Columbia University

Global Travel

Services in Host Country

Services by Individuals

While traveling, some services (i.e., drivers, translator, etc.) may be needed ad hoc and it is important that travelers be mindful of University processes for engaging and paying for services from independent contractors. Travelers should be cautioned that if tax authorities in the host country determine that a person identified as an independent contractor should actually be treated as an employee of the University, Columbia could be exposed retroactively to numerous employer obligations.

Refer to the Engaging Individual Contractors page of the Finance Gateway Global Support section on Human Resource Matters for additional details.

Meetings or Lectures

In instances when faculty or staff travel internationally to conduct or coordinate meetings or lectures for which participants will need to be reimbursed, it is important that the traveler is aware of applicable University processes for covering these expenses:

Venue costs, Participants' Lodging and Meals

Whenever possible, the payment of these expenses should be coordinated as far in advance as possible so that they can be made through direct payment from New York to a vendor in the host country. If the meeting is taking place in a hotel, this is most often done through a service agreement with a local hotel or conference center.

For additional details, review the Paying International Vendors from the U.S. page of the Cash Management section.

Expense Reimbursement

In instances when the lecture or meeting is considered professional training, participants in other coutries will often require reimbursement of travel costs in order to attend the meeting. Travel costs will not only include transportation (airfare, trains, buses, car taxis, and other transportation to/from airports or stations) but, could also include per diems. When not coordinated through a service agreement with a hotel or training center (see above), lodging and meal costs, together with incidentals, would be included in a per diem amount reimbursable to meeting participants. Departments should stipulate an amount based on local costs and prepare to have these per diems payments for participants at the meeting location. Be cautioned that for large events, payments of per diems could require availability of large amounts of cash, which would in turn require added sequirity for the safety of the traveler.

Foreign Nationals

When meeting participants are foreign nationals, U.S. law requires due diligence before payments are made. Please review the Legal and Regulatory Compliance section for additional information on compliance with applicable laws when making payments in the host country.

Currency Denominations

Programs are also cautioned that they will be required to have particular currency denominations for making these payments in country. For large meetings, it may not be easy to have cash in hand for payments that will meet the needs of individual participants, so this would require careful planning.

Refer to the Cash Management section of the Finance Gateway Global Support pages for additional details on different options that are available for making payments in country.

Travel Within the Host Country

If transportation within the host country requires air travel, travelers should be mindful that the same travel policy and procedures apply. Refer to the Finance Gateway section on Air Travel for additional details.

If you have any questions, please email us at globalsupport@columbia.edu.