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Policy: VI.G.2

Issued: November 15, 1991

Owner: Director of Procurement Services

Latest Revision: January 6, 2004

This policy has been migrated to the standardized format.

1.0 Purpose

This document defines "business meals," the circumstances in which the University will pay or reimburse individuals for business meal expenses, and the source(s) of funds that may be used in each circumstance.

This policy does NOT cover "Travel Meals", which are addressed in Travel Expenses -- Policy VI.G.1.

2.0 Policy [Top]

2.1 "Business Meal" Expenses -- General Information

The University will pay for or reimburse individuals for actual expenses incurred, up to specified limits, for those meals that are deemed to fall under the definition of "business meals", as stated below. All such payments and reimbursements must be reviewed and approved by Procurement Services prior to disbursement.

In order to be approved, all requests for payment or reimbursement for business meals must be submitted in accordance with published Procurement Services procedures. These procedures will also describe requirements for approval and documentation, which will include receipts and written justification for categorizing the expense as a "business meal."

Certification of ALL business meals, regardless of the source of funds used, requires the signature of the Dean, Vice President, or designee on the appropriate approval document. Additional approvals may be required, depending on the nature of the meal and source of funds.

Reimbursement for correctly certified business meals is NOT treated as taxable income.

2.2 Direct Payment vs. Reimbursement

Regardless of payment method, all payments must be made using the established procedures published for the payment method by Procurement Services.

In all but four specific circumstances (see below), individuals should pay for the meals and then request reimbursement using the established procedure published by Procurement Services.

Direct payment can be made to the vendor for business meals in the following circumstances:

  1. Petty cash advances for business meals when reimbursement is not practical. All state and local spending limits apply.
  2. Catered meals supplied by either external or internal vendors.
  3. Unprepared food (e.g.: grocery store food items) purchased using University Purchasing Card. All state and local spending limits and restrictions apply.
  4. Restaurant meals on a standing purchase order created by buyers in Procurement Services. LPOs may not be used for this purpose. Should be used only when no other method is available.

2.3 Payment from State Funds: Dollar Limits

On state funds, business meals may be paid only up to specific dollar limits per person per meal. These limits depend on the locality where the meal is taken.

The Commonwealth of Virginia's Department of Accounts determines these limits and they are subject to change. Current state limits are posted at "Lodging, Meal, and Incidental Expense Limits" -- State Funds.

**Note**: Reimbursement from state funds can be claimed for business meal costs exceeding the above limits by up to 50%, with written justification and approval of a Dean, Vice President, or designee on the appropriate approval document.

Catered meals from internal vendors -- For internal catering vendors only, spending limits may be set higher than the state funds limits, but these limits cannot be exceeded. Other restrictions on the use of state and local funds still apply. See "Lodging, Meal, and Incidental Expense Limits" -- State Funds -- Internal Catering for current spending limits for internal catering and a list of internal caterers.

Catered meals from external vendors -- All state spending limits and restrictions apply.

2.4 Payment from State Funds: Additional Restrictions

There are additional restrictions on the types of meal expenses that can be paid from state funds:

  • Alcohol -- Any expenses for alcohol during a business meal will NOT be paid from state funds.

  • Spouses -- Spouses of business meal participants may attend a business meal, but their portion of the expense will NOT be paid from state funds.

2.5 Payment from Local Funds

Business meal expenses may be paid from local funds, up to local funds spending limits, which are generally higher than state limits. Current local funds spending limits for business meals are published at "Lodging, Meal, and Incidental Expense Limits" -- Local Funds.

With written approval of Dean or Vice President, local funds may also be used to pay for:

  • Alcohol

  • Meal expenses for spouses of employees or guests

2.6 Purchase of Alcohol

All alcohol must be purchased with local funds only. Information on circumstances under which alcohol may be served is published in Policy VII.F.3, "Sale of Alcoholic Beverages".

  • Alcohol purchased separately from meals for university-related events requires the written approval of a Dean or Vice President.

  • Alcohol consumed with meals, where the cost of alcohol does not exceed the cost of the meal, requires only the normal Dean, Vice President, or Designee approval. However, if the cost of the alcohol exceeds the cost of the meal, written approval of a Dean or Vice President is required.

3.0 Definitions [Top]

A "business meal" must have departmental approval, include more than one person, and have a substantive and bona fide business purpose deemed essential to the University's mission.

Note: Business meals are distinct from both daytrip and overnight "Travel Meals". Business meals may be taken while traveling, but the meal must be claimed as "travel" or "business", not both.
A "catered meal" is supplied by either an internal or external vendor and requires both planning and forethought on the part of the purchaser, including a pre-established menu.

"Travel Meals" are meals for which an individual may be reimbursed for no other reason than that the meal was taken while traveling on approved University business. Travel meal reimbursement may be claimed only for the traveler, not for others who may be present.

4.0 References [Top]

This policy closely follows the state guidelines described in the Commonwealth Accounting Policies and Procedures (CAPP) manual, Section 20335, State Travel Regulations (Adobe Acrobat pdf file).

Business Meals

"Preparing Payment Vouchers" -- Procedure 6-101.

Goods and Services Procurement Guide

Lodging, Meal, and Incidental Expense Limits

Related Policies:

5.0 Approvals and Revisions [Top]

Previous version in effect from 7/01/01 to 1/06/04 available in policy archive.

Maintained by University Comptroller
2001 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia