format_list_bulleted Topic Overview

Do Business With Stanford

This page provides important information for current and potential suppliers to the university, including:

  • Information about Stanford as a customer
  • An overview of the university’s purchasing process and policies
  • An overview of supplier expectations and requirements

For university staff looking for guidance on selecting and onboarding a supplier, refer to Topic Overview: Selecting a Supplier as well as Topic Overview: Setting Up a New Supplier or Payee

Stanford University is a place of learning, discovery, expression, innovation, and discourse. Founded in 1885, Stanford’s areas of excellence span seven schools along with research institutes, the arts, and athletics. Stanford’s faculty, staff, and students work to improve the health and wellbeing of people around the world through the discovery and application of knowledge. 

Stanford works with both domestic and international suppliers who play a key role in helping the university make an impact toward its mission.


When engaging with Stanford, suppliers are expected to: 

  • Provide dependable products and services
  • Deliver goods and services as promised, with no substitutions
  • Offer competitive prices
  • Communicate effectively 
  • Resolve issues in a timely manner
  • Comply with purchasing, shipping, and invoicing procedures (as described below on this page)
  • Supply a Certificate of Insurance, if requested
  • Adhere to Stanford policies and guidelines
  • Conduct all negotiations and activities transparently and in good faith

Refer to the current Stanford Purchase Order Terms and Conditions for more information.

Values and Integrity

Stanford University is an institution dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and fosters an environment consistent with this goal. Central to that institutional commitment are the principles of treating each university community member fairly and with respect, and embracing diversity and inclusion. 

Stanford is also committed to the university’s value of sustaining life, including specific commitments to achieve net zero carbon emissions in university operations by 2050 and zero waste by 2030, among others. Refer to Policy: Responsible Purchasing.

All Stanford community members, including Stanford’s suppliers, must conform with university policy; including the university's Code of Conduct and policies on Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment. Any known or apparent violation of these policies, whether by an employee or a supplier, must be immediately reported as directed in these policies. 

Relationships between Stanford and its suppliers must be free of impropriety. University community members may not solicit any gift, and may not personally accept any material gift, gratuity or payment, in cash or in kind, from any supplier seeking or currently doing business with the university. According to Administrative Guide Policy 1.5.2: Staff Policy on Conflict of Commitment and Interest section 2d, staff may not accept any gifts exceeding $50 in value. The School of Medicine has a special policy related to medical industry suppliers to ensure that doctors’ and scientists’ interactions with the pharmaceutical industry are ethical and avoid conflicts of interest. It severely restricts the ability of physicians to accept industry gifts. It also bans pharmaceutical, bio-device, and related industry representatives from many areas of the medical school without an appointment.

Some examples of circumstances that may create a conflict of interest are:

  • A university employee is also an employee, officer, or adviser of the supplier's organization
  • A university employee or immediate family member has a financial interest in the supplier
  • A supplier offered a material gift or favor to a university employee

While “Stanford” often refers to the university, the hospital, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, they are separate legal entities, each with its own purchasing and payment processes. The information here applies to purchasing and payment processes for Stanford University.

Suppliers Interested in Doing Business with Stanford University

University staff within schools and units initiate the process of supplier sourcing and the acquisition of goods and services. Generally, departments will communicate with the supplier directly to receive a quote for required goods or services before initiating a purchase request with Procurement Services.

It is up to the supplier to make their products and services known to schools and units who may have a need for them. Suppliers can find contact information on the Stanford University website or specific school, unit, or department websites.

Supplier Setup and Onboarding

In order for suppliers to be eligible for a purchase order or contract, they need to be set up in Stanford’s central supplier database. This onboarding process includes a compliance and risk assessment. 

Accurate supplier records are an important part of Stanford’s ability to manage purchase orders, contracts, payments, and compliance with policies and regulations. The Vendor Services team oversees the setup and maintenance of supplier records in the university’s financial systems.

