Sourcing fuel and maintenance services (in-house or outsourcing)

Sourcing fuel

The way fuel is purchased for operations will vary widely. In certain contexts, it is widely available through standard commercial services such as filling stations, but in other contexts it is less widely available and is distributed through local traders and networks.

Procurement of fuel

Like any other commodity or service, fuel must be purchased following the applicable procurement, fraud and corruption and counter-terrorism policies. However, due to the importance of fuel to the success of the operation, it usually requires more control than the procurement of other items or services after it is purchased. Both the quantity and the quality of the available fuel must be monitored closely.

Where possible, at least one contract should be in place to ensure the supply of fuel – multiple contracts will mitigate the risk of shortage.

The contract(s) should detail the expected quality of the fuel provided, and supplied fuel should be checked regularly against agreed quality standards (by an independent laboratory if necessary).

Where contracted suppliers cannot supply fuel, alternative options can be explored, in which case the purchase must follow the applicable procurement policy. For example, where a supplier has been contracted but is facing a one-week shortage, the fuel for that week must be purchased through the applicable procurement process, determined by the cost of the estimated total amount required for the week.

Fuel suppliers’ performance must be closely managed, and periodic contract reviews are recommended due to the criticality of fuel availability.

Fuel purchasing cards

In urban contexts, fuel purchasing cards are widely available. These cards are usually connected to an online platform, through which the fleet manager can track consumption.

Fuel cards can be pre- or post-paid, and they allow drivers to refill vehicles without having to request cash. Fuel refills must still be recorded in the logbook, and receipts must be kept for traceability and reconciliation purposes.

Fuel purchase vouchers

Where filling stations cannot provide purchasing cards, the IFRC recommends the use of fuel purchase vouchers.

Each vehicle should have a purchase voucher booklet in which drivers can record fuel purchases. Each voucher must have a unique number, which should be recorded by the fleet manager.

The fuel purchase vouchers must be signed by the driver, the filling station attendant and the fleet manager, with copies kept by all parties.

At the end of the month (or of a pre-defined period), the filling station can issue an invoice against all fuel purchase vouchers in the period. The fleet manager must then reconcile the vouchers against his own records (including the vehicle logbooks).

Fuel deliveries to point of use

In other contexts, fuel may need to be delivered periodically to one or several operating sites.

In this case, the delivery site must ensure that storage facilities are available to safely stock and issue fuel (an isolated, locked storage area only for fuel, equipped with fire extinguishers and sandbags, permanently staffed and with ideally only one staff member issuing and reporting on fuel distribution, and proper fuel issuing equipment).

Having the right refuelling system, with fuel vouchers and proper approval scheme in place under the supervision of the fleet manager, is critical in this context, to ensure consistent consumption control see the Daily checks on vehicles and generators section.

Where fuel is delivered directly from a supplier, they should provide a set of documents including certificate of quality, certificate of origin (especially if fuel is imported) and delivery note.

Fuel should be sampled and tested, ideally on site. Fuel testing does not require sophisticated equipment; a used fuel filter and a tube of Kolor Kut water finding paste are often enough to detect dirty or water-cut fuel. Kolor Kut paste should be smeared on a dipping stick, which is then plunged into the fuel container for two seconds. If the colour of the paste changes, the fuel contains water. Other brands of water-finding paste work in similar ways.

Sourcing maintenance services

Depending on the context of the operation, maintenance services can be provided in different ways. Each presents advantages and risks:

A table shows the advantage and risks of using own capacity and facilities for maintenance services, using another organisation's capacity and facilities and outsourcing to commercial services

Available to download here.

Where maintenance services are outsourced, they should be sourced through the appropriate procurement process. Ideally, a contract or framework agreement should be in place with at least one service provider, detailing a service level agreement and performance management principles.

Vehicle and driver schedules, generator running hours

Vehicle and driver schedules

Office hours drivers must work in accordance with local legislation regarding working hours and length of duty. Drivers should ideally be assigned to a single vehicle, to ensure traceability and accountability of resources.

