0101 Overview

This chapter establishes Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) financial policy regarding the administration of VA travel and travel-related activities.

Key points covered in this chapter:

  • The Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) implements statutory requirements and Executive Branch policies for travel by Federal civilian employees and others authorized to travel at Government expense as directed in Code of Federal Regulations Title 41, Chapters 300 through 304;
  • Employees are required to use VA’s travel system unless an authorized exemption applies;
  • Approving Officials (AOs) are responsible for determining that the travel supports VA’s mission;
  • Travelers, Travel Arrangers, Fund Certifiers, Reviewers, and AOs are responsible for ensuring that all travel is performed in the most economical manner possible;
  • Travel Authorizations (TAs) are required to be approved in advance of travel but may on rare occasions be approved post-trip;
  • Travelers will submit travel claims within five (5) business days upon completion of travel;
  • Travel Arrangers may assist a Traveler with preparing a travel claim but only Global Administrators (GAs) can alternately submit a travel claim;
  • AOs will ensure TAs and claims comply with FTR and VA policy;
  • AOs will either return a travel claim for correction or approve the document within three (3) business days of the date the claim was submitted; and
  • Travelers and AOs are required to deobligate invalid travel documents in VA’s travel system within 30 days of the travel end date.

Under 5 U.S.C. § 406 (Inspector General Act of 1978 – Public Law 95-452), VA Office of Inspector General (VA OIG) employees will adhere to travel directives, policies, procedures, and guidance provided by VA OIG.

Union rights and privileges related to travel expenses, as defined in Union agreements, do not supersede the regulations contained in FTR Chapters 300 – 304.

0102 Revisions

SectionRevisionOfficeReason for ChangeEffective Date
010501Added paragraph on telework travel entitlements referencing Volume XIV, Chapter 7, Local Travel.OFP (047G)Leadership Directed.November 2023
010502Created new section on eligibility, including non-VA Federal (e.g., Office of Management and Budget examiners) and Congressional members and staff.OFP (047G)Leadership Directed.November 2023
0106Added new citations in Section 010502.OFP (047G)General Update.November 2023
See changelog for previous policy revisions.

0103 Definitions

Approving Official (AO) – A VA travel system role with the authority to approve travel documents.

Fee Basis Employees – A government employee who is compensated by collecting fees for his or her services, rather than being paid a salary or hourly wage.

Invitational Travel – Authorized travel of individuals who are not employed or employed intermittently in the Government service as consultants or experts who travel on official business for the Government, or current Federal employees traveling in a non-duty status (e.g., pre-employment interview). Travel allowances authorized for such persons are the same as those normally authorized for employees in connection with TDY (refer to 5 U.S.C. § 5703).

Local Area – An area, either within an official duty station’s defined local mileage radius or geographic boundaries (FTR § 300-3.1, Official Station), or within a 50-mile radius of an employee’s residence. For telework, remote and virtual employees, the local area is either, within 50 miles of their residence (whether designated as their official station, or not), or within the defined local area of their official duty station identified in their VA Form 0740, Telework Request Agreement (block 3). Refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 7, Local Travel for local area guidance.

Local Travel – Official travel performed by an employee within their defined local areas.

Miscellaneous Expenses – Miscellaneous travel expenses are identified in FTR Part 301-12. When any one of these expenses is authorized and incurred directly attributable and necessary to the travel mission, they are reimbursable. Refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 4, Miscellaneous Travel Expenses for further guidance.

Official Business – Travel performed by an employee (a non-Invitational Traveler) is considered to be official business, which their organization may authorize when it is:

Official Station – An area defined by VA as the employee’s official duty station which is the location where the employee regularly performs his or her duties, or an Invitational Traveler’s home or regular place of business (FTR § 300-3.1, Official Station). VA identifies the location of an employee’s official duty station for pay purposes in an employee’s Notification of Personnel Action, SF 50, and for telework employees, the exact location of their duty station is in their VA Form 0740, Telework Request Agreement (block 3). Refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 7, Local Travel for local area guidance.

Official Travel – Travel under an official TA to and from an employee’s official station or other authorized points of departure and a temporary duty location, travel between two temporary duty locations, or relocation at the direction of a Federal agency (FTR § 300-3.1, Official Travel).

Per Diem Allowance A subsistence allowance for lodging, meals, and related incidental expenses incurred while on authorized TDY, when eligible (FTR § 301-11.1).

Personal Travel – The interruption of official travel for personal reasons.

Residence – For purposes of determining travel entitlements, a dwelling from which the employee either commutes daily to the permanent official station or virtual mobile office, or a dwelling established as the employee’s virtual worksite.

Separation of Duties – A mandatory management control to prevent key functions from being done by the same person. Important duties, such as making purchases, authorizing payments, certifying funding, and reviewing/auditing will be assigned to different individuals to minimize the risk of loss to the government to the greatest possible extent.

Split Disbursement – The process of dividing a travel claim reimbursement between the charge card bank and Traveler, the balance owed to each is sent directly to the applicable party.

Temporary Duty (TDY) Location – A place away from an employee’s local area where the employee is authorized to perform official business travel.

TDY Travel – Travel by an employee on official business to a designated location(s) away from their local area, as authorized by an employee’s AO through a TA.

Transportation Expenses – Fares, rental fees, mileage payments, and other reimbursable expenses related to transportation. Refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses for additional guidance.

Travel Advance – Pre-payment of authorized estimated travel expenses paid to an employee in the form of electronic funds transfer (EFT).

Travel Authorization (TA) – A written or electronic authorization to incur expenses while on authorized official business for the Government, and is required to include a specific purpose, itinerary, and estimated costs (FTR § 301-71.103).

Travel Card (Government Travel Charge Card) – A method for Federal agencies and their employees to make payments for official Government travel-related expenses. There are three types of travel card accounts available under the GSA SmartPay Master Contract: Individually Billed Account (IBA), Centrally Billed Account (CBA), and Single-Use CBA (VA currently does not authorize use of Single-Use CBAs).

Travel Claim – A certified document submitted by the Traveler in VA’s travel system, supported by documentation and receipts where applicable. The travel claim is a request for reimbursement of expenses incurred in the performance of official travel.

Travel System – The Government-contracted, end-to-end travel management service that automates and consolidates the Federal travel process in a self-service Web-centric environment, covering all aspects of official travel, including travel planning, authorization, reservations, ticketing, expense reimbursement, and travel management reporting.

0104 Roles and Responsibilities

Deputy Secretary (DEPSEC), Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Other Key Officials, Administration, and Staff Office CFOs, and Fiscal Officers are responsible for ensuring compliance with the policies outlined in this chapter.

Assistant Secretary for Management and Chief Financial Officer (ASM/CFO) is responsible for establishing the Department’s travel policy, and for approving certain types of employee travel activities. The ASM/CFO may re-delegate this authority via policy consistent with the authority granted by SECVA.

VA Financial Services Center (FSC) is responsible for assisting Local Administrators (LAs) and personnel supported under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the FSC, maintenance of VA’s travel system, training; and assigned reporting requirements.

Approving Officials (AO) have the authority to approve TAs and travel claims associated with TDY and local travel, and are responsible for:

  • Being knowledgeable that the employee’s travel plans support VA’s mission;
  • Ensuring all travel is approved and reimbursed consistent with FTR, VA travel policy, and any other department-specific guidance (e.g., travel notices);
  • Ensuring expenses paid using the CBA have a payment method of CBA;
  • Ensuring split disbursement is utilized when the Traveler has an unpaid balance owed on their IBA travel card;
  • Monitoring timely processing of travel claims;
  • Ensuring invalid documents are canceled (deobligated) in VA’s travel system within 30 days after the travel end date; and
  • Completing travel training requirements.

Fund Certifiers are responsible for ensuring adequate funds are available for each TA and travel claim they certify.

Global Administrators (GAs) are responsible for the administration of VA’s travel system at the highest agency level and for ensuring alternately submitted travel claims are compliant with the FTR and VA policy.

Local Administrators (LAs) are responsible for the administration of VA’s travel system at the organizational level.

Reviewers are responsible for reviewing travel documents in VA’s Travel System to ensure they comply with FTR, VA Travel Policy, and Instructions-to-Traveler (ITT). Reviewers will verify mandatory documents and receipts are attached and ensure detailed justifications are included.

Routing List Administrators (RLAs) are responsible for the administration of routing list functions in VA’s travel system at the organizational level.

Super Approving Officials (SAOs) are responsible for approving TAs in the absence of available assigned approvers when required for mission accomplishment.

