Entertainment Policy

At UC Berkeley, “entertainment” means expenditures for meals or light refreshments and related services (e.g., labor charges, room rental, equipment rental, decorations, flowers, and similar expenditures) incurred in connection with events that are primarily social or recreational activities in support of the University’s mission. Such activities must support an underlying University business purpose such as promoting goodwill or cultivating donors.

Entertainment usually has a guest-host relationship, in which an official guest or guests attend an event, at the invitation of a UC Berkeley host, for a business purpose. Although administrative meetings might not typically include a guest-host relationship, they too may incur allowable entertainment expenses.

In general, entertainment expenses must be cost-effective and make the best use of public funds.



  • Event Coordinator
    The individual who  incurred the expenses being reimbursed.  Typically (but not necessarily) the individual who coordinated/scheduled the logistics associated with the event.  May or may not also be the host.

  • Host
    An official host is a University employee or other individual who is the University’s representative at an official business meeting, entertainment event, or other activity. The individual arranging an event (e.g., making hotel arrangements, ordering food, etc.) is not the host unless he or she is physically present at the event and acting in a capacity as the official host.

  • Per-person Limit for Meals and Light Refreshments
    Costs of food, beverage, sales tax, labor, delivery and other service fees are totaled and divided by the number of guests. Costs associated with facility rental, equipment rental, decorations and other items are an additional expense not calculated against the per-person limit. The maximum per-person rate is established by policy, but departments may establish lower limits.

  • Reimbursement
    Reimbursement is a payment to a University employee, student, or other individual for expenses incurred in connection with a University-approved business meeting, entertainment event, or other activity authorized under UC Policy BUS-79.



If a university employee or student paid out-of-pocket for costs associated with a business meeting or university hosted entertainment event, a record of the expenses and a request for reimbursement must be submitted within 45 days after the end date of the meeting or event. For more information please visit the Controller’s Web site on entertainment-related expenses.



  • The event coordinator will incur and report actual entertainment expenses in a responsible, ethical and timely manner.
  • The event coordinator will make choices that demonstrate good stewardship of University resources; spending decisions will not be extravagant or lavish.
  • Entertainment expenses must be considered ordinary and necessary to accomplish the official business purpose of the event.
  • Entertainment expenses considered by the IRS to be taxable income to the employee or event coordinator will not be reimbursed; meal or entertainment expenses will be considered taxable income if:
    • The activity is not directly related to the employee’s job
    • The expense is lavish or extravagant under the circumstances
    • The official host or other designated employee is not present when the activity takes place
    • The expense is not substantiated with supporting documentation
  • Entertainment expenses will be reviewed and approved/denied in accordance with University policy and campus business practices; refer to UC Policy BUS-79