In locations where no personal or public means of transportation are available, a duty driver system can be implemented to provide transport services outside of working hours, within a designated area. This ensures that delegates have means of transportation outside working hours.

Duty drivers should remain on standby for designated shifts in evenings and at weekends. IFRC recommends:

  • Minimum of four drivers available (each covering a six-hour shift, for 24-hour availability – consider security procedure for evacuation in specific contexts.
  • Minimum of one vehicle available for each duty driver.
  • Means of communication must be available for the duty vehicle/driver (either a VHF handset or mobile phone, depending on local phone coverage).

Duty driver allocation should be based on a rotation system and in line with local labour law.

Generator running hours

Just as logbooks track usage of vehicles, a generator’s running hours must be monitored, to ensure regular maintenance and follow-up regarding consumption.

A generator logbook should be available for each generator in use, tracking the number of hours it is used, maintenance services and refuelling (time, date and litres).

In operations that rely on generators to provide more than 50 per cent of the electricity requirements, it is recommended that the use of generators is alternated either with batteries (which can be charged by the generator when in use) or with spare generators, to limit wear and tear, allow for rest periods and guarantee back-up in case of servicing or breakdown.

Daily checks on vehicles and generators

Daily checks on vehicles

With all vehicles, it is usually the responsibility of the driver to carry out the necessary checks. Ideally, a daily inspection checklist should be available for the driver to fill out, but verbal follow-up or a note on the vehicle logbook can be sufficient in smaller operations.

The minimum daily inspection should be based on the FLOWER technique:

F – Fuel: fuel level must be checked.

L – Lights: all lights to be checked.

O – Oil: check oil level when engine is still cold and vehicle is parked on a flat surface.

W – Water: check the coolant level and top it up with coolant or water if level is low. Do not mix anti-freezes. Check the screen wash reservoir.

E – Electrics: check the battery is safe and secured in its place.

R – Rubber: check tyre pressure (finding the recommended pressure either in the vehicle manual or on the frame of the driver’s door), uneven wear, side wall damage and tread depth (check the tread indicator on the tyres).

A FLOWER diagram is available to download here. A more detailed vehicle inspection checklist is available to view and download here.

Daily inspections on generators

Like vehicles, generators should be inspected daily and any defects should be flagged as early as possible.

View and download a generator inspection checklist here.

Following fuel consumption

Taking stock of fuel

As the volume of fuel fluctuates depending on ambient temperature, the use of metric tons (MT) is recommended as the unit of measure for ordering, receiving and taking stock of fuel (fuel issued can be recorded in litres but quantities should be included in metric tons for stock taking).

To avoid discrepancies, use a calibrated, non-metallic dipstick.

For fuel stock takes, a temperature correction of fuel volume calculation table exists to advise how to adjust the fuel quantity according to temperature.

Where the fuel is managed by the organisation at the operation’s level, fuel stock reconciliation must be made across fuel requests, vehicle logbooks, fuel deliveries and by a physical count. Where fuel is purchased directly from filling stations, no stock take is required, but invoices must be reconciled against logbooks and receipts.

Monitoring fuel consumption

A variety of tools is available to monitor fuel consumption:

  • where fuel cards are in use, reports can be provided by the supplier
  • fuel request vouchers
  • logbooks
  • fleetWave system (where available).

To calculate fuel consumption, use the below formulas:

For vehicles:

Consumption = litres consumed ÷ distance covered (km) x 100 = XXX litres per 100 km

For generators:

Consumption = litres consumed ÷ hours operated = XXX litres per hour

Generally accepted consumption rates can be found here.

UKO-based logistics coordinators or regional fleet managers can support the analysis of variances if needed.

Maintenance planning and tracking

Ensuring the proper maintenance of fleet reduces the risk of accidents, and of damage or loss of goods handled by logistics and delays to the delivery of items.

