FAQs for State of Illinois Travel

TRANSPORTATION

1) Q: What are the steps I am to follow before traveling on state business?
A:Confirm travel preapproval. This process will vary from agency to agency. Many agencies have a written form that must be completed in advance and approved by a chain of authority. Certain upper management employees (e.g. agency heads) are exempt from this requirement.
2) Q: How do I decide the method of transportation I will use?
A:Per Section 3000.300(a) of the Travel Regulation Council Rules all travel must be by the most economical method. A trip calculator to assist in determining what method of travel an employee should use may be found here.
3) Q: If it is determined that using my personal vehicle is the most economical, how is mileage reimbursement calculated? Do I need to deduct my commuting miles between my residence and my headquarters?
A:The current rate for Personal Mileage Reimbursement Rate can be found here. The deduction of commuting miles is dependent on your union status. For employees who are covered under AFSCME Council 31, State Travel Guidelines require that if an employee travels on State business to or from their residence and travel is through their headquarters city, they are to deduct their commuting mileage. If this is the case then box 31 on the travel voucher must be denoted with "AFSCME Council 31 covered employee". Non AFSCME employees must deduct their commuting miles. Any employee, AFSCME or non AFSCME, traveling on their normal day off or holiday does not deduct any commuting mileage expense as it was not a normally scheduled work day. More detailed information on commuting mileage can be found here.
4) Q: The Trip Calculator determined that the most economical method of travel is to use a rental car. What are the procedures I need to follow to rent a car? Do I have to pay up front and be reimbursed or can the rental be direct billed?   
A: At this time the State of Illinois has not entered into a contract for rental car services. Until the time a contract is in place, when rental car services are required, you must follow your agency’s procurement requirements. In most cases, this will mean contacting three (3) vendors and selecting the most economical service based on prices, mileage included, etc. More detailed information can be obtained by contacting your Agency Procurement Officer.

Section 3000.300 (a) states that all travel shall be by the most economical mode of transportation available considering travel time, costs and work requirements. Please keep in mind that the following stipulations are still in place when renting a car to be used for official State of Illinois business travel:

  • Only compact or mid-size classes of automobiles can be rented without authorization.
  • Employees must adhere to the refueling policy of the rental company and cannot utilize a fuel pre-payment option.
  • The Collison Damage Waiver or any other type of insurance offered must be declined.
  • Additional options offered such as GPS, may be accepted for the employee’s convenience but will not be reimbursed Since no contract is in place, direct billing isn’t an option. Employees can pay with either a debit or credit card and will be reimbursed.

More detailed information regarding car rental can be found here.

5) Q: The Trip Calculator determined that using a ZipCar is the most economical method of travel. What are the procedures I need to follow in order to utilize ZipCar? Is direct bill an option?
A:Before using a ZipCar you must first go to the ZipCar website to register and sign up for a ZipCar card. This card is used to unlock and lock the ZipCar that you rent. You will receive the ZipCard in the mail. Once you have received the ZipCar card you can go to the website and reserve a car from one of the many locations throughout Chicago or several locations in Springfield. ZipCar does not have a self-pay option and must be direct billed to employee's agency. The ZipCar must be returned with at least one quarter tank of fuel. There is a card located in the glovebox which is to be used to purchase fuel when needed. More detailed information regarding the use of ZipCar can be found here.
6) Q: The hotel I am staying at offers valet parking. Am I allowed to utilize valet parking?
A:Valet parking, in most instances, is not a reimbursable expense. However, under certain circumstances where valet parking may be the most economical parking option, an employee may claim up to $30 in reimbursement for valet parking expenses. Self-parking is reimbursable. For more detailed information see Travel Update 15-04.
7) Q: Where can I find information regarding travel on Amtrak?
A:Amtrak currently serves 30 cities throughout the State of Illinois and offers five (5) trips each direction between Chicago and Springfield. Amtrak offers a discounted State of Illinois rate between Chicago and Springfield of $21.00, either direction. This rate cannot be purchased over the internet but can be obtained by calling 1-800-USARAIL or in person at any station. More detailed information regarding travel on Amtrak can be found here.
8) Q: Can I upgrade to Business Class while traveling on Amtrak on Official State of Illinois business?
A:  Employees have the option of upgrading to Business Class if seats are available but are only allowed to claim reimbursement for the Coach portion of the ticket.
9) Q: Can I use a state car for official state of Illinois business travel?
A:Yes. State cars are available on a limited basis. For detailed information regarding procedures for reserving and traveling by a State-owned vehicle please contact CMS Division of Vehicles at (217) 782-2536 Ext. 230 or 227.
10) Q. I will be traveling to a conference and one of the sponsors of the conference has offered to pay for my travel expenses. I am allowed to accept the offer?
A.It depends. If you work at an agency under the jurisdiction of the Governor, Executive Order 15-09 may require you to obtain advance approval from the Executive Ethics Commission If the sponsor is a prohibited source as defined in the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act and Executive Order 15-09 (or if you are not sure whether the sponsor is a prohibited source). You should consult with your ethics officer before accepting any offer from a third party to pay for any State business-related travel expenses.

LODGING

11) Q: I know that the State of Illinois requires that I must first contact hotels that are listed on the State of Illinois preferred hotel listing when obtaining lodging for travel on State of Illinois business. Where can I find a listing of these hotels?
A:A listing of these hotels (separated by area) can be found here.
12) Q: I called five hotels and I am unable to find lodging at the state rate. Can I stay at a higher rate and still be reimbursed? Will I need an exception from the Governor's Travel Control Board?
A:As long as five hotels on the preferred hotel listing were contacted (required for Chicago and Springfield, 3 for all other areas) you can be reimbursed for the stay at a rate higher than the State; however, please note that you must stay at the hotel with the lowest room rate available among the hotels you contacted. Documentation of the hotels called and the rates offered must be attached to the voucher. No exception is required if these guidelines are followed.
13) Q: I made a reservation at a hotel and asked for the State rate. Upon check-in I noticed that the rate was higher than the rate listed in the preferred hotel Listing. What should I do?  
A:It is the employee's responsibility to make sure that the rate offered is the correct rate, so you should request that the rate be adjusted. If the hotel will not adjust the rate, you will only be able to claim the maximum reimbursement amount plus tax for the area. For maximum lodging rates, see 80 Ill. Admin. Code 2800.Appendix A.
14) Q: I need to travel to Chicago. I am looking for a hotel and noticed that in the listing it states "Federal Rate". What does this mean and where can I find out what the Federal rate is?
A: Under the State Finance Act, reimbursement rates for hotels in Cook County, IL are tied to those set by the Federal General Services Administration (GSA). The current GSA rates can be found here. Reminder - rates are subject to change so please verify the rate each time before making a reservation. Please note as well that reimbursement rates for hotels in Washington, D.C. are also tied to the GSA rates.
15) Q: I need to travel to a location in which there are no preferred hotels listed. Can I make a reservation at a non-preferred hotel or do I have to choose the nearest hotel on the list?  
A:Reservations can be made at a non-preferred Hotel as long as the rate does not exceed the maximum allowable rate for the area. The maximum reimbursement rates for each area can be found here.
16) Q: I attempted to book a room in Springfield and was not able to obtain the State rate. I called five hotels from the preferred hotel listing but the lowest rate available at the five hotels I called was for a smoking room. Am I required to accept the smoking room?
A:No. Per Travel Update 16-03, an employee does not have to accept a smoking room if it is the lowest-priced room available at the five hotels the employee has called. He or she may accept the lowest-priced non-smoking room.  

PER DIEM/MEAL ALLOWANCE

17) Q: How do I determine if I am eligible for a per diem or meal allowance?
A:An employee is entitled to a per diem for travel that includes overnight lodging and/or is 18 or more continuous hours. Employees eligible for a per diem are entitled to $7 (or $8 if travel is out-of-State) for each 6-hour quarter of a 24-hour period or fraction thereof they spend traveling. An employee is entitled to a meal allowance (as opposed to a per diem) when the employee: (1) is on travel status, (2) works at least 10 consecutive hours (can be a combination of working and traveling), and (3) departs at least two hours prior to the beginning of his or her regular work day, and/or returns at least two hours after the end of his or her regular work day. An employee cannot claim both a per diem and a meal allowance for the same trip. Finally, please note that lunch is not a reimbursable expense. The Travel Regulation Council sets a reimbursement rate for lunch only for purposes of determining whether an employee is required to deduct from his or her per diem when lunch is provided at a conference (see FAQ no. 20 below). For more detailed information on per diem please consult the following link. For more information regarding meal allowances, please consult Travel Update 12-06.
18) Q: I reported to my office at 8 a.m. - the beginning of my regular work day—but departed for a meeting away from headquarters at 3 p.m. I returned to my residence at 6:45 p.m. Am I eligible for a meal allowance?
A.Yes, you would be eligible to claim the dinner allowance, currently $17.
19) Q: The hotel that I am staying at offers a free continental breakfast. If I eat breakfast at the hotel, does this mean that I have to deduct the amount of the breakfast allowance ($5.50) from my per diem?
A:Unless the agency you work for has a policy requiring you to deduct, no. The rule regarding the deduction is designed to keep the State of Illinois for paying for a meal twice. Since refusing the continental breakfast would not allow an employee to receive a reduced nightly rate a deduction need not be made.  
20) Q: I am traveling overnight to attend a conference at which dinner and lunch will be provided. What do I need to deduct from my per diem? 
A:  You are required to deduct the meal reimbursement amount for each meal provided at the conference. In this case, if the conference were one day, you would deduct a total of $22.50 ($5.50 for Lunch and $17.00 for Dinner) if the conference is being held in state and $25.50 ($6.50 for Lunch and $19.00 for Dinner) if the conference is being held out of state. For more detailed information please see the Administrative Code and the Travel Reimbursement page.

OUT OF STATE TRAVEL

21) Q: I have been asked to attend a conference that is being held out of state. What do I need to do in order to obtain approval to attend?
A:Each agency has internal procedures in place for attaining initial approval to travel out of state. Once initial approval has been obtained within the agency, the request will be entered into the eTravel workflow system by your agency's designated Travel Coordinator. An out-of-state travel request must be entered into eTravel at least 30 days before the travel commences. The request will be processed through an approval chain that consists of the Agency Travel Coordinator, Chief Fiscal Officer and Director, with final approval given by the Governor's Office of Management and Budget. This process applies to all out-of-state travel. Please contact your Agency Travel Coordinator for more detailed procedures. As discussed in FAQ No. 10, if any of your expenses are to be paid by a prohibited source, and if you are subject to Executive Order 15-09, you may need to seek advance approval from the Executive Ethics Commission. We recommend obtaining all necessary approvals before booking any out-of-state travel.

MISCELLANEOUS

22) Q: What do I need to do to be reimbursed for my travel?
A:A C-10 Travel Voucher is the form that must be completed in order to claim reimbursement of travel expenses. Please contact your Agency Travel Coordinator to obtain the necessary form. Many agencies have a form that they require employees to utilize.
 23) Q: Where can I access general information about State of Illinois Travel?
A:The Governor's Travel Control Board website includes links to all relevant rules and travel updates, as well as a link to the Travel Guide for State Employees. Employees may also request to receive newly issued travel updates electronically by going to the Governor's Travel Control Board website and clicking on "Subscribe" to receive updates via email.