New suppliers are activated after the following steps are completed:

1. School or Unit department
  • Identifies the need to purchase goods/services or to issue a payment
  • Completes the supplier selection process, including discussing requirements, risks, and value of a new supplier engagement with internal stakeholders 
  • If the supplier is not currently active in the university's database, requests setup of a new supplier or payee record for potential suppliers
  • Coordinates with the supplier to ensure required information is provided in a timely manner 
2. Stanford Vendor Services Initiates an email invitation to the potential supplier to register in the Supplier Onboarding Portal.

Note: The email invitation is deactivated if it is not completed within 30 days.
3. Supplier Submits the required information in the Supplier Onboarding Portal. See a table of common types of required documentation in Setting Up a New Supplier or Visitor Payee.

Note: To ensure a faster, more efficient supplier onboarding process, suppliers should submit complete and accurate information. If Vendor Services needs additional information, they will reach out directly to the supplier. 
4. Stanford Vendor Services Reviews and validates the setup information and finalizes the supplier profile.

Note: After validation, the supplier profile becomes active for use in purchase orders or payment requests.
5. Supplier Manages their records proactively, including notifying Stanford immediately of any changes to essential business information, such as address or payment method. See below for more guidance. 

Living Wage and Benefits Guidelines

Stanford University Human Resources maintains Living Wage and Benefit Guidelines with and without health benefits which apply to suppliers and contractors whose employees provide any services, including but not limited to, maintenance, grounds keeping, housing and food services and general administrative jobs directly to Stanford University when all of the following conditions are met:

  • The workers are employees of suppliers/contractors with agreements with Stanford University.
  • Such workers are regular or temporary employees of the supplier/contractor.
  • Such workers are not represented under any existing collective bargaining relationship.
  • The aggregate value of the contract(s) exceeds $100,000 per year. 

These guidelines do not apply to tenants or other entities doing business on university-owned land. This includes Stanford Hospital and Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

Pay Transparency

Effective Jan. 1, 2023, suppliers must comply with California law regarding pay transparency, which includes the following requirements for California employers: 

  • Employers with 15 or more employees must include the pay scale, defined as the “salary or hourly wage range that the employer reasonably expects to pay for the position,” in any job posting. If the employer uses a third party to publish or post a job, they must provide the pay scale to that third party, who must include it in the posting.
  • Upon request, provide the pay scale for the position in which a current employee is employed.
  • Maintain records of job title and wage history for each employee for the duration of employment and three years after the end of employment. The state’s labor commissioner is authorized to request these records to “determine if there is still a pattern of wage discrepancy.”
  • Employers with 100 or more employees must comply with expanded pay data reporting requirements beginning May 2023.
  • Employers with 100 or more employees hired through labor contractors must also submit a separate pay data report covering those employees beginning May 2023.

Stanford or other companies that suppliers work with may provide a suggested pay rate or pay range for a position, but ultimately the supplier’s organization is responsible for complying with this law. 

Suppliers must also provide the necessary information that Stanford needs to comply with its annual pay data reporting obligations for employees hired through the supplier. 

For more information, see CA Pay Equity Resources and Senate Bill 1162

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Other Export Controlled Defense Articles, Software and Technical Data

Because of its large foreign national student population and commitment to conducting research openly and without regard to citizenship, Stanford University does not generally permit the use of ITAR and other export controlled defense articles, software and technical data on campus or other university research facilities. Stanford, by policy, only performs "fundamental research" as defined by US export control regulations, namely basic and applied research that is not subject to access, dissemination or participation restrictions. These policies are articulated in Stanford's Research Policy Handbook at DoResearch Section 1.4 (Openness in Research) and DoResearch Section 8.1 (Export Controls Applicability, Policy Background and Regulatory Authority).

A robust, competitive, and diverse supplier base is essential to power the university and offers greater agility, innovation, and value. 

The mission of Stanford’s Supplier Diversity program is to drive operational excellence by cultivating opportunities and building relationships with diverse suppliers while continuously improving how optimal and inclusive procurement practices inform and support execution of the university’s mission. Through the university's commitment to supplier diversity, the program aims to drive economic growth, promote social equity, and create a sustainable future. 