Supervisors are responsible for:

  • Ensuring all employees complete required training before requesting access to VA’s travel system;
  • Monitoring the timely processing of travel claims of their employees;
  • Instructing subordinate Travelers on their rights, privileges, and responsibilities in the performance of, and reimbursement for official travel; and
  • Providing instruction on the responsibilities in performing any of the other roles an employee is assigned in VA’s travel system.

Travel Arrangers are responsible for creating travel documents in VA’s travel system and making travel reservations on behalf of a Traveler in compliance with FTR, VA Travel Policy, Instructions-to-Travelers (ITT), and any other agency-specific guidelines. Travel Arrangers may only alternately submit TAs and will submit all requests for travel claim alternate submissions to the FSC.

Travelers are responsible for:

  • Completing training requirements;
  • Being knowledgeable of and complying with FTR, VA travel policy, and any other agency-specific guidance (e.g., travel notices);
  • Minimizing travel costs;
  • Ensuring travel is properly approved;
  • Ensuring the balance owed of undisputed charges on their travel card is split for payment;
  • Submitting travel claims timely; and
  • Deobligating invalid travel documents as required.

0105 Policies

010501 General Policies

  1. Whenever possible, the travel of an employee away from their official station will be scheduled within the employee’s regular duty hours. Compensation for travel outside of the employee’s regular duty hours will follow VA Handbook 5011, Hours of Duty and Leave, Part II, Chapters 2 and 3, and Part III Chapter 3; and VA Handbook 5007, Pay Administration, Chapter 15, Compensatory Time Off for Travel. The employee’s Supervisor should consult their local Office of Human Resources or payroll section to determine the appropriateness of any compensation.
  2. Telework travel entitlements are determined based on the employee’s VA Form 0740, Telework Agreement’s specified official station. Guidance on travel entitlements for telework employees can be found in Volume XIV, Chapter 7, Local Travel, which establishes policy on when an employee is on local travel vs. temporary duty travel (TDY).
  3. VA will limit the authorization and payment of travel expenses to those necessary to accomplish the Department’s mission in the most economical and effective manner. Consideration will be given to but is not limited to, budget constraints, adherence to travel policies, environmental impact, and reasonableness of expenses. VA will always consider alternatives (e.g., teleconferencing) before approving travel (Federal Travel Regulations FTR § 301-70.1).
  4. Travelers, Travel Arrangers, Fund Certifiers, Reviewers, and Approving Officials (AOs) are responsible for ensuring that all travel is performed in the most economical manner possible.
  5. Travel-related duties shall be separated to the greatest extent practical. The key functions of processing travel documents are performed by Travelers, Alternate Preparers, Fund Certifiers, Reviewers, AOs, and in rare instances by a Super Approving Official (SAO). An employee may not perform all of these key functions on the same travel document. Additionally, Routing List Administrators (RLAs) provide role permission access and must not serve in any of the roles in the approval chain in travel documents.
  6. Consistent with 5 C.F.R. Part 2635, Travelers, Travel Arrangers, Fund Certifiers, Reviewers, AOs, and SAOs are required to perform their roles impartially and with due diligence.
  7. In accordance with FTR § 301-2.3, each employee who approves, directs, or performs travel will:
    • Minimize costs of official travel by exercising the same care in incurring expenses that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business and expending personal funds;
    • Not authorize or incur excess costs due to circuitous routes, unnecessary delays, or use of luxury accommodations (e.g., use of luxury chauffeured car service such as a limousine is prohibited); and
    • Not obtain services unnecessary or unjustified in the performance of official business.
  8. Travelers will be responsible for excess costs incurred for personal preference or convenience (e.g., higher airfares, additional unauthorized baggage, exchange fee on restricted airfares, privately owned vehicle (POV), and parking costs at a common carrier in excess of more cost-effective ground transportation options (FTR § 301-10.308)) or cost of a taxi/transportation network company (TNC) when a complimentary shuttle is available).
  9. A first-time Traveler, unaware of the prohibition against using commercial means for making travel reservations, may be granted a one-time exception and may be paid for the travel costs not to exceed the cost that would have been properly chargeable to the Government. The Traveler will be advised recurrence of such use of commercial means may result in a limitation or denial of reimbursement and disciplinary action for non-compliance with policy unless it can be demonstrated that the Traveler had no other alternative.
  10. Employees who perform TDY will ensure their TA is approved in VA’s travel system before the common carrier ticketing deadline when applicable or before the commencement of said travel (FTR § 301-2.1).

010502 Reimbursement Eligibility

  1. VA Federal employees are entitled to be authorized reimbursement for travel expenses regardless of grade or status (part-time, full-time, term, or temporary employees). Other VA employees (e.g., fee basis employees) may or may not be entitled to travel reimbursements via VA’s travel system based on their program assignments with VA.
  2. Non-VA Federal employee (e.g., Office of Management and Budget examiners, etc.) and non-Federal employee travel expense may be authorized as a necessary expense for VA appropriations when the VA program office authorizing the travel can make the determination that VA would be the primary beneficiary of the travel. In these instances, VA may reimburse travel expenses via:
    • VA’s travel system as Invitational travel; or
    • Intra-Governmental Payment and Collection (IPAC) as an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) agreement.
  3. In accordance with 31 USC 1108(g), VA may fund the travel of Congressional members or staff for purposes of examining, verifying or developing budget estimates. Further, Comptroller General decisions B-214611 and B-129650 opine that the 31 USC 1108(g) “field examinations of appropriations estimates” are not limited to the travel of appropriations committees but includes the authority to fund travel of an authorizing committee to investigate the operations of a program and the need for funds for further implementation of the program.
  4. Contractors performing travel related to a VA contract cannot be authorized or reimbursed for travel expenses in VA’s travel system. Travel entitlements for contractors fall under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Part 31.205-46, and should be addressed in the vendor’s contract. Contractors should request information from their contracting officer or contracting officer representative.
  5. Fee basis employees will not be granted access to VA’s travel system as a Traveler as specified in VA Handbook 5007, Part II, Appendix F, compensation for fee basis employees will be made on a lump sum basis for each visit. The travel costs are part of their fee and not a separate travel reimbursement.

010503 Travel Training Requirements

  1. All employees requesting access to perform any role in VA’s travel system are required to complete the Basic Travel Authorization and Travel Claim training course. This course is a one-time requirement offered in the Talent Management System (TMS course 2052511) or can be taken via an FSC-provided Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT). Information on VILT may be obtained by contacting vafscetravel@va.gov, or call (866) 533-0188. Upon completion of the VILT training, the trainee must self-certify in TMS that the training course has been completed. Failure to complete the TMS or VILT training, or self-certify the completed VILT training in TMS, will result in denial of access to VA’s travel system.
  2. Employees will notify their Supervisor when their required travel training has been completed.
  3. Supervisors must ensure employees have taken their required travel training before requesting access to VA’s travel system. Supervisors will instruct subordinate Travelers on their rights, privileges, and responsibilities in the performance of, and reimbursement for official travel. Supervisors will provide instruction on the responsibilities in performing any of the other roles the employee is assigned in VA’s travel system.
  4. Supervisors will not instruct an employee to perform travel if their required training has not been completed unless an employee:
    • Is required to go on immediate official travel at the start of his/her employment (first week of employment);
    • Receives notice less than one week before his/her temporary duty travel; or
    • Is required to perform emergency travel.
  5. If any of the above conditions apply, the employee’s TA and travel claim will be prepared by a Travel Arranger and the employee will complete their training requirement within 30 days of gaining access (i.e., the date the user profile was created) to VA’s travel system.
  6. Invitational Travelers, although considered employees for purposes of travel entitlements will have a travel arranger create their travel documents and book reservations in VA’s travel system, therefore, they are not required to complete training.
  7. Employees requesting access as a Reviewer or AO must complete the “Travel Policy Services: Accountable Officials” training in TMS (TMS course – VA 3867465) before the RLA will grant access to these roles. Refresher training must be taken every two (2) years to maintain access. Failure to complete refresher training requirement(s) will result in role removal until training is completed.

