Guest Reimbursement Instructions

Thank you very much for visiting Columbia University. Please read the following guest travel reimbursement and honorarium guidelines and submit your original receipts and tax forms within 120 days of your visit. Please note:

  • Columbia University can only reimburse you for expenses incurred on the date(s) of your visit, as well as one day before and one day after your visit.

  • Guests will only be reimbursed for the specific items outlined in their personlized invitation letter. If the guest chooses to purchase additional items, without receiving written permission from their host before their visit, the guest will be responsible for covering those expenses.

  • Before making any purchases, please read the guidelines for transportation, hotel, and meal reimbursement.

  • Please also refer to the list of non-reimburseable expenses before submitting receipts.

  • Complete a Columbia University Non-employee Expense Worksheet (itemizing all expenses in the order they were purchased) and be sure to include your phone number and email address.

  • Original receipts are required. Unfortunately, we can not accept scanned copies of receipts.

  • An original receipt may take many forms (i.e., cash register receipt, web receipt, or email receipt). A receipt must include:

    • the date of purchase
    • the vendor name
    • the itemized list and unit price of the purchased items (including itemized meal receipts showing the breakdown between food and drinks)
    • the total amount and proof of payment

  • Lost or incomplete receipts:

    • If you have lost any receipts, please submit a Missing Receipts Worksheet

    • In additon, if you are unable to obtain an original receipt which contains all the required information, documentation should be submitted to demonstrate as many of the required items as possible. A copy of your credit or debit card statement, clearly identifying the date, location and amount of the expense, may be submitted along with a description of the purchase. If applicable, please identify amount of any expenses to be segregated (i.e., alcohol).

  • If your purchases were not made in USD, please use the OANDA Currency Converter.  Along with your receipts, provide the printout of the OANDA rate page showing your expense in USD on the actual purchase date.

  • Columbia University requires all guests to submit a W-8 or W-9 form for travel reimbursement and honoraria payments. Although your travel reimbursement will not be taxed, this information is required to set you up as a vendor in the system.

    • U.S. Citizens and U.S. Permanent Residents must submit a W9 form (complete with current residential address, social security number, date and signature)

    • Foreign Individuals should follow the instructions listed below

  • Please indicate if you wish to be paid via check, direct deposit (for American banks only) or by wire transfer (for international banks).

    • If you request a check, it will be mailed to your permanent home address listed on your W-9 or W-8 form.

    • If you wish to have your check directly deposited into an American bank, please let us know. Columbia University's Vendor Management office will email you a link to a website where you can input your banking information.

    • If you have an international bank and prefer to be paid via wire transfer, please fill out the Wire Transfer Form and submit it along with your other forms. 

  • Please mail all documents to:

    Attn <insert name of administrative staff host>
    Applied Physics & Applied Mathematics Department
    Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science
    Columbia University
    200 S. W. Mudd Building, MC 4701
    500 W. 120th Street
    New York, NY 10027

  • IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ: A few weeks after you submit you your reimbursement request, you will receive an email from Columbia University's Vendor Management Office. You must respond to their email and supply the required information in order to receive your payment. If you do not respond, the email link sent from Vendor Management will become inactive after a few days and you will have to contact the APAM office again to request an active link. Failure to respond to Columbia University's Vendor Management Office email will delay your payment.


Honoraria Payment for Foreign Individuals

Non-U.S. citizen must submit an 8233 form, along with an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) or SSN (Social Security Number)

Travel Reimbursements for Foreign Individuals

In addition to the items listed above, nonresident aliens may be eligible to receive a travel reimbursement based on immigration regulations.  Non-U.S. citizens need to confirm their reimbursement eligibility here

Please submit the following documents:

  • A completed and signed W-8 Ben or 8233 form

  • Evidence of immigration status if lecture was given in the United States

  • Copy of Identification page of the passport if the lecture was given in the United States (clearly showing your name and visa type)

  • Copy of visa or ESTA application approval

  • Copy of the I-94 Departure Card (or electronic I-94 receipt number) if the lecture was given in the United States

  • Certain non-immigrant statuses may require additional documentation. For example: if you are on a J1 or F1 visa, you must provide a copy of your work authorization and a letter from your place of work (on official letterhead) verifying your eligibility to work in the U.S. The letter should also state that you are allowed to receive payment from other institutions.

