International Activity

Are you planning travel abroad to study, research, or volunteer? Will you be collaborating with international visitors either here at Stanford or abroad? If so, you must be aware of your individual responsibilities for understanding the laws, regulations, and requirements that apply. Prepare for your international academic activity with the wealth of tools and services available to you.


Questions about this topic can be answered by:

Brendan Walsh

Explore Stanford's International Activities

Want to explore Stanford University’s impact as a global citizen? The GoGlobal website features robust data and interactive maps showcasing the scope of Stanford’s international activities. With the click of a mouse, find out what is happening with regards to a specific country or region of interest, i.e., courses, faculty profiles and research, news, events, and projects. New social media tools will allow you to connect with faculty and projects that may be of interest to you.

stanford goglobal

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Preparing for International Travel

Get a customized list of action items that you should consider when you are preparing to go abroad. The OIA (Office of International Affairs) can help you find answers to your international activity questions.

Use the pre-departure checklist for planning tips to help you prepare for international research or study, new collaborations, personal and group travel, or volunteer experiences.

international affairs

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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. 

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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.

bechtel international center

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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.

international travel assistance program

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Digital Traveling Dangers, Protecting Your Data

The ISO (Information Security Office) works with Stanford's community to protect laptops, phones, and other storage devices in order to:

  • Prevent the loss of devices themselves
  • Prevent the compromise of systems on SUNet
  • Meet all contractual and legal obligations
  • Avoid compromise of user's identity information
  • Protect Stanford's reputation

Protecting data, information, and the devices upon which they reside requires attention to detail due to the enormous financial and reputational impacts of simple mistakes or other disclosures.

When traveling internationally, the safeguards provided by the Stanford University computing environment are not available. 

Digital travelers carry laptops, notebooks, iPads, smart phones, MP3 players, thumb drives ("USB sticks"), SD cards, SIM cards, cameras, and other storage devices. Any important data on devices must be properly protected.

Furthermore, if traveling to countries that are known for computer and network-based espionage (e.g., network monitoring or keystroke-monitoring malware), then SUNet ID credentials used to access Stanford's resources (and credentials for a wide variety of Internet-based services) can be easily compromised.

View guidelines for international travel

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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.

export controls


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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. 

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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.  

Research Management Group

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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.

Office of Sponsored Research

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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.

Office of International Affairs

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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.

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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. 

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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.
Use the Decision Tree: Is Your Shipment Regulated? 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.

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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.

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Natalie L. Chang

Office of International Affairs
(650) 497-1638

Kathryn Kuruc

Office of International Affairs
(650) 497-1627

Pauline Larmaraud

Associate Director
Office of International Affairs
(650) 723-1984

Amy Y.J. Lee

Office of International Affairs
(650) 723-3016

Pui Shiau

Office of International Affairs
(650) 723-3174

Brendan M Walsh

Director, Office of International Affairs
Office of International Affairs
(650) 725-0076