Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

  • What authority requires that I use a travel card and where is it stated?

    • The Travel and Transportation Reform Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-264) mandates use of the Government Travel Charge card for employees on official government travel. Employees are required to use the travel card for ONLY official expenses and travel related expenses away from the official duty station for which a travel voucher will be filed.

    • All Department of Commerce travelers are eligible to be issued a travel card.

    • Contact your travel card point of contact and request yours.

    • Travel card applications are done on line. When you have completed the application, your manager is notified and must approve your request.

    • After your manager approves your card issuance, the application routes to your travel card POC.

    • After your travelcard AOPC reviews your application, add the data that identifies you, your bureau, and your department, the application moves to JPMorgan.

    • The card is issued and mailed to you.

  • When can I use the travel card?

    • The travel card is only used when you have an approved travel order.

    • The travel card can only be used by the card holder for card holder travel expenses.

    • You cannot use your travel card for anyone else’s travel expenses.

    • You cannot use your travel card for personal payments of any kind.

    • If you have more questions, please contact your travel card POC.

To apply for a travel card, follow the travel card on-line card application instructions.

  • How do I make reservations?

      • When you know your destination(s), your hotel choices and your dates of travel, you can make your reservation either in the electronic travel system OR call CWTSatoTravel (CWT) at 1-866-789-3443 for Census, NIST, and NOAA and 1-855-813-2844 for Bureaus on E2.

      • CWTSatoTravel is the Department of Commerce’s travel agency except for USPTO. They adhere to the agency’s travel regulations and can answer questions that you may have about hotels, car rentals and government fares.

    • Will I be reimbursed for a seat selection that cost?

      • Generally, the Department of Commerce will not pay for seat selection.

      • Please speak to your travel coordinator if you have further questions regarding payment of seat selection.

    • How do I pay for my reservations?

      • The Department of Commerce uses a Centrally Billed Account travel card to pay for all airfare, rail or bus usage while on official travel.

      • If approved changes are made to the reservation for any personal reason (airline choice, cheaper fare, vacation, etc…) the CBA is no longer used to make payment. You must use your personal credit card to make changes for personal reasons after the approved official ticket has been issued.

      • Your Individual Billed Account travel card will pay for the hotel, taxis, parking, and other travel expenses while you are on official travel.

    • Must I use the Government contract air carrier?

      • Yes, unless your travel meets a specific exception to the program. Exceptions to the mandatory use requirements are contained in the FTR § 301-10.107.

    • Must I use the Travel Management Center (TMC) to arrange my travel?

      • Yes, the FTR requires employees to use the Government contracted TMC to arrange official travel. DOC’s contracted TMC is CWTSatoTravel except for USPTO.

    When is the transaction fee charged?

    The transaction fee is charged when a ticket is issued. Fully refundable contract city pair fare tickets will be issued three business days in advance. All other tickets will be issued when the approved travel authorization is received. Travelers must request the agent to issue a ticket earlier or later, as necessary. An additional transaction fee will apply when another ticket is issued due to a change in the itinerary.

    Transaction fees change every fiscal year. The updated transaction fee schedule is sent to all DOC travel coordinators no later than September 15th of each year.

How do I arrange for premium class travel?

    All premium travel requests must include a travel authorization and CD-334, Request for Approval of Other than Coach-Class Accommodations, with matching dates and appropriate approval. Please contact your travel AOPC for assistance.


Do I need an official passport to travel on temporary duty internationally?

    Yes. This type of passport is sometimes referred to as a service passport. It is maroon and beginning October 1, 2016, official and diplomat passports will cost $110.00. You cannot use your blue tourist passport when traveling on official business for the U.S. Federal Government.

How do I obtain an official or diplomatic passport?

    If you have never had a passport issued to you before, and you want a official/diplomatic passport, you must complete and sign the DS-11. If you have lost your passport or do not submit your personal passport for identification for obtaining an official or diplomatic passport, you must complete and sign the DS-11.

