Foreign Activity Operations Guide

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Administrative / Financial Operating Procedures and Documentation

Stanford University policies and procedures are described in the Research Policy Handbook and Administrative Guide. Relevant guidance may be found in:

While existing policies are largely geared towards University activities occurring in the United States, they also apply to international activities. With the emerging importance of global activities, the University is actively working to enhance information resources and services available for academic support. This must be coupled with ensuring compliance with an increasingly rigorous global regulatory environment. Faculty/investigators are encouraged to consult with the Global Business Services, in the early planning stages of international projects to obtain the most effective support for their work. International projects often involve additional costs associated with obtaining foreign permits and approvals and fulfilling regulatory requirements. The Global Business Director may be able to assist with identifying and estimating such costs in connection with budget planning.

Prior to the commencement of any project, to facilitate compliance with U.S. and local laws and Stanford University administrative practices, it is required that:

  • All agreements with Third Parties be appropriately structured, documented, reviewed; and approved by cognizant University offices with delegated authority (reference Admin Guide Policy 1.4.1). In the University context this often takes the form of, but is not limited to, a written agreement with a foreign academic or government entity.
  • Any income generated in the course of Stanford University activities abroad be reported to the Global Business Director so that local tax implications may be assessed.
  • Appropriate procedures are developed for the procurement of goods and services in the foreign country, in accordance with University procurement polices outlined in the Admin Guide Chapter 5: Purchasing and Payments. Contact the Chief Procurement Officer for assistance in contracting for the acquisition of goods and services over $2,500.
  • All payments/expenditures adhere to University accounting policies as outlined in Admin Guide Chapter 5: Purchasing and Payments and the sponsored research guidelines.
  • Faculty / investigators insist upon written receipts for all financial transactions, even when this is an infrequent practice in the local environment; use of cash payments is discouraged wherever possible.
  • Faculty/investigators inform themselves and personnel about regulations restricting the amount of currency that can be hand-carried out of the U.S. without currency reporting requirements (<$10,000). Many foreign countries have exchange controls in place that limit the amount of incoming and outgoing currency. Accordingly, it is strongly advisable to determine in advance what currency regulations may exist for foreign destinations prior to departure. To research country specific information and requirements that may affect your international shipment, see Country Profiles in the FedEx International Resource Center.
  • Specific attention should be paid to individual tax exposure for project personnel who are outside of the U.S. for 183 days/year. This is particularly true when that time is spent in a single foreign country (even if not continuous). Please submit a help request to the Global Business Services should such a circumstance pertain to you, or to other Stanford personnel, on your projects. Note that the University cannot provide individual tax advice; however, these situations may have implications for both individuals and the University.

If you have an issue that is not addressed by existing policies and procedures, submit a help request to Global Business Services.