International Activity


Stanford's commitment to providing a safe environment for everyone creates particular requirements for PIs in research laboratories. Labs at Stanford house chemicals, equipment, and other materials that can pose hazards to health. The proper management of these hazards is not only good lab management, it is also a regulatory requirement.

Compliance and Operational Support

Register your foreign activities at Global Business Services (GBS), so Stanford can provide compliance and operational support for you and your global activities. The regulatory landscape is constantly changing and GBS ensures that you are adhering to stringent global regulatory compliance standards. If you need assistance with business issues in the field, from opening a bank account to hiring a researcher, then GBS is the office for you. 

Medical, Personal, Travel, and Security While Abroad

Imagine you are in a foreign country, and:

  • You have an allergic reaction and require immediate medical attention, but barely speak the language

  • The political climate has changed for the worse, and you need to get to a safe haven immediately

  • There is an earthquake, you are injured, and your passport is lost

Who do you turn to?  Stanford's International Travel Assistance Program.

Through its participating vendors Stanford University has 24/7 resources on call, online, and even on the ground to help with medical, security and logistical questions, concerns, and situations that may arise when you travel internationally or live abroad.

Protecting Your Your Devices and Data

The Information Security Office in conjunction with Global Business Services and the Office of International Affairs has established a list of high risk countries for which particular measures are recommended. Please consult our Recommendations for Travelers to High Risk Countries for concise, practical guidance on how to protect yourself and the University while traveling. Similar guidance is available for those traveling to lower risk destinations in the Recommendations for Travelers to Lower Risk Countries.

Export Controls

Stanford University engages in research both in the United States and overseas.  Research activities can include the use of technology, the development of items (e.g., products, goods, hardware, software, and materials), or the communication of information, all of which are subject to U.S. export-control laws and regulations including bio-security oversight.  Some activities that may trigger export control restrictions are:

  • Traveling outside the United States, including to attend conferences

  • Shipping items or technology to another country

  • Transporting items or technology while traveling abroad (export control regulations do not distinguish between shipping an item and carrying an item.)

  • Disclosing technology or information about a technology to a foreign national, including foreign nationals working in Stanford's  research facilities

  • Providing financial assistance to certain countries, persons, or entities

  • Providing professional services to certain countries, persons, or entities

The Export Control website contains articles and publications, as well as memoranda and other correspondence templates to support you in understanding this complex issue. In addition, special pages have been created for special circumstances that present particular export control compliance challenges.

Human Subjects Approval

If your international research project involves human subjects, you may need to obtain approval from Stanford’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), which oversees the protection of human participants in research. If you are not sure whether your project needs review or not, see "Does My Project Need IRB Review?" published by Research Compliance Office at Stanford. 

Additional Reviews for International Sponsored Research: School of Medicine

If you are planning to conduct a research project outside the U.S. using sponsored project (grant or contract) funding, there may be additional reviews and/or approvals required.  

Additional Reviews for International Sponsored Research: All other Schools or Independent Labs

If you are planning to conduct a research project outside the U.S. using sponsored project (grant or contract) funding, there may be additional reviews and/or approvals required.

Participation Agreements for Graduate Research

Some organizations abroad have asked graduate students who have participated in research projects to sign participation agreements. Contact the Office of International Affairs for advice so that we can ensure that the agreement protects your rights to your data and underlying research.

Hire Globally

Stanford University is a global employer, with fixed locations in a dozen countries and a research presence in more than 100 international locations. Where applicable and not in conflict with local laws, the Stanford University Administrative Guide applies to university projects and operations outside of the United States. Global projects at Stanford University are diverse, distributed broadly across countries with differing laws, customs and economic conditions. As a result, a rigid application of these guidelines may not be appropriate.

Purchasing Supplies, Tagging Equipment and Using Stanford Property Abroad

Should your international project require supplies or equipment outside of the United States, you should consider whether it is more efficient to purchase in the US, or locally. Bear in mind issues such as ease of contracting/ordering, payment, US export requirements and local customs and or import processes/taxes.

If you need to purchase supplies and materials for use overseas, the Property Management Office (PMO) highly recommends having these items shipped directly overseas.

After you purchase equipment, please contact your Departmental Property Administrator (DPA) to have it appropriately tagged and tracked. 

Transporting Dangerous Goods

"Dangerous Goods" include, but are not limited to, materials that are flammable, combustible, corrosive, reactive, oxidizing, toxic, radioactive, infectious, asphyxiating, elevated in temperature, or compressed, including aerosol cans. If you are unsure whether your material is a "Dangerous Good" consult your Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and/or review the EH&S Hazmat Identifier Tool.

See the page Shipping Hazardous Biologicals and Chemicals Internationally to determine how to handle the shipping of dangerous goods. If the Decision Tree confirms that the shipment contains dangerous goods, the person(s) packing the material and/or signing the shipping papers must take appropriate training. You can register for the web-based class, EHS-2700 “DOT: Shipping Biological Goods or Dry Ice” through STARS. 

Radioactive materials may not be shipped under any circumstances. For assistance with radioactive materials visit the Health Physics page on the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) website.

Avoid Bribery/Corruption

The U.S., the United Kingdom and many other countries have strict criminal laws governing a broad range of corrupt activities. Many people assume these laws only address cash bribes paid to government officials. However, Stanford's international research, travel and collaboration activities could cause unknowing violations of these laws both home and abroad.

Many geographic regions include countries with a high incidence of requests for improper payments to facilitate a transaction. High risk regions include most countries in Africa and the Middle East, a majority of countries in Asia, including China and India, Eastern Europe and Russia. The Transparency International website, which contains country specific information about corrupt risks, and Stanford's anti-bribery policy, are excellent informational resources.

Guidance for International Visitors, Students, and Scholars

Do you have incoming visitors, students, or scholars that need information about and assistance with obtaining and maintaining legal status in the U.S?  The Bechtel International Center can help; it enables international students, scholars, and their family members at Stanford to receive maximum academic, cultural, and personal benefit from their stays in the U.S.  It also provides opportunities for Stanford students, faculty, staff, and members of our local community to broaden their horizons by interacting with people from different cultures through programs to increase international awareness and understanding. The Bechtel International Center also advises Stanford students who are pursuing scholarship for study and research abroad.

Research and Travel Opportunities for Students

Students seeking learning opportunities abroad can use SOLO (On- and Off-Campus Learning Opportunities) can find a comprehensive listing of funding and academic trips.