Business Expense Policy

Policy ID


Effective Date

Friday, February 14, 2020

Last Revised

Monday, November 22, 2021


Finance & Administration

Office of Primary Responsibility


Office(s) of Secondary Responsibility

Summary of Policy

These Business Expense Policies provide specific requirements for Dartmouth College travel and other business expenses. An allowable business expense is defined as necessary, reasonable, appropriate non-compensation expense incurred for a valid business purpose to fulfill the mission of Dartmouth College. The Business Expense polices also identify the documentation required to substantiate requests for expense reporting and reimbursement. These policies are necessary to ensure the proper use of Dartmouth resources and compliance with federal and other external regulations.

Reason for Policy

The purpose of these Business Expense Policies is to provide departments, supervisors, other employees, and non-employees with specific guidelines covering Dartmouth College travel and other business expenses. Because it is not possible to anticipate all the situations that individuals may encounter in conducting Dartmouth business, these policies are designed to allow for some flexibility in addressing unique circumstances.

As a general guideline, it is expected that individuals will interpret these policies in a manner that keeps expenses to a minimum and fairly assigns the costs of business-related activities to Dartmouth. Accordingly, the primary responsibility for adherence to these policies rests with the individual as well as the department managers and supervisors who are authorizing and approving travel and other expenses.

Individuals should bear in mind that government agencies and other observers may perceive certain expenditures as being either excessive or inappropriate in the context of a regulatory audit, an IRS audit, or other similar review of Dartmouth activities. Thus, moderation and discretion should guide individuals' decisions to incur expenses on Dartmouth's behalf.

Affected Parties

All Groups

Policy Statement

Table of Contents

Scope: Who should know these policies?

These policies affect all faculty, staff, students and non-Dartmouth guests and visitors incurring non- compensation business expenses or purchasing goods or services. It also affects every individual who reviews, approves or records non-compensation financial transactions on behalf of Dartmouth.

Allowable Business Expenses

These policies define an allowable business expense as a necessary, reasonable, appropriate non- compensation expense incurred for a valid business purpose to fulfill the mission of Dartmouth College. While such allowable expenses may be eligible for payment by Dartmouth College funds, other funding sources may have more restrictions. These policies provide criteria for determining an allowable or unallowable expense and provide lists of common expenses.

These policies also list documentation required to pay allowable business expenses. In general, this policy ensures appropriate use of Dartmouth funds in support of its mission, follows Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and complies with federal, state, and local rules/regulations.

In order to be paid directly by Dartmouth or reimbursed to an individual, a business expense must be:

Necessary to perform a valid business purpose fulfilling the mission of Dartmouth; and

  • Reasonable in that the expense is not extreme or excessive, and reflects a prudent decision to incur the expense; and
  • Appropriate in that the expense is suitable and fitting in the context of the valid business purpose; and
  • Allowable according to the terms of any federal regulation, sponsored contract, or Dartmouth policy.

Business Expense Payment Methods

Procure-to-Pay Guide

The Procure-to-Pay Guide is a resource for individuals to utilize before making a purchase of a good or service. The Guide is organized by category of purchase (e.g., Advertising, Computers, Equipment, etc.). In each of the categories, all efforts should be made to purchase goods and services using the "Buy/Pay" approach. Please note that the "Buy/Pay" approaches are listed in the preferred order.


Procurement guidelines have been established to promote competitive bidding. Requestors should realize that these are minimum requirements and that bids should be solicited, whenever the goods or services can be purchased, from several different, responsible suppliers. Upon request, Procurement Services will assist departments in locating potential suppliers and obtaining pricing and product availability information for any dollar amount.

If the goods or services can be obtained from a contracted/preferred supplier, it is recommended that the requestor purchase from this source. A list of contracted/preferred suppliers is available within the Procure-to-Pay Guide.

Purchases up to and including $9,999.99

When purchases are less than or equal to $9,999.99, requestors should make every effort to use preferred suppliers.

Purchases between $10,000 - $24,999.99

Purchases equal to or over $10,000.00 but not exceeding $24,999.99 require at least three (3) quotations from suppliers if not utilizing a contracted/preferred supplier. All quotations must be written and attached to the requisition. If there are limited sources of supply or the low bid is found unacceptable because of some factual circumstance, the department head or principal investigator should write a clear, concise, and factual justification for not accepting the lowest bid. If the requestor is unable to identify three suppliers, Procurement Services should be contacted to assist in identifying additional suppliers.

Purchases equal to or over $25,000

Purchases equal to or over $25,000 require the requestor to contact Procurement Services to conduct a more formal bid process. Procurement Services will work with the requestor to directly solicit bids and provide a tabulation of bids for the requestor's review and evaluation.
For more information see the comprehensive Procurement Sole Source/Competitive Bid Policy.

Procurement Cards (P-Card)

The Dartmouth Procurement Card (P-Card) Program is designed to improve efficiency in processing low dollar value purchases ($4,999 or less). The Procurement Card is a Visa Card and can be used to make purchases for goods and some limited services (refer to Procurement Card Policy) with any merchant who accepts the Visa Card when the merchant category of expense is not restricted. Restrictions include, for example, merchants whose primary business is sale of alcohol. Procurement Card transactions for non- restricted commodities cannot exceed the $4,999 per transaction limit (including all delivery, shipping and/or special handling charges). Transactions exceeding the $4,999 limit will require a Purchase Order. Pyramiding (splitting) transactions to avoid the single transaction limit is not permitted. Dartmouth policy and Visa/MasterCard regulations prohibit vendors from this practice.

Receipts are not required for items under $75 purchased on a P-Card, with the following exception. . Due to NCAA rules and regulations, all varsity coaches and non-coaching staff members with sports specific responsibilities in those varsity sports are required to submit receipts for all purchases and provide a descriptive business purpose, regardless of amount.

For P-Card purchases, the Purchaser must submit a business purpose and the appropriate chart string through the PCard eForm. For purchases of $75 and over the receipt must be included. The only exception is for WB Mason where no submission is required if the purchase is for office supplies and the chart string is the default.