Supplier resources
Stanford is a proud member of the Western Regional Minority Supplier Development Council (WRMSDC), which has established a strong commitment to advancing minority-owned businesses. Diverse suppliers that identify as minority-owned can access support from WRMSDC to become a certified minority business enterprise (MBE),  gain exposure to contract opportunities through business growth initiatives and networking opportunities.  

In addition to WRMSDC, Stanford is an engaged participant and supporter of the following diverse business advocacy organizations:

  • WBEC-Pacific (Women's Business Enterprise Council – Pacific)
  • Disability:IN (Supports disabled owned business enterprises (DOBEs)
  • CHCC (California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce)
  • NGLCC (National Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce)

Suppliers may contact the Stanford Supplier Diversity Program to learn more.

Stanford’s Competitive Supplier Selection Process

University policy requires that the purchase of products or services be by competition between suppliers to the extent possible based upon the total value, which includes considerations such as quality, price, and performance. Competitive purchasing practices include departments researching potential suppliers, their prospective solutions, and pricing.

When required by policy, or when requested by a university department, professional buyers in the Purchasing and Contracts Department generate formal Requests for Proposals (RFP) or Requests for Quotations (RFQ).

Typically, department requestors consult directly with a supplier representative regarding development of a specific statement of work or or  assistance in developing project specifications and how the supplier can deliver such project needs. 

A purchase order, contract, agreement, memorandum of understanding, letter of intent, or other document authorizing the project may only be executed by Stanford Procurement staff with specifically delegated authority. 

Stanford’s Purchase Order Process

Once a purchase requisition is approved, a purchase order is issued to the supplier. Receiving a purchase order from Stanford carries with it the obligation to supply the ordered goods/services at the agreed-upon price, at the promised time and without the need for the buyer to intervene, renegotiate, or request expedited service. 

Suppliers can help Stanford by:

  • Advising if the university’s specifications for a product can be improved to provide better performance, a longer-life product and/or lower cost.
  • Providing the latest catalogs and current prices.
  • Keeping the university informed of back order situations, plant closures, impending shortages or other circumstances that may affect lead times or product/service availability.

Stanford University purchase orders are issued subject to the standard terms and conditions. Terms in any acceptance by a seller which are in addition to or not identical with these terms will not become a part of any Stanford University Purchase Agreement unless Stanford specifically and expressly agrees in writing that such other terms are accepted. 

Suppliers should never accept requests for goods/services from Stanford University without a purchase order number or a university-issued purchasing card (PCard) number. 

If the transaction requires a Stanford signature, including zero dollar agreements, refer to Topic Overview: Contracts to learn about the procurement contracts process at Stanford. 

Refer to Topic Overview: Delivering Goods and Services to Stanford for information on delivering goods to a Stanford facility or providing services on-site. This guidance includes:

  • Shipping requirements
  • Parking information
  • Campus maps
  • Radioactive product handling and policies and procedures

Suppliers are expected to include the Stanford purchase order or contract number, building address, room number, and contact person on shipping documents.

Controlled items

Stanford suppliers may not ship – and Stanford employees may not purchase on behalf of Stanford – any of the following items without express written preauthorization from Stanford’s Export Control Office:

  • Any International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)-Controlled Defense Article, ITAR-Controlled Software or ITAR Technical Data. ITAR controlled items are identified on the United States Munitions List (USML) at Part 121.
  • Any "500/600 Series" Defense Article identified on the Export Administration Regulation'(EAR) Commerce Control List (CCL) in CCL Categories 0 through 9. "500/600 Series" Defense Articles have an ECCN Citation of which includes either a 5 or 6 in the third spot of a five digit alphanumeric sequence. Example: ECCN 9A610.
  • Wassenaar Arrangement Munitions List Items. The Wassenaar Arrangement is a multilateral export control organization that regulates national security controlled items among member states.

