on Wednesday, January 02, 2002 - 09:58 am:
I have to create a simplified
acquisition (less than 5K) to send a vendor overseas to do
training on a piece of equipment purchased previously.
Other than making sure the base is ready to receive the vendor
with the proper security clearances in place, are there any
pitfalls to doing this I am unaware of? Are there specific
clauses to be put in the order?
Vern Edwards on
Wednesday, January 02, 2002 - 11:58 am:
Unless your agency has special
rules for work done in certain countries or under certain
conditions, you don't need anything else.
If the vendor has to ship course materials, you need to allow
adequate time for such shipment. If the vendor has to ship, it's
best to mail via USPS to an APO or FPO address rather than ship
via FedEx or UPS, since the latter could be delayed in foreign
formerfed on Wednesday, January 02, 2002 - 12:30 pm:
Some agencies also require
contractors to travel in accordance with the Government Travel
Regulations. This means the contractor can't claim expenses in
excess of what a Federal employee is entitled to. I don't agree
with this and think normal company practices should prevail, but
it's something to consider.
Vern Edwards on
Wednesday, January 02, 2002 - 12:48 pm:
The travel regulations apply only
if the agency is going to reimburse the contractor for its
travel at cost. It should not be necessary to do that in a
simplified acquisition for a one-time, short trip. The
contractor should include its travel costs in its fixed-price.
on Monday, January 07, 2002 - 02:18 pm:
Thanks for all your advice. It
on Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 12:49 am:
An aside out of curiosity. Has
anyone run into visa or entry problems with a contractor being
sent overseas to perform work?
Vern Edwards on
Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 09:57 am:
I travel overseas under contract
very frequently and have never encountered visa or other entry
problems in Europe, Asia, or the Middle East. Unless the
contractor is going to reside in the country for an extended
period, he or she travels like a tourist.
Not that many countries require visas anymore and many that do
will allow you to obtain the visa at the airport upon arrival.
Last May, I obtained a visa for Cambodia upon arrival at the
airport, having bought my airline ticket from Singapore just the
day before. However, I'm going to Vietnam this week and I had to
apply for my visa well in advance; it took about ten days for
the Vietnamese counsel in D.C. to process my application and it
cost $65, not including the FedEx shipping charge.
Unless the contractor is being asked to travel on very short
notice, there are few difficulies. The biggest problem for a
contractor these days is clearing security in order to get onto
U.S. military installations, especially in certain places in the
Middle East. In some places, the security is scary.
Security arrangements for visitor entry control at military
installations seem to change frequently, so make sure that you
know when the contractor is expected to arrive at the gate and
have someone available to talk to security personnel if
necessary upon their arrival. Otherwise, they may not be able to
get in. Discuss security procedures with U.S. security personnel
before the contractor leaves the U.S. Don't wait until the
traveler arrives at the gate.
You should think about how the contractor will get back and
forth from his or her hotel to your base or office, unless you
can arrange for them to stay on the base. If the traveler is
inexperienced, you should advise them of precautions to take
while off the base in order to be safe--places to avoid, etc. If
you know of hotels that are more convenient, comfortable, or
safe than others, provide the traveler with a list. Provide a
reliable point of contact who can advise about shipping
addresses and procedures, travel and accomodations, security
procedures, etc. Provide that person's office, home and cell
phone number, and email address.
Experienced international travelers will be able to take care of
themselves for the most part, but a point of contact helps all
the same. Inexperienced travelers will need all the help they
can get. Sometimes, U.S. officials in foreign places are so
accustomed to the strangeness that they don't think about how
strange it will be for a traveler who has never been there
before and leave the traveler to his or her own devices. Some
help and hospitality will be appreciated. I have found U.S.
officials in foreign places to be very kind and helpful in every
on Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 11:30 am:
I was thinking particularly of
the strict work permit requirements in many countries. Travel to
work as a "tourist" is not acceptable here and may make one
liable for some severe sanctions abroad. Checking "tourist" when
carrying tools or materials obviously related to business or
work may be considered an attempt at illegal entry in some
nations and may be even more difficult to get away with
considering increased inspection of bags.
Government employees travel on an official passport that
verifies they are on official business. Contractors who
answer the purpose of travel question as "pleasure" or "tourism"
then do business or have business related materials going
through customs have a different problem.
I recognize work permits are generally for longer term stays in
a country than a quick service call. Still, more than a few
countries are quite touchy about someone entering to perform any
type of business.
It has been a long time, but it seems contractors traveling
overseas used to have some sort of official letter stating they
were on U.S. business in accordance with bilateral agreements.
What is the situation now?
Vern Edwards on Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 12:03 pm:
I don't know where you are, but in most countries short-term
business travel does not require a work permit. I also do not
know of any requirement in any country for an official letter.
But it may be different where you are.
Dave Barnett on Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 02:46 pm:
Tsk, tsk Vern, isn't it
Kampuchea? I just had to rib you...LOL. I have an in-law who
works as a tech rep in the middle east and he pretty much stated
what you did, you travel pretty much as a tourist or short term
on Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 03:37 pm:
Interesting. What then are the
purposes of things like the ATA Carnet to assist entry of
professional items and samples? I also note that several
advisories warn "The traveler should allow several weeks to
obtain visas, especially if traveling to developing nations.
Some countries that do not require visas for tourist travel do
require them for business travel" in several business sites.
This question also prompted me to do some research on State's
FOREIGN ENTRY REQUIREMENTS page: http://travel.state.gov/foreignentryreqs.html
That indicates it is not quite so simple (to be legal anyway).
