International projects can involve complex and unfamiliar laws and regulations, so planning and organization is key. There are a number of resources around campus to assist you, and the Navigate support team can help you get answers to important questions related to taxation, human resources, banking, risk, safety, insurance, compliance and more.
Cornell University establishes legal entities that operate as separate subsidiaries or stand-alone affiliates only if there are compelling legal and/or business reasons to justify creation of a separate corporation. Approval from the Cornell University Board of Trustees is required (Cornell University Policy 4.11).
New programs or projects that intend to conduct business in any foreign country will be subject to the host country’s legal statutes and regulations. Unless all business (including educational) functions are conducted through a partner organization, country-specific laws classify “conducting business” to include: opening a bank account, employing local or expatriate staff, buying or leasing real estate, generating income, providing educational services, and operating on a long-term basis.
If local legal counsel or operational support is required for program activity start-up compliance or ongoing work, you will need to include these costs in your program’s budget. All requests to retain counsel must be made through Cornell’s Office of University Counsel at 607-255-5124.
Programs operating internationally must coordinate activities with Cornell’s Tax Office (through our website) to ensure appropriate tax and reporting documents are filed in a timely manner, consistent with both host country and U.S. federal regulations.
Please contact the Navigate Support Team to ensure program activities are classified correctly and comply with local laws and Cornell’s procedures around international work. The information below pertains to all international projects.
Legal frameworks for partnerships
The Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs maintains a database of Cornell’s international partnerships. Contact Laurie Damiani (email@example.com) to learn more about Cornell’s existing Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) and for guidance on establishing new international agreements.
If you are working with an organization that is providing funds for your activities, please contact the Office of Sponsored Programs at 607-255-5014 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A Grant and Contract Officer will help you to navigate the processes and paperwork required to accept the funds at Cornell.
Use of Cornell’s name and logo
Please refer to Policy 4.10, Use of Cornell’s Name, Logos, Trademarks, and Insignias before using Cornell name or marks in any international marketing or communications materials.
Authority to sign contracts on behalf of Cornell
With some limited exceptions, staff and faculty members do not have authority to sign international contracts or agreements on behalf of Cornell, including any of its colleges, schools or units. In general, signing authority is reserved for University Counsel, the Vice Provost for International Affairs, Deans and certain Directors. If you have any questions about signatory authority, contact Laurie Damiani in the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs (email@example.com).