010504 Access to VA’s Travel System

  1. No one will use credentials (e.g., user id, password, PIV card) that are not their own to access VA’s travel system. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1030, unauthorized or fraudulent access to government computer systems may subject you to a fine of up to $5,000 or double the value of anything obtained via this unauthorized access, plus up to five years of imprisonment.
  2. Each organization in VA’s travel system requires separation of duties in the assignment of Local Administrators (LAs) and RLAs. FSC will monitor for violations and take corrective actions.
  3. LAs must ensure that required training has been completed before creating or reactivating an employee’s user profile in VA’s travel system.
  4. RLAs will create and modify approval routing lists with their organization’s assigned employees in the approval roles for travel document approval (i.e., Fund Certifier, Reviewer, AO).
  5. RLAs will ensure all Reviewers and AOs within their organization’s approval routing lists have completed their required training and refresher training. RLAs will remove an employee in a Reviewer or AO role for failure to maintain training and notify the employee via email of their removal until their refresher training is completed.
  6. All first-time Travelers requesting access, including Invitational Travelers, are required to establish a vendor record with a unique vendor code identifier, and banking information. For guidance on completing this requirement refer to Appendix B.
  7. A VA contractor cannot be assigned as an AO, Global Administrator (GA), or SAO in VA’s travel system. Contractors cannot authorize travel documents as the expenditure of government funds is inherently a governmental function (refer to the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act of 1998, P.L. 105-270, Section 5, Definitions).
  8. Fee Basis employees will not be granted access to VA’s travel system as a Traveler as specified in VA Handbook 5007, Part II, Appendix F, compensation for fee-basis employees will be made on a lump sum basis for each visit.

010505 Required Use of VA’s Travel System

  1. VA’s travel system must be used for all reimbursable official travel and Non-Federally Sponsored (Donated Travel).
  2. VA’s travel system must not be used for personal travel purposes. For information and procedures on personal travel when combined with official travel, refer to Appendix C.
  3. Travelers and Travel Arrangers are required to use VA’s travel system to process all travel documents (e.g., TAs, reservations, travel claims, local travel claims) unless an exception is granted.
  4. Travelers will contact their LA for assistance with travel. When the Traveler’s LA is unavailable, the Traveler may contact the FSC TDY Travel Services Division directly for assistance. The FSC TDY Travel Services Division can be reached via email at vafscetravel@va.gov, or by phone at 866-533-0188. LAs and Travelers may refer to the FSC Call Center Matrix to determine the appropriate contact point for assistance on all other travel-related issues.
  5. SECVA delegated to the DEPSEC, Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, and Other Key Officials (OKOs) the authority to grant case-by-case exceptions to the use of VA’s travel system following FTR §§ 301-50.4, 301-73.102, and 301-73.103 (Volume I, Chapter 1, VA Financial Policy and Accounting Overview, contains a list of OKO positions). This authority may not be re-delegated. A copy of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Memorandum, “Delegation of Authority for Travel and Conferences can be found in Appendix D. Requests for exceptions to the required use of VA’s travel system will be submitted in writing to the applicable delegated position. Requests for an FTR exception must contain a business case analysis justifying why VA’s travel system cannot be used.
  6. Lodging and transportation reservation exceptions may be made outside VA’s travel system when:
    • Attending a conference where the conference sponsor has negotiated a block of rooms with one or more lodging facilities and Travelers are required to contact the hotel directly or to use a required third-party vendor to access a hotel’s block of rooms;
    • Attending a VA-sponsored program where VA has negotiated with an airline service, and Travelers are required to book directly with the airline;
    • Travel arrangements are provided in-kind by a non-Federal source (Refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 9, Non-Federal Source Funding (Donated Travel);
    • Circumstances will not allow booking of travel reservations through VA’s travel system for example:
      • VA’s travel system is down, and the TMC is not available;
      • Emergency mission requirements cannot be met using VA’s travel system or the TMC;
      • Making travel arrangements for personal/unofficial travel, taken in conjunction with official travel and an in-direct route is planned (refer to Appendix C);
      • Travel is authorized under a Not-To-Exceed (NTE) travel authority and the total cost of the reservation is not authorized;
      • Traveling to a remote location and it is not possible to book lodging or rental car accommodations through VA’s travel system, which includes the Travel Management Center (TMC);
      • The CBA is used to pay for lodging expenses (refer to Volume XVI, Chapter 2, Government Travel Charge Card Program); and
      • Long-term lodging is not available through VA’s travel system to meet mission requirements and/or significant cost savings can be achieved.
  7. In accordance with FTR § 301-50.5, in the absence of an approved exception or one of the exceptions listed above, a Traveler will be responsible for any additional costs resulting from the failure to use the TMC or VA’s travel system, including service fees, cancellation penalties, or other additional costs resulting from using commercial means for reservations (e.g., higher airfares, rental car charges, or hotel rates). In addition, VA may take appropriate disciplinary action. Refer to VA Handbook 5021, Employee/Management Relations for guidance on disciplinary actions.
  8. VA’s travel system will not be used for beneficiary travel. Questions on how to process and reimburse beneficiary travel should be referred via email to VHABeneficiaryTravelQuestions@va.gov or TRAVEL.VBACO@VA.GOV, as applicable.

010506 Invitational Travel

  1. Invitational travel involves VA paying for mission-related travel of:
    • Non-Federal employees, including retired Federal employees;
    • IPA non-VA Federal employees;
    • Current Federal employees traveling in a non-duty status (i.e., outside the scope of their current job duties);
    • Without Compensation (WOC) employees as defined by FTR § 301-1.2; or
    • Consultants (not under an agreement or contract with VA).
  2. Under VA Handbook 5005, Staffing, Part I, Chapter 3, Section C, details of IPA employee travel may be made on a reimbursable, non-reimbursable, or shared cost basis. When an IPA stipulates VA is responsible for processing the travel, the Traveler’s TA will have the trip purpose of “Invitational Travel” and the type-code of “SPONSORED – FED” selected in VA’s travel system.
  3. Travel allowances authorized for all Invitational Travelers are the same as those normally authorized for employees performing temporary duty travel.
  4. Invitational Travelers must adhere to regulations outlined in FTR Chapter 301, and policy in Volume XIV, Travel chapters.
  5. Invitational travel may be authorized for individuals to confer with department personnel, perform pre-employment interviews, serve as attendants for disabled persons, or serve in other capacities when it is in the interest of the Government to pay travel expenses.
  6. Invitational travel cannot be offered to contractors when the work related to the travel episode is covered within the scope of the existing contract.
  7. TAs will not be issued to any Invitational Traveler who has received a grant that includes travel funds from VA if the purpose of the travel is directly related to the grant.
  8. The CBA may be used to pay for authorized lodging for an Invitational Traveler when warranted. Refer to Volume XVI, Chapter 2, Government Travel Charge Card Program for policy and procedures.
  9. When making travel invitations, the inviting official will notify Invitational Travelers in advance that all travel reservations will be made using VA’s travel system and a VA employee will contact them to coordinate making the reservations.
  10. A travel arranger will be assigned to create the TA and coordinate with the Invitational Traveler to ensure all travel will be compliant with FTR Part 301-75 and VA policy. The travel arranger will ensure:
    1. TAs for invitational travel will be submitted in VA’s travel system using the trip purpose, “Invitational Travel”.
    2. In accordance with FTR § 301-10.132, only fully refundable, U.S. flag common carrier transportation arrangements will be made, unless an FTR exception applies.
    3. Invitational Traveler declines to provide the Travel Arranger with their credit card, then they must make any authorized lodging or rental car reservations directly with the TMC providing the TMC with their credit card.
    4. When an Invitational Traveler combines official with personal travel, then the reservations associated with any indirect route will be made by the Invitational Traveler outside VA’s travel system and reimbursement will be limited to the constructive cost of the official travel direct route.
    5. The Invitational Traveler is notified of the per diem reimbursement limitations based on the GSA per diem rate entitlement for the TDY location.
    6. The Invitational Traveler will be notified that authorized expenses other than common carrier transportation will be paid by the Traveler and will be reimbursed for allowable expenses upon submission and approval of a travel claim or local travel claim.
    7. The Invitational Traveler will be provided full instructions on procedures involved with ticket exchanges and/or credit procedures.
    8. The Invitational Traveler is notified to keep a record and maintain receipts for all authorized official expenses as applicable to the travel episode, following FTR and VA policy receipt requirements.
  11. An Invitational Traveler must have a valid e-mail address and Social Security Number to process travel documents in VA’s travel system.
  12. VA will make travel reimbursement payments to Invitational Travelers in U.S. dollars via electronic funds transfer (EFT) payments to U.S. bank accounts. If an Invitational Traveler does not hold a U.S. bank account, questions regarding alternative payment methods will be referred by email to VAFSCEnterprisesupport@va.gov, or by phone at (877) 353-9791.
  13. In accordance with FTR § 301-71.300, an Invitational Traveler may be authorized to receive a travel advance. The TA must document for the AO a travel advance is requested. If approved, an advance will be issued via EFT.