The Dartmouth P-Card should never be used for travel related items, except for a Dartmouth Coach bus ticket. No other bus services, cabs, etc. are allowed.

For more information see the comprehensive Dartmouth College Procurement Card Program Policy.

Employees who repeatedly do not comply with the P-Card policy will have their P-Card privileges suspended or canceled.

Corporate Cards

The Dartmouth Corporate Card Program is designed to improve efficiency for travel, entertainment and other business-related purchases. The Corporate Card is a Visa Card and can be used to make purchases for travel, entertainment, and other business expenses with merchants who accept the Visa Card.When used for non-travel business related purchases the per item purchase limit is $4,999. Personal expenses are prohibited on the Corporate Card. Employees are responsible to reimburse Dartmouth for any personal purchases or expenses that are funded by another organization.

All purchases made using the Dartmouth Corporate Card should be allocated and approved through a business expense report submitted within 120 days of the expense date or from the return of an extended trip.

Business Expense Reporting

  • Dartmouth will only allow expenses incurred in connection with Dartmouth business that are appropriately documented by the employee, student, or visitor.
  • Payments will be on the basis of actual and reasonable expenses incurred for necessary business expenses or approved per diem amounts.
  • The basic policy governing the reporting of travel and business expenses is that an individual should neither gain nor lose funds in the course of traveling or conducting Dartmouth business.
  • Reported business expenses must have a valid business purpose.

Reporting of Expenses

The primary responsibility for review and approval of expenses and compliance with all provisions of this policy rests with the individuals incurring expenses and supervisors who are authorizing the expenses. Business expense reports are subject to audit by government agencies and other sponsors; therefore, thorough documentation and accounting for expenses (as defined in this section) is essential. Dartmouth must have all the documentation required to substantiate payments made in accordance with this policy.

Business expense reports must be submitted within 120 days of the date of incurrence of an expense or the end of the travel. As noted in the cash advance section, if a cash advance was provided and the settlement is not completed within 120 days from the anticipated settlement date, the cash advance will be reported to the Payroll Office for appropriate reporting as taxable income and the appropriate taxes will be withheld from the employee.

For Dartmouth employees (faculty and staff) business expense reports are through the iExpense System. Employees or their delegate can submit the iExpense Expense Report directly in iExpense or may complete the Expense Report Request eForm to have an iExpense Expense Report prepared by the employee's Finance Center.

For Dartmouth Students and Visitors business expense reports are through the Payment Request eForm.

Required Documentation (Receipts) for Expense Reporting and Reimbursement

Individuals are generally required to submit documentation of payment of business expenses. Documentation includes: receipts, canceled checks or bills marked paid by the vendor, etc. If any single business or travel expense is less than $75.00, documentation is not required, with the following exceptions.

The following types of expenses require documentation regardless of amount:

  • Business entertainment expenses require documentation including business purpose and participants (See Business Entertainment)
  • Gifts (see Gifts to Employees)
  • Lodging expenses (See Lodging)
  • Costs associated with relocation and house hunting (See Relocation Expenses for Newly Hired Employees)
  • Due to NCAA rules and regulations, all varsity coaches and non-coaching staff members with sports specific responsibilities in those varsity sports are required to submit receipts for all purchases and provide a descriptive business purpose, regardless of amount.

If, in rare cases, documentation is not available, a written explanation of why the documentation cannot be provided must be submitted with the business expense report.

Adequate Documentation of Expenses

  • Documentation ordinarily will be considered adequate if it shows the amount paid, date, name of vendor or payee and location, and essential character of the expense.
  • For items under $75 without documentation, individuals must still record the actual amounts of the charges and clearly itemize the expenses on their business expense report. In these cases, it is not appropriate to routinely round off amounts or to estimate expenses.
  • In the case of airfare not charged directly to a departmental chart string through Dartmouth College's travel agent, individuals must submit evidence of purchase and payment (e.g., email receipt). Travel itineraries do not constitute adequate evidence.
  • For lodging expenses, Dartmouth requires an itemized lodging invoice or statement which reflects that payment has been made in full. An invoice or statement reflecting a "balance due" is not sufficient proof of payment. The "balance due" does not signify that payment was made on behalf of the individual, therefore, the individual will need to obtain an invoice that reflects that payment was made in full, or provide another form of proof of payment, prior submitting a business expense report.
  • Any request for per diem reimbursement for visitors must be accompanied by documentation which adequately substantiates the time the visitor resided in the area and traveled to/from Hanover. This may include airline tickets, lodging bills, employment agreements, or other such documentation.

Business Expense Approvals

Business expense reports are certified by the employee and approved by the employee's immediate supervisor or more senior officer in the department who has the authority to approve charges to the particular chart string(s).

An individual supervisor may delegate (in writing) their signature authority to another individual. No employee is authorized to approve their own, a peer's or a superior's business expense report or charges to a chart string for which they are not authorized to approve expenditures. Area fiscal officers are authorized to approve business expense reports charged to Dartmouth accounts for which they have budget responsibility (except for their own expenses or those incurred by their immediate supervisor).

Employees certify by the submission of their expenses that those expenses are accurate, valid Dartmouth College business expenses, and have not and will not be reimbursed by another entity. If the business expense report is compiled and submitted by someone other than the employee, the employee is responsible for reviewing the completed report and notifying the appropriate finance center if there is an error in the submission.

Business expense reports for non-employees must be approved by an employee who has knowledge of the expense and signature authority for the accounts to be charged.


Dartmouth recommends all employees who travel or incur travel-related expenses at least once a year obtain a Corporate Card for business travel expenses, and book airfare through the travel portal for direct payment by Dartmouth. The individual's Corporate Card can be entered into the travel system. For those without Corporate Cards, expenses may be charged directly to a chart string entered by the individual.

For individuals without Dartmouth Corporate Cards, Dartmouth can provide advances to faculty, staff, and students traveling on authorized business to cover out-of-pocket costs, if deemed necessary.

  • An advance may be requested and should be the minimum necessary to cover anticipated out-of-pocket expenses with a maximum daily limit of $50.00 for domestic travel and $75.00 for international travel. This limitation does not apply to student cash advances for non-travel expenditures or group travel.
  • If requesting an advance, an explanation of what it will be used for should be included on the request on the Payment Request eForm for Cash Advances.
  • Advances of any amount will only be granted with approval of an authorized approver or delegate that has been given the authority to approve such expenditures for the designated GL/PTAEO chart string on behalf of Dartmouth.
  • Employees and Students requesting an advance will receive the advance through an Accounts Payable payment (check or direct deposit) unless cash is deemed necessary. Only up to $500 can be obtained in cash.
  • Requests for advances in the form of an Accounts Payable payment should be requested at least 10 business days in advance of need.
  • Cash advances will not be issued more than 10 business days before the trip or expected expense.
  • Advances must never be used to cover personal expenses or any activity which is the sole responsibility of the employee or student. The Dartmouth Controller's Office may revoke an individual's privilege to obtain advances if it is determined that an employee or student has abused Dartmouth policy.

Obtaining Advances

Advances are requested by completing the Payment Request eForm. Requests must have appropriate authorized approval for designated GL/PTAEO chart strings on behalf of Dartmouth, regardless of the request amount. Under no circumstances can the recipient of an advance approve his or her own advance request form.

Advances will be issued through and Accounts Payable (AP) payment (either check or direct deposit) unless cash is deemed necessary and will not be issued more than 10 business days before the trip or expected expense.

Advances paid in cash are available for pickup Monday – Friday, between the hours of 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM from the Cashier's Office, located on the first floor of the McNutt building. Photo identification and a signature is required acknowledging receipt of the funds when picking up cash from the Cashier's Office.

Advances and Non-Dartmouth Personnel

Advances may be provided to visiting faculty or lecturers who will be reimbursed by Dartmouth for meal and lodging expenses incurred while in the Hanover area. The cash advance for the visitor must be in an employee's name, on behalf of the visiting faculty or lecturer, and needs to be approved by the authorized approver or delegate that has been given the authority to approve such expenses on specified GL/PTAEO chart strings.

Advance Settlements and Due Dates

Each advance is the personal obligation of the recipient receiving the funds until the expenses have been settled. The recipient of the funds is responsible for the proper record keeping of expenses incurred while conducting Dartmouth business and for settling any unused funds owed back to Dartmouth. Advances to employees must be accounted for through the Expense Report Request eForm with required documentation. Advances to students must be accounted for through the Payment Request eForm (select Business/Travel Expense). Due dates on advances are established at the time that the employee or student is issued the advance. The Cash Advance Payment Request eForm requires the recipient to declare when the trip, activity or event will have been completed. Advances must be settled within 120 days after returning from the trip or completing the activity or event. Employees and students must complete the Cash Advance Return Form immediately and return the entirety of the cash advance to the Cashier's Office when a trip, activity or event has been canceled or has been postponed for more than ten business days.

Expense Report Request eForm with required itemized receipts must be properly authorized and submitted for settlement of cash advances. Once the Expense Report Request eForm is submitted, and the iExpense Expense Report approved and processed, Dartmouth College will reimburse the individual for expenses which exceed cash advance. If the cash advance is greater than the expenses incurred, the individual must return the remaining balance (by personal check made out to the Trustees of Dartmouth College or cash) to the Cashier's Office or Finance Center upon completion of the business expense report.

Cash advance settlements must provide adequate documentation to substantiate the business expenses covered by the advance, as required by the IRS to avoid the reporting of advance payments as taxable income to the employee or student.

Unsettled Cash Advances

Employees and students who have not settled their advances by the anticipated settlement date will be notified via an e-mail that the settlement is overdue. The first notice is sent 15 days after anticipated settlement date, the second is sent 30 days after the anticipated settlement date with a copy to Finance Center. A third notice is sent 45 days after the anticipated settlement date and with a copy to the approver.

If settlement of the cash advance isn't completed within 120 days from the anticipated settlement date, the employee or student and their Fiscal Officer will be notified that the cash advance is being reported to the Payroll Office for appropriate reporting as taxable income and the appropriate taxes will be withheld from the employee's paycheck. If the funds have been reported as taxable income to the employee or student, the cash advance needs to be recorded as a departmental expense by charging a GL/PTAEO chart string for the amount of the cash advance. Any future request for a cash advance by that employee or student will be denied by the Cashier's Office.

Business Expense Categories

Air Travel

Air travel is generally restricted to commercial airlines. The class of air travel chosen is expected to be the least costly consistent with a reasonable level of comfort and convenience for the traveler. Dartmouth's contract with Travel Leaders specifies that they will offer the lowest fare consistent with this guideline and available within one hour of the arrival and departure times requested by the traveler.

In some cases, business class fares may be an appropriate business expense when flights exceed five consecutive hours in duration or other circumstances which have been approved in advance by a Dean, Vice President, Provost, President, or Board of Trustees. When being charged to a PTAEO, premium fares must be permitted by the sponsoring agency.

Some airlines charge a minimal fee for aisle seats versus window seats, or early bird check-in for seat assignment. These fees are minimal and are accepted as reasonable business expenses. Various airlines also charge for the luggage, so baggage fees are accepted as reasonable business expenses.

Airfare booked through Travel Leaders can be charged directly to the employee's Corporate Card or the default GL/PTAEO chart string set up by the individual. If airfare is booked via a source other than Travel Leaders, the travel should be booked using the Corporate Card. If an alternate method is used for purchasing airfare, Dartmouth will reimburse the individual before the trip has occurred if proper documentation showing payment is submitted. If the individual cancels the flight after the payment is made, the individual must reimburse Dartmouth for the amount that has been refunded to them.

Under exceptional circumstances, if it becomes necessary to use air charter or air taxi services, the individual must obtain an approval from their Dean, Vice President, Provost, President or Board of Trustees prior to the use of such services. Only corporate aircrafts of major recognized corporations should be used. The individual must also contact the Office of Risk Management and Internal Controls at (603) 646-2441 prior to the flight for insurance purposes.

