1238 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Zero-Dollar Purchase Orders



The University's electronic purchasing system cannot track an order unless there is a purchase order number assigned to it. Zero-dollar purchase orders allow an item to be tracked, even when it is acquired at no cost to the University.

Scope of Applicability

This policy applies to all University employees.


Policy Statement

All equipment obtained by the University must have a purchase order associated with it. The University may obtain equipment for evaluation or demonstration without the expenditure of funds by creating a Purchase Order for zero dollars documenting the contractual agreement and shipping details with the vendor.

Even though no expenses are anticipated with a zero-dollar purchase, a valid chartfield string must be provided on the requisition and the requisition must be accompanied by a signed equipment evaluation agreement, if applicable, that meets the requirements of Finance Policy 1278 - Departmental Evaluation of Equipment.

Purchasing Services is prohibited from entering into any purchase agreements for employees' private benefit, including zero-dollar purchase orders. All materials purchased by the University remain the property of the State until consumed or disposed of by public sale through appropriate Surplus Property procedures.



Additional Information

Special Situations


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I really need a requisition to evaluate some equipment or software I am not going to purchase at this time?
A: Yes. A zero-dollar requisition is required for all evaluation equipment or software. Purchasing Services will issue a zero-dollar purchase order along with an evaluation agreement. This must be done prior to receiving any equipment or software for evaluation.

Q: If my department has equipment under warranty that needs to be returned for repair or replacement, do we need to create a zero-dollar purchase order since there is no cost associated with the repair?
A: Yes. Having a zero-dollar purchase order allows you the ability to track any potential or unforeseen charge that may occur subsequent to the order being processed. It is important that you work with Purchasing Services to ensure proper documentation of the equipment return.

Q: My department needs to have equipment repaired under warranty and the vendor requires a purchase order. Why is a purchase order necessary if there won't be any charge?
A: When equipment is being returned for warranty repair or replacement, some vendors may require a zero-dollar purchase order as an authorization from the University. In fact, it is a University-wide requirement.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences


University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

  • Finance Policy 1278 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Departmental Evaluation of Equipment
  • Finance Policy 711 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Policy on Return of Merchandise to Vendors
  • Finance Procedure 711.1 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Procedure for Returning Merchandise to Vendors

Contact Information

Policy Contact
Subject Contact Telephone Fax E-Mail
Zero-dollar Purchase Orders Purchasing Services - Goods 919-962-3774 919-962-6271 purchasing_team@unc.edu



  • October 1, 2014: Revised naming of requisition and chartfield string components.
  • July 27, 2010
  • November 20, 2003
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Article ID: 131434
Thu 4/8/21 9:08 PM
Mon 8/9/21 4:21 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Finance and Budget
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Director of Purchasing Services
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
11/10/2021 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
11/10/2020 8:02 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
11/10/2020 8:02 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
11/10/2020 8:02 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
07/01/1995 12:00 AM