010507 Personal Travel in Conjunction with Official Travel

  1. VA’s travel system cannot be used to make reservations or arrangements for personal travel even when personal travel is combined with official travel as VA’s travel system is only to be used for official government travel.
  2. An employee may not use government-contracted air fares for personal travel.
  3. Official travel rental cars will not be used for personal travel.
  4. When a person travels by an indirect route or interrupts travel by a direct route for personal travel any extra expense shall be borne by the Traveler.
  5. A Traveler may be authorized and reimbursed a portion of personal travel transportation costs incurred when combining personal travel with TDY. Reimbursement for expenses shall be limited to the amount the government would have incurred had the official travel not been interrupted (refer to Appendix C).
  6. The interrelationship between personal and business travel is addressed under FTR §§ 301-10.1 thru 301-10.8. Refer to Appendix C for instructions on how to create a TA combining personal/unofficial and official travel and examples.

010508 Cross-Funded Travel

  1. An organization may authorize the use of travel funds, to pay for the travel expenses of employees outside their organization, if a determination has been made that the use of such funds is mission essential.
  2. Organizations authorizing cross-funded travel will provide the traveler with the necessary guidance to submit a properly prepared cross-funded TA.
  3. The ITT will also include details on the types of expenses authorized to be reimbursed such as lodging, meals, rental cars, and other travel-related expenses. Refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 10 Conference Planning, Oversight, and Reporting for an example of the type of information an ITT should contain. Travelers are required to follow the ITT and attach it to their TA as documentation.
  4. When the TA and subsequent travel claim are submitted, they will be automatically routed to the cross-funding organization’s Fund Certifier. Once the Fund Certifier approves a cross-funded document, the TA will be routed for approval by the Reviewer and the AO in the employee’s organizational approval routing list in VA’s travel system.

010509 Extended Travel

  1. TDY lasting greater than 30 days is considered extended or long-term TDY and requires special annotation on the TA. Specifically, Extended TDY, requires the applicable Type Code, either “LONG TERM TDY – TAX” or “LONG TERM TDY – NON TAX”, with a Purpose Code of “Detail May Need SF52” to be indicated on the TA.
  2. Extended stays expected to last a year or more have tax consequences. Refer to FTR §§ 301-11.601 thru 301-11.605, for guidance on when extended TDY becomes taxable and the tax consequences. Refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 2, Travel Per Diem, and Chapter 8, Relocation Packages for more specific guidance on tax reimbursement allowances. Travelers may consult with a tax professional, at their own expense, to determine the impact an extended TDY will have on their circumstances.
  3. Supervisors should consider the authorization of temporary change of station (TCS) for long-term assignments lasting between six (6) and 30-months. A TCS is intended to improve employee satisfaction, enhance morale, and reduce employee income tax liability on extended temporary duty assignments, and overall cost to the Government. Refer to FTR § 302-3.502 for guidance on what factors should be considered for long-term assignments. Refer to FTR §§ 302-3.400 thru 302-3.425, and Volume XIV, Chapter 8, Relocation Packages for additional information on both TCS and income tax liability.

010510 No-Cost Travel

  1. Manual TAs, VA Form 3036, Travel Authority for Temporary Duty, are used to authorize:
    • A Government-owned vehicle (GOV) for TDY when no travel or per diem expenses will be incurred;
    • For Travelers being transported in a GOV with no other reimbursable costs incurred by the passengers; or
    • As an exception, subsistence, and transportation expenses in the case of a threatened law officer or their family (refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 5, Travel Under Special Circumstances for specific exception procedures).
  2. A VA Form 3036 must not be used for Non-Federally Sponsored (Donated Travel).
  3. When VA Form 3036 is used to authorize TDY and the Traveler subsequently incurs a travel expense or becomes eligible to receive per diem for example, VA Form 3036 is required to be canceled, and a TA must be entered in VA’s travel system to authorize reimbursement of expenses.
  4. VA Form 3036 may be issued and approved for no-cost GOV use as a blanket approval for a specified period within a given fiscal year.
  5. In the case of multiple Travelers being authorized a GOV, or transported in a GOV with no-cost, one (1) VA Form 3036 can be used if all Travelers are traveling on a single round trip, to the same destination, for the same purpose, within the same period. The names of all Travelers, their addresses, and titles will be attached to the completed VA Form 3036. Each Traveler will be furnished with a copy of VA Form 3036 and the attachment.

010511 Pre-Employment Interview Travel

  1. FTR § 301-75.2). Decisions to pay all travel expenses of an interviewee will follow the authority and applicability of FTR Chapter 301.
  2. When authorized, an interviewee may be reimbursed for the same type of travel expenses as a Government employee traveling on official business.
  3. Pre-employment interview travel will be approved on a trip-by-trip basis only and must not be authorized to include travel for relocation allowance purposes under FTR Chapter 302 (e.g., to look for a residence at the prospective duty station).
  4. The AO will determine eligibility based on OPM guidelines contained in 5 C.F.R PART 572 – Travel and Transportation Expenses; New Employees and Interviews, and VA guidelines related to Title 38 employees, contained in VA Handbook 5005, Staffing, Part II, Chapter 3, paragraph 5.
  5. When a pre-employment interview involves a current VA employee, the employee’s existing user profile must be moved under the interviewing organization in the travel system before the TA can be created. User profiles can only be moved temporarily for a maximum of five (5) calendar days (refer to Appendix E).
  6. A TA is required to be submitted in VA’s travel system using the trip purpose code, “Invitational Travel”. Refer to the Invitational Travel section in this chapter for guidance on transportation and lodging reservations, travel advances, and preparing travel documents.

010512 Not to Exceed Travel

  1. Not to Exceed (NTE) travel expenses may be authorized for all or part of the cost for training under the Government Employee Training Act (GETA), 5 U.S.C. § 4109.
  2. Reference Volume XIV, Chapter 7, Local Travel, for requirements on classifying a training event as a GETA event.
  3. A TA specifying the maximum dollar amount of travel expenses to be reimbursed is required to be completed in VA’s travel system using the Type Code, “NTE”.
  4. The CBA and IBA travel cards can only be used for authorized expenses when 100 percent of the costs will be paid using appropriated funds.

010513 Other Types of Travel

  1. Local travel policy can be found in Volume XIV, Chapter 7, Local Travel.
  2. Foreign travel policy can be found in Volume XIV, Chapter 6, International Travel. The ASM/CFO has re-delegated what positions can approve foreign travel in that chapter.
  3. Permanent change of station (PCS) and TCS policy can be found in Volume XIV, Chapter 8, Relocation Packages. The ASM/CFO has re-delegated what positions can approve TCS and PCS TAs in that chapter.
  4. Conference-related travel policy can be found in Volume XIV, Chapter 10, Conference Planning, Oversight, and Reporting.
  5. Non-Federal sponsored travel policy can be found in Volume XIV, Chapter 9, Non-Federal Source Funding (Donated Travel).

010514 Travel Authorizations

  1. TAs will identify the purpose of the travel (refer to Appendix F), the authorized method of travel, travel dates, and the estimated cost of the trip. Comments should be included to satisfactorily identify any special circumstances or expenses associated with the travel (e.g., request for a travel advance, personal travel in conjunction with TDY).
  2. A TA is used to make applicable official travel reservations.
  3. VA employees who have received a VA grant which includes travel funds will use VA’s travel system to create a TA when the purpose of the travel is directly related to the grant. The accounting string/funds control point for the specific grant must be selected in the TA.
  4. When a Traveler has an approved VA Form 0893, Advance Review of Offer to Donate Support for Official Travel, to accept payment from a non-Federal Government entity (e.g., donated travel), a TA must be created in VA’s travel system using the Type Code “SPONSORED – NON-FED”. Refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 9, Non-Federal Source Funding (Donated Travel) for policy on this type of travel.
  5. Adjustments, including lodging and rental car reservation changes, may be made to a TA until it is approved. Once approved, the original TA can no longer be adjusted, and any changes must be done via an approved amendment.
  6. An approved TA must be amended in advance of performing travel when:
    • An AO determines a change to the authorized mode of transportation is required;
    • A change in common carrier fares results in an increased cost of $200 or greater; or
    • A change includes expenses requiring advance approval under FTR § 301-2.5 (i.e., use of reduced fares for group or charter arrangements; payment of a reduced per diem rate; acceptance of payment from a non-Federal source for travel expenses, or travel expenses related to attendance at a conference.
  7. Changes required to an existing common carrier reservation(s) in an unapproved or approved TA may incur an additional airline and/or transaction fee per occurrence therefore, Travelers are required to cancel the TA and create a new TA to reserve the new flight for the travel.
  8. When an approved TA is canceled, including a ticketed common carrier reservation or a land-only (lodging and/or rental car) reservation(s), the traveler is required to submit a travel claim for the applicable TMC billed transaction fees. The Traveler must attach the invoice received when the common carrier reservation was ticketed, or in the case of land-only reservations, the invoice received when a transaction fee was charged, to support the CBA reconciliation process.
  9. When a TA is submitted for post-trip approval or a TA is amended post-trip, the per diem rates and mileage rates will be stated and authorized following the GSA rates in effect at the time the travel was performed.
  10. The correction of obvious errors in an approved TA, or adjustments resulting from mandatory FTR rate modifications, are allowed post-trip.
  11. Virtual employees may receive TDY allowances for travel to their reporting organization’s official station when the travel is not considered local travel.

010515 Authorizing Travel

  1. The FTR implements statutory requirements and Executive Branch policies for travel by Federal civilian employees and others authorized to travel at Government expense as directed in Code of Federal Regulations Title 41, Chapters 300 through 304.
  2. SECVA has delegated to the ASM/CFO the authority to approve travel activities within the Department (refer to Appendix D). The ASM/CFO re-delegates the authority to approve travel documents (TAs, travel claims, or local travel claims) to AOs within VA’s travel system.
  3. AOs will approve travel documents when:
    1. The travel document is not for their own travel.
    2. The AO is knowledgeable of the employee’s travel and how it support VA’s mission (FTR § 301-71.104).
    3. They can determine that the authorization and payment of travel expenses are:
      • Limited to travel expenses necessary to accomplish VA’s mission in the most economical and effective manner possible, and
      • Consistent with FTR and VA policy.
    4. Employees will be in an official duty status while performing the travel.
    5. Employees will be performing invitational travel for pre-employment interviews or acting in a personal capacity, they will be traveling in a non-duty status.
  4. The Executive Director, Financial Services Center (FSC), has the authority to appoint FSC TDY Travel Services Division GA employees to act as SAOs on TAs.
  5. TAs must be approved in VA’s travel system, in advance of the actual travel episode. In rare instances such as national emergencies, TA approval in VA’s travel system may occur post-trip if the approval does not conflict with FTR § 301-2.5 advance approval requirements. Authorization of post-trip TAs or post-trip expenses in an amended TA or travel claim requires a justification to be recorded in the travel document regarding the reason why it was not possible to obtain prior authorization. Travelers will be responsible for expenses not sufficiently justified or denied by the AO.
  6. Certain expenses may require advance approval (e.g., reduced per diem), or specific approval (e.g., rental car). For guidance on travel expenses requiring specific authorizations or prior approval refer to FTR § 301-2.5 and the policy on documentation. Failure to obtain proper authorization may limit or prevent reimbursement of travel expenses.
  7. In accordance with FTR § 301-2.5, approval must be obtained in advance for the following:
    • Use of reduced fares for group or charter arrangements;
    • Reduced per diem rate;
    • Acceptance of payment from a non-Federal source for travel expenses; or
    • Travel expenses related to attendance at a conference.
  8. VA will reduce the Traveler’s Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) per diem rate on the TA, in advance of the Traveler incurring meal expenses, when the travel assignment involves extended stays and/or whenever a determination can be made the Traveler will be able to obtain lodging and/or meals at lower costs, following FTR § 301-11.200. Refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 2, Travel Per Diem, for additional information on reduced per diem and per diem in general.
  9. When a TA includes common carrier reservations, approval must occur before the ticketing deadline. A Traveler’s selected seat is not guaranteed until the reservation is ticketed.
  10. Under extenuating circumstances, when an approval chain Fund Certifier, Reviewer, or AO is unavailable and an FSC SAO is requested to perform any of these approval chain roles in a TA, the SAO must obtain written approval from the Traveler’s supervisor or the next higher-level position in the Traveler’s organizational structure that funds are available, and the travel supports VA’s mission, and attach it to the TA.
  11. The SAO will be responsible for ensuring the TA is compliant with FTR and VA policy prior to approving the TA.

010516 Travel Advances

  1. VA discourages the authorization of travel advances (refer to United States General Accounting Office Audit, 1998 GGD-88-42FS).
  2. Requests for a travel advance shall be properly documented and attached to the TA in VA’s travel system.
  3. A travel advance may be authorized when:
    • An employee has an application pending for the Government contractor-issued travel charge card;
    • Issuance of the Government contractor-issued travel charge card would adversely affect the mission or put the employee at risk;
    • An employee is not eligible to receive a Government contractor-issued travel charge card, such as:
      • Foreign national employees (per Office of Management and Budget Circular A-123 Appendix B, Revised 2019);
      • Invitational Travelers who have not been authorized issuance of an IBA travel card by the inviting VA organization;
    • An employee travels two times a year or less; and
    • An employee performs separation travel upon retirement.
  4. Travel advances will not be authorized for:
    • Employees who refuse to apply for an IBA travel card;
    • Employees who have had their IBA travel card suspended or canceled due to non-payment of their bills or misuse;
    • Invitational Travelers who are authorized to obtain an IBA and refuse;
    • Amounts less than $50 or for one-day trips; or
    • An amount greater than necessary for a 30-day period, to cover allowable expenses.
  5. An AO will limit travel advances to a minimum amount and will approve them only when warranted. Generally, travel advances will be limited to the estimated cash needs of the trip for authorized expenses.
  6. Approved travel advances will be generated seven (7) calendar days before the travel start date, unless the “release now” option (under the “Advances” tab) is selected by the AO before the TA is approved, in which case, the EFT will be generated the next day.
  7. Before approving a travel advance requested in a TA, AOs should confirm there is sufficient time to receive an EFT before the travel start date.
  8. Travelers are responsible for the timely submission of their travel claim, which should liquidate the travel advance.
  9. If a Traveler received a travel advance and the trip was canceled, the Traveler is responsible for the timely repayment of the advance. VA’s travel system will generate an automated email to the Traveler and the FSC. Refer to Volume XII, Chapter 3, Employee Debt for guidance on repayment of the advance.
  10. Travel advances cannot be issued by an agent cashier (refer to Volume VIII, Chapter 3, Agent Cashier Accountability Policy).

010517 Cash Advances

  1. An IBA ATM or over the counter bank cash advance must be requested and authorized in advance in the TA.
  2. Employees who have been issued an IBA travel card may only request an ATM or over the counter bank cash advance when:
    1. Use of the IBA is not practical (e.g., the vendor does not accept credit cards) or imposes unreasonable burdens or costs (FTR § 301-51.2).
    2. Traveling to or in an area where the political, financial, or communication infrastructure does not support the use of the IBA (e.g., certain foreign countries or emergency response areas).
  3. In accordance with FSC NewsFlash, FY 2023 Issue 18, when authorized an IBA cash advance, the Traveler must request their Agency/Organization Program Coordinator (A/OPC) increase their IBA ATM credit limit for use before commencing travel.
  4. When performing travel, should an unanticipated need arise for an IBA cash advance contact travelcardops@va.gov. If the need for assistance is immediate call FSC VA-Wide TDY Travel Support at 866-533-0188 (select Option 1).