International Travel

Most sponsored research funding agencies require that all international travel be on a U.S. flag carrier (see Fly America Act) unless circumstances, such as lengthy holdovers, preclude using a U.S. flag carrier. If there are no U.S. flag carriers going to the traveler's destination, the traveler must contact the Office of Sponsored Projects.

Arrangements for international travel supported by sponsoring agencies can be complex, requiring not only prior approval but detailed justification for each trip, as well as detailed trip reports. For specific information on sponsoring agency requirements, contact the Office of Sponsored Projects.

All policies pertaining to domestic travel apply to international travel as well.

Changes in Air Travel Schedule

All travel arrangements should be made well in advance, as airfare booked early can often be obtained at a lower rate. Before committing to a deeply discounted ticket carrying a substantial penalty for cancellation, individuals should make certain that they can adhere to the planned itinerary. Depending on the circumstances, the penalty for cancellation and the loss of the full value of the non-refundable ticket may or may not be reimbursed.

Group Travel

Group travel consisting of ten or more individuals with the same points of departure or destination is eligible for special rates through Travel Leaders. Any department requesting a price quote for group travel from an outside agency must also submit a travel bid form, at the same time, to Travel Leaders.

Frequent Flyer Plans

Travelers are allowed to personally retain the rewards for frequent flyer plans or other bonuses that may accrue from business travel. However, in no case may the individual choose a reservation at a higher cost in order to accumulate additional plan credits. Dartmouth will not purchase frequent flyer miles from individuals or reimburse the traveler for tickets purchased with their frequent flyer miles.

Membership fees to join frequent flyer clubs are considered personal expenses.

Automobile, Parking, and Ground Transportation

If traveling by car from home to an airport at the start or end of a trip, the individual will be reimbursed for miles in excess of the individual's normal commute to their worksite from home. If travel to an airport from home is necessary on a non-workday, reimbursement will be made for the entire distance. Parking at the airport is allowable, but individuals are urged to use long-term, lower-cost parking lots when available. If public transportation or a cab taken to and from the airport would result in a lower cost (due to the high cost of parking in most cities and airports), the individual is encouraged to take advantage of these savings.

Personal Vehicles

As a general rule, the use of personal vehicles for business is discouraged because no reimbursement will be made for the cost of repairs to the vehicle, regardless of whether the costs resulted from business travel or whether they resulted from acts of the traveler or another individual. Furthermore, it is the obligation of the owner of a personal vehicle being used for Dartmouth business to carry adequate insurance for his or her protection and for the protection of any passengers.

When the use of a personal vehicle is necessary, reimbursement for its use will be at the mileage rate published by the Controller's Office, which is based on the IRS published mileage reimbursement rate. The mileage reimbursement rate can be found at:

The mileage reimbursement rate includes the cost of using the vehicle, such as any car repairs, gas charges and any incremental cost for the owner's personal automobile insurance coverage, since it is the primary coverage in case of an accident.

Corporate Cards may be used or reimbursements may be requested for tolls and parking fees when using your personal vehicle for business travel. Dartmouth will not reimburse employees for parking tickets, fines for moving violations, vehicle towing charges or auto repairs and maintenance.

Public Transportation

Public transportation expenses include the cost of taxis, shuttles, airport vans (or car service), subways, buses, rail, and other modes of public transportation. Dartmouth will pay or reimburse the individual for these expenses (including a reasonable tip) while on Dartmouth business when reasonable and properly documented.

Enterprise-Vox Rental Program

If travel by automobile is appropriate, individuals should determine whether a Dartmouth Enterprise-VOX car provides the best option in terms of cost and convenience. For more information concerning availability, pricing, and reservations go to the Dartmouth Parking & Transportation Service website: This link also provides information on how to become an approved driver.

Note: Individuals are NOT charged for gasoline usage, as this is included in the car rental fee.

Domestic Rental Vehicles

Dartmouth has established contracts with primary and secondary providers for all vehicle rentals for business. These contracts entitle participants to the providers' discount programs, reduced fees and other benefits. The individual's Corporate Card should be used to ensure maximum insurance protection. For more information about preferred car providers please visit:

Dartmouth policy does not permit the renting of vehicles from private car owners, such as Turo. The use of other peer-to-peer ride sharing arrangements, such as Uber and Lyft, is permitted.

For business rentals not booked through the primary or secondary providers, Dartmouth's insurance will cover the individual as well as the vehicle when the vehicle is rented for business purposes; therefore, employees should not elect additional insurance coverage provided by the rental company. Dartmouth business travelers must use their Corporate Card to receive free primary Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance for the value of the rental vehicle. This reduces Dartmouth's expenditures for accidents and will prevent your department from potentially incurring expenses of up to $2,000 for the deductible resulting from any at-fault accidents. Employees will not be reimbursed should they select the CDW insurance coverage. Non-employee travelers are not covered under Dartmouth's insurance and may be reimbursed for CDW insurance on rental vehicles used for business.

If any vehicles other than cars or vans are to be rented and driven for business purpose, there needs to be an approval from the Director of Parking and Transportation. .

International Rental Vehicles

Rental vehicles for international travel should be obtained through Travel Leaders. Individuals should purchase rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance and liability insurance when renting cars outside the United States. This is often referred to as a "full coverage" option.

Rail Travel

Coach accommodations should generally be used for trips shorter than five hours on the train. Business class seats may be purchased if there is a business need (e.g., wireless internet access). First class (roomette) accommodations may be used for longer trips or overnight travel.

Charter Bus

Dartmouth has partnered with three charter bus companies: Concord Coach Lines, MBT Worldwide and Premier Coach. Their contact information can be found in the Procure to Pay guide.

We ask that departments requiring charter bus services contact at least two of these vendors to obtain estimates. Quotes should include gratuity. It is not a requirement that vendor selection be based on the lowest estimate; we recognize that other factors may be important.

Lodging, Meals, and Entertainment


Individuals should use standard accommodations in reasonably priced lodging. Since reservations are typically guaranteed to assure lodging for late arrivals, individuals are required to cancel these reservations in a timely manner to prevent "no show" charges. Except under extenuating circumstances, Dartmouth will not pay expenses due to an individual's failure to cancel guaranteed reservations.

