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Banking and purchasing

The information below pertains to all international projects. Additional country-specific information is available on banking in Ethiopia.

Much of Emory’s global work is done in areas that are primarily cash economies. Be aware of the local currency in the country of your planned new program and the currency fluctuation history for budgetary planning purposes. 

You can exchange dollars into local currency at several locations in Atlanta and usually at the arriving airport of your destination. Check conversion rates >>

You should exchange foreign currency in authorized banks, hotels, and other legally authorized outlets, and obtain proper receipts for these transactions. Exchange receipts are often required to convert unused local currency back to the original foreign currency, and you may change back any surplus local currency at the airport before departure.

Be sure to retain any currency declaration forms, as they are often required by customs on departure.

Banks and ATMs | Opening an account | Purchasing | Cash-based economiesContacts | Resources


Banks and ATMs

Be aware of the general ATM availability in your destination country, particularly for the Emory corporate Visa card. However, in a cash-based economy, prepare for adequate local currency and do not rely solely on credit cards.

Opening an account

A local bank account entitles a program to obtain money in foreign currency when needed for business functions, such as per diem staff travel, paying local vendors, and so on.

If a new program wishes to open a bank account in a foreign country, signatories on the account should be the resident representative of the program as well as the finance officer, or a project officer as applicable. Some local regulations stipulate that signatories from the U.S. cannot be added.

Also be aware that some countries do not allow the repatriation of money back to the U.S. from local bank accounts.


Credit cards such as the Emory corporate card are sometimes not accepted or advisable at most business locations in low- and middle-income countries, with some exceptions. However, you should always obtain receipts for cash payments.

Prior to purchasing goods or services from foreign vendors (except for those on the Ethiopia country guide vendor contracts list), all Emory employees must first contact Kristin West in the Office of Compliance to obtain current information regarding the vendor’s OFAC status.

Learn more about international purchasing regulations >>

The Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. national security and U.S. foreign policy objectives. These regulations are not directed at specific technologies. The OFAC sanctions programs forbid the transfer of "anything of value" to certain embargoed countries, entities, and individuals. The OFAC website provides helpful information about country-based sanctions programs and also identifies those individuals and entities on OFAC's list of prohibited parties.

Cash-based economies

While Emory has preferred methods for procuring and paying vendors, in cash-based economies it is best to keep cash receipts of transactions and reconcile through travel expense reports, program financial reports, or other appropriate methods depending on the activities.

Emory employees are eligible for cash advances when traveling to cash-based locations. Review cash advancement procedures (PDF) prior to travel. 


Kristin West
Chief Compliance Officer
Office of Compliance