We know that submitting travel claims for reimbursement through the Branded Program can feel confusing at times. That's why our Food Export - Midwest and Food Export - Northeast Branded Teams have worked hard to provide you with 7 helpful tips to submitting travel claims in our new blog post!
Now that you’ve made plans to travel to an international tradeshow to meet buyers, experience the business culture, seek out a distributor, and hopefully make some sales while you’re at it, the only thing holding you back is the nagging feeling that submitting your travel claims might be a bit tricky when you return.
We get it, and we have good news! Submitting travel claims doesn’t have to be stressful! Our Branded Program team has provided seven tips below to help you plan for and submit your travel claims as easily as possible.
Travel, meaning airline tickets, hotel stays, and per diem reimbursement, is only eligible if you are traveling to exhibit at an international trade show or pre-approved international trade mission. Travel to meet with a distributor, potential contacts, or any other reason is not eligible.
When in doubt, pull a quote! Per our regulations, flights eligible for reimbursement must:
If your travel plans don’t follow one or more of these regulations, you’ll need to pull a flight quote and submit it to us. You must do this BEFORE your trip. If the flight is eligible, we will reimburse for whichever is less, your actual flight or the quoted price. To pull a quote, go to the website of the US airline you’re flying, and choose a roundtrip flight that follows all of the regulations above. Take a screenshot of the itinerary and the price. Make sure the dates, times, fare class, and total price are visible in the screenshot. Quotes from your business’s travel agency are also acceptable, as long as they include all necessary information.
Submit your pre-travel notification! This must be done BEFORE you travel. To submit a pre-travel notification, just log into your account at www.foodexport.org, and find the Pre-Travel notification box under the Branded tab.
For your hotel nights to be eligible for reimbursement, you MUST obtain a hotel folio or itemized receipt at the time of your check-out. We are unable to reimburse any hotel nights if we don’t have this document. If you aren’t able to get the hotel folio at the time of check-out, try emailing the hotel after the fact; they can usually provide you with the folio for your past stay.
Lodging booked through rental platforms IS eligible (think Airbnb, VRBO, etc.) as long as you can provide documentation showing that you completed your stay and the nightly rate. This kind of receipt can usually be obtained through the website or application.
Remember to take a photo of your booth at the international trade show, and make sure the US origin statement is clearly visible in the photo!
If the tradeshow you’re attending has a USA pavilion, your booth must be part of the pavilion for your travel to be eligible for reimbursement. If this isn’t possible, you’ll need to talk to the Branded Program staff about getting an exemption before the show.
Are parking, taxis, meals, and other similar expenses eligible for reimbursement?
These costs fall under the “Meals and Incidental Expenses” category. If your travel is eligible, you will receive 50% reimbursement for the FSA government per diem rate for the city where the trade show took place; this rate covers costs in the Meals and Incidental Expenses category.
Can I fly Business Class/Economy+/Comfort+?
Please see #2 above. If you book your ticket in Business Class, you must submit a quote for the same flight in coach/economy/main cabin for your fare to be eligible. We will compare your actual flight and the quote and reimburse for the lesser of the two.
What’s the best way to submit my contacts made at the show?
The best ways to submit contacts is to submit a list of names or companies, a picture or scan of business cards of people you met.
As always if you have any questions about submitting claims, please reach out to the Branded Program Team.
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