010518 Travel Claim Reimbursement

  1. Travelers (employees and invitational) who knowingly defraud or attempt to defraud the Government will not only forfeit their rights to reimbursement (reference FTR § 301-52.12, and 28 U.S.C. § 2514) but may be fined or subject to criminal penalties, as authorized under 18 U.S.C. § 287, 18 U.S.C. § 1001, and 31 U.S.C. § 3729. In addition, employees will be subject to disciplinary action (VA Handbook 5021, Employee/Management Relations, Part 1, Appendix A).
  2. The Traveler’s claim for reimbursement will accurately reflect the facts involved and expenses incurred during the travel episode.
  3. Travelers are required to timely submit properly prepared travel claims in VA’s travel system. Timely means, within five (5) business days of their travel end date for TDY, or every 30 calendar days when on continuous or extended travel (FTR § 301-52.7). When a travel claim is returned for correction by any approval role in the travel claim approval routing list, the Traveler has five (5) business days from the date the claim was returned to make the necessary corrections and re-submit for approval.
  4. The Traveler should receive their reimbursement within three (3) to five (5) business days after a properly submitted travel claim is approved.
  5. After travel has commenced, mission-required expenses not previously authorized on the TA, may be authorized and reimbursed by an AO on the travel claim as long as the reimbursement does not conflict with the FTR (specifically § 301-2.5 (c), (i), or (n)). A justification must be provided, under comments, or attached to the travel claim, explaining why the expense was necessary to complete the mission. For example:
    • A rental car expense was not authorized in advance but upon arrival at the TDY location a justification as a necessary mission-related expense was provided to and approved by the Supervisor;
    • Ground transportation expenses were not authorized in advance but were required to obtain meals that were not available at TDY or the hotel upon arrival;
    • ATM was not authorized on the TA in advance, but a mission-related expense required a cash payment due to a vendor not accepting credit cards; or
    • A mission requirement to incur internet usage fees was not anticipated before travel commenced.
  6. When submitting a travel claim the Traveler is required to ensure that:
    1. When common carrier or land-only (lodging and/or rental car) reservations are made and subsequently changed (flight, lodging, rental car) after the original ticketed itinerary/invoice is issued, both the original and modified itinerary/invoices must be attached to the travel claim.
    2. Transportation expenses and transaction fees billed to the CBA are correctly stated in the travel claim by comparing ticketed/itinerary invoices for common carrier and land-only billed charges. If a discrepancy is noted, the Traveler must contact their LA for guidance on how to correct any discrepancies.
    3. The total outstanding balance of undisputed charges owed on their IBA travel card, to the extent reimbursable funds are available, is designated for split disbursement to their IBA travel card account.
  7. Claims for reimbursement of local travel expenses will be submitted on a local travel claim in VA’s travel system following Volume XIV, Chapter 7, Local Travel. Under specific conditions local travel may require a TA, when this occurs a travel claim is required for reimbursement.
  8. Only the Traveler can submit and certify their travel claim as true and correct. However, GAs may alternately submit a travel claim for the following Travelers (refer to Appendix G):
    • Invitational Travelers and separated VA employees;
    • SECVA, DEPSECVA, and Chief of Staff of VA (COSVA); or
    • An incapacitated or a deceased Traveler.
  9. FSC may create and submit for approval a travel claim to process TMC transaction fees and VA travel system travel claim fees appropriately charged to the CBA when a TA had been approved and reservations had been ticketed, and the TA was subsequently cancelled.
  10. A GA will verify the travel claim is compliant with the FTR and VA policy, and that the Traveler’s (or for an incapacitated or deceased Traveler, the applicable guardian, fiduciary, estate executor, or administrator) certification statement is signed and dated on a hard copy of the travel claim and is attached to the travel claim (refer to Appendix G).
  11. When a Traveler incapacitated or deceased, documentation will be provided in the travel claim substantiating that the alternate certifier (the applicable guardian/fiduciary or executor/administrator) has the authority to certify the travel claim on behalf of the Traveler through their appointment under applicable state law, before the GA can alternately submit the claim for approval.
  12. An AO will review the facts involved in the travel episode based on the travel claim, including comments and attached documentation in the claim, to determine whether to approve or return the submitted travel claim within three (3) business days of the date the claim was submitted. When a travel claim is returned to the Traveler the AO is required to identify to the Traveler the corrective action(s) required.
  13. AOs should review the travel claim to ensure at a minimum that:
    • In accordance with FTR § 301-52.4 and FTR § 301-11.306, required receipts, justifications, and/or documentation are attached for the expenses;
    • CBA expenses (common carrier, transaction fees, and when applicable lodging) have a payment method of CBA to ensure the Traveler will not be reimbursed for those expenses;
    • Expenses are reasonable and necessary;
    • Lodging and meals claimed do not exceed the amount authorized or the amount incurred for lodging;
    • Meals provided by the Government have been excluded;
    • Hotel taxes should not be reimbursed for locations that are exempt from taxation, according to the GSA SmartPay State Tax Information website unless the lodging facility refused to honor the requested state tax exemption; and
    • Split disbursement was utilized when the Traveler has an unpaid balance owed on their IBA travel card.
  14. AO approval of a travel claim signifies a determination has been made that travel expenses are reimbursable following the FTR and VA policy and are approved for payment.
  15. Any approval role may reduce the amount of an expense item claimed or disallow an expense by removing it from the claim and approve the claim but must enter a justification, as a comment in the claim, for each reduced or disallowed expense. The employee must be notified of any changes via email (FTR § 301-52.9). A Traveler may file a new claim for any reduced or disallowed expense (FTR § 301-52.11).
  16. An approval role cannot increase an expense amount in a submitted/certified travel claim. Any increase of an expense amount requires the travel claim to be returned to the Traveler for correction and resubmission with certification.
  17. An approver may add required attachments supporting a travel claim but must add a comment regarding why the document was attached.
  18. Once a travel claim is approved, no further action can be taken on the original travel claim. The Traveler may submit an amended travel claim for approval of additional expenses not previously included or disallowed on the original travel claim.
  19. AOs and Supervisors will monitor employee travel to ensure the timely processing of travel claims.
  20. FSC will perform quarterly post-payment audits on randomly selected samples of travel claims. As a result of an audit, Travelers may submit amended travel claims for underpayments or may receive a Bill of Collection for any overpayment.

010519 Required Documentation

  1. Travelers and travel Reviewers and Approving Officials must ensure submitted TAs and travel claims have the appropriate expense-related documentation (e.g., justification, cost comparison, receipt) attached to the travel claim or included in the comments section. The type of documentation required varies depending on the type of expense. The requirements for documentation of expenses are established in Volume XIV, Travel chapters, and Volume XVI, Chapter 2, Government Travel Charge Card Program.
  2. The expenses listed below must be approved before the travel episode and require a written justification to be provided. These expenses cannot be approved after the fact (FTR § 301-2.5):
    • Use of reduced fares for group or charter arrangements (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses);
    • Reduced per diem (Volume XIV, Chapter 2, Travel Per Diem);
    • Acceptance of payment from a non-federal source (Volume XIV, Chapter 9, Non-Federal Source Funding (Donated Travel)); and
    • Travel expenses related to attendance at a conference (Volume XIV, Chapter 10, Conference Planning, Oversight, and Reporting and Volume XIV, Chapter 7, Local Travel).
  3. The expenses listed below require written justification and specific approval (refer to FTR § 301-2.5):
    • Payment of actual expense (Volume XIV, Chapter 2, Travel Per Diem);
    • Payment of the full M&IE allowance even though meals are furnished by the Government either directly or through a registration fee or other payment for a conference or other event, following FTR § 301-11.18 (Volume XIV, Chapter 2, Travel Per Diem);
    • Use of other than coach-class service on common carrier transportation (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses);
    • Use of a non-contract carrier in place of available contract flights (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses);
    • Use of a foreign air carrier (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses);
    • Use of a rental car (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses);
    • Travel expenses related to emergency travel (Volume XIV, Chapter 5, Travel Under Special Circumstances);
    • Transportation expenses and exceptions to receipt requirements related to threatened law enforcement/investigative employees and members of their families (in this chapter, and Volume XIV, Chapter 5, Travel Under Special Circumstances);
    • Travel expenses related to travel to a foreign area (Volume XIV, Chapter 6, International Travel);
    • Use of extra-fare train service (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses);
    • Use of a Government aircraft (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses); and
    • Travel by ship (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses).
  4. In addition to the written justification and approvals required in FTR § 301-2.5, VA requires written documentation or justification and/or cost comparisons for the items below:
    • Case-by-case exceptions to the use of the agency’s travel system (in this chapter);
    • Exceptions to the use of VA’s travel system for making reservations (in this chapter);
    • Travel expenses for Travelers returning home on non-workdays when it is determined significant cost savings are likely to be achieved (Volume XIV, Chapter 2, Travel Per Diem);
    • Travel expense for employees who return to their official station or residence on non-workdays for periodic returns home while performing an extended period of TDY (Volume XIV, Chapter 2, Travel Per Diem);
    • Travel expenses are incurred when leave is authorized while a Traveler is on long-term TDY and there is no interruption of travel status (Volume XIV, Chapter 2, Travel Per Diem);
    • TDY expenses instead of TCS (Volume XIV, Chapter 2, Travel Per Diem);
    • Traveler incurs unavoidable lodging costs due to mission cancellation by VA (Volume XIV, Chapter 2, Travel Per Diem);
    • Travel advances and ATM cash advances (in this chapter and Volume XVI, Chapter 2, Government Travel Charge Card Program);
    • Authorizing the use of two coach-class seats for a VA employee to accommodate a disability or special need (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses);
    • Extra costs for not renting the least expensive compact-size car available (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses);
    • Acceptable evidence for POV ground mileage (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses);
    • Extra costs associated with driving less than a minimum of 300 miles per day when authorized POV (Volume XIV, Chapter 3, Transportation Expenses);
    • Miscellaneous travel expenses after travel is completed when the expenses were not authorized before departure (Volume XIV, Chapter 4, Miscellaneous Travel Expenses);
    • Special conveyance expenses (e.g., taxi or TNC) to obtain meals (Volume XIV, Chapter 4, Miscellaneous Travel Expenses);
    • Cost of phone calls over established limits incurred due to emergency circumstances (Volume XIV, Chapter 4, Miscellaneous Travel Expenses);
    • Exceptions to the number of bags allowable for the length of TDY required to conduct official business (Volume XIV, Chapter 4, Miscellaneous Travel Expenses);
    • Excess baggage costs (Volume XIV, Chapter 4, Miscellaneous Travel Expenses);
    • Transportation and per diem for an attendant accompanying a Traveler with special needs (Volume XIV, Chapter 5, Travel Under Special Circumstances); and
    • Alternate submission of a travel claim for an incapacitated or deceased employee.
  5. For guidance on documentation requirements associated with local travel expenses refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 7, Local Travel.
  6. For guidance on documentation requirements associated with permanent and TCS relocation expenses, refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 8, Relocation Packages.
  7. Travel documents, including those items attached to the TA or travel claim, will be retained in VA’s travel system following the NARA, General Records Schedule 1.1.10 record retention requirements. Manual TAs (VA Form 3036) and attachments will be retained locally following NARA record retention requirements.

