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Budgeting for an International Project

A budget is presented as a categorical list of anticipated project costs that represent the researcher’s best estimate of the funds needed to support the proposed work. The term “best estimate” is important here. You will be held to using the costs detailed in your budget, so make sure you’ve correctly estimated what you will need to complete the project.

Direct Costs

Direct costs will vary project by project. They do, however, have three things in common: they benefit the specific project for which the budget is written, they are necessary to complete the project, and they are charged or recharged directly to the sponsored project. Some common direct costs are Salaries & Wages, Fringe Benefits, Equipment, Materials & Supplies, Patient Care Costs, Travel, Graduate Student Fees, Consultants, Subawards, and Lease Costs.

Indirect Costs

Calculate indirect costs both locally and at the international site.

    1. Review sponsor restrictions and budget for the sponsor’s indirect rate as it applies to international sites (e.g., NIH only pays 8% to foreign institutions)
    2. Subrecipients may be only permitted to receive direct costs, so consider the possibility of including direct costs that would normally be covered as indirect. Note that payments to subrecipients and consultants are ordinarily made in U.S. dollars.
    3. Be aware of re-budgeting restrictions once awarded (check sponsor guidelines ahead of time to understand the process of re-budgeting funds after award time).
    4. Also note that Foreign Per Diem rates are established monthly by the Office of Allowances as maximum U.S. dollar rates for reimbursement of U.S. Government civilians traveling on official business in foreign areas.

Other Budget Considerations

  1. Need for cash on ground - Notify OSP if advanced payment is required if not in a position to pre-finance a project.
  2. Visas and/or relocation costs (not always recoverable under federal awards)
  3. International shipping costs and import duties (e.g., Nearly every country in Africa applies a Value Added Tax (“VAT”) to goods and supplies imported into the country and to purchases made within the country). In countries where tax exemptions are available, an application for exemption may require months of negotiations, and if granted, caution must be exercised including the monitoring of local employees
  4. Translation costs, i.e., contracts and other key documents will need to be translated to English if they are in a foreign language.
  5. IACUC, IRB and/or EH&S (e.g., lab safety and biosafety) costs.
  6. Medical fees for licensure (e.g., malpractice, medical, and repatriation)
  7. Travel expenses, taking into account potential need for peak season travel.

 Contact ISS for indicative/comparative cost estimates.