When reporting expenses for lodging, the itemized hotel receipt must be submitted with the business expense report. Dartmouth requires an itemized lodging invoice or statement which reflects that payment has been made in full. An invoice or statement reflecting a "balance due" is not sufficient proof of payment. The "balance due" does not signify that payment was made on behalf of the traveler, therefore, the traveler will need to obtain an invoice or other documentation that reflects that payment was made in full, prior to submitting a business expense report.

The use of peer-to-peer accommodations, such as AirBNB and VRBO, is not recommended although they are not prohibited. No individual is required to use peer-to-peer lodging and all such lodging arrangements should be approved by individuals' supervisors before they are secured. The rate per night (inclusive of all fees) needs to reasonably compare to that of business class hotels in the area(s). There are aspects to such lodging that individuals should be aware of before booking such accommodations, such as:

  • Home rentals are not regulated as rigorously as hotels
  • Hotels are subject to fire detection and fire suppression regulations which have periodic inspections. Individuals should determine if peer-to-peer accommodations are adequately protected by working fire alarms and/or sprinklers.
  • Hotels are more likely to be staffed 24/7
  • Hotels have better access controls/security in place. Hotels generally use access cards rather than keys, which are more likely used in peer-to-peer rentals and are considered less secure.
  • Homes may only have one stairwell/emergency egress.
  • Privacy concerns should be considered in all lodging, though there is less oversight of operations in peer-to-peer arrangements.

Travel Meals and Incidental Expenses

For U.S. travel meals and incidental expenses, Dartmouth allows use of a per diem or actual expense reimbursement. The domestic per diem rates can be found at GSA Per Diem Rates:

The meals and incidental per diem rate for international travel is based on the rates published by the U.S. Department of State for the time period the trip took place. The international per diem rates can be found at the following website:

For partial day travel or when a meal has been paid for by others, a deduction must be made from the per diem allowance. If you need to deduct a meal amount, first determine the location where you will be working while on official travel. You can look up the location-specific information at:

The M&IE rate for your location will be deducted by the following percentages:

  • Breakfast Deduction = 15%
  • Lunch Deduction = 25%
  • Dinner Deduction = 60%

When a per diem is not chosen, actual and reasonable costs will be reimbursed. This includes a reasonable tip of not more than 20%. Receipts for travel meal expenses of $75 or more are required. For a given trip, a traveler needs to choose either per diem or actual cost method. However, travelers who choose the per diem option but incur the cost of an entertainment meal may request reimbursement for the actual cost of the entertainment meal. The requestor must provide a receipt and information regarding the business purpose and participants for the entertainment meal and adjust the per diem as described above.

Business Meals

Business meals are defined as meals taken with students, donors, colleagues, or individuals from companies during which specific business discussions or activities took place. Detailed, itemized receipts must be provided, along with the names of the other diners and the business purpose for hosting the meal.

Travel Business Meals

When the traveler is expensing meals purchased for non-Dartmouth personnel, these meals should be considered "Business Meals" rather than "Travel Meals," and detail must be provided indicating the names of the other diners and the business purpose for hosting the meal.

Non-Travel Business Meals

In cases where Dartmouth employees meet over a meal when they are not traveling, the cost of the meal can be considered allowable when the primary purpose of the meeting is to conduct business and there is a clear and compelling reason to meet over a meal. Generally, these requirements are met when it is not possible for one or more employees to meet during other working hours and the purpose of the meeting is to conduct business in accordance with a formal agenda. IRS regulations do not allow for the payment of meal charges incurred by employees who are not traveling away from home unless the above criteria are met and there is a clear benefit to Dartmouth.

It is permissible to incur expenses chargeable to Dartmouth for meals provided as part of a local conference, seminar, workshop, presentation or other similar group meeting involving employees when it extends through the usual mealtime(s). Such meals must be reasonable in relation to the nature, duration and purpose of the meeting.

Employee Functions

Functions for employees are considered allowable business expenses when the expenditure is intended to serve as a token of appreciation that primarily promotes employee relations or that recognizes individual or group work-related achievements.

Functions such as parties to celebrate birthdays, marriages, births, etc. with purchased food or beverages are ordinarily paid for by the employees involved. If extenuating circumstances dictate, the Division head may approve the expense for such a function as an appropriate charge to a department GL/PTAEO chart string. The charge must be posted to the corresponding natural class for entertainment.


The federal government has mandated that no alcohol costs may be charged as either a direct or indirect expense of federally sponsored projects. This means that the cost of alcohol cannot be charged directly to a PTAEO chart string. The allowability of expenses for alcohol on non-federal grants depend upon the guidelines of the specific sponsor.

While not encouraged, alcohol cost is allowable as a business expense when served at Dartmouth College functions primarily intended to promote donor, employee, or student relations. If alcohol charges conform to the guidelines outlined in the other policy sections, it may be an acceptable expense; however, it must always be charged separately to the appropriate natural class for "Entertainment-Federal unallowable alcohol." Some Dartmouth divisions may choose not to cover the cost of alcohol.

Business Entertainment

Meals and functions that are partially social in nature are considered business entertainment if they are intended to provide hospitality to non-Dartmouth College individuals and, are deemed necessary and customary in furthering Dartmouth College's mission. Meals which include spouses or other individuals who are not directly involved in conducting Dartmouth business are general indications that the occasion is entertainment rather than a business meal or meeting.

Examples of business entertainment include, but are not limited to:

  • Receptions for Dartmouth guests, visitors and prospective applicants;
  • Alumni reunions or similar alumni functions;
  • Entertaining donors or prospective donors; and,
  • Welcoming receptions for parents and students.

Business entertainment expenses should be reasonable in relation to the nature of the function and the resulting business benefit expected to be derived from the expenditure. A description (either a list of names or identification of the hosted group) and the total number in attendance at a business entertainment function must be indicated on the request along with the business purpose of the entertainment.

