Paying Expenses

Cornell will pay or reimburse ordinary, reasonable, and necessary business-related travel expenses incurred in furtherance of the university's missions.

When paying for travel, be mindful of non-reimbursable expenses and required pre-trip approvals.

Tax Exemption

Cornell is a tax-exempt organization, and tax exemption only applies when the expense is paid with Cornell funds using your university-provided card or another university-prepaid method. You should try whenever possible to have tax removed from a university business expense using a tax-exemption certificate regardless of what payment method you use. The vendor still might deny the exemption even when Cornell pays the expense directly. Because obtaining some exemptions can take several weeks, we strongly recommend units reimburse employees for sales tax paid on expenses incurred in furtherance of university business. See Sales Tax Exemption Certificates.

Payment Methods

There are a few methods of paying for your travel expenses. Generally, you are expected to use a Travel & Meal Card for most expenses.

You must pay for the following expenses using a contract or purchase order. Contact your service center for more information.

Travel & Meal Card

You are strongly encouraged to pay for travel expenses using the Travel & Meal Card. You can use the card to pay for all travel-related business expenses, including conference fees and group, business, and hosted meals. Individual travel meals are covered by per diem, so you should use your own personal funds for those meals, for which you will be reimbursed.

If you don’t qualify for a Travel & Meal Card, you can contact your supervisor to discuss eligibility or ask your unit to pay your expenses with a unit card. For groups traveling or for visitors and guests of the university, contact your service center for guidance.

For more information, including eligibility and application requirements, see Travel & Meal Card.

Personal Funds

If you are not eligible for or do not want to receive a Travel & Meal Card, you are expected to pay for your own expenses using your own source of funds while traveling and to request reimbursement upon your return. You should use personal funds for your own travel meals because those expenses are covered by per diem, for which you will be reimbursed. See Meals for details.

Internal Billing

The following Cornell entities can bill internally to a department account. A Travel & Meal Card is not necessary for these expenses:

  • The Statler Hotel at Cornell University
  • Campus to Campus (C2C) Bus

Travel Advance

Cornell only allows travel advances for expenses when you expect to endure financial hardship for out-of-pocket expenses while on travel and only for expenses that could not have been paid for with a Travel & Meal Card. See Advances for details.