NIH Grants Policy Statement (10/12)
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NIH Grants Policy Statement


Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards
Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities – File 8 of 11


16.1 General

Most of the policies contained in IIA apply to NIH grants made to foreign institutions and international organizations (hereafter "foreign grants"), including the requirements of 45 CFR 74 or 45 CFR 92 and the cost principles incorporated by reference in those regulations. If an applicant/grantee would be unable to comply with these requirements, the AOR should contact the GMO. Specific exceptions and modifications of IIA requirements for foreign grants, and highlights of other policies, are set forth in this chapter. This chapter also includes policies that apply to domestic grants with a foreign component.

16.2 Eligibility

In general, foreign institutions and international organizations, including public or private non-profit or for-profit organizations, are eligible to apply for research project grants, but are not eligible to submit a modular grant application. International organizations are treated as foreign institutions for the purpose of eligibility. If the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) allows foreign institutions to apply, international organizations may apply. If the FOA does not allow foreign institutions to apply, international organizations may not apply. Foreign institutions and international organizations are not eligible to apply for Kirschstein-NRSA institutional research training grants, program project grants, center grants, resource grants, SBIR/STTR grants, or construction grants. However, some activity codes, such as program project grants (P01), may support projects awarded to a domestic institution with a foreign component. For purposes of this policy, a foreign component is defined as performance of any significant element or segment of the project outside the United States either by the grantee or by a researcher employed by a foreign institution, whether or not grant funds are expended. Activities that would meet this definition include the following:

  • The involvement of human subjects or vertebrate animals at a foreign site.
  • Extensive foreign travel by grantee project staff for the purpose of data collection, surveying, sampling, and similar activities.
  • Any activity of the grantee that may involve the population, environment, resources, or affairs of a foreign country.

Examples of other grant-related activities that may be significant are:

  • collaborations with investigators at a foreign site anticipated to result in co-authorship;
  • use of facilities or instrumentation at a foreign site; or
  • receipt of financial support or resources from a foreign entity.

Foreign travel exclusively for consultation is not considered a foreign component.

See Support of Scientific Meetings (Conference Grants) chapter for NIH policy on support of international conferences.

Grants may not be made to individuals in a foreign location (i.e., outside of the United States and its territorial possessions). Occasionally, a Kirschstein-NRSA individual fellowship award is made to a U.S. citizen or a non-citizen national to study in a foreign institution. (A "non-citizen national" is a person who although not a citizen of the United States owes permanent allegiance to the United States, such as a resident of American Samoa.) See Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards—Individual Fellowships for additional information.

16.3 Application Review

Applications from foreign institutions or international organizations will be evaluated and scored during the initial review process using the standard review criteria. In addition, the following will be assessed as part of the review process and award decision:

  • Whether the project presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions in other countries that are not readily available in the United States or that augment existing U.S. resources.
  • Whether the proposed project has specific relevance to the mission and objectives of the IC and has the potential for significantly advancing the health sciences in the United States.

Note, these additional criteria are not applied to applications from domestic institutions with foreign components or applications in response to an FOA requesting applications from foreign institutions only.

Research grant applications from foreign institutions or international organizations may not be funded unless approved by the IC National Advisory Council or Board.

16.4 Public Policy Requirements and Objectives

A complete listing of public policy requirements and objectives and their applicability to foreign grants is included in Public Policy Requirements, Objectives, and Other Appropriation Mandates in IIA. Several of the public policy requirements and objectives are highlighted below:

16.5 Funding and Payment

The application budget, requests for funds, and financial reports (see Reporting and Record Retention in this chapter) must be stated in U.S. dollars. Once an award is made, NIH will not compensate foreign grantees for currency exchange fluctuations through the issuance of supplemental awards.

Awards to foreign institutions and international organizations issued prior to October 1, 2012 are not paid through PMS. These grants normally will be paid by U.S. Treasury check by OFM, NIH on a predetermined quarterly advance basis, usually in four equal installments. If the amount advanced to an organization based on the predetermined quarterly advance is insufficient to meet the grant's cash requirements, the grantee must make a written request to the GMO for any additional funds needed. All payments will be in U.S. dollars. Foreign grantees are strongly encouraged to use U.S. banks to ensure that payments arrive on time. In special circumstances, foreign grantees may be eligible to receive funds by electronic deposit or wire transfer.

Awards to foreign institutions and international organizations issued after October 1, 2012, are paid through PMS. PMS is operated by the PSC, DPM in accordance with Department of the Treasury and OMB requirements as implemented by 45 CFR parts 74.22 and 92.21. These requirements are intended to minimize the time elapsing between the transfer of funds from the U.S. Federal government and disbursed by the grantee. Therefore, although the grant may be financed by advance payments, the intent is that grantees draw funds on an as-needed basis – specifically, no more than 3 days before the funds are needed.

Operational guidance for recipients is provided through a training CD from PSC. Inquiries regarding drawdown requests, cash management rules, and the disbursement of funds should be directed to PSC/DPM (see Part III).

