Foreign Payments & Banking Abroad
Boston University’s Debt and Treasury Management in the Office of Financial Affairs (previously Treasury Operations) provides advice to all departments of the University with regard to questions related to funding for overseas programs, including establishing bank accounts, managing cash collections and disbursements, and financing purchases. They can assist program administrators, faculty and travelers by providing information on the most efficient and cost effective access to funds in a foreign country to pay local program expenses and/or travel expenses incurred while traveling for BU business.
When possible, and especially for long-term programs, it is recommended that financial planning begin at least three to six months prior to the planned incurred expenses and in consultation with Debt and Treasury Management.
Debt and Treasury Management is focused on supporting University program activities in various international locations. Cash advances and/or expense reimbursement for international travel should be handled through the standard travel expense channels at the University (refer to the Office of the Comptroller or Accounts Payable websites for travel expense guidance).
Role of the Department or Unit
International Bank Accounts
Opening a Foreign Bank Account: Establishment of a local banking relationship may be required for overseas programs that expect to have significant recurring local cash outflows/inflows over time. If you believe that establishing a bank account may be involved for your program, the planning should ideally begin more than six months in advance or as soon as possible. This advance planning is particularly important for more remote geographic locations.
The University has established guidelines for requesting, managing, and/or closing a bank account overseas which can be accessed through the Debt and Treasury Management website. For the purpose of the guidelines, “Boston University bank accounts” means all bank accounts opened (1) for the University or any of its schools, colleges, departments, centers, institutes, or programs, (2) by or for any entity in which the University has an interest (such as an entity that may be established for overseas activities, or a subsidiary of the University) and/or (3) with the Trustees of Boston University tax identification number.
All bank accounts must be opened and closed by Debt and Treasury Management. University departments/units may not establish a bank account for a BU program to be conducted in another country without first contacting and working with Debt and Treasury Management. Except in unusual circumstances, it is expected that such University bank accounts will serve to support the University’s central cash management operation, most importantly facilitating funding of international operations.
All foreign payments are also to be processed through Debt and Treasury Management. The procedure for initiating an international payment is similar to any domestic payment. A Disbursement Request Form can be accessed through the University’s Office of the Comptroller website under Accounts Payable. Most international payments are typically done via wire or electronic funds transfer, with any foreign currency conversion to be managed by Debt and Treasury Management. International payments can generally be executed on a timely basis, except where time differences may be a factor.
Role of Central Administration
Debt and Treasury Management’s role is to ensure execution of all international funding and bank account administration activity in compliance with established University procedures and controls. Debt and Treasury Management will ensure that bank accounts are established in a consistent and efficient manner, and will also ensure continuing compliance with established procedures for managing the University’s overall cash. However, BU departments/units that have expertise with required bank documentation and the legal/currency issues that may arise in international locations should work closely with Debt and Treasury Management to help minimize set up costs and delays.
It is important to note that because of their greater familiarity with the financial needs of a particular international activity, the BU department/unit requesting a foreign bank account shall continue to retain full responsibility for regular monitoring of bank account activity, completion of the required monthly reconciliation process, and for ensuring that adequate departmental controls with regard to local cash and banking activities are in place at all times.
Of course, as issues arise in connection with funding new or existing international activities, Debt and Treasury Management is ready to assist at any time. However, prior to contacting Debt and Treasury Management, it may be advisable to contact the primary financial manager within a department/unit or program to ensure appropriate internal coordination.