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Reimbursement Guidelines for Transportation / Hotels / Meals

Airfare / Rail / Bus:

Guests will only be reimbursed for airfare if their host offered to pay for their flight. If prior arrangements were not made in writing with the Columbia University host, the guest will be responsible for covering their flight.

Airfare, rail, and bus tickets should be purchased at the lowest available commercial or economy rate. Please book air travel using U.S. air carriers and keep the original itinerary, confirmation, or quote provided by the travel agency or carrier. Travelers will not be reimbursed for airline tickets obtained, partially or completely, using frequent flier miles.

Please note: if you are submitting an airfare receipt which shows travel to multiple cities (for other business or personal travel), you will need to send a memo explaining your travel plans and you will need to provide a quote for how much a direct flight to/from your home institution/Columbia University would have cost. If the cost of the direct flight is less than the receipt you submitted, you will only be reimbursed for a the amount of the direct flight.

Taxis / Car Services / Shuttles:

Taxis, private car services, and shuttle services will also be reimbursed. For rental cars, you will need to select a compact or intermediate/mid-size car. All original tickets and receipts must include:

  • dates and points of departure and arrival
  • class of accommodation
  • total amount of the fare
  • proof of payment


Columbia University will reimburse mileage (which covers fuel, maintenance, and insurance costs). Tolls and reasonable parking charges are reimbursable in addition to mileage. Gas, tickets, fines, and vehicle repairs are not reimbursable.

  • $.58/miles for travel on or after January 1, 2019
  • $.545/miles for travel on or after January 1, 2018
  • $.535/miles for travel on or after January 1, 2017       

Please submit a record showing:

  • Route map (which shows the city, state of departure and arrival points, along with miles)
  • total mileage
  • calculation of reimbursement


Guests will only be reimbursed for hotel bills if their host offered to pay for their accommodations. If prior arrangements were not made in writing with the Columbia University host, the guest will be responsible for covering their hotel bill.

If your host has agreed to cover your hotel bill, please respond to your email invitation and let us know your travel dates. We will book a room for you and have the room charges directly billed to Columbia University. Depending on the arrangements specified by your host this may, or may not, include room service. It will not cover other hotel amenities (such as minibar, spa services, and entertainment).

If you need to book a room yourself, please note that lodging expenses should not exceed $350 per night in the U.S. or $400 per night in international locations. The original itemized hotel bill must include:

  • dates of departure and arrival
  • detailed / itemized charges
  • total amount of the lodging
  • proof of payment


Meal expenses for an individual should not exceed the following thresholds (not including tax or tip). Please note: a threshold is not a per diem. We can only reimburse you for the actual amount you spent on your meal up to, but not exceeding, these limits.

The original itemized restaurant or cash register receipts for personal meals must be obtained and submitted. The itemized receipt must show the breakdown between food and drink items (alcohol). You are not allowed to claim reimbursement for a guest who is traveling with you.

  • $25 limit for breakfast (not including tax or tip)
  • $35 limit for lunch (not including tax or tip)
  • $50 limit for dinner (not including tax or tip)
  • Coffee and snacks purchased apart from a meal are not considered reimburseable items.
  • Tips over 20% will not be reimbursed.

Itemized meal receipts must include:

  • date
  • type of meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
  • meal items purchased (identify alcohol)
  • proof of payment

If you have lost meal receipts, you can not claim the full $25, $35, or $50 limit for each meal. You must estimate only what you remember spending on the meal.

If you have any questions, please contact the APAM Department at (212) 854-4457.

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500 W. 120th St., Mudd 200, MC 4701 New York, NY 10027 / Phone: 212-854-4457 / Fax: 212-854-8257 / Email:

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