Per Diem and Lodging Rates

Employees can use Chrome River to determine Per Diem and Lodging rates for ALL locations (U.S. and International). NOTE that only employees have access to Chrome River. Use the Per Diem and Lodging Rate document as a guide.

Employees/Students/Guests can use the GSA site (see box immediately below) for rates for the 48 contiguous United States. If you are not an employee and need rates for Hawaii/Alaska/U.S. Territories/International locations, ask an employee (your professor or the department office manager) to lookup the rates in Chrome River using the Per Diem and Lodging Rate document as a guide.


GSA Federal SITE (Rates for the 48 contiguous states):

Step 1: Make sure correct year is selected for your dates of travel.
Step 2: Enter the ZIP CODE of the physical address of your lodging.
Step 3: Use the lodging rate shown for the month of your travel.
Step 4: Scroll down to see the meals per diem rate shown under the M&IE heading.

  • USE THE GSA SITE FOR RATES ONLY. COMMONWEALTH & UMW REGULATIONS APPLY. (Specifically, footnote #1 on the GSA site does NOT apply to the Commonwealth of VA or UMW.) 

NOTE: The travel destination is the city or county in which the lodging facility is physically located. If you have questions, contact

This site explains rules and regulations surrounding lodging limits and per diem allowances to help travelers avoid out-of-pocket expenses. Chrome River is programmed based upon these regulations.


Per Diem

A per diem is paid only when traveling on official OVERNIGHT business outside the traveler’s official station. (Official Station is defined as the area within a 25-mile radius of an employee’s designated base point. Base Point is defined as the place, office or building where the traveler performs his/her duties on a routine basis. An employee can have only one designated base point.) A per diem is never paid in advance.

The per diem includes meals and is broken down by breakfast, lunch, dinner and I&E (Incidental Expenses). Incidental expenses are things such as payment for bellhop, personal telephone calls, laundry, travel between lodging and places where meals are taken, and other individual needs.

The per diem (M&IE-meals and incidentals) MUST correspond to the location specified for the OVERNIGHT LODGING. The meals are broken out because you must deduct any meal that is provided by the conference, hotel, event, etc. If a meal is provided, you MUST REDUCE the per diem by that applicable meal, and Chrome River calculates automatically based upon the information entered.

On a travel departure and return day (defined as the day the traveler leaves from and returns to the official business travel destination) 75% of the per diem is allowable based on:
DEPARTURE DAY – where the traveler is GOING TO spend the night for official business
RETURN DAY – where the traveler spent the night on official business BEFORE returning from the official business travel

**When traveling to multiple cities within the same official business travel, the departure day per diem is based upon the city where you are going to spend that first night. All other days of per diem are based upon the city where you spent the night before (i.e., based upon the city where you woke up that morning of the per diem).

You are allowed 75% of the per diem based upon your travel day. For example, if you take a red eye flight out of California on 9/15/19 and arrive in the DC area in the morning on 9/16/19, you can be paid 100% of the per diem (less any meals that were provided) for 9/15 and 75% of the per diem on 9/16 (less any meals that were provided, on the plane, for example). Use the comments section in Chrome River to explain details of travel.

When meals are provided, such as in conjunction with a conference, the per diem is reduced by the allowable rate for that meal.  For example, if breakfast is provided at a meeting in New York City, simply check “breakfast” for that date and Chrome River will calculate automatically.

When meals are provided (at a hotel, or as part of a conference, or on an airplane) ON A TRAVEL DEPARTURE OR RETURN DAY, the per diem is reduced by the provided MEAL’S portion of the per diem, followed by a 75% pro-rating of the balance. In Chrome River, simply check “Travel Day” and check the meal that was provided, and Chrome River will calculate automatically.

The meal per diem will be paid directly to the traveler –even where it can be shown that one traveler incurred the expenses on behalf of another traveler. In other words, you will NOT be paid someone else’s per diem–even if you paid for their meal(s). The travelers will be responsible for settling any meal expenses incurred on someone else’s behalf.