010520 Receipt Requirements

  1. Receipts are required for all official temporary duty travel individual expenses greater than $75 (FTR § 301-52.4(b)(2)).
  2. For receipt requirements on expenses covered in FTR Chapters 302 (Relocation) and FTR Chapter 303 (Payment of Expenses Connected with the Death of Certain Employees), refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 8, Relocation Packages, and Volume XIV, Chapter 5, Travel Under Special Circumstances, respectively.
  3. In accordance with FTR § 301-52.5, AOs may waive documentation and/or receipt requirements (FTR § 301-52.4 or for actual expense under FTR § 301-11.306), for travel of a confidential matter. AOs may waive documentation and/or receipt requirements in instances where collecting such data would compromise the security of threatened law enforcement officers, investigative employees, or their family members.
  4. M&IE under the Lodgings Plus and Reduced Per Diem methods do not require a receipt or itemization regardless of the amount incurred.
  5. When a receipt is required, a valid, legible receipt must be attached to the travel claim in VA’s travel system. Generally, a valid receipt will include, but is not limited to:
    • Vendor name;
    • Itemization of expenses paid (including non-exempt taxes);
    • Date paid; and
    • Amount paid.
  6. In accordance with FTR §§ 301-52.4(b)(1) and 301-11.306), all lodging expenses require a receipt regardless of the amount, or the method of per diem reimbursement (e.g., lodgings plus, whether reduced or not, and actual expense). A valid lodging receipt will include the Traveler’s name, the unit price for the charges, and reflect a “zero balance”: An express receipt that reflects the total charges “will be paid to” is not valid. Travelers should obtain a valid receipt when they check out of the lodging facility. A statement instead of a receipt may be accepted for the fee or service charge incurred for the use of Government quarters.
  7. Receipts, regardless of the cost, are required for common carrier transportation (commercial air, rail, or bus service). Common carrier transportation receipts will be provided as a ticketed itinerary/invoice which itemizes the class of service, transaction fees, and method of payment (CBA). If a Traveler does not have or did not receive the original or a changed ticketed itinerary/invoice they can either use the current Travel Management Center website or contact the TMC at 866-779-6612. The website will require the entry of WXV in the box labeled PCC/SID/OID, the Record Locator which can be found in the TA under the “Trip Overview” section, and the Traveler’s last name. The TMC will retain ticketed itinerary/invoices for up to six (6) months from the travel date of departure. Non-ticketed itineraries, credit card bank statements, and boarding passes are not valid receipts as they do not provide all the required information.
  8. In accordance with FTR § 301-11.306, reimbursement of actual expenses requires all expenses to be documented. When claiming itemized actual expenses, a valid itemized receipt is generally only required for any single meal greater than $75, but an AO may require other receipts only when the Traveler is notified in advance of performing the travel. When authorized M&IE reimbursement is limited, to either the prescribed maximum M&IE rate (refers to the Lodgings Plus M&IE maximum) for the locality concerned or a reduced M&IE rate, an AO may or may not require M&IE itemization at their discretion. The cost of any alcoholic beverage is not reimbursable (refer to FTR § 300-3.1, Per Diem Allowance) and is required to be excluded when itemizing meal amounts or when included on a meal receipt provided for an actual expense.
  9. When authorized reimbursement at the actual expense in the local area under special circumstances, meals greater than $75 require a receipt (refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 7, Local Travel).
  10. When personal travel is combined with official travel and an indirect route requires purchase outside of VA’s travel system, the personally purchased ticketed itinerary/invoice is required to be attached to support reimbursement approval NTE the government cost (refer to Appendix C for additional information on personal travel). In this instance, for the receipt to be valid it must contain the same information as required for common carrier receipts above.
  11. Rental car expenses require a paid receipt from the rental company. The receipt is provided by the rental car company when the Traveler returns the rental car or may be sent to the Traveler when using an express return. A contract for rental car services signed at the time of pick-up of the rental car is not a valid receipt because it only shows estimated charges and does not show the amount paid. Other authorized expenses incurred in operating a rental car, such as gasoline or tolls paid by the Traveler, do not generally require receipts since these expenses tend not to exceed $75 when incurred but should an individual expense exceed $75, a receipt would be required. Refer to Volume XIV, Chapter 4, Miscellaneous Travel Expenses for allowable miscellaneous rental car expenses.
  12. Special conveyance (e.g., taxi, Transportation Network Company, Innovative Mobility Technology Company, shuttle service) receipts are required when a single trip expense exceeds $75, not including a paid tip. A valid receipt will include the fare, and any additional transportation charges such as tolls, and may include the tip amount paid. It is highly encouraged each individual trip expense should be entered separately on a travel claim (not aggregated by day), with the paid tip amount entered as a separate tip expense type right after the associated transportation expense, to facilitate the approval role review for appropriate reimbursement. All tips paid in cash and not itemized on an attached receipt must be explained under the tip expense comments or noted and initialed on the transportation receipt. Guidance on ground transportation allowable tipping can be found in Volume XIV, Chapter 4, Miscellaneous Expenses.
  13. When a receipt cannot be located or obtained VA employees will provide a written statement in place of a valid receipt (FTR § 301-52.4(b)(2)). This statement will describe the circumstances, explain why a receipt cannot be provided, and contain all the information that would be included in a valid receipt. A credit card bank statement (with the account number redacted) may be provided along with a written statement as supporting documentation the Traveler incurred and paid the expense.

010521 Deobligating Travel

  1. TAs determined to be valid are required to be approved and are not to be canceled in VA’s travel system as a claim can be made up to six years from the travel date (31 U.S.C. § 3702).
  2. VA will monitor travel obligations and deobligate as necessary by canceling invalid travel documents and valid travel documents that exceed six years in VA’s travel system.
  3. Travelers and AOs are required to cancel invalid travel documents in VA’s travel system within 30-days after the end date of a planned travel episode when the travel was not taken. TAs for travel not taken that incurred a valid fee or other expense(s) (e.g., transaction fees incurred, non-refundable fees, lodging cancellation costs) must be approved and a travel claim filed to pay the incurred fee(s).
  4. FSC will contact, at 15-day intervals after the travel end date, the Travelers and AOs notifying them of outstanding travel documents/obligations requiring action.
  5. Between 45 and 60-days from the expected travel end date, FSC will cancel non-valid travel documents in VA’s travel system. The FSC will notify the Traveler, the Supervisor, and the AO of the cancelation.
  6. If a TA was previously found to be invalid and canceled but is subsequently found to be valid and must be reestablished in VA’s travel system, the Traveler’s respective Deputy Under Secretary, Deputy Assistant Secretary, or OKO must approve the reestablishment.
  7. If a TA was previously found to be invalid and canceled for a prior fiscal year, to file a valid claim for reimbursement of an expense(s), the LA will send a Line of Accounting (LOA) Request form, available on the FSC TDY Travel Services Division website, to the FSC to re-establish a previous year’s LOA, before recreating the TA for approval.
  8. Nothing in this policy section prevents a Traveler from filing or refiling a valid travel claim nor should it be interpreted in such a manner.

0106 Authority and References

0107 Rescissions

Volume XIV, Chapter 1, Travel Administration, July 2023.

0108 Policy Approval

This policy was approved by the VA Chief Financial Officers’ Council on November 16, 2023.

Appendix A: Revision History

See changelog.

Appendix B: Electronic Funds Transfer Procedures for Travel Reimbursement

  1. VA’s accounting system uses a vendor code to identify each Traveler in the system. When VA’s accounting system processes a travel claim for reimbursement, it uses the vendor code to provide the Department of Treasury with the banking information instructions on where to send the payment. The vendor code references information about the bank or financial institution, which is designated by the Traveler on a VA Form 10091, VA-FSC Vendor File Request Form.
  2. First-time VA employee Travelers are required to use the Self-Service Portal to prepare and submit a VA Form 10091 to establish their banking information for reimbursement of travel expenses by EFT. A Traveler will designate a bank account for their travel reimbursement. Once the employee has submitted their VA Form 10091 using the self-service portal, they will receive an email with their vendor code. The employee is required to provide the vendor code to their LA; vendor codes are required for the LA to establish the Traveler’s user profile in VA’s travel system.
  3. VA employees are required to use the Self-Service Portal to update their EFT banking information, should their bank or financial institution account information designated for EFT travel reimbursement change or been closed, or if they simply wish to change their EFT to a different account. The vendor code will remain the same.
  4. When an employee updates their payroll banking information it does not automatically update their travel reimbursement. A separate VA Form 10091 to update their banking information for reimbursement of travel expenses by EFT is required to be submitted in the Self-Service Portal.
  5. Invitational Traveler procedures:
    1. First-time Invitational Travelers are required to submit a VA Form 10091 to the inviting organization’s LA. The LA will submit the Invitational Traveler’s VA Form 10091 information in the Self-Service Portal meeting the following requirements:
      • The LA must annotate in the comment box of the Self-Service Portal, “INVITATIONAL TRAVELER”;
      • For Payee/vendor types, the LA must identify the Traveler as both an “Individual” by selecting “I”, and an “Employee”, by selecting “E”, on the VA Form 10091; and
      • The LA must select “On Behalf Of Request” when submitting the VA Form 10091 in the Self-Service Portal.
    2. Once the Invitational Traveler has submitted their VA Form 10091 to the LA, and the LA has submitted the request in the Self-Service Portal, the LA will receive an email with the Invitational Traveler’s vendor code. The LA will then create the Invitational Traveler’s user profile in VA’s travel system.
  6. LAs must maintain documentation of the VA Form 10991 signed by the Invitational Traveler for audit purposes following the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), General Records Schedule 1.1.10.
  7. For vendor expedites contact the Customer Engagement Center Help Desk at 866-372-1141 or contact via email at vafsccshd@va.gov.
  8. For urgent assistance contact the Enterprise Support Section at 877-353-9791 or contact via email at vafscenterprisesupport@va.gov.

Appendix C: Procedures for Personal Travel in Conjunction with Official Travel

  1. Personal travel is travel by an indirect route or an interruption of a direct route when performing official travel. The travel system can only be used to make reservations for the official travel route. Reservations for any personal travel route cannot be made using the travel system. Examples of an indirect route and a direct route with personal travel are provided:
    1. Indirect route: you are traveling from your official duty station to Orlando for official business, and when your mission in Orlando is completed, you depart Orlando taking a personal trip to Atlanta for two (2) days before returning the next day to your official duty station.
    2. Direct route: you are traveling roundtrip from your official duty station to Orlando for official business and while in Orlando you include two (2) extra days for personal travel before returning the next day to your official duty station.
  2. Creating a TA.
    1. Create a TA including both official and personal travel dates. Identify the personal travel dates under comments.
    2. Only include the TDY location of Orlando when creating your reservations. Personal segment(s) will not be entered as a TDY location.
    3. Exclude leave/personal travel days as appropriate within the per diem entitlements. For example:
      1. For an indirect route, your last official travel day is the day you would have returned to your official duty station, and you will exclude per diem for all personal travel dates.
      2. For the direct route, exclude the actual personal travel dates.
    4. Complete the VA Form 10079a, Personal Travel in Conjunction with Official Travel – Cost Comparison Worksheet to determine the “Estimated Amount to be Reimbursed to Traveler” for personal travel expenses and enter this amount in your TA using the “Cost Com to Traveler” expense type. For example:
      1. For indirect travel, use VA’s travel system to document the government cost entered in the VA Form 10079a, attaching it in the TA. If a YCA fare is not available or for exceptions refer to FTR §§ 301-10.107 thru 301-10.109, to determine the type of fare the government may authorize for reimbursement. You may need to enter additional estimated government expenses on the worksheet such as baggage fees or ground transportation at the TDY site, as applicable.
        1. The amounts entered in the personal section of the VA Form 10079a will include the transportation expenses for the flight from Orlando to Atlanta and the flight from Atlanta back to your official duty station airport, including baggage fees, if applicable. If personal travel results in different costs for any portion of ground transportation to the Orlando airport, or from your official duty station airport to home, then the costs for the government and personal expenses should be included on the VA Form 10079a.
        2. The government will not reimburse parking at the airport for personal days nor should an IBA travel card be used to pay for parking if the amount includes personal parking costs.
      2. For direct route official travel, the VA Form 10079a is not required since the government is purchasing roundtrip flights using the CBA travel card.
        1. The Traveler will use VA’s travel system to obtain and attach to the TA documentation of the roundtrip cost of air travel, using only official travel days (no personal travel days added) to determine the Government’s official travel cost. This will allow the AO to determine if the addition of personal travel days resulted in higher costs to VA. Any increase in airfare costs will be reimbursed to VA by the Traveler.
        2. Enter the most cost-effective ground transportation estimated expenses from the airport to the TDY hotel and return to the airport in the TA. Only the uninterrupted expense cost may be authorized in the TA.
    5. Select flight(s) for the official route(s) using VA’s travel system and book as follows:
      1. The indirect route requires a one-way flight booked from the official duty station airport to the Orlando (MCO) TDY airport using VA’s travel system. The personal reservations from Orlando to Atlanta and return to your official duty station are required to be made outside of VA’s travel system using personal funds.
      2. When a direct route is involved, flights are required to be booked departing from your official duty station to MCO and returning to your official station using VA’s travel system.
    6. For both indirect and direct route travel make your reservations for lodging and authorized rental car for only the official travel dates using VA’s travel system.
    7. You are not authorized to use your IBA travel card for any expenses associated with the personal portion of travel which would not have been incurred if only official travel was performed, i.e., you may not use the IBA to pay personal travel expenses for lodging, rental car, or airport parking. Using your IBA travel charge card for personal travel expenses will result in a finding of misuse of your travel card (refer to Volume XVI, Chapter 2, Government Travel Charge Card Program).
    8. Enter all other information and authorized expenses in the TA following FTR, VA policy, and any other agency-specific guidance (e.g., Instructions to Traveler (ITT)) for the TDY.
    9. Sign/submit the TA to begin routing for approval.
  3. Submitting a travel claim.
    1. Create a travel claim from the TA.
    2. For both indirect route and direct route travel, attach the ticketed itinerary/invoice (to obtain the invoice for official travel airfare segments use the current Travel Management Center website and enter WXV in the box labeled PCC/SID/OID, the Record Locator which can be found in the TA under the “Trip Overview” section, and the Traveler’s last name.
    3. Determine the actual “Cost Com to Traveler” amount for reimbursement as follows:
      1. For an indirect route, the original “Estimated Amount to be Reimbursed to the Traveler” on the VA Form 10079a should remain the same, as was entered under the “Cost Com to Traveler” expense type in the TA. If there is a change in personal or government costs after travel is completed, a modified VA Form 10079a is required to be attached to the travel claim, noted with “Modified” and date. Comments must reflect the reason the VA Form 10079a was modified. The TA-authorized estimated amount in the “Cost Com to Traveler” expense must be updated in the travel claim to reflect the modified “Estimated Amount to be Reimbursed to the Traveler” amount.
      2. For a direct route, ground transportation costs incurred on official travel days may be claimed, but any cost incurred on a personal travel day to/from the airport or at the TDY location is limited to an amount not to exceed the government-authorized estimated expense. Comments should be entered to explain any limited expenses.
    4. Sign/submit the travel claim within five (5) business days from your travel return date to begin routing for approval.
    5. AOs will:
      1. Review the personal travel “Estimated Grand Total” cost, on the original or modified VA Form 10079a, and compare any required receipts to the costs itemized to determine the amount is correctly stated on the form. The AO is required to en