Field Advances

**Note: If you have requested a field advance check, and you requested to pick it up, those checks are located at Mailing Services.**

Remember to complete 1099 reporting for research subject payments made through a field advance by January 3rd.



Field Advances are subject to all Federal, State, University, and budget purchasing rules and guidelines.

A field advance is, in essence, a loan from University of Washington (UW) general funds made to an individual (the custodian) to provide a temporary source of funds for conducting official UW business that cannot be paid for using traditional methods (i.e. purchase orders, check requests, UW Travel/Procurement credit cards). The field advance may be for any amount of money as long as the department administrator or designee has authorized the request. A field advance cannot be issued for more than a six-month period. If funds are needed for a longer period, an additional advance may be requested near the end date of an outstanding advance. At the end of the activity for which the funds were requested, the custodian must reconcile the expenditures against the advance. Any amount that was not spent must be returned to the UW by check or money order. In turn, if the appropriate expenditures exceed the amount of the advance, the UW will reimburse the custodian by check, if allowed by their department.

Field Advances are intended to be used after all other procurement methods have been appropriately utilized and/or ruled out as a non feasible purchasing option. Below is the current preferred purchasing process hierarchy:

Purchasing Hierarchy

Preferred Purchasing Methods

Preferred Travel Purchasing Methods

Purchase Reimbursement Methods

Alternative Purchasing Methods


Preparing For a Field Advance

Authorized Uses of a Field Advance

  • Conducting research or training in a remote areas where payment methods like check and credit card are not accepted and cannot be handled through UW Procurement payment methods
  • Per diem advances for UW students and other individuals not on the UW payroll (excludes travel)
  • Research subject payments and incentive payments when a revolving fund account is not applicable
  • Running administrative operations in international locations where cash is the only accepted form of payment for goods and services

Unauthorized Uses of a Field Advance

The following are not authorized uses of a field advance:

  • Travel expenses that may otherwise be covered by a travel advance from the Travel Office, a UW travel credit card (with reimbursement through the Travel Office), or a departmental Central Travel Account (CTA)
  • Expenditures in areas where a credit card (UW travel card) is known to be a readily acceptable form of payment
  • Transportation and lodging that can be charged to a departmental Central Travel Account (CTA) account
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Reimbursing individuals for monies spent is not allowed through a Field Advance due to tax reporting issues; please see eReimbursement and Travel Reimbursement for more information
  • Alcohol purchases, with meals or alone, unless charged to a discretionary (64-XXXX) budget. IMPORTANT NOTE: The UW’s policy regarding alcohol in international student programs is that no university funds, including discretionary budgets, can be used to purchase alcohol for student activities.
  • Payments to UW employees for services rendered anywhere in the world (including honoraria, stipends, awards, scholarships, etc.)
  • Payments to U.S. citizens for services rendered anywhere in the world (including honoraria, stipends, awards, scholarships, etc.)
  • Payments to nonresident aliens (NRAs) for services rendered within the United States (including research subject payments, honoraria, stipends, awards, scholarships, etc.)
  • Items not directly related to a project's purpose (e.g. items for personal gain or benefit and related items for non-research consumption)

Opening a Bank Account Outside of the State of Washington

The State of Washington must grant approval to open a bank account outside of the state, whether the account will be in another state or another country. This requirement applies whether funds are deposited by check or by wire. To request approval, complete the form, Field Advance Banking Information Send the completed form to B&AO, Attn: Field Advances, Box 351120.

You do not need to resubmit this form for additional advances that will be deposited into the same account, unless the approval has expired due to inactivity. B&AO will seek extended approval when an account is still in active use, and will advise the custodian if a new approval request must be submitted.

Criteria For Obtaining a Field Advance

The custodian for a field advance must be a permanent UW employee.

For field advances intended for students, the faculty advisor must be the custodian for the advance.

It is up to the custodian to decide how to safeguard the funds advanced, and must exercise prudent judgment to preclude losses that could result in personal liability.

The description for obtaining the field advance must explain what the monies will be used for.  Remember, all travel expenses should go through the Travel Office whenever possible, not through Field Advance.  Requests that include travel will be reviewed by the Travel Office. 

Travel Office:

Individuals serving as custodians must be aware that they are personally responsible for the advanced funds. Lost funds and unauthorized and or undocumented expenditures may be considered a misappropriation of public funds. If the final accounting for the field advance is not received by the due date, the custodian may be subject to disciplinary action.