Because business entertainment expenses are rarely, if ever, allowable as either direct or indirect costs of federally sponsored grants and contracts, it is imperative that these and any related alcohol costs be segregated in the appropriate GL/PTAEO chart string so that they may be easily identified in the accounting records (and excluded from any calculation of direct or indirect sponsored research costs).

Gratuities for Hosts

Should a traveler decide to stay with colleagues, family, or friends in lieu of a hotel, the traveler may expense gratuity expenses of a reasonable value offered to the host. Examples might include a floral arrangement or a reasonable meal. These gratuities would be in place of meals and/or lodging for the accommodations provided by the host. An explanation of such items should be submitted with the business expense report.

Miscellaneous Travel Expenses

Lost or Damaged Equipment

Dartmouth's blanket all-risk property insurance provides coverage for all Dartmouth-owned or leased equipment, with a replacement value in excess of $1,000. The insurance coverage provides for loss or damage caused by any peril not otherwise insured, including theft, but not general wear-and-tear and gradual deterioration. All departmental equipment should be carefully secured when not in use or left unattended in public places when traveling. Computer equipment hardware and accessories must be secured against theft. To report a loss, please contact Risk Management and Internal Controls at (603) 646-3839.

Telephone Calls

If business calls are made on a mobile device, please see the Mobile Communication Device and Services Policy.

Professional Development

Expenses incurred in attending professional development programs may be allowable. Departments determine who may attend such programs at the Dartmouth's expense. Departments should ensure that the content of the program is of a substantive nature which directly relates to the employee's current or anticipated job responsibilities.

Travel costs and fees associated with continuing education credits required to maintain a professional certification that is not directly related to the employee's current position are not allowable business expenses.

Conference Registration and Similar Fees

Conference registration fees, abstract fees, and other similar types of expenses that must be paid in advance of a professional development program should be paid by employee's P-Card or Corporate Card, or a Dartmouth check.

In those rare instances when a direct Dartmouth payment for these types of fees is not possible, employees may use their own funds for the conference registration (or similar expense) and be reimbursed on a business expense report. If the conference is canceled after the payment is made, the employee must reimburse Dartmouth for the amount that has been refunded to them.

Temporary vs. Indefinite (Greater than 12 months) Travel

If an individual's travel assignment is expected to last longer than 12 months or does in fact last longer than 12 months, expenses for meals and lodging cannot be considered non-taxable business expenses. Because of the long-term nature of the assignment, the IRS assumes that the traveler has moved his/her tax home to the new place of employment and treats the meals and lodging expenses as personal, requiring that any reimbursements be reported as additional compensation to the employee and subject to tax withholdings.

This is true for all expenses incurred from the point in time when it was known that the assignment would be more than 12 months, not just those incurred after the 12-month period. In these exceptional circumstances, the department should contact the Finance Center or Controller's Office well in advance of the temporary assignment for more specific information and instructions.

Personal Business Conducted Before, During or After Business Travel

Additional costs incurred for earlier departure or later return are not reimbursable since these are personal expenses unless the savings in airfare is equal to or greater than the total costs for lodging, meals, etc., incurred during the additional day(s) of travel. All additional costs must be weighed against the savings in airfare, including the inherent cost of being out of the office for a longer period of time.

Expenses of a strictly personal nature, as well as any incremental travel costs incurred to conduct personal business during a business trip, are the responsibility of the traveler.

Incremental costs are otherwise reimbursable expenses which would not have been incurred on the business portion of the trip, except for the fact that the traveler conducted personal business at some time during the trip. Such incremental expenses must be identified and deducted from the business expense report.

Every effort should be made to avoid charging personal expenses to Dartmouth accounts despite the intention of the traveler or a third party to later reimburse Dartmouth for these charges. Airline reservations for personal travel made through Travel Leaders must be charged to a personal credit card and not be directly billed to a GL/ PTAEO chart string.

Accompanying Spouses, Partners or Other Family Members

Expenses incurred for accompanying spouses, partners, caregivers or other family members are considered personal in nature except on the infrequent occasion when the individual has a significant role at an event and it furthers the mission of Dartmouth. In these cases, the travel expense of the spouse, partner, caregiver, or other family members should be authorized in writing in advance by the appropriate officer: Dean, Vice President, Provost, President or Board of Trustees. This written approval must be submitted with the business expense report and must document the business purpose served by the spouse, partner, caregiver, or other family member's attendance at the meeting or function.

The tax law requires that amounts paid by an employer for spousal, partner, caregiver, or other family member's travel expenses are to be included in the employee's annual IRS Form W-2 as taxable income unless the spouse, partner, caregiver or family member's presence on the trip serves a bona fide business purpose. The IRS has ruled that when a spouse, partner, caregiver, or family member attends a meeting or conference and has no significant role, or performs only incidental duties of a clerical or secretarial nature, the attendance does NOT constitute a business purpose. Departments should consult the Controller's Office prior to making commitments to reimburse for spousal, partner, caregiver, or family member travel as the reimbursement may be taxable to the employee.

Travel or Expenses Paid by Third Parties

Employees who have non-Dartmouth business affiliations may occasionally conduct business for both Dartmouth and their outside employer or sponsor during a trip. In these instances, the traveler must prorate all expenses associated with the trip that are reasonably allocable to each endeavor.

Ordinarily, expenses which are allocable to non-Dartmouth business should not be charged to department chart strings even though the traveler or a third party intends to reimburse Dartmouth for these charges at a later date.

Travel expenses may be paid by a sponsoring industry association when associated with speaking at a conference. Travel expenses should not be paid by a vendor, organization, or individual with which Dartmouth is or may be conducting business. All employees are expected not to compromise any business transaction, even in appearance, in exchange for personal benefit. For more information on ethical conduct in dealing with business associates, review the Gift Policy.

Visitors, Recruiting, and Relocation Expenses

Visitors and Recruits

When Dartmouth is covering the cost of travel, room and board, and other expenses of visitors and recruits (to be hereinafter referred to as visitors), Dartmouth travel and reimbursement policies apply to their expenses as well. Visitors, or departments, on the visitor's behalf, must adhere to the same reasonableness standards and submit required documentation supporting expenditures. It is the responsibility of the sponsoring department to make visitors aware of Dartmouth policies.

