313 Meals and Incidentals Policy

UW-Madison Administrative Policy
Policy # 313

Effective Date: Oct 1, 2015
Last Updated: July 18, 2019
Last Reviewed: July 1, 2019
Next Review: Jan 1, 2020

Functional Owner: Controller, Division of Business Services, Dan Langer
Executive Sponsor: Associate Vice Chancellor (Interim), Division of Business Services, Dan Langer
Policy Contact: Travelers and departmental staff should contact their respective Divisional Business Office for policy questions.  Divisional Business Offices may contact uwtravel@bussvc.wisc.edu with questions.

Policy Summary

When a traveler is expected to incur costs for meals and incidentals for overnight business travel, the University will reimburse meal and incidental expenses (M&IE) under a per diem allowance.

Who This Policy Applies To

Faculty, staff, students, and non-employees traveling or using funds and/or resources administered by the University.


The University has a managed travel program. The travel policy and approval process is designed to ensure prudent usage of University resources while minimizing the administrative burden for travelers and support staff.

Policy Detail

I. Payment Methods. Meals and incidental expenses must be paid initially by the traveler and then reimbursed by the University after the trip.  The University will not reimburse for M&IE expenses in advance of a trip.  The University will not pay for meals and incidental expenses directly (e.g. purchasing card) when the expenses are eligible for reimbursement as part of a traveler’s per diem allowance.  The University will not reimburse an individual for meals and incidental expenses incurred on behalf of another.

Note:  It is not recommended that the My Corporate Card be used for meals and incidental expenses, as the University reimburses a per diem allowance, not actual expenses.

II. Per Diem Allowance Rates. See Procedure 313.1 – Determining a Meals & Incidental Expenses (M&IE) Per Diem Allowance to determine the per diem allowance for a specific location and date(s) of travel.

III. First and Last Days of Travel. Travelers will be reimbursed 75% of the per diem allowance on their first and last days of travel.

IV. Provided/Sponsored Meals. The University will not reimburse travelers for meals provided by another source (e.g. lunch included in a conference registration fee).  The traveler’s per diem allowance is reduced 20% for a provided breakfast, 30% for a provided lunch and 50% for a provided dinner.

Note:  Hotel breakfasts included with lodging or meals provided as part of an airline ticket will not require a deduction from a traveler’s per diem allowance.

V. Day Trip Meals. Travel that does not include an overnight stay will be limited to a tax reportable day trip meal allowance of $15 per day when the approving authority expects the traveler to incur meal expenses.  No day trip meal allowance will be paid if the traveler receives any provided meals

VI. Incidentals. A per diem allowance includes an amount to be used by travelers for their incidental expenses, including:

  • Tips give to restaurant staff, porters, baggage handlers, hotel housekeeping or other service staff, valets, train or ship services staff, etc.
  • Transportation between places of lodging or business to obtain meals.
  • Phone calls (business or personal)
  • Internet fees (personal)
  • Laundry, dry cleaning or pressing of clothing
  • Bottled water
  • Mailing and other expense associated with filing expense reimbursement claims

The incidental rate is reimbursable regardless if any meals are provided.

VII. Documentation Requirements. Receipts are not required for M&IE per diem allowance reimbursement.

Consequences for Noncompliance

Failure to comply with UW-Madison Travel Policy or Procedures may result in disciplinary steps, up to and including dismissal.

Supporting Tools

Lodging and Per Diem Calculator


Per Diem Allowance:  Amount reimbursed to a traveler for meals and incidental expenses incurred while traveling on University business.

Provided Meal: A meal provided by another source (e.g. conference registration) that is deducted from a traveler’s per diem allowance prior to reimbursement.


Traveler – responsible for complying with policy.

Link to Related Guide

Link to Related Policies


Policy Number: 313
Date Approved:
Revision Dates: