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Earth System Science

Travel and Purchasing Reimbursement

Non-Travel Purchases and Reimbursements

Be sure to save receipts for any business purchase, and turn them in to department staff who will clear the charges (if a department credit card is used) or provide reimbursement. In addition to receipt, staff will always need the business purpose for the expense and the budget to use (check with your PI). 

Gratuities: Tips should never exceed 20% of the service charge (minus tax). Any portion of a tip over 20% is not payable or reimbursable by Stanford. 

Purchasing Card

A Department purchasing credit card is available for making purchases under $5000. Please check with ESS staff. To clear charges made with the dept card or to obtain reimbursement, please provide receipt, business purpose for the expense, and the budget to use. 

Note: chemicals must be ordered through Stanford Procurement portal and cannot be purchased with the Purchasing Card.


Travel Advances

Travel advances may be available prior to travel for costs that will be incurred during fieldwork. A department travel credit card should be used for advance purchases such as airfare and lodging. Travel advance requests should be made at least 3 weeks before travel.

Travel Approval

Students or postdocs must submit PI approval along with any request for travel advance payments or reimbursements.

Using Department Travel Card

Before travel, check with ESS staff to borrow the department travel card to book airfare, conference registrations, lodging, vehicle rental reservations.

Vehicle Rentals

When reserving a vehicle for University business use such as fieldwork, always decline all insurance options for rentals within the US (except Hawaii). Stanford has a blanket insurance policy for University business vehicle coverage. Vehicle insurance is not reimbursable (except for work in Hawaii and international).


add info on lodging limits


Stanford reimburses at the rate for non-refundable coach airfare. The University strongly encourages using Stanford Travel to book airfare. Do not purchase trip insurance (Stanford will not reimburse for trip insurance).

Booking Airfare: Fly America Act

  • Fly America Act: Generally all flights charged to federal projects must be taken on US flag air carriers or on foreign air carriers that code share with a US flag carrier on the flight taken. This includes flights within the US. If there is no US carrier to your destination, you must travel on a U.S. carrier as far as possible. By law, additional cost for US carrier flights is not sufficient justification to fly on foreign carriers. Please note that the same rules apply to a foreign visitor's flights when supported by federal funds.
  • For more information about Fly America Act, visit Fly America Act and Open Skies Exceptions (Air Carrier Requirements)

  • When it doubt, please check with ESS Staff before booking any flights, as this may result in noncompliance and penalty if Fly America Act is not adhered to.
  • If applicable, please complete the PDFCertification of Exception to Fly America Act form, which justifies the use of a foreign flag air carrier for travel charged to a federally sponsored project. 

For more information, please visit Stanford Travel.

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