- Payments & Banking
Payments & Banking
Authorized foreign exchange dealers are located in most large cities and airports. A good way to get cash is at an ATM but beware of hidden bank charges! Use ATMs inside banks and hotels when possible (preferably during the day) and be aware of your surroundings. Do not use an ATM at night or where you don’t feel safe.
Avoid carrying cash beyond the amount necessary for immediate and ordinary personal expenses while traveling. An individual traveling to or from the U.S. with cash in excess of $10,000 must declare the amount to U.S. Customs. Some countries restrict the amount of cash an individual may bring in or out of country. Confiscation of cash is a potential consequence of non compliance of these regulations.
Credit card is another form of payment while traveling abroad. Traveling with Credit cards from two different companies allows for flexibility in the event an establishment does not accept certain card types, your bank places a hold on your card because they suspect fraudulent activity or if you lose one card.
Call your credit card company before you leave to let them know you will be using the card internationally so the card is placed on hold due to suspected fraudulent activity. Ask the credit card company if your card is set up for ATM usage and cash advances at a currency exchange.
GEMS Credit Card – The University’s GEMS card can be used for payment of travel services and is accepted by hotels internationally. If you do not have a GEMS card, check with your department to learn if you can apply for a card. Be aware that the card cannot be used at ATMs or at currency exchanges for cash advances.
The University's Financial Services Travel Website provides a number of resources including information on hotel and car rental discounts, travel reimbursement and related policies.
Opening a bank account outside of the U.S.
If you believe a University bank account outside the U.S. is required, please contact the Office of Treasury Management (773-702-1958) and provide a full description of the University program, the purpose and the duration of the proposed account. Treasury Management will analyze the proposal and coordinate with the appropriate University offices to establish the bank account. Be aware that the process to open a bank account outside the U.S. is a very lengthy process (it can take months to establish) therefore the Office of Treasury Management should be engaged well in advance of your planned activity outside of the U.S. In most cases, the University will be unable to open a bank account abroad unless the University has first taken formal steps to legally register (See Legal tab) in the specific country.
Recording foreign activity in FAS
In order to properly account for the foreign activity in the accounting records of the University, a unique account in FAS may be required to record the USD equivalent of the foreign activity. The Office of Financial Services can assist in creating the account. The following checklist should be completed and forwarded to the Executive Director of Accounting and Reporting in Financial Services in advance of creating an account.
Export controls are U.S. laws and regulations that govern the export of sensitive technology, services and information for foreign policy, national security, and global competitiveness reasons. These laws affect the circumstances under which certain equipment, technology, software and data can be exported to another country or even to a foreign national located in the US. The primary source for export controls regulations are the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”), administered by the Department of State, and the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”), administered by the Department of Commerce. The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (“OFAC”) administers sanctions against certain foreign countries, entities and individuals, which affect not only export, but a much broader spectrum of activities and transactions. Violation of these laws and regulations can result in significant civil and criminal penalties for individuals and the University.
Before conducting international research, sending controlled items or technology outside of the U.S. or otherwise traveling outside of the U.S. with laptops, cell phones, and other electronic devices, please review URA’s comprehensive guidance on export controls and trade sanctions. You can also contact Stefan Jellicoe, J.D., Export Control Compliance Officer for assistance or with any questions.
If contemplating any research or transactional activity within an OFAC-sanctioned country or with known citizens or entities (such as corporations or governmental agencies) of OFAC sanctioned countries, please contact Smita Singh, Assistant General Counsel for assistance before proceeding.
When planning to conduct University activities abroad, you should consider whether the activity requires you to formally register or otherwise establish a legal presence in the country. As a general matter, legal status is required to conduct certain in-country activities, including:
- Opening a bank account;
- Hiring local nationals, including through a payroll/HR service provider (but excluding arrangements through an institutional subcontract for research activities);
- Leasing space.
Registration may be completed by registering the University directly or by forming a new legal entity under the laws of the foreign country. In any event, you should contact the University’s Office of Legal Counsel to discuss your proposed activity early on in the planning stages. The Office, in consultation with in-country legal counsel, will help determine the best option for registration, if required. As the foreign registration process can be lengthy, advance planning is required.
It is important to note that the University’s tax-exempt status in the U.S. does not automatically extend to its activities in other countries. To the contrary, the University’s taxation and reporting obligations in a foreign country are generally determined on the basis of that country’s local tax laws or a tax treaty with the United States (also referred to as a “Permanent Establishment” or “PE”). A PE in a foreign country brings with it extensive, and costly administrative and compliance responsibilities, and many foreign countries aggressively enforce their tax laws against foreign entities.
Accordingly, you must consider PE risk when engaging in an activity that gives rise to revenue (directly or indirectly) in a foreign country, and consult with Office of Legal Counsel and UChicagoGlobal when planning your overseas activity.
Activities that may trigger a taxable presence include:
- Leasing, owning or occupying a physical office space overseas to conduct University activities;
- Employing individuals at the University who work overseas;
- Conducting educational programs or research overseas; or
- Providing services to a third party in a foreign country for a specific period of time.
While certain ”preparatory and auxiliary” activities are excepted under a PE analysis, it is important that you first consult with the Office of Legal Counsel as these exceptions can be narrowly construed and highly fact-dependent.