If the registration/conference fees receipt shows itemized charges for meals, and the cost of a meal exceeds the per diem amount for that meal, it is an allowable and reimbursable expense. The Commonwealth realizes that part of the meal fee could be for space rental. Your total per diem for that day should be reduced by the “provided meal’s” per diem rate–not the fee you paid for the meal. In Chrome River, check the meal that was provided, and Chrome River will calculate automatically.

If you are attending a “one day travel” conference where you will NOT spend the night, and a meal is listed as part of the fees, it is an allowable expense, but please note that if a meal is not included on “one day travel,” you are NOT allowed any portion of a per diem–and you will not be reimbursed for any meals, unless it is an official Business Meal. (See Business Meal for details.) Per diem is paid only when traveling on official OVERNIGHT business travel.

When meals are included with registration or lodging expense as part of a package, the meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) must be deducted. If a continental breakfast or reception is offered as part of the travel event and the food/timing is sufficient to serve as a meal, the traveler must reduce the per diem by the appropriate allowance amount.  If a meal is offered as part of a conference and the traveler has medical restrictions, the traveler should make every effort to have the conference facilitate his/her needs by the deadline specified by the conference.  If the conference does not honor the request, the traveler is NOT required to deduct the applicable meal allowance from the per diem; HOWEVER, the traveler MUST explain in the comments section in Chrome River to document these details.

Lodging Details

When lodging is funded by UMW, a Travel Pre-Approval in Chrome River is required. The Travel Pre-Approval entry process in Chrome River will provide guidance about maximum lodging rates that can be paid using state funds. Lodging is allowed when an individual is traveling overnight on official State business outside his/her official station defined as the area within a 25-mile radius of an employee’s designated base point (defined as place, office or building where the traveler performs his/her duties on a routine basis).  First preference shall be given to selecting lodging in the economy class.  For lodging facilities OTHER THAN CONTRACTED local lodging facilities, check, request, and confirm government rates both at the time reservations are made and during check-in. (NOTE: IF USING A LOCAL CONTRACTED LODGING FACILITY, FOLLOW DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS AT BUSINESS SERVICES FOR THAT FACILITY IN ORDER TO CAPTURE CONTRACTED RATES.)

Allowed LODGING RATES for ALL travel (international and domestic) are automatically calculated in Chrome River based upon the city/state/country entered. Note that along with International Travel, Hawaii and Alaska also require additional approvals, and Chrome River will automatically route the additional approvals to the appropriate people

General Lodging Regulations

The maximum reimbursable lodging rates do NOT include taxes and surcharges. NOTE:  The lodging rates are ROOM RATES–NOT per person rates.  UMW will reimburse a traveler for the actual amount charged by a lodging facility for the room up to the maximum rates listed for the city where the traveler spent the night, plus taxes and surcharges charged by the lodging facility based upon the maximum rate listed for that city. ROOM rates incurred beyond these maximum rates will NOT be reimbursed with state funds, and taxes and surcharges will be pro-rated based on the maximum allowable rate. THERE ARE SOME EXCEPTIONS.


The President or designee may approve reimbursement for lodging up to 150% of the maximum rate “when circumstances warrant.” A justification for the exception must be documented on the Travel Pre-Approval in Chrome River. Chrome River will provide detailed information in the “warning compliance messages” that will automatically populate based upon the information entered. Travelers who do not plan with careful consideration to these guidelines will bear the additional expense personally.  If the room rate EXCEEDS the 150% AND you are NOT sharing a room, non-state funding sources (including the traveler personally paying for the overage) are allowed. If UMW holds the non-state funding source, enter that FOAP as an allocation in Chrome River for the amount of the overage. If the foundation or the traveler is paying for the overage, enter the overage amount to “Personal Matter” in Chrome River. As an absolute last resort, the Accounts Payable department can ASK DOA (the state’s comptroller’s office) for an exception; however, DOA RARELY grants the exception request.  If you want the Accounts Payable department to request an exception from DOA to exceed 150% of the state’s maximum allowed rate, you must do the following at least THREE WEEKS PRIOR TO TRAVEL:

1.  E-mail with a CLEAR cost justification for exceeding the 150%. CLEAR cost justification must include sufficient documentation showing alternative cost comparisons justifying the exception. The cost comparisons must include the name and complete address of the hotels–including zip code–used for the cost comparison. These requests must be reviewed by the UMW fiscal officer which must evaluate and approve the request PRIOR to sending it to DOA. Note that comparison searches will be done on Internet sites, and if a less expensive option is found, UMW will not request the exception from DOA unless traveling with students.
2.  If the exception request is determined reasonable, the Accounts Payable department will forward the request to DOA.
3.  The Accounts Payable department will let you know DOA’s decision.

Generally, when two or more travelers stay in the same room, the allowable lodging rate is the destination rate (ROOM rate) plus the amount charged by the lodging facility for the additional person. (**In other words, if two travelers share a room, each is NOT allowed the maximum rate of up to 150% of the allowed rate, but the Associate Vice President for Finance has authority to approve a “per person” GSA rate; see EXCEPTION #2 BELOW. One traveler is allowed the maximum lodging rate plus the additional cost of the additional person.)  The itemized hotel receipt MUST show the additional charge separately from the room charge. If the hotel bill indicates that more than one person stayed in the room, include an explanation in the comments section in Chrome River, including the rate difference–if there were a rate difference–between single and double rates charged by that hotel. If the rate for a double is the same as a single, please make a note of that fact in the comments section in Chrome River.


If you share the cost of a room, each official business traveler is allowed the “allowed” rate AS LONG AS the room was not in any way an upgrade AND AS LONG AS the Associate Vice President for Finance has approved this expense in advance. REASON: Remember, state regulations require an exception from DOA in advance for any ROOM RATE that exceeds 150% of the lodging rate on the table. The Associate Vice President for Finance has been given authority by DOA to approve the allowed rate for EACH official business traveler in the room. If the room rate exceeds 150% of the allowed rate AND “sharing a room” is marked in Chrome River, the request will automatically route to the appropriate person for review.

Cost Details for Sharing a Room
(NOTE that if you enter the room rate correctly as instructions detail within the Lodging line on the Pre-Approval in Chrome River, Chrome River will automatically route to the appropriate approvers. Chrome River provides the GSA rate based upon the city location selected. The information below provides an explanation for clarity.)

    • If the *ROOM RATE is the GSA allowed rate or less, special approvals are NOT required.
    • If the *ROOM RATE is an amount between the GSA allowed rate and 150% of that rate (that’s the GSA allowed rate multiplied by 1.5), then additional approvals are required, and Chrome River will route accordingly.
    • If the *ROOM RATE exceeds 150% of the GSA allowed rate (an amount that’s more than the product of the GSA rate multiplied by 1.5), the Associate Vice President for Finance has the authority to approve a GSA allowed rate PER PERSON in the room, and Chrome River will route accordingly.

*ROOM RATE is defined as the RATE the hotel charges for the ROOM (without taxes or fees)–and NOT your PORTION of the ROOM RATE if sharing.  Entering the TOTAL ROOM RATE correctly in Chrome River is very important–and there are instructions on the Lodging line item in Chrome River about how to enter the correct TOTAL ROOM RATE.

An Example for clarity: The allowed rate is $138, but UMW can pay as follows:
1. Up to $207 ($138 x 1.5 = $207) with the President or designee’s approval–regardless of the number of people in the room (from EXCEPTION #1 above).
2. Up to $138 per official business traveler–with approval in advance by the UMW Associate Vice President for Finance–when two or more official business travelers share a room (from EXCEPTION #2 above).

To further clarify: If two official business travelers (it could be a colleague from another university) share a hotel room in a city with an allowed rate of $138, and the ROOM RATE is $250 per night, we are allowed to pay it–even though it exceeds $207 (150% of $138)–based on the following: $250 divided by 2 people = $125, which is lower than $138 (the allowable lodging rate). IT HAS TO BE APPROVED IN ADVANCE BY THE ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT FOR FINANCE (as mentioned in EXCEPTION #2).

If TWO official business travelers share a hotel room in a city with an allowed rate of $138, and the ROOM RATE is $277 per night, which is $138.50 per person, we would be able to reimburse at only $138 per person (plus taxes on the $138)–NOT $138.50, which is 1/2 of the room rate. NOTE: UMW would be able to pay $138.50 ONLY IF DOA HAD GRANTED APPROVAL FOR THIS EXPENSE PRIOR TO THE TRAVEL (AS MENTIONED UNDER EXCEPTION #1 ABOVE). If THREE official business travelers share the same hotel room at $277 per night, UMW would be able to reimburse EACH traveler the full amount of $92.33 ($277 divided by 3 people = $92.33 per person) which is less than the $138 allowable rate. IT HAS TO BE APPROVED IN ADVANCE BY THE ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT FOR FINANCE (as mentioned in EXCEPTION #2).


In summary, if you are sharing the cost of a room and your ROOM RATE exceeds the allowable lodging rate by more than 150% of the rate AND the room is NOT an upgrade, the Associate Vice President for Finance has the authority to approve a “per person” rate up to the actual rate listed. Only DOA can approve any rate above the guidelines mentioned in these regulations.


To be reimbursed for lodging expenses, your hotel receipt must:
1. Show or prove a zero balance.
2. Show the room rate and taxes broken out separately and by day.


1. Taxes and surcharges for lodging based upon maximum lodging rates
2. Business telephone calls, telegrams, faxes, Internet charges for official State business ( A full explanation must be included with supporting documentation verifying the phone numbers called/Internet use and nature of business.)
3. Parking, Tolls, and Public Transportation. Receipts are required for all expenses greater than $20.00. If you do not have a receipt for a toll, for example, a clear, detailed explanation of the toll location and amount of individual toll must be included.

ALTERNATIVE LODGING–When lodging other than hotels and motels is used, e.g., apartments, houses, etc. ADVANCE approval is required. Airbnb or similar lodging alternatives for official state business travel IS PROHIBITED. Although Airbnb or similar lodging alternatives may be a less expensive alternative to hotel/motel lodging in some cases, the safety of travelers is a concern. With reputable hotels/motels, there is an expectation of safety within the structure, whereas, there is no guarantee of minimum safety requirements being met with Airbnb and similar alternatives. For other alternative lodging is used, a statement is required and must show the following:

  • The total cost for using the alternate accommodations and length of contract, INCLUDING any additional expenses such as additional transportation cost and/or parking expenses
  • The cost of standard accommodations (hotel) in the area (to compare to the alternative lodging source)
  • The net savings of the alternative lodging source.

The approval MUST BE DONE IN ADVANCE. Please see the more than three employees traveling section.

Procedures for Lodging in the Fredericksburg Area

Some lodging establishments will bill the University directly. Please see the heading Hotels/Lodging on the Direct Pay Table for guidance and details.

Advance payments to lodging facilities are discouraged and are limited to the first night’s stay only. Any exceptions to this rule have to be approved IN ADVANCE by DOA (the state’s comptroller’s office) through the Accounts Payable Department. E-mail with questions or concerns regarding the travel regulations.

According to CAPP 20335, when an employee is reimbursed by UMW or uses the SPCC for travel expenses, “Travel credits, reduced rates, or free services received from public facilities (i.e., airline, car rental agencies, motels, etc.) by individuals for whatever reason accrue to the Commonwealth. Any such credit, reduced rate, or free service must be reported to the agency fiscal office and must be deducted from the amount of travel expenses claimed.”

To reduce your chances of incurring out-of-pocket expenses, carefully read this entire page and then read details about submitting for reimbursement at the Reimbursement Process for Travel Expenses.