returning from travel. Such requests may or may not be processed depending on the approvals, nature of the expenses, and whether or not the necessary documentation is submitted. For further information regarding the reimbursement process, please refer to the Accounting Policy (Employee Handbook, Section 6.7). The IRS requires that expenses be accounted for and any excess cash advance be returned within a reasonable period of time. Any reimbursement or cash advance expense item that does not meet the accountable plan requirements per the IRS with proper receipts and within reasonable timeline will be processed as taxable income. (see IRS Publication 535, Chapter 11)


Original, itemized receipts showing the proof of purchase and proof of payment are required for all business expenditures and reimbursement requests. Scanned receipts may be accepted for reimbursement purposes, but the originals must be retained and be available for audit purposes. Receipts older than 30 days or expenditures without original receipts will be reported as taxable income.

In addition, there are transactions that need to be reported to the IRS, such as medical payments, attorney’s fees, payments that relate to advertising, rentals, or fees. Due to the tax reporting requirement, tax reporting information for transactions related to all rentals, fees, or other taxable income/reportable items (i.e. lodging, equipment, or venue rental) must be obtained on a signed Form W9 prior to payment issuance. Therefore, employees should request such arrangements (i.e. rentals, registration, or memberships) through Purchasing on a Purchase Requisition. Please work with Purchasing and/or the Accounting Department to obtain required tax reporting information. Without proper tax reporting information (complete legal name, address, and social security number or tax ID on a signed Form W9), rental or fee transactions are not eligible for reimbursement and if reimbursed or paid for by the university, will be reported as taxable income to the person incurring the expense.

Grant Funded Travel

Sponsored program travel is subject to different federal guidelines and will be approved and reimbursed accordingly. Absolutely no alcohol or entertainment can be charged to a sponsored program under any circumstances. International flights booked through a sponsored program are also subject to the Fly America Act and must be booked through an American carrier. An employee traveling under a sponsored program can only charge economy class airfare to the sponsored program unless it is due to a medical condition. Any upgrade in flight class must be charged to a different account than the sponsored program. All grant-funded travel is subject to the same accountable rules as employee travel expenses.

Foreign Travel

International travel must be approved by the area’s vice president and be approved in advance with a legitimate business purpose substantiated in order to justify the cost of travel. Any travel advisories issued by the U.S. Government will be taken into consideration when planning business trips and approval may be denied depending on the severity of the travel advisories. Employees also have worldwide emergency travel assistance through Unum. For more information see Employee Handbook, Section 5.27.

Any receipts or bills in foreign languages must be translated prior to submission for reimbursement and accompanied by the exchange rate for each day of expenses incurred. If a Biola guest requires a visa or passport, reimbursement for expenses will be determined by the Senior Director of Human Resources and Assistant Director of Accounting Operations prior to the guest's arrival.

Travel Assistance

The International Crisis Management Team (ICMT) responds to emergency situations that our students, staff, and faculty may experience while traveling overseas for authorized purposes (i.e. study abroad and mission trips). This team is comprised of several stakeholder departments and divisions and is led by James Yoon, Risk and Insurance Administrator, Department of Risk Management, and Chief John Ojeisekhoba.

In the event of an international emergency, please contact Biola’s dispatcher/switchboard operator at (564) 777-4000 to alert the ICMT. We ask that you do not attempt to manage any international situations involving Biola travelers on your own. This will allow Biola to respond in a unified manner through the ICMT.

As a reminder, we ask that you continue to register all student-related travel through the Student Activity Log available on and notify Risk Management of any employee-related travel via email at several weeks or even several months in advance. The Risk Management Department will assist you with vetting your itinerary for safety and security issues. Biola must also track locations and dates for any sponsored travel outside a 100-mile radius from the main campus for insurance purposes. Contacting Risk Management will provide the opportunity to distribute Biola’s travel accident insurance card and brochure to you in these cases.

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding the ICMT or international travel, please contact the Risk Management Department at the email address above.

Lost or Stolen Items

The university will not reimburse for lost, damaged, or stolen personal items or cash. If university property is lost, damaged, or stolen (e.g. university laptop or cell phone), the department of Risk Management should be contacted immediately.

Falsifying Records

Falsification of records on a reimbursement request or booking travel under false pretense is grounds for immediate discipline, revocation of university credit card use, and even dismissal from employment. Biola reserves the right to withhold reimbursement for any travel, entertainment, or other expense if determined to be contrary to the interest of this policy or any government regulation.

Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639