International Services Agreements

Services Performed Inside the United States by Foreign Nationals

US tax and other laws and international treaties can complicate payments to foreign nationals. 

Payments to foreign national independent contractors working in the US are infrequent since these service providers typically work for companies. A contract is usually executed with and payment is made to the company. 

Review information on the Paying Foreign Nationals page to learn whether the University is permitted by law to pay this individual as well as guidance on US tax withholding and processing instructions. Consult this information before signing an agreement with a Foreign National. 

Services Performed Outside the United States

When abroad, University representatives may encounter various levels of contracting sophistication depending on the contractor, the type of services/goods, and the location where the services/goods are being provided. The following information covers approved methods of contracting and paying for services while University representatives are conducting activities outside of the US.

Contracting Options and Agreements

Refer to the chart in the Contracting and Payment Options section below for a summary of contracting and payment options. If you have questions about contracts for services performed outside of the US, please contact the Purchasing Services Procurement Specialist assigned to your Responsibility Center. 

Note: If you are working on an externally funded project, payments to independent contractors are subject to different administrative and audit requirements. Because of these differences, University agreements must be administered by either the Office of Sponsored Programs or Purchasing Services. Review this page for the guidance to better understand which department manages this process. 


Amount Day Laborers1 Translating & Interpreting Services  Laboratory Services  Professional Services  In-Travel Goods Purchases 
$10K or less  Invoice / Receipt  Invoice / Receipt  Invoice / Receipt  Services Agreement (Short Form International)  Invoice / Receipt 
More than $10K  Services Agreement (Short Form International)  Services Agreement (Short Form International)  Services Agreement (Short Form International)  Services Agreement (Standard International)  Review the Payment Options section below.

Payment Options

Pitt US Dollar Check (accepted in most countries) 

Arrange Pitt US dollar Checks prior to departure. If you do not have a contract, request the check via the Other Payment Request Specialty Form in the PantherExpress System. If you have a contract, use a Services Agreement Specialty Form in the PantherExpress System. Allow approximately three to four days for processing.

Note: Pitt cannot make payments to foreign suppliers in US Dollars. All payments to foreign suppliers, if they do not have a US remit to address, must be sent via wire transfer. Review the following payment option titled "Wire Transfer or Foreign Currency Check".

Travel Card 

The University Travel Card is the University’s preferred payment method for all travel and business expenses. You may use a Travel card if it is accepted by the service provider, if the purchase is not restricted by University policy, and if the amount is within your Travel Card limit. 

If you think your travel may incur charges higher than your daily or cycle limits, please submit a Change Request Form after seeking approval from your supervisor. 

If the card is declined due to Merchant Category Code (MCC) restrictions while traveling, please contact the Travel Card Administrator about opening the MCC. 

Cash Options 
  1.  Preferred Option: The University’s preferred payment method is the use of the University Travel Card. University Travel Cards can be opened for ATM withdrawals by request. To initiate a Travel Card change, please complete a Travel Card Change Request form. 
  2. Request a travel advance. Allow three to four days to process the transfer; withdrawal fees may apply – review instructions here
  3. Use personal funds* and include a receipt. If the provider cannot produce one, please review this page for instructions to submit expenses for reimbursement. 

* For your personal safety, carrying large amounts of cash is NOT recommended. Contact Global Operations Support before your trip to discuss if cash is your only option 

Wire Transfer or Foreign Currency Check  Arrange wire transfers prior to departure. Due to international banking network complexities, allow up to ten days for processing. Note that there is a $35 fee to process a wire transfer or foreign currency check. Contact your Procurement Specialist, who will assist with contract processing (if required) and payment initiation – review instructions here
Personal Credit Card  The University’s preferred payment method is the use of the University Travel Card. In the event that the University travel card is not accepted, you may use your personal credit or debit card if it is accepted by the service provider – review this page for instructions to submit expenses for reimbursement. 

CAUTION: If any of the above services are expected to exceed ninety (90) days, please consult with Global Operations Support prior to contracting for such services. 

1 Day laborers include those individuals hired on a short-term basis to work for an hourly or daily rate; typically to fulfill unskilled or semi-skilled, manual labor needs. Examples include: drivers, porters, diggers/excavators, messengers. 

2 Professional services are those involving a high level of skill and educational training. These services typically require certification or licensure by a governing or professional body. Examples include: attorneys, medical professionals, engineers, architects, accountants, finance and tax advisors, management consultants. 

For certain activities of low economic value performed outside of the US, University faculty members, researchers and staff are not required to insist on a formal contract. The chart listed above provides information related to various contracting and payment options, including the use of an invoice or receipt provided by the contractor. If the contractor does not have a form of invoice or receipt, blank forms are available.

Contracts for use while abroad are provided in two forms: Short Form International Services Agreement and Standard International Services Agreement. These contract templates are drafted in a fair and balanced manner and attempt to avoid any undue advantages to either party.

In most cases, the Short Form International Services Agreement is appropriate to address basic contract needs and includes a minimum of "boilerplate" terms. The Short Form International Services Agreement addresses the following:

  • identify the parties
  • describe the services to be performed
  • identify when and where those services are to be performed; and establish the compensation to be paid for the services. 

The Standard International Services Agreement is more appropriate if your specific needs involve any of the following:

  • the disclosure of confidential information
  • the use of intellectual property or the need to clarify ownership of work product
  • the hiring of professional services (e.g., attorneys, medical professionals, engineers, architects, accountants, finance and tax advisors, or management consultants); or
  • projects involving complex deliverables and heightened levels of risk and liability.

Contact the Purchasing Services Procurement Specialist assigned to your Responsibility Center if these contract solutions do not address your needs.

Tax Reporting and Withholding

Payments to foreign national independent contractors for work performed outside of the US are generally not subject to US tax reporting and withholding. However, they may be subject to local labor and tax laws, particularly if payments are recurring and/or last more than 90 days. Contact Global Operations Support Manager to discuss and plan your global activities. 

US Independent Contractors Working Outside of the US

When a US national or US permanent resident is working outside of the US, they are still paid and required taxes are withheld by US customers (i.e. the University) as if they were working in the US. The Standard International Services Agreement can generally be used, however, you should contact the Global Operations Support Manager to determine if there are any special insurance or other requirements. Payment Processing does not require any different information from a US individual to receive payment for services performed outside of the US. 

Additional Resources

Global Operations Support provides relevant information about research-related budget preparation and planning on the Budget Preparation and Planning Considerations pages.