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Frequently Asked Questions about Travel

Table of Contents

Travel Cards

Reservations

Passports/Visas

  • 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 the use of the Government Travel Charge card for employees on official government travel. Employees are required to use the travel card for ONLY official Travel-Related expenses away from the official duty station for which a travel voucher will be filed. The DOC Travel Charge Card Handbook implements the mandatory use of the travel charge card by all DOC official travelers.
  • When can I use the travel card?
    • The travel card is only used when you have an approved travel order.
    • The cardholder can use the travel card for Travel-Related 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.
  • How do I apply for a government travel card?
    • Please contact your Bureau A/OPC for the Invitation Passcode and Inviters Email Address.
    • Use the following link to apply for a Travel Card at least 15 business days in advance of your travel date: https://home.cards.citidirect.com/CommercialCard. After accessing the link, follow the steps below to complete an online application.
    • Under new users select "Apply for Card";
    • Select "Invitation Passcode" then click on continue;
    • Type in the invitation passcode, then type in the Inviter's email address then select continue;
    • You will now be at the "User Registration" screen; please follow the questions to complete your application.
    • After completing the User Registration, you will be prompted to apply for a card.
    • Upon completing the registration, complete the following and forward to your Travel POC or AOPC: 
      • Statement of Understanding, signed by you and your supervisor. Electronic signatures are acceptable.
      • The GSA SmartPay Travel Cardholder Training. This is a mandatory requirement for each cardholder before being issued the card and every three years after that. The training is online and can be accessed using the following link: https://training.smartpay.gsa.gov
    • Upon receipt, an AOPC will process the application and forward to Citibank for approval. The total processing and delivery time of your travel card to the address of record is approximately 7 to 10 business days.
  • 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.
    • Contract your travel card POC for information.
  • When can I use the travel card?
    • The travel card is only used when you have an approved travel authorization.
    • The travel card can only be used by the cardholder for official 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.
  • How do I make reservations?
    • When you know your destination(s), your hotel choices and your dates of travel, you can make your reservations either in the Electronic Travel System
    • 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. For CWTSato assistance, call (866) 789-3443 or (855) 813-2844.
    • Adtrav (SAP Concur) is USPTO travel agency. For reservation/ticketing assistance, please contact Adtrav at USPTO.travel@adtrav.com or Phone: (205) 949-4209 or Toll Free: (866) 866-4810. (Normal business hours are Monday - Friday, 7 A.M. - 10 P.M. (EST).
  • 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.
  • 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, the official and diplomat passports cost $143.85. 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 an 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.
    • Obtain a memo authorizing the issuance of an official passport. The memorandum must be on your Bureaus letterhead and signed by a passport authorizing official.
    • If an EXPEDITED passport is required, you must include that information in the subject line AND the body of the memorandum must state WHY the need for an expedited passport.
    • You need the application, the photo, the memo AND an original certified birth certificate. You cannot submit the short form or an abstract form.
    • 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 apply 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 or if you have a blue tourist passport that is current or expired; you may use it as identification in your official or a 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 DS-82 application, a 2x2 photo and the memo.
  • 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 travel?
    • If you work for NIST, NOAA, CENSUS, ITA, or PTO, please contact your travel or passport 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 Bureaus passport or Travel POC.
    • After the POC reviews your documents for accuracy, they will make copies and bring to the Travel Management Division for processing.
    • TMD will request a letter of intent from the Department of State.
    • The Embassy of each country has full control about when, and how the visa is processed and when 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.
    • TMD is never able to guarantee the date of return for the passport with the requested visa.
    • Generally, if the visa request is made 10 days or less before the traveler is scheduled to depart, the traveler may be responsible for going to the Embassy or Consulate to submit their request.