As you’re planning your program or project abroad, you should be aware that your activity may be subject to laws both here in the US and in the host country. Examples of legal issues that may arise in the host country are establishing legal status; entity or tax filing and auditing requirements; and regulations regarding physical office or housing rentals. Several US laws govern a US organization’s conduct in a foreign country, such as export, anti-boycott, and money laundering controls.

You can work with Global Programs and the Office of the General Counsel to determine the legal issues specific to your activity.

Establishing Legal Status

This is generally a requirement for conducting ongoing operations abroad, specifically when:

  • Opening a bank account
  • Hiring local nationals, including through a payroll/HR service provider
    • Excludes arrangements through an institutional subcontract for research activities
  • Leasing space

The Office of the General Counsel manages the process of legal registration in foreign countries and will work with you and in-country legal counsel to determine the best option for registration. You should be aware that this process can be lengthy, so advance planning is a must in order to ensure that you can operate legally in foreign locations.