"BOLIVIA - *Passport required. Visa not required for tourist
stay up to 30 days. Tourist cards issued upon arrival in
Bolivia. A "Defined Purpose Visa" for adoptions, business,
or other travel requires 1 application form, 1 photo, $85 fee
and for business travelers, a letter from company explaining
purpose of trip." (My emphasis)
Most of the European and other industrial countries seem to
follow some variation of "Visa not required for tourist or
business stay of up to 90 days," it is more third world and
particularly some of the areas contractors might visit in
connection with current events. I was also interested to find
some of the nearby island areas are particularly strict. For
Bahamas "Passport and residence/work permit needed for residence
and business." They are apparently very strict to protect the
highly limited work opportunities for their own populations.
I read of one country, Third World if I recall, made an issue of
a "tourist" who was sending text back to the U.S. to be
published as a travel column. The "tourist" was "working" - and
perhaps not being complimentarty enough too.
It would be interesting to have someone from State chime in on
the realistic possibility a contractor traveling on a tourist
entry could run into difficulty.
joel hoffman on Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 03:47 pm:
You should check with the State
Department for needs/restrictions for the Country(s) you, as a
contractor, or as the Government, will be sending people to.
They will tell you what Visa's, work permits, samples and
professional items, etc. are necessary. DOD generally has
Country to Country agreements for its staff and contractors.
happy sails! joel hoffman.
Vern Edwards on
Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 04:08 pm:
Gee, maybe I've been breaking the
law all these years.
When I go to Great Britain to teach for the Navy, or to Italy,
Bahrain, Japan, or Singapore, I do not obtain a visa. Upon
arriving I fill in an arrival card on which I state that the
purpose of my visit is business. The same for Panama, Argentina,
Germany, Israel, Spain, Egypt and others--all countries in which
I have been a contractor for the U.S. government or a U.S. or
foreign business firm.
I have, on occasion, carried several large boxes of work
materials with me. I have gone through customs and sometimes
been required to explain what they were and what I was there
for, and I have invariably been waved through without question.
Now, however, I generally mail those things to the base or
office that I am visiting.
People travel all over the world on business every day without
obtaining special visas or visas of any kind. But different
countries have different rules and perhaps we can't talk about
this in a meaningful way unless we speak in terms of a specific
nation. It is my impression that it is mainly developing
countries that require visas.
Contract with the contractor and let the contractor worry about
these things. Those are its problems, not yours. A smart
contractor will check the visa requirements of the country it is
visiting before sending someone to do the work. If the
contractor needs something from you in order to get into the
country it will ask for it.
joel hoffman on Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 05:03 pm:
I mentioned checking with the
State Department because of my experience living in Saudi
Arabia, and Germany, back in the 80's. Saudi has VERY strict
visa requirements and very strict import restrictions. Until
recently, there was no such thing as your normal "tourist visa",
there. I went to Bahrain, but don't recall whther I needed
special clearance to get in or if it was to get back to Saudi on
the Causeway. I was all over the Persian Gulf, during the Gulf
War, but we pretty much had free entry, everywhere at that time.
I don't know what the normal requirements are.
In the 80's, there were also at least a couple of European
countries which required some type of visa (only if travelling
on Official Passport), although the EU may have changed all of
When I worked in Mobile,Al.in the early to mid 90's, our
District handled construction for all of Central and South
America. DOD had some country to country agreements for
exemptions to import duties, etc. I believe I had to get a visa
to get into Panama in the 90's, but don't remember, anymore.
I would agree that the Contractor should normally handle their
own arrangements. If they need something, they'll usually let
you know. happy sails! joel
on Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 06:50 pm:
This is interesting. Vern
mentions Bahrain which has specific business visa requirements
in the State Department's listing. The others look pretty much
like Europe's situation. With a few exceptions I'd also guess
there would not be serious consequences for violation so I doubt
he would spend time for a minor violation (as someone I knew
did) down in a dripping, rat infested sub-dungeon until we could
get him out a day later.
There are countries where any violation can be an excuse
to begin a Kafkaesque or even grim dance with authority. That
sometimes has the undertone (even overt) of corrupt dealings in
the background. Joel has good advice to both contractor and
government. Find out what the specific country requirements are,
check with State for anything unusual, then let the contractor
work the details.
on Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 06:56 pm:
Vern is correct that meaningful
discussion of a particular case is menaingless without a country
I don't think his impression about who requires visas is
entirely true though. Several countries I used to visit without
visa now require an exact mirror image of the U.S. visa their
citizens must obtain to visit the U.S. I would not be surprised
if the situation gets worse now that everyone is more concerned
about the previous near free movement of people across borders.
on Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 01:12 pm:
Yes, Verne, you may have been
breaking the law. Rules for US contractor employees working
under a contract for the US Government may be dictated by a
status of forces agreement (SOFA) with the individual country
and may be substantially different from commercial practice in
that same country. A case in point is Germany, which has
particularly onerous rules. Germany wants jobs for its own
citizens or, failing that, taxes. The US Army has had to set up
an organization to deal with the complex requirements. No one
should send a contract employee to Germany without reading the
rules and understanding the implications. It has made
contracting there very difficult. Here are a couple of links
addressing some of the issues there:
For this second site, then click on “DOCPER information”.
Vern Edwards on Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 01:34 pm:
Wow. And I've been to Germany for
different Army organizations and for U.S. firms without any
curious anonymous on Thursday, January 10, 2002 - 03:23
Good grief! The German situation
does seem to be a potential can of worms. The thing about taxes
being due for the full time if one works one extra day is not
nice at all.
I guess the answer to first anonymous has to be check with State
and any of your own agency's international specialist for the
country where the work will be done. Having your contractor call
that some of their people are caught up in an international
mess, even if the odds are fairly low, would probably be
unpleasant. I get the impression from those Army pages the Army
expects its contracting people to be aware of the German
situation and follow procedures.