When developing budgets for overseas projects you should consider specific international budgeting factors, such as foreign currency fluctuations, exporting and customs, visas and immigration, indirect taxes in other jurisdictions, and health, safety, and insurance.

Consider foreign currency fluctuations and related expenses

While projects are typically budgeted in U.S. dollars, many expenses will be paid in local currency. Some currencies are pegged either within a narrow range of or directly to the U.S. dollar, which means the impact of currency fluctuations will be either limited or non-existent. For all other currencies, VPF recommends you consider the impact currency fluctuation may have on your project and contact VPF Tax and Global Operations (TGO) with questions. Even when fluctuation is not an issue, there may still be conversion fees to consider, particularly for cash-to-cash transactions.

In the case of sponsored awards, program administrators should generally update budgets as close as possible to the award stage to minimize exchange rate variations. The authorized spending amount is based on cash received in U.S. dollars, so fluctuating values could result in a reduction of services under the agreement. For more information contact the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP).

Finally, note that in many cases the simplest way to attain foreign currency at the best rate possible is by using a foreign ATM. If a significant number of withdrawals are needed, consider adding reimbursement for fees to your budget.

Expect export and customs fees

The costs related to exporting equipment, goods, or services to other countries varies significantly depending on circumstances. In addition to potentially significant shipping charges, there are often export or customs fees to consider. For country-specific guidance, please visit the International Air Transport Association's Travel Centre.

In addition to specific budgeting impacts, OSP provides extensive guidance on export controls and related considerations.

Be aware of visa and immigration costs

International travel costs can add up quickly, and visa requirements and costs vary depending on the citizenship of the traveler, country of travel, duration of stay, and other factors. VPF strongly suggests that program administrators contact A. Briggs, MIT’s preferred supplier for passport and visa processing, or research specific obligations during initial program budgeting stages to ensure sufficient funds are allocated to this cost.

Plan for indirect taxes

Tax schemes vary by country. Programs operating overseas can expect to be subject to Value Added Tax (VAT) or other indirect taxes in most other jurisdictions. For more information about how to budget for indirect taxes please contact TGO.

If your program receives funding from a foreign source, you should review the information on non-U.S. withholding and documentation requirements in the MIT Tax Forms and Guidance section of this website.

Consider expenses related to health, safety, and insurance

There may be additional costs to consider if working with hazardous and restricted materials in international settings. These potential costs include storage or disposal of hazardous materials, local permits and research registration, and additional personal protective equipment. Please see the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) website for more information.

In rare cases, additional physical security may be required or requested. The cost related to such services varies significantly, and planning should begin with MIT’s Safety and Security Program Manager as early as possible.

Finally, in certain countries, a program may require or request supplemental health or travel insurance coverage in addition to the standard coverage provided by MIT. To understand the cost and budget implications on your program contact MIT's Office of Insurance.

Understand technology costs

In most cases, cell phone usage overseas represents the largest technology-related expense for travelers. Contact your cellular provider well in advance of traveling to understand the cost of international roaming, or to determine if you can switch to a local sim card for the duration of your travel. Alternatively, you can budget for a loaner or pre-paid local phone when you arrive at your destination. For more information, see IS&T’s Technology Trips for Travelers.

Budget for longer-term projects

Overseas projects lasting longer than thirty days may face additional expenses such as local legal advice, registration for businesses purposes, long-term mobility or hiring costs (local payroll costs, individual tax equalization, cost of living adjustments), or compliance obligations. In certain rare cases, MIT may need to establish a new entity in a jurisdiction to support programming, which can add further costs related to legal or governance functions. Due to the highly variable nature of long-term overseas project budgets, please contact TGO as early as possible to discuss any planned extended overseas operations.

The Details

Consider foreign currency fluctuations and related expenses

While projects are typically budgeted in U.S. dollars, many expenses will be paid in local currency. Some currencies are pegged either within a narrow range of or directly to the U.S. dollar, which means the impact of currency fluctuations will be either limited or non-existent. For all other currencies, VPF recommends you consider the impact currency fluctuation may have on your project and contact VPF Tax and Global Operations (TGO) with questions. Even when fluctuation is not an issue, there may still be conversion fees to consider, particularly for cash-to-cash transactions.

In the case of sponsored awards, program administrators should generally update budgets as close as possible to the award stage to minimize exchange rate variations. The authorized spending amount is based on cash received in U.S. dollars, so fluctuating values could result in a reduction of services under the agreement. For more information contact the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP).

Finally, note that in many cases the simplest way to attain foreign currency at the best rate possible is by using a foreign ATM. If a significant number of withdrawals are needed, consider adding reimbursement for fees to your budget.

Expect export and customs fees

The costs related to exporting equipment, goods, or services to other countries varies significantly depending on circumstances. In addition to potentially significant shipping charges, there are often export or customs fees to consider. For country-specific guidance, please visit the International Air Transport Association's Travel Centre.

In addition to specific budgeting impacts, OSP provides extensive guidance on export controls and related considerations.

Be aware of visa and immigration costs

International travel costs can add up quickly, and visa requirements and costs vary depending on the citizenship of the traveler, country of travel, duration of stay, and other factors. VPF strongly suggests that program administrators contact A. Briggs, MIT’s preferred supplier for passport and visa processing, or research specific obligations during initial program budgeting stages to ensure sufficient funds are allocated to this cost.

Plan for indirect taxes

Tax schemes vary by country. Programs operating overseas can expect to be subject to Value Added Tax (VAT) or other indirect taxes in most other jurisdictions. For more information about how to budget for indirect taxes please contact TGO.

If your program receives funding from a foreign source, you should review the information on non-U.S. withholding and documentation requirements in the MIT Tax Forms and Guidance section of this website.

Consider expenses related to health, safety, and insurance

There may be additional costs to consider if working with hazardous and restricted materials in international settings. These potential costs include storage or disposal of hazardous materials, local permits and research registration, and additional personal protective equipment. Please see the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) website for more information.

In rare cases, additional physical security may be required or requested. The cost related to such services varies significantly, and planning should begin with MIT’s Safety and Security Program Manager as early as possible.

Finally, in certain countries, a program may require or request supplemental health or travel insurance coverage in addition to the standard coverage provided by MIT. To understand the cost and budget implications on your program contact MIT's Office of Insurance.

Understand technology costs

In most cases, cell phone usage overseas represents the largest technology-related expense for travelers. Contact your cellular provider well in advance of traveling to understand the cost of international roaming, or to determine if you can switch to a local sim card for the duration of your travel. Alternatively, you can budget for a loaner or pre-paid local phone when you arrive at your destination. For more information, see IS&T’s Technology Trips for Travelers.

Budget for longer-term projects

Overseas projects lasting longer than thirty days may face additional expenses such as local legal advice, registration for businesses purposes, long-term mobility or hiring costs (local payroll costs, individual tax equalization, cost of living adjustments), or compliance obligations. In certain rare cases, MIT may need to establish a new entity in a jurisdiction to support programming, which can add further costs related to legal or governance functions. Due to the highly variable nature of long-term overseas project budgets, please contact TGO as early as possible to discuss any planned extended overseas operations.

Did You Know?

VPF is a core member of MIT’s International People Placement (IPP) team, which is available to assist the MIT community with questions related to working abroad.
1 of 1