    You must have a 2x2 photo. If you work for the Office of the Secretary, you may take them at the Security Office. Ask your supervisor to email them and make an appointment for you.

    In addition to the application and the photo, you are required to submit a Memorandum of Authorization to the State Department from your bureau, requesting that a passport be issued to you.

    It must come from an executive or their designee that is on the State Department’s authorizing list. Check with your Passport agent or travel POC to find that name.

    The memo must be on your bureau’s headquarters letter head. It will not be accepted if it is on field office letterhead.

    It must be signed by the “writer” of the memo. It cannot be signed by the traveler.

    A passport agent cannot sign the memo.

    If you need an EXPEDITED passport, you must include that information in the subject line AND you must tell the State Department WHY you need an expedited passport in the memo.

    You need the application, the photo, the memo AND

    An original certified birth certificate. You cannot submit the short form or an abstract form. AND

    You will also need to submit a driver license. The passport agent will copy the front and the back and submit it with your application package.

    You should submit the application 30 days before your departure date and 60 days before your departure date if a visa is needed.

If you have been issued a passport before, if you have a blue tourist passport that is current or expired, you may use it as identification in your official or diplomatic passport application request.

    It will be submitted to the State Department with your application and returned when your official or diplomatic is processed.

    You need the completed and signed application, a 2x2 photo, the memo AND

    Your DS-82 application completed and signed.

How do I get the application for an official or diplomatic passport processed?

    Submit your applications at least 30 days before they are needed and 60 days before departure if a visa is needed.

    When you have all the required items, take them to your bureau passport agent.

    If you work for the Office of the Secretary, please bring them to the Travel Management Division.

    All applications brought to the TMD will be couriered to the Special Issuance Agency for processing.

How do I obtain a visa for international official travel?

    If you work for NOAA, CENSUS, ITA, or PTO, please contact your travel office for instructions.

    If you work for any other bureaus or the Office of the Secretary, gather all documents and photos required to travel to a foreign country, and then please give them to your bureau’s passport or travel POC.

    After the POC reviews your documents for accuracy, and makes copies of what you have given them, they should bring them to the Travel Management Division.

    The TMD will request a letter of intent from the Department of State.

    Because the Embassy of each country has full control about when and how the visa is processed and the passport is released, the Travel Management Division requires a 30 day notice if we are asked to assist the traveler in obtaining a visa.

    Although the TMD has limited contacts in some consulates at foreign embassies, the TMD is never able to guarantee the date of return for the passport with the requested visa.

    The Travel Management Division has the right to review the usual time it takes to process a visa from an embassy or consulate, and determine whether they can assist the traveler with the visa issuance process.

    Generally, if the visa request is made 10 days or less before the traveler is scheduled to depart, the TMD will ONLY write the letter of intent. The traveler will be responsible for going to the Embassy or Consulate to make their request.

When must I submit my travel reimbursement voucher?

    Travelers must complete and submit a travel reimbursement voucher within 5 days after returning from travel.

How much per diem will I get?

    Each county in the United States and each city in foreign countries have been given a rate from which you are reimbursed for hotel, meals and incidental expenses.

You receive 75% of the total daily per diem on travel days. You are only paid per diem while on official travel.

  • How do I prepare a travel order?

    • If you are not using an electronic travel system, you must complete a travel order manually.

    • Here are the instructions for completing the travel order.

    • You should include the travel order, your itinerary, and any other important information and send it to the approved routing list components.

  • How do I prepare a travel voucher?
    • If you have an electronic travel system to use, your voucher will create with expenses that you indicated in your travel order. You should edit those expenses and replace amounts with actual cost. You should delete those amounts that you did not spend.

    • If you have no electronic voucher system, you must create your voucher manually.

    • Use the CD-370.

    • Use these instructions.

    • You must have receipts or documentation to receive reimbursement for charges that are $75 or more.

    • Please route your voucher using the same routing list that you used for your travel order.

Office of Financial Management
U.S. Department of Commerce

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Page last updated September 14, 2016