Handbook of Business Procedures
7.7.4. FOREIGN PURCHASES AND CUSTOMS REQUIREMENTS
A. Foreign Purchases
Prior to issuing a purchase order (PO), a department must determine what currency to use to make the purchase and how the exchange rate will be determined if payment is not made in U.S. dollars. Usually, the conversion rate used is the current rate on the date of shipment.
Note: OANDA is a commonly used online currency converter that can assist departments with exchange rates.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) maintains the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN). The SDN lists names of both individuals and organizations that the United States is prohibited from doing business with. Departments must verify that companies they wish to engage are not on the SDN.
B. Customs Requirements
Purchasing products that are manufactured outside of the United States requires clearance by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency upon entry into the country. Information regarding customs requirements can be found at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
The University of Texas at Austin retains the services of a U.S. customs broker to assist with purchases from foreign countries. While departments are not required to engage a specific customs agent, the Purchasing Office can provide the contact information for the university’s current customs broker.
Products imported from foreign countries may be subject to a variety of fees, duties, or taxes. The department making the purchase is responsible for all additional charges associated with the purchase. To avoid fines, penalties, and incorrectly paying duties, the Purchasing Office strongly recommends that departments work with a customs broker.