Policy: 201.H Lodging

Statement of Policy

  • All lodging claims must be supported by an original, itemized, detailed receipt showing daily room rate, guest name(s), dates of stay, single/double accommodations, and all other room charges.  If lodging is greater than the maximum allowed, detailed information or justification is required to make a reimbursement decision. Photocopies or faxed copies may be acceptable in exceptional circumstances when properly justified in writing.
  • Reimbursement is limited to the single rate for a standard single room. Employees traveling together are encouraged, when appropriate, to share lodging accommodations. If a room is shared by employees, the reimbursement may be divided equally. If the claim is paid by one person, the name of the other individual(s) sharing the room must be provided.
  • Maximum lodging amounts:
    • Within the State of Wisconsin (On or after June 28, 2015): The maximum amount reimbursable per day for lodging shall be $82, excluding tax. The maximum amount reimbursable per day for lodging in Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha Counties shall be $90, excluding tax.
    • Within the State of Wisconsin (Prior to June 28, 2015): The maximum amount reimbursable per day for lodging shall be $70, excluding tax. The maximum amount reimbursable per day for lodging in Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha Counties shall be $80, excluding tax.
    • Domestic Locations outside the State of Wisconsin:  Domestic lodging maximums vary by location.
    • Foreign Locations: Foreign lodging maximums vary by location.
  • Any amount in excess of the maximums must be accompanied by a receipt and an explanation of the reasonableness of such expense. Maximums may be exceeded when unavoidable additional expenses, i.e., additional ground transportation costs, would be incurred by trying to adhere to the maximum resulting in a higher cost.
  • An employee may stay at the conference site where lodging exceeds the maximum on the basis that it enables the employee to gain professional benefits due to interaction with other attendees. In such situations, documentation corroborating that the site selected is the conference hotel is required. The employee's selection of a hotel from a menu of properties recommended by the conference organizer is not in itself sufficient justification for exceeding the lodging maximum.
  • Corporate, educational and government rates are available at many hotels/motels. Employees should, whenever possible, use contract properties and should request the lowest applicable rate available when making reservations. Except in unusual circumstances, which must be justified in writing, an employee will be held personally responsible for additional costs for failure to cancel a guaranteed reservation or comply with posted checkout hours.
  • UW employees traveling in-state on official business are exempt from payment of state and local taxes on meals and lodging. Employees should avoid the tax on hotel/motel rooms, (it is not recommended this procedure be used for individual meal expenditures,) by providing the hotel/motel clerk with written documentation which states that s/he is traveling on UW business.
  • UW employees may not request the state established maximum hotel rate (state rate) for personal lodging.  Claiming the state rate for personal lodging is prohibited by the university and state employee ethics code. 
  • An employee who is required to remain in one location for an extended period is expected to find lodging at reasonable weekly/monthly rates. Consideration should be given to use of apartments or private homes if the cost is more economical.  In those situations, the cost of normal utilities, i.e., gas, heat, electricity, monthly local phone service including installation, etc., are reimbursable.
  • Employees arranging non-hotel long-term lodging should work with their Dean’s office to establish an acceptable lease.  The traveler should sign the lease after obtaining approval of the expense from their Dean’s office.  Full documentation of non-hotel rental arrangements must be submitted with all claims.   
  • When employees return to their headquarters city for a UW business-related visit during the time that extended lodging is being claimed, no travel-related expenses may be claimed other than airfare, meals and incidentals on days of travel to/from, and transportation between airport/station and accommodation/Headquarters work site.” Expense reimbursements for “temporary” assignments away from the employee’s tax home for a period of one year or less, are generally not taxable to the employee.  If at some point in time the employer finds the assignment is to be extended beyond one year’s time, it becomes an “indefinite” work assignment and the reimbursable expenses are taxable from that point forward.  For further information on “temporary” and “indefinite” travel assignments, see F19 Section IV Temporary or Indefinite Work Assignments.  For reimbursements involving Interchange of Personnel Agreements (IPAs), contact the Academic Personnel Office at 262-3511.
  • Employees are expected to commute during the same day when the site of UW business is within 50 miles of their home or headquarters. Only for extenuating circumstances and with proper written justification and approval of the employee's supervisor may lodging costs within 50 miles be reimbursed.
  • Lodging for UW-organized meetings and conferences held primarily for participation by UW employees shall not exceed the lodging maximum.
  • Expenses for lodging at facilities which are not licensed as a hotel, motel, campground or tourist rooming house are generally not reimbursable. Exceptions may be granted by the supervisor when there is a substantial cost benefit to the UW. A receipt for a nominal amount and an explanation should be attached to the expense report.
  • Lodging expenses should be paid by the employee via the Purchasing Card or the My Corporate Card whenever possible. Adequate controls must be in place to prevent charges for no-shows, personal items and duplicate claims.
  • When using a purchasing card, only room costs, business related phone calls, internet access for business purposes, parking and any applicable taxes may be charged to the card. Room service, meals, personal telephone calls, movies etc. cannot be charged to the purchasing card. The My Corporate Card should be used for all incidental charges. 
  • Tips and gratuities to hotel employees are reimbursable up to $2.00 per night stay. Claims for higher amounts must be documented.
  • Travelers are personally responsible for unnecessary room costs that result from failure to notify the hotel/motel of a cancellation, unless reasonable justification is provided in the comments field for failing to notify the lodging vendor.
  • Employees shall observe posted hotel checkout hours in order to avoid a charge for the day of departure. An employee who is required to remain in one location for an extended period of time is expected to find lodging at reasonable weekly and/or monthly rates.
  • State employees are exempt from paying sales tax in Wisconsin on lodging and should avoid such by furnishing retailers with written documentation stating they are traveling on government business. In the event the employee must pay taxes, the taxes will be reimbursed. Please see Policy 201.K - Tax Exemption.
  • The UW does not pay for advance deposits for lodging for UW employees unless proper justification warrants it. Payment of lodging by the UW on behalf of the employee may only be allowed in situations where it is required by the vendor or when there is potential for significant tax savings because of a long length stay or a large number of travelers, and with appropriate approvals.

Note: Sponsored projects (e.g., fund 144 or 133) are subject to the terms and conditions of the specific award, as well as applicable program guidelines, which may restrict use of funds for certain types of expenses.  Please contact the RSP accountant for your award with any questions.


Divisional Business Office may e-mail uwtravel@bussvc.wisc.edu with questions.

Travelers and departmental staff should contact their respective Divisional Business Office for policy or procedural questions.