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Overseas Bank Accounts

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Programs or projects that have significant spending in a foreign country may find it impractical to make local payments using Stanford’s prescribed options for purchasing goods and services overseas. In such circumstances, the establishment of Stanford local bank accounts may be a viable solution. Stanford may already have a Presence, including local banking services, in the country where the project is operating, or the project may provide the needed impetus to set up a local bank account for Stanford. The latter provides the most local flexibility and support, but it is a significant effort and expense, often requiring legal registration in that country. Typically, it is only supported for countries where Stanford has a consistent, regular presence, or for a large, ongoing project with payrolls or other recurring payment requirements.

All Stanford bank accounts must be opened and managed by the Office of the Treasurer. Overseas banking imposes country specific regulations, rigorous reporting requirements, and can take several months to establish. Hence, if an overseas account is needed, contact GBS to help assess the business case, implications, and U.S.- and country-specific requirements for the establishment of the bank account.

Employees who have personal bank accounts in the foreign country may be able to process payments by other means, such as internet bill-pay or payment by mobile phone. These payment methods are generally not available to Stanford, and the University does not permit employees to manage University funds by opening personal local bank accounts. It is advisable to consult with Global Business Services (GBS) if payments are to be made to a Stanford employee through their local personal bank account; or if there appears to be a business reason supporting the establishment of a local bank account for Stanford business. Opening a foreign bank account could: (i) trigger a Presence for Stanford; and (ii) also necessitate U.S. tax reporting requirements such as Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR).

If you are a signatory on a foreign bank account, whether personal or in Stanford’s name, be aware of U.S. Treasury FBAR requirements.

What's Next?

Stanford has several practical payment solutions for foreign payments. If your project requires high volume, high value or complicated local payments, work with GBS to determine viable payment solutions that minimize both your and the University’s risk and obligations which would result from having an overseas bank account. In the event that the nature of payments made by your project makes it necessary to establish a foreign bank account, please contact GBS to assess the feasibility and requirements.