Calculating Per Diem

Cup of coffee next to a pile of receipts on a spike

A Per Diem is given to travelers for lodging and meal expenses in two instances:

  • When you are traveling in the Continental United States and the trip is 30 days or longer
  • When you are traveling outside the Continental United States.

Per diem is a daily amount to cover meal and lodging expenses. You will need to calculate your per diem before the trip. The rate is set annually by the federal government and different depending on where you are traveling. (Tip: If the destination is Irvine or anywhere in Orange County, the per diem rate is listed under the primary destination Los Angeles.)

Per Diem Calculators

Per diem rates are set by the federal goverment. Use the calculators below, which are

Per Diem Guidelines
  • You will be reimbursed for the actual cost of meals, incidentals and lodging up to 100 percent of combined per diem, so track your expenses.
  • You should get a receipt for your hotel stay. An original, itemized hotel receipt must be submitted to the UCI Travel Office along with the Travel Reimbursement document.
  • You will not be reimbursed for movies, other in-room charges, or personal expenses.
  • Per Diem can be given to the traveler prior to their departure. The traveler to be paid approximately 10 days prior to departure date. A travel arranger should complete a Travel Authorization (TA) eDoc and complete the Travel Advances tab. Upon return, a travel arranger must clear the TA by creating a Travel Reimbursement document, tie the TEM number to the Travel Reimbursement.
  • International Per Diems shall be calculated in multiples of the applicable federal per diem rate based on the total number of hours between the time of arrival at the foreign or OCONUS location and the time of departure for the return trip to the traveler's headquarters or residence.
  • The daily subsistence allowance authorized under the federal per diem rates for a location of travel. The payment of a per diem does not require supporting receipts.*
  • *The policy of your department or funding source can be more strict than the UC policy; it cannot be more lenient.  If your department requires receipts for all travel (whether domestic or foreign) they can do so, no matter the location or, number of days in each location.
  • Per diems are authorized in these situations: for all foreign travel; travel within Alaska, Hawaii, and United States possessions (OCONUS); domestic travel assignments of 30 days or more; and domestic travel assignments that exceed one year.
  • The incidental expenses portion of the federal per diem rate includes fees and tips given to porters, baggage carriers, bellhops, hotel maids, stewards or stewardesses and others on ships, and hotel servants in foreign countries; transportation between places of lodging or business and places where meals are taken, if suitable meals cannot be obtained at the temporary duty site; and mailing costs associated with filing travel expense claims and payment of University-sponsored charge card billings.
  • Federal per diem rates do not include taxes on lodging, which may be reimbursed separately.

Use a Corporate Travel Card

UCI’s Corporate Travel Card is useful for keeping track of meal expenses —as long as the traveler remembers to charge only travel related expenses to the account.

Learn more about the card on the Corporate Travel Card page.

Meal and Incidental Expense (M&IE)

For trips shorter than 30 days in the continental United States, you will be reimbursed according to the University of California’s Meal and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) guideline.

M&IE sets the daily maximum you can be reimbursed for meals and tips.

Learn more on the Meal and Incidental Expense page.