Foreign Suppliers

Orders may be placed with foreign suppliers through ARIBA using Purchase Orders and Blanket Purchase Orders, and by using your ProCard.

Before doing business with a foreign supplier:

  • Ask your supplier if they will take payment by ProCard where appropriate (such as memberships and registrations within ProCard limits).
  • Know that payment in advance is prohibited by RCW 43.88.160.
  • Consult with a Procurement Services buyer especially if your order is over the direct buy limit. This will allow the buyer the opportunity to validate the source selection and negotiate the contract, including payment terms and method.
  • Non-PO Invoice can be used to issue payments under the Direct Buy Limit to foreign suppliers. Non-PO cannot be used to pay foreign sub-recipients. Subawards must be set up with a Blanket Purchase Order.
  • The foreign supplier/entity must be registered with the UW (i.e. have a supplier number). To register with the UW, submit a Request for New Foreign Supplier form to create the UW supplier number.
  • To check if a supplier is already registered, use the Supplier Search PDR. If an "N" shows in the ARIBA column or the supplier does not have both Order and Remit-To addresses on file, submit a Request for Existing Foreign Supplier Availability form to request the supplier be updated.
  • The department must register the supplier in ARIBA by completing the ARIBA Supplier Network Registration Request form.

Foreign Suppliers and Tax Forms

In order to fully comply with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements for foreign entity payment reporting, suppliers that are currently available in ARIBA are those suppliers who have:

  • an existing supplier (vendor) number as a UW supplier
  • been reviewed for IRS compliance
  • both a complete Order and Remit-To address on file

It is recommended that departments request a current, valid copy of the appropriate IRS form (W-8BEN-E, etc.) and include it with the request forms mentioned above. This information will be reviewed by Procurement Services to ensure that these suppliers can be utilized for procurement purposes while keeping the University compliant with all IRS reporting requirements.

The supplier should visit the IRS website for current W-8 forms and instructions. Visit the Tax Office’s Tax Forms for Foreign Payees webpage for additional information about these forms.

For more information on doing business with foreign individuals, please review the UW Global Operations Support page regarding Foreign National Payments and Tax.

Payment Types to Foreign Suppliers

Payments by Check in U.S. Funds

Unless otherwise negotiated in the contract, payment will be made by check in U.S. funds. 

Payments by Wire Transfer

Payment by wire transfer should be negotiated at the time the contract is established. Requests for payment by wire transfer are not honored unless prior arrangements were made at the time the contract or order was placed. 

For more information on wire payments, please review our Wire Payments page.

Customs Clearance for Purchases from Foreign Suppliers

The University of Washington has contracted with Expeditors for customs brokerage service. They can be used for customs clearance needs for purchases made with or without a UW purchase order. Detailed information is available on the Customs Clearance page.

Foreign Orders
  • Prior to placing any order with a foreign vendor, you must first verify the company you are dealing with does not have sanctions placed on it by the U.S. Government (which makes it a federal offense to do business with them). Check the U.S. Treasury website for a list of sanctions programs and country information. 
  • Ask the shipper to include your name and phone number on the shipping label. 
  • Include information about our customs broker for the UW who may need to assist with the importation of any goods. Be aware that import charges may accrue for foreign purchases. However, many shippers such as UPS and FedEx, are also customs brokers and will usually clear their shipments through Customs. If a broker is required, the UW has a contract with Expeditors International of Washington for this and other import/export services. U.S. Customs and the Port of Seattle are aware of this and will generally notify Expeditors if something comes in for the UW and requires Customs Clearance.
  • Once verified, you may begin the process to purchasing from a foreign supplier. For a step-by-step guide on how to go about doing business with a foreign supplier, follow our Foreign Supplier Guide.