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ELCD Contractor Travel Guide

Travel and per diem reimbursement rates for Early Learning and Care Division (ELCD) child care and development contractors.

California State Travel Program
Expense Reimbursement

January 2020

Rates, time frames, and requirements in this pamphlet are applicable to all non-represented (excluded/exempt) State contractors.

Conditions of Travel

Lodging, meal, and incidental expenses are allowed while traveling on official state business only when the contractor is traveling farther than 50 miles from their home or headquarters, whichever is closer, to the temporary work site. On rare occasions, specific traveling circumstances may exist which require special exceptions, such as:

  • If there is a business need to incur lodging, meal, and incidental expenses within 50 miles of the traveler's home or headquarters (whichever is closer), to the temporary work site when conditions would not normally allow for it; requires advance approval.
  • The inability to reserve a hotel at the state rate Lodging Reimbursement; requires advance approval.

Lodging is permissible (supported by a receipt) when State business requires an overnight stay and the contractor uses a good, moderately priced commercial lodging establishment (hotel, motel, bed and breakfast or public campground) that caters to the short-term traveler; and, for day trips of less than 24 hours.

Allowable Lodging Rates (effective July 1, 2016)
County Rate
All California counties (except as noted below) $90
Sacramento, Napa, Riverside $95
Marin $110
Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, & Edwards AFB (Less City of Santa Monica) $120
Monterey, San Diego $125
Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara $140
City of Santa Monica $150
San Francisco $250
  • When making a room reservation, request a confirmation number that can later be provided when checking in. 
  • In order to be reimbursed up to the allowable state lodging rate, contractors must receive a zero balance receipt from the lodging establishment.

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Meal and Incidental Reimbursement Rates (24-hr period)

Full meals included in airfare, hotel, and conference fees, or otherwise provided may not be claimed for reimbursement. Also, the same meal may not be claimed more than once on any date. Continental breakfasts of rolls, coffee, and/or juice are not considered full meals. Retain all meal receipts for audit by the state or the Internal Revenue Service.

  • Breakfast: Actual expense up to $7.00
  • Lunch: Actual expense up to $11.00
  • Dinner: Actual expense up to $23.00
  • Incidentals: Actual expense up to $5.00
Travel Timeframes for Meal Reimbursement

First Day - Trip of More than 24 Hours:

  • Trip begins at or before 6 a.m.: May claim breakfast.
  • Trip begins at or before 11 a.m.: May claim lunch.
  • Trip begins at or before 5 p.m.: May claim dinner.

Fractional Day - After 24 Hours of Travel:

  • Trip ends at or after 8 a.m.:  May claim breakfast.
  • Trip ends at or after 2 p.m.:  May claim lunch.
  • Trip ends at or after 7 p.m.:  May claim dinner.

Fractional Day - Trip of Less than 24 Hours:

  • Trip must begin at or before 6 a.m. and end at or after 9 a.m. in order to claim breakfast.
  • Trip must begin at or before 4 p.m. and end at or after 7 p.m. in order to claim dinner.
  • No lunch or incidentals may be claimed. If there is no overnight stay, these meals are taxable.
Conferences and Conventions

Lodging must be at the state rate unless the conference lodging rooms are contracted by the sponsors of the event.

Out-of-State Travel
  • Lodging with receipt: Actual expense (subject to CDE approval).
  • Meals and incidentals: Same rates/requirements as in-state reimbursement.
Out-of-Country Travel
  • Lodging with receipt: Actual expense (subject to CDE approval).
  • Meals and incidentals: As published by the U.S. Government for dates and places traveled.
Mileage Reimbursement Rates

Reimbursement of transportation expenses is only for the method of transportation (plane, auto, train, etc.) that is in the best interest of the State, considering both cost and time.

  • All privately-owned vehicle mileage driven on State business is subject to approval in advance.
  • The mileage reimbursement rates (effective January 1, 2020) below are considered full reimbursement for all costs related to the operation and maintenance of the personal vehicle, including insurance:
    • Automobile: 57.5 cents per mile
    • Private aircraft: $1.15 per statute mile
    • Bicycle: 4 cents per mile
  • If dropped off and picked up at a common carrier and no parking expense is claimed, the contractor may claim mileage to and from the common carrier twice (for round trip).

Original receipts are required for:

  • Airline and rental cars (direct charge).
  • Lodging expenses.
  • Gas for rental cars.
  • Street car, ferry fares, bridge and road tolls, local transit, taxi, shuttle, hotel bus, and parking over $10.
  • Legal, business, or any other expenses.

Return to MB 18-13

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Questions:   Early Learning and Care Division | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Friday, December 15, 2023
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