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[ Disbursements - Accounts Payable ]

Honoraria Payments

A gratuitous payment of money or other thing of value to a person for the person’s participation in a usual academic activity for which no fee is legally required. An honorarium is provided as a token of appreciation for participation in an activity or event, and not as a contractual obligation to pay for services rendered.

"Usual Academic Activity" means activity conducted for the benefit of the honorarium-paying institution and includes lecturing, teaching, consulting, conducting research, attending meetings, symposia or seminars, or otherwise sharing knowledge. Readings and performances are included academic activities, so long as the activity is open without charge to the public and/or students.

The Role of the Department - Be pro-active!

  • At the beginning of the academic year or semester, get a copy of your department's list of guest speakers from your chair, director, or the person organizing your colloquium /lecture/workshop series.
  • Identify the foreign national guest speakers in advance of their arrival.
  • Work with your faculty to determine the type of visa the guest speaker will have.
  • Assemble the paperwork necessary for that type of visa.
  • If you know in advance that your guest speaker will be entering the U.S. on a B visa or on a Waiver, get in touch with them and advise them to declare B1 or WB when passing through U.S. Customs.
  • To avoid federal withholding on your guest speaker's honorarium, have your guest speaker fill out the forms listed below and obtain photocopies of other necessary documentation as soon as they arrive. Ask Tax and International Operations Office to confirm eligibility of treaty benefits and obtain the 8233 treaty form for signature.

Honoraria Payments to U.S. Citizens or U.S. Resident Aliens

  • W9 is required
  • Flyer or Memo that doucments the person's participation in the activity or event

Honoraria Payments to a Foreign National

Most guest speakers at Penn hold either a J1 Visa, B Visa, or have Waiver Status. May be paid honoraria IF

  • The activity lasts no more than 9 days. The Non Resident may be at the institution longer than 9 days, however the number-of-days limitation applies only to "the event", and
  • The services conducted are of direct benefit to the University, and
  • The visitor has not accepted payments from more than 5 institutions in the previous 6 months

J Visa - issued by invitation from a host institution. Honoraria and travel reimbursements can be paid to holders of this type of visa.

Documentation for Paying Honoraria and Travel Reimbursement to J1 Visa Holders

  • Form W-8BEN
  • Foreign National Information Form (FNIF)
  • If your guest speaker's J1 visa was issued by a U.S. institution other than Penn, a letter from the issuing institution recommending such activity and explaining how the activity would enhance the exchange visitor's program. This letter is to be written prior to the engagement.
  • Photocopy of main page of passport
  • Photocopy of I-94 Document
  • Photocopy of visa
  • Photocopy of DS-2019 form
  • If Tax and International Operations Office has determined that treaty benefits apply, the 8233 Treaty Form, with original signatures, obtained from Tax and International Operations Office
  • Poster documenting date and location of lecture

The B Visa is a visa that can be obtained by the foreign national from the U.S. Consulate in their home country. It is usually good for a number of years and can be used repeatedly to enter the U.S. for short periods of time (generally less than six months). The B Visa will be either B1 (business status) or B2 (tourist status), depending on which type your guest speaker declares when he/she comes through US Customs. If your guest speaker declares B1 (business), they can be paid an honorarium and be reimbursed for travel expenses. If your guest speaker declares B2 (tourist), they can be paid an honorarium but CANNOT be reimbursed for travel expenses unless directly connected to an honoraria event. For ease of payment, guest speakers should be encouraged to declare business status.

Documentation for Paying Honoraria and Travel Reimbursement to B Visa Holders

The Waiver program is available only to citizens of Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Under this program, foreign nationals may enter the U.S. for a maximum of 90 days without a visa as long as they have a nonrefundable round trip ticket. The Waiver will be either WB (business status) or WT (tourist status), depending on which type your guest speaker declares when he/she comes through U.S. Customs. If your guest speaker declares WB (business), they can be paid an honorarium and reimbursed for travel expenses. If your guest speaker declares WT (tourist), they can be paid an honorarium but CAN NOT be reimbursed for travel expenses unless it is directly connected to the honoraria. Again, to make payment simpler, business status is best.

Documentation for Paying Honoraria and Travel Reimbursements to Guests with Waiver Status

SPECIAL NOTE FOR VISITORS ON TN, H-1B or O VISAS: Visitors on TN, H-1B or O visas not sponsored by Penn may NOT receive honoraria or service payments (including employee compensation). In these cases, it may be necessary to arrange to pay your guest speaker's home institution so that they can in turn pay your guest speaker. Penn’s Tax and International Operations reviews travel reimbursement requests for holders of these types of visas on a case by case basis.


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