Foreign Suppliers

Orders may be placed with foreign suppliers by using your ProCard and through Ariba using Purchase Orders and Blanket Purchase Orders (required for Subawards) and may be paid using Non-PO Invoice within the Direct Buy Limit.

Plan Before You Buy:

  • Know that payment in advance is strictly prohibited by RCW 43.88.160.
  • Payment can be made by ProCard where appropriate (such as memberships and registrations within ProCard limits).
  • To use foreign suppliers in Ariba the supplier must be registered - see Foreign Supplier Registration Section below.
  • Foreign suppliers are paid by check or wire, which is specified in Ariba on the Requisition, Contract Request (CR) or Non-PO Invoice. Be sure to ask your supplier about the expected payment method.

Foreign Financial Sanctions

  • At the time you place any order with a foreign vendor, regardless of payment method, you must verify the company does not have sanctions placed on it by the U.S. Government. Check the U.S. Treasury website for a list of sanctions programs and country information and pay special attention to the following sections:
    • OFAC Sanctions List
    • Search OFAC's Sanctions List
    • Sanctions Programs and Country Information - see the Complete List of Sanctions Programs and Country Information

Foreign Supplier Registration

Foreign suppliers must be registered with UW (i.e. have a supplier number) for use in Ariba.

  1. To check if a supplier is already registered, use the Supplier Search PDR.
  2. Department submits a Foreign Supplier Registration Form to create the UW supplier number.
    • Some foreign entities and business types require IRS tax forms during registration - see Common Entity & Business Types below.
  3. To use BPO, the department must also request the supplier register in ARIBA by completing the ARIBA Supplier Network Registration Request form.
Common Entity & Business Types
  • Foreign Entity for purchase of Goods - No IRS tax form required for payment of goods to a foreign Corporation, Partnership, Disregarded Entity or Government. Ask your supplier if a U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), Foreign TIN or Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN) is applicable.
  • Foreign Entity for purchase of Services performed outside the U.S. - No IRS tax form required for payment of services to a foreign Corporation, Partnership, Disregarded Entity or Government. Ask your supplier if a U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), Foreign TIN or Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN) is applicable.
  • Foreign Entity for purchase of Services performed within the U.S. - IRS W-8 form required (most often W-8BEN-E, and less often W-8EXP, W-8ECI or W-8IMY)
  • Foreign Individual for purchase of Services performed outside the U.S. - No IRS tax form required. Ask your supplier if a U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), Foreign TIN or Global Intermediary Identification Number (GIIN) is applicable.
  • Foreign Individual for purchase of Services performed within the U.S.
    • If the individual is claiming the Tax Treaty Benefit (i.e. exemption from 30% tax withholding), IRS Form 8233 required
    • If the individual is not claiming the Tax Treaty Benefit, IRS Form W-8BEN required
    • Note: At the time of payment, additional documents or forms may be required for foreign individuals
  • Tax Exempt Organization - Payments to an organization with a Chapter 3 status of "Tax Exempt Organization" will require the IRS Determination Letter or Opinion of Counsel.

Visit the Tax Office’s Tax Forms for Foreign Payees webpage for additional information about current IRS 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

Check in U.S. Funds - Unless otherwise specified, payment will be made by check in U.S. funds. 

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

  • 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. 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.