The custodian is accountable for all aspects of maintaining the advance, including its safekeeping, appropriate usage and timely reconciliation. University policies that apply to expenditures in general also apply to expenditures made with field advances. Specifically, the custodian:

  • Initiates the request for the field advance
  • If appropriate, establishes the bank account into which the funds are put
  • Keeps the field advance cash funds physically separate from any other cash-on-hand
  • Exercises caution and prudence in the administration and safeguarding of the program funds
  • Issues payments only for reimbursement of money actually expended for program purposes
  • Reconciles the expenditures against the advance within the allotted timeframe

Budget Preparation Worksheet

The budget preparation worksheet is a planning tool for identifying expenses for a particular global activity and determining the amount of a needed field advance. The expense categories can be modified to fit the specific activity. The worksheet is for planning purposes only. Note that program directors for Exploration Seminars are required to use the worksheet in developing a budget.

How Long Can I Keep a Field Advance? 

Maximum 6 Months + 1 Month = 7 Months

A Field Advance can be requested for a maximum term of six months of field time and one month of reconciliation time. Totaling seven months, from the date of issuance.

 From: (Beginning date for advance period): This date can be prior to the start of the actual use of the field advance funds. For example, the start date could be 2-3 weeks before the custodian will be using the funds. Making the start date earlier than the actual field period will allow time for the funds to be transferred to and made available in a foreign bank.

 To: (Ending date for advance): This date doesn’t have to correspond with the date the custodian ends operations in the field. The date should be when the custodian has returned to work at a UW campus as long as the total field advance period is less than six months.

Enter date final accounting will be turned in: This is the date that the reconciliation will be sumbitting to Banking & Accounting Operations. It cannot be more than thirty days past the ending date of the advance.

Below is an image of the date fields on the Field Advance request form. 


Requesting a Field Advance

Check and Wire Requests

Banking & Accounting Operations (B&AO) needs five (5) business days to transact all field advance requests.

Request Form: Request for Field Advance

Wires require an additional form to be completed, the Banking Information form.

Banking Information Form:  Field Advance Banking Information

The field advance request form must be completed by the custodian or fiscal specialist. The form should be signed by the Custodian and a department administrator, PI,  program director or chair. The completed and signed form should be mailed to: Field Advances, Box 351120.


Managing a Field Advance

Cash On Campus

A custodian who keeps $100.00 or more in cash in a UW campus location should consult  the current University cash handling policies and procedures. Additionally, if large sums of cash are going to be kept for more than a few days, the custodian should consider asking the UW Police Department to make an on-site visit to evaluate the location and procedures for handling the funds. The Police Department can be reached at 206-543-9338.

Cash In the Field

Cash on hand should be limited to amounts required for immediate expenditures. A reasonable level of security for the funds must be maintained at all times. The cash from a field advance should never be mixed with other cash on hand. What constitutes a reasonable level of security will obviously depend on a variety of factors (e.g., size of fund, location, facilities available, etc.). If cash must be carried, the use of a money belt is recommended for safekeeping.

Traveler's Checks

Traveler's checks are a good alternative to carrying large amounts of cash. They should be safeguarded according to the guidelines presented with the checks when they are purchased.

Western Union

If a banking relationship isn’t possible in the overseas location, money can be wired to a foreign site by Western Union. See the Western Union website for more information.

Entering or Leaving the U.S. with $10,000 or More in Monetary Instruments

In some instances, it may not be possible to establish a reliable banking relationship at a foreign site. For this reason, it is sometimes necessary for a custodian to leave the U.S. with a field advance in cash. It is legal to transport any amount of currency or other monetary instruments into or out of the U.S. However, amounts of $10,000 or more in the form of cash, check or traveler’s check, must be reported. The custodian must complete Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments (FinCEN Form 105) . This form and directions can be obtained at all U.S. ports of entry and departure. Reporting is required under the Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act (PL 97-258, 31 U.S.C. 5311, et seq.), as amended. Failure to declare currency in amounts of over $10,000 can result in its seizure. U.S. Customs does not collect duty on currency.

*Monetary instruments include:

  • U.S. or foreign coins and currency
  • Travelers checks in any form
  • Negotiable instruments (including checks, promissory notes, and money orders) that are either in bearer form, endorsed without restriction, made out to a fictitious payee, or otherwise in a form that the funds can be transferred to another person
  • Incomplete instruments (including checks, promissory notes, and money orders) signed, but with the payee’s name omitted
  • Securities or stock in bearer form or otherwise in a form that the funds can be transferred to another person

However, the term "monetary instruments" does not include:

  • Checks or money orders made payable to the order of a named person which have not been endorsed or which bear restrictive endorsements
  • Warehouse receipts
  • Bills of lading

IMPORTANT NOTE - Prior to leaving the U.S. with a large sum, the custodian should know the laws and procedures regarding travelers bringing in cash to the respective foreign country. There may be laws that prohibit this practice and that could lead to the cash being seized. See the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Information and Travel Warnings website for more information.