Reimbursement of the visitor's expenses will be made in the normal manner once a completed business expense report has been reviewed and approved. Dartmouth will reimburse the travel costs of students and non-employees (such as job applicants, lecturers, consultants and other individuals) when required by authorized contractual agreement or when approved in advance by a department head or senior officer. Reimbursement will be made in accordance with these policies.

If rent for housing a visitor is to be paid directly to a landlord or property owner, departments should prepare and submit a Payment Request eForm payable to the landlord using the proper natural class (8448) for rent along with the payee's W-9 form for tax reporting purposes.

If necessary, visitors may request cash advances for expenses which will be reimbursed by Dartmouth, however, cash advances must be recorded in the name of an employee, since the employee is ultimately responsible for the settlement of the cash advance. Any problems with payment or reimbursement of expenses for visitors should be discussed with the Finance Center to ensure the proper handling of expenditures.

Visitors parking can be paid for by an employee's P-Card/Corporate.

Relocation Expenses of Newly Hired Employees

Departments may, in hiring new employees, agree to pay all or a portion of the cost of relocating individuals and their families to the Upper Valley area. The level of reimbursement is based upon the agreement between the employee and the hiring department. New hires should refer to the Procure-to-Pay Guide for contact information related to Dartmouth-approved contracted moving suppliers.

Recently hired employees moving to the Upper Valley area may be reimbursed for the transporting of their personal vehicle(s) to their new home. All relocation costs should be charged to the appropriate GL/PTAEO chart string, including the relocation/moving natural class, regardless of whether the expenses are paid directly by submitting invoices for payment or paid to employees as reimbursement for their out-of-pocket expenses. Documentation is required for all costs associated with relocation and house hunting.

As of January 1, 2018 relocation expenses paid directly by Dartmouth on behalf of an employee or reimbursed to the employee must be treated as additional compensation and is subject to both income and employment tax withholding. Expenses paid directly by Dartmouth will result in imputed income being added to an employee's paycheck with required taxes withheld and reported on the employee's IRS W-2 Form. Expenses that are paid directly by the employee will be reimbursed through payroll with required taxes withheld.

If an appointment is for less than one year, the employee is not, by IRS definition, moving. Instead it is considered travel and any reimbursements fall under the travel section of our reimbursement policy. If we are moving their household goods, then those expenses are taxable.

Taxable and Non-taxable Employee Recruitment Expenses

Before an offer is accepted:
Payment of authorized recruitment travel expenses (such as airfare, lodging, and meals) incurred during the employee recruitment process is not taxable to the prospective employee.

After an offer is accepted:
After an offer of employment has been accepted, the employee/employer relationship is established and pre-move house hunting expenses (such as airfare, lodging, and meals) incurred by the employee and family are considered taxable income (if reimbursed).

Newly hired employees or supervisors of the employee should review the Relocation, Moving & Storage Services, Domestic & International Policy or call (603) 646-2811 for further assistance.

Other Business Expenses

Memberships, Dues and Subscriptions

Fees for individual memberships in business associations, as well as fees for magazine, newspaper, or newsletter subscriptions, may be allowable. Approvers or delegates will decide whether these costs will be covered. Individual membership in professional associations or other costs incurred to maintain professional certifications or licenses that are directly related to the employee's current position and have a clear business benefit to Dartmouth are allowable.

The cost of memberships in athletic clubs, faculty clubs, social clubs, fraternal orders, buying clubs, or other similar organizations generally do not qualify as business expenses. Employees must pay for these memberships personally, unless there is a clear business benefit and the primary purpose of the membership is to benefit Dartmouth. In these special instances, they must be charged to the appropriate natural class and have been pre- approved by a Dean, Vice-President, Provost, President, or Board of Trustees. The Controller must be notified when memberships are approved to ensure appropriate tax reporting and documentation.

Mobile Communication Devices and Services

The Mobile Communication Device and Services Policy is intended to guide individuals and entities within Dartmouth to consistent, clear and fair decisions about the management of devices and plans. In so doing, the policy is expected to support individual and entity effectiveness and productivity at least total cost to Dartmouth.

Gifts to Employees and Students


Certain gifts for employees are allowable and can be charged to a department GL string with appropriate departmental or divisional approval. Allowable and non-allowable gifts are outlined below.  Any questions about gifts should be made to your Fiscal Officer or Finance Center. 

  • Allowable Gifts (charged to a GL string only):
    • Gifts or gift cards (under $50 per person) in recognition of a work-related accomplishment or event
    • An item in recognition of the death or serious illness of an employee or immediate family member (up to $100).  (Flowers are not taxable but any other item $50 or over would be)
    • Institutional or divisional service awards
    • Gifts for long-service or retiring employee (Dartmouth recommends $15 per year of service with a max of $400 for retirement gifts)
  • Non-allowable Gifts:
    • Gifts recognizing birthdays, weddings, baby showers, housewarming, and other non-work related achievements or events, etc.


Gifts paid for by Dartmouth funds and received by employees or students are taxable and must be reported as income if their value exceeds the following dollar thresholds: 

  • Gift cards or certificates greater than or equal to $50 in a calendar year
  • Gifts of tangible personal property greater than or equal to $50 in a calendar year
  • Gifts of tangible personal property greater than $400 to a long-service or retiring employee


Regardless of expenditure amount, documentation for all gifts/gift cards purchased must include a detailed receipt, specific business purpose, and recipient name(s) when submitting the PCard eForm or Payment Request eForm at the time of purchase, or through the General Request eForm if the recipient is identified after the time of purchase.

For gifts to employees, the Finance Center will submit the General Request eForm to the Payroll Office for reporting this type of income.  The employee's annual IRS W-2 Form will reflect the taxable income for that calendar year. 

Gifts to students will be reported by the Finance Center to Accounts Payable through the General Request eForm if payment of gift was not processed directly through an AP payment for reporting on a 1099.

