Materials Management

Moving equipment, supplies and materials across borders is a complex task with multiple levels of compliance. Each project must negotiate rules specific to the items they are moving. Global Research manages a forum to share experiences and resources. 


UCSF receives an equipment discount from many of its vendors. This discount is not transferable, and some equipment is not intended to leave UCSF. Vendors are responsible for the first level of compliance. Work with your sales representative. If you plan to export it, they will charge the destination price. They will also know the export status of the technology.

UCSF has compliance requirements for equipment, including monitoring location. When you purchase an item costing more than $2500 it becomes a departmental asset, and must be accounted for. Your Department has forms for use off-site, and will work with you to ensure compliance. Anyone shipping biologicals from UCSF is required to take training.

Host Countries

Host countries will have regulations about importing equipment, and many items cannot be shipped by air. Fed Ex keeps up to date with the regulations. Coordinate this with your partner institution.

Shipping Costs

Shipping costs vary widely; send smaller shipments through a freight consolidator to pay by volume instead of weight. You need to find a freight forwarder who has expertise in your country. UCSF has a contract with FedEx, and 2 Freight Forwarders, American Cargo Service, and Stevens Global Logistics. It is less expensive if you drop your items of at the port of Oakland (by sea) or the offices right next to the airport. Discuss freight logistics and packaging with your carrier. Theft during shipment is pervasive. Contract for insurance for the shipment through Risk Management. Document everything well, and include 2 copies of documents for the shippers. Take photos of the items and shipping container. When your item arrives it will be held at the port until it clears customs. You need a handler on the receiving side who can receive the shipment. The receiver will also arrange shipment from the port to your destination that can accept receipt. Again, your partner institution is important. If this is all new to you, you might want to talk to someone with experience. Contact Global Research for additional information and guidance.

Bio Materials

Moving biological and biohazardous materials can be complex. Most biologicals are not stable for shipping and are typically stored in dry ice or liquid nitrogen. DHL offers a Shipping Dangerous Goods option. World Courier will handle infectious materials, and will replenish dry ice. They will also keep the material in pressurized cabins, and forgo the x-rays. Cryoport and Fedex will ship a liquid nitrogen vapor carrier internationally.

Anyone shipping biologicals from UCSF is required to take training.   UCSF EH&S has training.   To move research materials between UCSF and outside institutions there must be a Material Transfer Agreement in place.

Last updated: November 15, 2018