A well maintained and current supplier record helps prevent payment processing delays, inability to contact the supplier, or misunderstandings about the agreed upon goods or services. Suppliers are responsible for notifying the university of important changes to their business information, including but not limited to:

  • Points of contact, including name, phone number, email address, and physical address
  • Payment arrangements, including both payment terms and methods
  • Classification of goods sold, or scope of services performed by supplier

The process for updating a record depends on how the supplier is classified within the system:

Individuals (Domestic or Foreign) and Foreign Companies
Changes to contact information or a default payment method (check or ACH) should be made directly by the supplier or payee by submitting a support request to the Financial Support Center.  After contacting the Financial Support Center, the supplier or payee will be sent a link to access the Supplier Payee Request Portal to submit data securely. For more information, refer to How to: Complete a Request for Confidential Information in the Stanford Supplier and Payee Request Portal.

Domestic Companies
Suppliers who are U.S. corporations or other U.S.-based business entities can update and maintain their information directly within Stanford’s Supplier and Payee Registry site. Suppliers should log into their company profile on the site and submit an update or change request. Refer to the Add or Edit Profile Details section of the Learning: Supplier and Payee Registry Quick Reference Guide for instructions on initiating and submitting a change request.

Suppliers or payees that joined Stanford before November 2019 should submit a support request to the Financial Support Center to confirm whether their details were uploaded to the Stanford Supplier and Payee Registry. 

Invoices will be processed and scheduled for payment per the terms specified on the purchase order or contract. To ensure prompt payment:

  • Invoices must be itemized and reference a Stanford approved eight (8)-digit purchase order or contract number. 
  • Packing lists, quotes, estimates, or monthly statements will not be accepted by the university's Accounts Payable department for payment processing.
  • Invoices must be addressed to Stanford University and include a remit to and bill to address.
  • Invoices should include proper sales tax according to product type and delivery location.  Sales of tangible property and purchases made by Stanford are subject to California law governing sales and use tax. See Topic Overview: Sales and Use Tax for more information.

If any of the requirements listed above are not met, or a supplier is uncertain, they should follow up with the Stanford department contact person noted on the purchase order or contract. 

Submitting Invoices and Credit Memos

Once goods/services have been approved and received in accordance with university policy, suppliers may submit invoices (indicating the appropriate Stanford purchase order or contract number) to Stanford:

  • Email invoices in individual PDF files to: @email (PDF files containing multiple invoices will not be processed). In most cases, the university prefers that suppliers email invoices to ensure the most efficient invoice processing. 
  • Or mail invoices to:
    Stanford University Accounts Payable
    P.O. Box 20410
    Stanford, CA 94309-0410
    United States

    Please note: If the invoice is mailed, suppliers should factor in additional time for post office processing.
  • There are cases when the supplier must provide the invoice to the department contact, who will upload the invoice on the supplier’s behalf. Departments can also, at their discretion, require the supplier to submit invoices directly to the department for review and uploading.

Refer to Topic Overview: Purchase Order Invoice Processing for more information invoice submission methods and instructions for suppliers. 

Upon receipt of an undisputed invoice, the university ensures that:

  • Invoices are paid in accordance with the terms specified in the purchase agreement (e.g., net 30 days from date of invoice).
  • Payments are in compliance with federal, state and local tax laws and regulations, proper taxes are withheld as necessary and transactions are properly reported.
  • If an invoice is placed on hold, the school or unit contact person is notified of required action.

Departments may also request AP will call checks to pay suppliers. For support with invoice processing or to update any of your information on file, please submit a support request

Stanford University does not complete individual credit application forms.

  • Suppliers can view Stanford Credit Ratings on the Stanford Bondholder website.
  • For a fee, suppliers may order a Stanford University credit report by contacting Dun & Bradstreet. Stanford University's DUNS number: 00-921-4214.

A bank reference for Stanford University may be requested by submitting a support request.

Last Updated: May 1, 2024