Research Subject Payments

Each department is responsible for keeping records on the total amount paid to each individual in their studies. Refer to the Research Subject Payments website for detailed information on this topic.

When paying research subjects with a field advance, report the number of persons paid and the amount paid to each on the reconciliation. If the names of the subjects are being kept confidential, include a statement with your reconciliation that this is the case and that the names are on file in the department for audit purposes.

IMPORTANT NOTE - The following information must be reported to the UW Tax Desk for each research subject receiving total payments of $600 or more in a calendar year:

  • Payee name
  • Permanent address
  • Taxpayer identification number
  • Total amount paid

Reports must be submitted by January 15th of the following year.

The UW is required by law to report this information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

A payment to an individual must include their citizenship status, taxpayer identification number, if required, and the date, place and description of the service provided. Their signature is also required when a formal invoice isn't issued.


Closing a Field Advance - Reconciling

A reconciliation detailing the expenditures made with the advance must be submitted to the Field Office Desk by the due date on the request form. The due date for the completed reconciliation is 30 calendar days after the end of the field advance period. Additional advances will not be issued if there are overdue advances outstanding.  Remember, your receipts should be in alignment with the description provided when the Field Advance was requested.  Receipts that fall outside of the description provided may not be approved.

Obtaining Receipts for All Purchases

Receipts are required for all expenditures, and should include the following information:

  • Date of purchase
  • Location of purchase
  • Vendor name
  • Amount
  • Description of items purchased and or services rendered
  • For receipts in languages other than English, a few words describing the expenditure

An invoice or itemized bill from a vendor is not considered a receipt unless marked "paid" by the vendor. If a receipt cannot be obtained or is lost, a perjury statement must be completed and signed by the custodian. The department head or principle must also sign the perjury statement. It is recommended that a separate record or log be kept to accurately account for each purchase. A recommended practice is to bring a blank receipt book to record payments to individuals when they can’t provide a receipt.

Only meal per diem can be paid without receipts. Lodging expenditures must always be documented with receipts, and lodging funds advanced in excess of actual charges must be repaid.

Foreign Currency Exchange

Field advance funds given to the custodian in advance of a trip are in U.S. dollars, and any money the UW reimburses the custodian after the trip is also in U.S. dollars. Any money owed to the UW as unspent field advance funds should be reimbursed to the university by check or money order. The custodian is responsible for exchanging the U.S. money into the currency used in the foreign country.

Calculating Your Exchange Rate*

Depending on the rules of your budget or grant, you may not be allowed to have specific budget line items for exchange rate fees, exchange rate losses and exchange rate gains. If a budget or grant allows expenditures and revenue related to currency exchange, those transactions can be listed individually on the advance reconciliation, just like any other expense or revenue.

If a budget or grant does not allow expenditures or revenue related to currency exchange fees and foreign currency loss or gain, then they should be included as part of the calculated exchange rate. This will allow an advance to account for actual expenses that have or will incur. 

* Please see UW’s Travel Office Website for rules pertaining to foreign exchange policies related to travel reimbursed funds.

* Field Advance receipts will use the exchange rate generated at the time of purchase; do not use exchange rate tools like Oanda.

Example when fees are allowed:

  • $1000 converted to British Pounds
  • Your receipt shows you received £653.94 less a £20 fee.
  • $1000 ÷ £653.94 = 1.539
  • The exchange rate used on the reconciliation would be 1.539.
  • And there would be one line item on the reconciliation for the £20 fee. 

Example when fees are not allowed:

  • $1000 converted to British Pounds.
  • Your receipt shows you received £653.94 less a £20 fee.
  • $1000 ÷ £633.94 = 1.577
  • Notice that the £20 fee was subtracted from the total pounds.
  • The exchange rate used on the reconciliation would be 1.577.
  • The slightly different exchange rate will account for the fee.
  • There will be no line item for the fee, since it has been accounted for in the exchange rate calculation. 

One Exchange Transaction 

When converting all of a USD advance into one foreign currency, there will be just one transaction to document, one exchange rate to calculate and one exchange rate to be used throughout the reconciliation. 

Multiple Exchange Transactions – First In First Out 

The Concept: First In First Out. Spend down the first block of funds that was purchased at that specific exchange rate. Then, spend down the next block of funds that was purchased at that specific exchange rate. 

If it is expected that the funds spent will be spent at multiple exchange rates, make sure to save all of the exchange transaction receipts. There will be the same number of exchange rates to calculate as there were exchange transactions. If money is changed five times, there will be five resulting exchange rates to be used in the advance reconciliation. 

