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Stanford Personnel Working Abroad

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There are instances where a Stanford employee may need to work abroad. As a general rule, short term "business" travel (under 30 days) does not present issues as long as immigration and work authorizations are addressed. However, if a program / project plans to have a significant and long-term presence in a foreign country, a range of significant issues can be triggered often resulting in increased administrative costs, regulatory compliance requirements, and potential of triggering a Presence for the individual and/or Stanford in the local jurisdiction. Legal, tax, and other considerations should be reviewed to ensure that the full impact of the presence abroad is understood and budgeted prior to the international assignment. This section focuses on some of the implications that working abroad may have on an individual, while the Stanford Status Abroad section discusses potential University implications.

An individual conducting Stanford activities outside of the U.S. may create a tax, employment, and possibly legal Presence for the University. University policy governing Stanford personnel working abroad can be found in Administrative Guide – Chapter 11 Global Activities. As noted in the Administrative Guide, employee requests to work in an international location for an extended period of time require the approval of the Dean, Vice Provost, or Vice President of the school / unit and the school / unit’s Human Resources Manager. There must be a business purpose to support the time in country. The Stanford employee conducting the activity may be subject to tax and labor laws of the country where the activity is taking place. This includes Stanford-paid salary being subject to taxation in the foreign country.

Depending on the nature of the activity and the amount of time spent outside of the U.S., a telecommuting agreement may be required as specified in Administrative Guide – Chapter 11.2.21, Global HR Programs and Global Business Services (GBS) must be consulted regarding employee requests to telecommute outside the country of hire prior to any decision. Work authorization and tax rules in other countries may make such arrangements very costly regardless of the level of approval.

The duration of time spent by an employee in a foreign country is one gauge to determine the applicability of foreign regulations. Short-term business travel under 30 days is generally straightforward. However, there are additional considerations for short-term business travel to the United Kingdom, and increasingly to other countries. Regardless of the duration of stay, individuals should ensure that entry into the country is supported by the appropriate visa (e.g., business, research, etc.).

If an employee expects time in another country to exceed 183 days or is repeatedly visiting the same country, consider the following:


In addition to visa requirements, extended time in country may necessitate work or residency permits. If work and residency permits are required, a Presence may be triggered.

Work Space

When working outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time, a physical Presence may be triggered by the work space and lodging that is utilized. It is almost always triggered if a lease is signed. Please note that any such contracts should be processed through Stanford’s Purchasing / Contracts department.

Tax Implications

Extended time in country could subject the employee’s Stanford salary to local taxation and possibly local social tax contributions. Tax benefits arising from bilateral tax treaties between the U.S. and some countries may exempt certain types of activity. If the activity is taking place where Stanford currently has a Presence, additional guidance is available. If the time in country requires a work or residence permit or will exceed 183 days (about six months) during any 12-month period, please contact GBS for additional guidance.

Social Security

In countries where Social Security reciprocity agreements (totalization agreements) are available, U.S. Social Security and Medicare taxes continue to apply to wages for up to five years. Proof of exemption from paying Social Security in the country of assignment must be provided to the appropriate foreign authorities by means of a certificate of coverage (which certifies continuing coverage in the U.S.). More information on international Social Security agreements abroad is available through the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Human Resources / Personnel / Employment

Stanford personnel working abroad are subject to the existing University personnel policies described in Stanford Administrative Guide – Chapter 11 Global Activities. However, it is important to notify Global HR in advance of such assignments to ensure that the employee and the University plan adequately for the local compliance requirements for the foreign location. This may involve consultation with outside experts.

Benefits / Health Insurance Coverage

Stanford personnel traveling abroad on official University business for short-term or extended business purposes should review their individual medical and insurance coverages, and inform themselves about the University's business travel accident and emergency medical and evacuation coverages through Worldwide Assistance, International SOS, On Call International (for students in Cardinal Care) and Medex (for postdocs). Learn about your health benefits when traveling outside the U.S and emergency medical and evacuation benefits.

Governing Policies

Stanford personnel working abroad remain subject to the existing University policies, including the policies described in the University's Administrative Guide, the Stanford Bulletin, the Faculty Handbook, and the Research Policy Handbook.

What's Next?

Submit a Support Request to GBS with your project title, department name, travel dates, and type of activity if the following apply:

  • If you will be working where Stanford has a Presence; or
  • If you will spend more than six months, or 183 days, in any country or if your stay requires a work or residency permit.