Purchasing Goods and Services Abroad

Introduction Legal
Cash Management Reporting and Compliance
Finance (Including Payroll) Research Compliance (Federal)
Risk Management (Safety and Security)


Those purchasing goods and services abroad should comply with institutional purchasing policies and procedures, U.S. government restrictions (such as economic embargoes and export controls), and any fund restrictions (e.g., donor imposed). The program director or designee should ensure that only authorized individuals enter into contracts and approve purchases on behalf of the institution. The authority to enter into such transactions should be established in the institution's transaction authority policy or similar policy, which should indicate specific individuals and/or roles with the authority to enter into transactions based on dollar thresholds and other considerations such as contract length. In some cases, the authority to purchase and enter into contracts will reside with administrators in the host country. In other cases-such as those involving high-dollar transactions-authority will reside with home-country authorities.

(Note: Value-added taxes (VAT) and similar taxes levied on goods and services in certain host countries are discussed in the "Foreign Country Compliance and Regulatory Requirements" section of Statutory Compliance & Reporting. Antiboycott laws are discussed in the "Domestic Reporting and Regulations" section of Statutory Compliance & Reporting, and the laws are outlined in the U.S. government Web site.  And hiring independent contractors is discussed in "Hiring Independent Contractors Abroad.")