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Budgeting & Expenses

Budgeting for International Work

Your budget is a financial proposal that reflects the work proposed. It outlines the expected project costs in detail, and should mirror the project description. A budget is presented as a categorical list of anticipated project costs that represent the researcher’s best estimate of the funds needed to support the proposed work. The term “best estimate” is important here. You will be held to using the costs detailed in your budget, so make sure you’ve correctly estimated what you will need to complete the project.

Harvard University provides a list of key considerations when budgeting for international projects.

Direct Costs

Direct costs will vary project by project. They do, however, have three things in common: they benefit the specific project for which the budget is written, they are necessary to complete the project, and they are charged or recharged directly to the sponsored project. Some common direct costs are Salaries & Wages, Fringe Benefits, Equipment, Materials & Supplies, Patient Care Costs, Travel, Graduate Student Fees, Consultants, Subawards, and Lease Costs.

For additional information, refer to the UCOP Contract and Grant Administration Handbook.

Last updated: 7 Dec 2016

Typical and Allowable Costs

Your UC Controllers Office has information on allowable costs. Foreseeable costs should be written into the subcontract budget. Examples include bank fees on fund transfers, electric generators, drivers/translators, other transportation costs, shipping costs and shipping containers. Additional information can be found at Material Management.

This sample may help you imagine the types of things you might budget for. Sample Budget for a subcontract  for a global health project (downloads as an Excel spreadsheet). Please contact us to share sample budgets for other types of international activities.

Last updated: 9 Dec 2016

Travel Expenses

Airfare budgets should reflect unrestricted, coach fare with the shortest flight time and using an American airline. Costs for lodging, ground transportation, travel to and from the airport, baggage, visas, vaccinations, medications, business center facilities, and long distance communication must all be considered. Lodging and transportation are typically budgeted within the subcontract. The U.S. State Department has information on per diem allowances.

To check UC airfares on Connexxus, log into UC Connexxus. When you book your travel through Connexxus, your trip is automatically registered for the UC free travel Insurance, however, if you choose to book your travel by yourself, you must register separately for UC's free travel insurance by accessing this link and following the instructions.

Last updated: 7 Dec 2016

Visa Expenses

While fees for different types of visa vary, most visas are valid for three months to one year, so be sure to budget fees for each person, for each year of the project. Since some visas require an in-person application, make sure to also budget travel to the consulate for in-person interviews, if necessary.

Be aware that if you conduct business on a tourist visa you CAN be expelled and barred from a country, so please make sure that you obtain the appropriate visa for the nature of your travel to a specific country.

For visa information contact the country’s embassy nearest to you. The U.S. State Department provides important travel information and links to Foreign Embassies in the U.S.

Last updated: 22 Aug 2017

Medical Expenses

While your campus Occupational Health Office can assist with determining appropriate vaccines, that information is also available by registering your travel. Budget for required shots, malaria prophylaxis, and other medical items, such as bed nets. Extra costs may be incurred for medications purchased outside regular insurance disbursements (i.e. diabetes medications or birth control pills).

Last updated: 7 Dec 2016

Travel Trip Insurance

UC has FREE Travel Trip Insurance. Some family members and travel companions may be eligible for coverage, contact your campus Risk Services office to determine what is available.


Other Insurance Considerations

UC property insurance includes assets held by the University abroad. To ensure that your assets are covered let your Risk Management know of any purchases abroad.

For clinical trials research, your campus Risk Office can also facilitate obtaining clinical trials insurance, which is required in some countries. Since it may be required, budget enough time for it. Best practices are to have the subcontract carry the insurance.

Last updated: 2 Aug 2016

Start Up Costs

If you do not use a Partnered Institution to manage a subcontract, you will need an in-country lawyer to set up legal status. Review Establishing Legal Status Abroad for more information.

For human subject research, a common catch-22 is that IRB review costs often must be paid before approval, while approval is required prior to the release of funds. It is important to request an advance from the UC side to cover this situation, as the subaward will not typically allow an advance. Reach out to your campus Controller's Office for guidance on wire fees.

Last updated: 7 Dec 2016

Currency Fluctuations

Currency exchange rates vary over a project lifecycle, from the proposal to when the funds are transferred, drawn and spent, and when the financial reports are prepared and submitted. As a result of these fluctuations, your project may end up with less (or more) foreign currency than originally anticipated. To budget accordingly and minimize the effects of the variances of local currency exchange rates and inflation make sure to assess the inflationary rate for the country your project will be working in. Your campus Controller’s Office can assist you with this step.

Exchange Rates and Currency Converter

Last updated: 2 Aug 2016

Salaries On Site

The competition for trained staff at some sites can lead to “staff poaching” among projects. The best practice recommends that you apply the same standards across geographical areas, so knowledge of representative pay scales in the area is going to be important for both, the budgeting and negotiations of local staff pay. Please contact UCGO to learn more.

In addition to salaries, benefits to local staff may be required per their country’s labor laws. Employment contracts or local laws might require payment of severance upon employment termination. Budget for termination payouts per the host country’s laws.

Last updated: 2 Aug 2016

File and Specimen Storage Fees

File, data, and specimen storage are often required for a minimum number of years after a project ends. They can be paid in advance or liened for payout in future years.

Please check UC records retention policy and your funders requirements.

Last updated: 28 Jul 2016

Lease and Contract Close Out Costs

Consider the end dates of leases and contracts. Ensure costs beyond the end date can be covered if no other project assumes them. The NIH offers detailed guidance for lease and contract close out costs specific to international work.

Last updated: 28 Jul 2016
Last updated: 5 Jul 2016