When preparing to reconcile an advance, find the first exchange transaction. Calculate the exchange rate. Take the resulting exchange rate and apply it to the total foreign funds that were purchased at that rate. Once the total funds that were purchased with the first exchange transaction have been accounted for, switch to the next rate. Repeat for each block of funds that were purchased. 

If the first block of exchanged funds is accounted for mid receipt, split the receipt into two parts. Apply the first exchange rate to the remaining amount of funds. Then apply the second exchange rate to the remaining amount of the split receipt. Continue accounting for the second block of funds at the second exchange rate. Split whenever necessary to transition to a new exchange rate.

Example: A researcher had a $42,000 field advance and made two currency exchanges for local currency. The first exchange was $25,000 and resulted in an exchange rate of 42. The second exchange was $17,000 and resulted in an exchange rate of 45. Receipt number three was split so that the total amount of funds spent in USD equals $25,000 at the exchange rate of 42. The second rate was used for the remaining amount of the receipt and all of the remaining receipts, in this example.

Exchange Rate Losses

In the event that a custodian suffers a loss from the buying and selling of foreign currency, the traveler will be reimbursed for that loss upon the presentation of the supporting documentation for both the purchase and the sale of foreign currency.

Object & Subject-Object Coding

For purposes of reconciling field advances, expenditures need to be grouped into the following object codes:

  • Personal Service Contracts and Other Purchased Services – 02. These are payments to individuals for services. "Individual" means a natural person and any business entity other than a corporation. Due to IRS reporting requirements, only non-resident aliens on foreign soil and bona fide research subjects pay be paid on a field advance.
  • Other Contractual Services – 03. These are payments to corporations for services.
  • Travel – 04. Reimbursable costs incurred while in travel status. UW Travel Office policies also apply to field advances, with one important difference—receipts are required for all expenditures, even those under $50.00.
  • Supplies and Materials – 05. Consumable items of any value as well as equipment items having a useful life of more than one year and a total cost below $2,000.00 (including taxes and shipping).

Specific sub-object coding is not required in reconciling expenditures. Expenditures will appear in a generic format when sub-object codes are not used. For example, all 03 expenditures will appear as 03-99. However, a program or department may choose to use specific sub-object coding if it wants to keep closer track of expenditures within an object code.

Steps to Reconcile a Field Advance

A. Prepare receipts for entry into the spreadsheet.

  1. Assemble all receipts. Original receipts are required for all expenditures, copies of bank/financial institution charges are acceptable.
  2. Securely tape, do not use staples, all receipts to one side of an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper or similar sized paper.
  3. Number the receipt or groups of receipts in a logical and consecutive order.
  4. Complete a perjury statement for any expenditure for which there isn’t a receipt. One perjury statement can be used for multiple undocumented expenditures.
  5. For a field advance spent in a foreign currency, determine the currency conversion rate(s) for the period of the field advance.

B. Using the Excel Spreadsheet complete the tab “ExpenditureWorksheet” in the Excel workbook.

Form:  Field Advance Reconciliation Excel Spreadsheet

  1. Enter the receipt(s) number.
  2. Enter the description.
  3. Select expenditure type.
  4. Enter the transaction amount.
  5. Enter the conversion rate.
  6. The “Amount US $” and the “OBJ-SUB” are auto populated.
  7. Repeat these steps for as many receipts or groups of receipts that you have.
  8. Include individual lines for each item on the perjury statement, this allows each perjury expense to be assigned the correct object code.
  9. When complete, print.

C. Complete the tab “AccountingforFieldAdvExpend” in the Excel workbook.

  1. Fill in the “Budget #”.
  2. Fill in the “Amount of Advance”.
  3. Print the form.
  4. The custodian should sign, date and print their name.
  5. Have an authorized person sign for the departmental approval.

D. Compile the reconciliation documentation package.

  1. Please include currency conversion documentation.
  2. The receipts taped to 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper.
  3. Spreadsheet(s) of expenditures.
  4. Signed form “Accounting for Field Advance Expenditure” (signed by custodian and department chair/administrator).
  5. If there is an unspent amount on the field advance, a personal check to the University of Washington from the custodian.
  6. If there were expenditures that didn’t have a receipt, a signed perjury statement (signed by custodian and department chair/administrator).

E. Send to B&AO, Field Advance Box 351120.


Budget Preparation Worksheet

Request for Field Advance (UoW 1026)

Field Advance Banking Information (UoW 2001)

Field Advance Reconciliation Excel Spreadsheet

Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments (FinCEN Form 105)



Suvi Siriyanonh

Accountant 2, Banking & Accounting Operations
Box 351120
206-543-6402 (voice)


Sarah Garland
Assistant Director, Banking & Accounting Operations
Box 351120
206-543-8472 (voice)


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