Postage and Shipping

Guideline Date: April 2015     Revision: 1     Last Review: August 2017

Why are postage and shipping costs normally charged as indirect costs?

Items such as office supplies, postage, local telephone costs and memberships are usually treated as indirect costs. Postage and shipping costs are normally included in the overhead calculation because the costs cannot be charged to a specific award with a high degree of accuracy.  

Examples of shipping and postage considered as indirect costs:

  • Mailing a proposal to a sponsor       
  • Any postage or shipping needed to support routine administrative activities         
  • Shipping costs that cannot be readily identified with a particular sponsored award

When may postage and shipping costs be charged as direct costs?

  • Shipping specimens to a lab facility for processing
  • Postage for large surveys
  • Shipment of animals for use on a specific project
  • Sharing model organisms as required by the terms and conditions on the award

If you plan to charge postage or shipping as a direct expense?

  • Explain why the postage or shipping costs solely benefit the project.
  • Conform to all specific restrictions and approval requirements outlined in the terms and conditions of the award.        
  • If the expense is anticipated, include it in the budget at the proposal stage.
  • Document the justification for the expense. The principal investigator is responsible for maintaining this documentation for six years after the end date of the project.