The funding and payment information outlined in this subsection applies when the foreign institution is the grantee organization. When a foreign component participates in a consortium arrangement, the funding and payment information should be reflected in the formal written agreement. Grantees are required to maintain grant funds in an interest bearing account; however, interest earned in excess of $250 per year in the aggregate on advances of Federal funds must be returned in U.S. dollars by reimbursement check to OFM, and reflected on the annual FFR.

For more information on payment see Payment Chapter.

Any questions regarding payments to foreign grantees may be addressed to OFM (see Part III for address and telephone and fax numbers).

16.6 Allowable and Unallowable Costs

The cost principles that apply to foreign organizations depend on the type of organization, i.e., for a university, OMB Circular A-21 would apply, with the following exceptions:

  • Major A&R (>$500,000). Unallowable under foreign grants and domestic grants with foreign components.
  • Minor A&R (<$500,000). Generally allowable on grants made to foreign organizations or to the foreign component of a domestic grant, unless prohibited by the governing statute or implementing program regulations. Minor A&R costs may be included and justified in any detailed budget of a competing application. Further, rebudgeting of active grants to accommodate minor A&R is also allowable; however, this does require NIH prior approval of the GMO. Additional information may be required (see Administrative Requirements—Alteration and Renovation Projects under Non-construction Grants in IIB).
  • Customs and Import Duties. Unallowable under foreign grants and domestic grants with foreign components. This includes consular and visa fees, customs surtax, value-added taxes, and other related charges.
  • F&A Costs. With the exception of American University of Beirut and the World Health Organization, full F&A costs will not be allowed. However, NIH provides limited F&A costs (8 percent of total direct costs less only equipment) to foreign institutions and international organizations to support the costs of compliance with NIH requirements. Some examples of NIH compliance requirements are the protection of human subjects (including the required education in the protection of human research participants), animal welfare, invention reporting, other post-award reporting requirements, financial conflict of interest and research misconduct. Note, these are just a few representative examples of compliance requirement; this list is not all inclusive. NIH will not support the acquisition of, or provide for depreciation on, any capital expenditures, or support the normal, general operations of foreign and international organizations. These expenses should not be requested as a Direct Cost budget expense. Note the reference to "capital expenditures" for the purposes of allowable F&A costs do not include purchases of equipment. Equipment is still allowable as a direct cost. Since the F&A costs are intended for compliance costs only, other items normally considered an F&A cost can be requested as a direct cost, e.g. rent.
  • Patient Care Costs. Patient care costs are provided only in exceptional circumstances.

16.7 Administrative Requirements

For SNAP awards to foreign institutions issued after October 1, 2012 grantees are required to submit FFR expenditure data at the end of the competitive segment only. NIH staff now monitors financial aspects of these grants through subaccounts in PMS. For all non-SNAP awards to foreign institutions and awards to foreign institutions issued prior to October 1, 2012 grantees are required to submit FFR expenditure data annually.

16.7.1 Changes in Project and Budget

Foreign grants are subject to the NIH Standard Terms of award, see Administrative Requirements—NIH Standard Terms of Award in IIA. Inclusion in SNAP is at the discretion of the NIH awarding IC and will be specified in the NoA.

16.7.2 Change in Scope

A change in the performance site within a foreign country or the addition of a performance site in a country other than that specified in the approved application requires NIH awarding IC prior approval. The transfer of work by a domestic grantee to a foreign component also requires awarding IC prior approval.

16.7.3 Change of Grantee Organization

A change of grantee organization that involves the transfer of a grant to or between foreign institutions or international organizations requires approval of the NIH awarding IC and its National Advisory Council or Board. NIH awarding IC approval also is required for the transfer of a grant from a foreign organization to a domestic organization. Grantees adding or changing a foreign performance site within a funded grant award must obtain approval from the GMO before work can be performed at the added or changed foreign site.

16.7.4 Audit

Foreign grantees are subject to the same audit requirements as for-profit organizations (specified in 45 CFR 74.26(d) and in the Grants to For-Profit Organizations chapter).

16.7.5 Reporting and Record Retention

For awards issued prior to October 1, 2012, whether or not they are under SNAP, foreign grantees submit annual FFRs. For SNAP awards issued after October 1, 2012, foreign grantees submit FFR expenditure data at the end of the competitive segment only. The requirement for quarterly cash reporting does not apply to foreign grantees. Awards issued after October 1, 2012 are administered in PMS using subaccounts and payments will be specific to each grant at the time the grantee draws funds.

The FFR expenditure data must be submitted electronically through the eRA Commons and must be submitted in U.S. dollars and in English. For awards issued prior to October 1, 2012, the currency rate in effect at the time the FFR is prepared should be used in preparing the report. For awards issued after October 1, 2012, the currency rate in effect at the time the funds are drawn down from PMS should be used in preparing the FFR. For the final FFR, NIH requires grantees to reimburse the U.S. government for funds not spent. Mail reimbursement checks in U.S. dollars to the OFM.

All foreign grantees, contractors, consortium participants, and/or subcontractors must comply with Bayh-Dole invention reporting requirements. Regarding intellectual property, foreign grantees have the same rights and obligations regarding invention ownership as U.S. grantees. (See

Record retention requirements are the same as those for domestic grantees.

This page last updated on September 19, 2012
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