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Legal Entities Abroad

Determining whether and how to register the university in a foreign country is a legal and often strategic decision.

Stone buildings.
Cornell Law School.

If there are compelling legal or business reasons to justify the creation of a separate corporation, Cornell will establish legal entities abroad to operate as separate subsidiaries or stand-alone affiliates. The university will act only when the separate corporation is necessary to comply with foreign country laws and regulations, and more expedient alternatives are not available.

Cornell University Board of Trustees' approval is required (Cornell University Policy 4.11).

Conducting Business Abroad?

Before budgeting for a project, email Global Operations. We can help you find answers to key questions about taxation, human resources, banking, risk, safety, insurance, compliance, and more.

New programs or activities that conduct business in any foreign country are subject to the host country’s legal statutes and regulations. Unless all business and educational functions are conducted through a partner organization, country-specific laws classify “conducting business” to include any of the following:

  • Opening a bank account

  • Employing local or expatriate staff
  • Utilizing the services of independent contractors
  • Buying or leasing real estate
  • Generating income
  • Providing educational services
  • Operating on a long-term basis

If local legal counsel or operational support is required for your project's 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 General Counsel.

Please email Global Operations to ensure program activities are classified correctly and comply with local laws and Cornell’s procedures for international work.