Gifts to Non-Employees

Gifts for non-employees may be paid for with Dartmouth funds when there is a legitimate business purpose. Regardless of expenditure amount, documentation for all gifts/gift cards purchased must include a detailed receipt, specific business purpose and recipient name(s).

If the total gift(s) are over $600 or more in a year, then the recipients address, and social security number are also required. The Finance Center will report the taxable amount to Accounts Payable Office through the General Request eForm if payment of gift was not processed directly through an AP payment for reporting on a 1099. When a recipient receives multiple gifts less than $600, that results in a total receipt of gifts of $600 or more, the department contact may be contacted to obtain the social security number of the gift recipient for 1099 tax reporting.

Other Goods and Services

For all other categories, refer to the Procure-to-Pay Guide for preferred vendor information and appropriate procurement or payment mechanisms. If a category is not listed, please contact your Finance Center or Procurement Services for more information.

Dartmouth is a federally tax-exempt institution and is also classified as an exempt organization in many, but not all, states. This means that the College is exempt from "transactions privilege" and/or sales tax in these states. These certificates allow an exemption for purchases made by the College in the ordinary course of conducting its educational and research activities. Note that many of these states do not extend this exemption to room and meals taxes. In some cases, certain conditions or documentation requirements must be met before the exemption is granted. See Employee Resources for additional information on State Sales Tax Exemption Certificates.

Non-Allowable Business Expenses

Dartmouth will not pay for expenses which are inherently personal in nature. The following is a sample list of personal expenses which are generally not eligible as business expenses:

Travel Related:

  • Domestic airline travel insurance costs
  • Amenities such as movies or video rentals, in-room bars, massages, or saunas, except for hotel/motel fitness center fees, which are allowable during travel
  • Upgraded hotel or motel accommodations such as suites, in-room Jacuzzi, etc.
  • Charges from unwarranted failure to cancel hotel reservations or airline tickets
  • Lodging cancellation fees
  • Collision Damage Waiver Insurance on domestic vehicle rentals for employee travel
  • Premium and luxury car rentals
  • Frequent flyer credits
  • Incremental airline ticket costs to obtain frequent flyer benefits
  • Non-Dartmouth activities or personal time off taken before, during or after a business trip
  • TSA pre-check traveler programs unless approved in advance
  • Clearme traveler program unless approved in advance
  • Electronic toll transponders (E-Z Pass)
  • Passport fees

Meal Related:

  • Non-travel employee meals
  • Alcoholic beverages consumed between or after mealtimes
  • Excessive costs affiliated with business-related alcohol expenses
  • Excessive costs affiliated with a business meal


  • Childcare, baby-sitting or house-sitting costs
  • Continuing Education costs for maintaining a professional certification that is not directly related to the employee's current position
  • Credit card interest or delinquency fees
  • Fees for boarding pets or other animal care
  • Fees for personal credit cards
  • Fines for parking violations or towing charges
  • Grooming expenses such as haircuts and toiletries
  • Loss of cash advances, airline tickets or personal funds or property
  • Magazines, books or other personal reading material
  • Membership dues in airline clubs, athletic clubs, faculty clubs, frequent flyer clubs, social clubs, buying clubs, fraternal orders, or other similar
  • Personal clothing or accessories
  • Personal recreation or entertainment such as greens fees, sightseeing fares, theater tickets, ski lift tickets, and theme park passes, etc.
  • Personal services such as but not limited to housekeeping, tax services, etc.
  • Prescriptions, over-the-counter medication or other medical expenses
  • Professional certification that is not directly related to the employee's current position
  • Gifts, flowers, decorations, food or beverages in recognition or celebration of non-work-related achievement or events (e.g., weddings, baby showers, birthdays, housewarming).
  • Political contributions of any type
  • Payments disallowed by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (payment to foreign government officials –

Organizational Responsibilities

  • The Payee/Traveler and their delegates are responsible for complying with Dartmouth College policies and procedures, providing complete and accurate information, submitting required receipts, and submitting expense reports within 120 days. Travelers/Payees are responsible for reviewing reports prepared by delegates for accuracy and reimbursing Dartmouth for unused cash advances or personal expenses charged to the Corporate Card.
  • The primary responsibility for interpretation of these policies rests with the departments and supervisors who are authorizing and approving direct expenditure of institutional funds.
  • Individuals whose expenses are funded by a sponsored grant or contract should check in advance of incurring the expense with the Office of Sponsored Projects to ensure that all agency procedures and restrictions are followed.
  • Finance Centers will review documents for accuracy and proper documentation. Depending on the dollar amount of the reimbursement, this review includes verification of: (a) proper supporting documentation, (b) accuracy of addition and mileage calculations, (c) authorizing signature, and (d) GL/PTAEO string. In the course of the review, Finance Center staff may request approval from senior administrative officers when claimed reimbursements appear unreasonable or do not comply with policy.
  • **AUDIT** A sample of business expense reports will be selected for pre-processing quality control review. The reviews will include verification of (a) proper supporting documentation (b) appropriate approval, and (c) compliance with these policies. In the course of the review, the Controller's Office, Procurement Services or the Finance Centers may request approval from senior administrative officers when expenses appear unreasonable or do not comply with policy.


Most relevant forms and instructions can be found on the Finance website under Forms, Policies, and Systems.

Exclusions & Exceptions

See exclusions and exceptions within this Policy. Other exceptions may be granted by the Controller, Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President, Provost, President, or Board of Trustees.

Payments approved as exceptions to this policy may have tax implications to the recipient. A request to gross up the payment for tax implications must also be approved by the individuals authorized to approve the payment exception.


Dartmouth could be cited by the IRS for having an "unaccountable plan" if reimbursements are made to individuals that do not adhere to these policies. Any reimbursements made to an employee, student or visitor under a non-accountable plan would then have to be reported as additional compensation on an individual's IRS Form W-2, 1042s or 1099. Employees, students, and visitors would then report this as taxable income on their annual IRS tax filing.

A Dartmouth employee's failure to adhere to these policies may result in appropriate disciplinary action.