The importance of preventative maintenance

Preventative maintenance encompasses all actions taken to prevent vehicle failure. Regular maintenance where vehicle and generator parts are lubricated, adjusted, tightened, or otherwise checked will prevent most of the common mechanical failures. Preventative maintenance guarantees staff safety, while also saving time and money.

Benefits of preventative maintenance:

  • Vehicle condition is under control and any misuse is flagged at an early stage, avoiding damage to the vehicle.
  • All deficiencies in the vehicle condition can be corrected at an early stage.
  • Adjustments and repairs can be carried out easily.
  • Time needed for repairs is shorter.
  • Costs of repairs are lower.
  • Need for major repairs is less frequent.
  • There will be fewer unforeseen breakdowns of the vehicle/generator.
  • The equipment’s lifecycle will be lengthened.

Planned maintenance

The fleet delegate or manager must ensure that all vehicles and equipment are maintained and serviced according to instructions in their user manuals.

All vehicles should carry and maintain up-to-date records of maintenance, including a maintenance schedule. Drivers or other users of fleet must inform the fleet manager of planned maintenance on the equipment they are responsible for.

The IFRC fleet management system allows the tracking of maintenance history and planning. Where FleetWave is not in use, this information can be kept in the vehicle file or on a vehicle follow-up spreadsheet.

Service schedule

Below is an indicative table of recommended maintenance milestones. Local regulations may require a stricter maintenance schedule and it is not uncommon for governments to require maintenance records to be kept on file for a number of years.

TypeMaintenance milestones
Light vehiclesEvery 5,000km (10,000km maximum) or 18 months
Heavy goods vehiclesEvery 15,000km or 18 months
MotorcyclesEvery 10,000km or 12 months
Handling equipmentEvery 250 hours
GeneratorsMaintenance (including oil and filter change) every 100 hours

Engine oil should be replaced every 10,000km, depending on the quality of lubricants in use.

Unplanned maintenance

Planned maintenance should ensure that unplanned maintenance is required as rarely as possible. However, where a malfunction is reported by a driver or other vehicle user, usually following usage or a daily check, unplanned maintenance may sometimes be required immediately, leaving the vehicle unavailable for the duration of the service.

Defects or malfunctions should be reported through a maintenance request form, signed off by the requestor, the fleet manager and the budget holder (usually the logistics delegate or programme manager) and logged in the vehicle file or on a follow-up spreadsheet.

Where no logistics staff are available, country representatives/delegates should seek support from HNS/IFRC or UKO logistics coordinators to advise on maintenance requests and cost recharges.

Incident reporting

All incidents involving British red Cross staff must be reported – refer to the British Red Cross incident reporting procedure for further information. 

Where delegates are seconded into another organisation such as the IFRC or the ICRC, or where they are working under another organisation such as a HNS, this organisation’s incident reporting procedure must be followed in parallel to that of the British Red Cross.

Reporting on fleet

Managing and reporting on fleet performance is an important component of operations management. Where it is in use, FleetWave can produce monthly performance reports, but this requires disciplined submission of source data. For more information about using FleetWave, contact the UKO-based logistics team or the global logistics services team in Dubai.

For information on calculating basic fleet performance, see Fleet productivity: utilisation and performance and Monitoring fuel consumption sections.

Other important indicators of fleet performance may include:

  • environmental impact measurement
  • total cost of ownership
  • benchmarking against other fleet options (VRP, rentals, etc.).

The Fleet Forum has developed performance-measuring tools that cover these indicators, among others. The group has also proposed a fleet management reporting format, which supports monthly data collection and analysis.

Fleet performance can be reported as part of the logistics monthly report, or separately where the fleet size is more than 30 vehicles and where a fleet manager oversees a dedicated fleet department or team.

Read the next section on Fleet disposal options here.

Download the full section here.

A diagram shows the process of defining fleet needs from evaluation to strategy definition to operations

Available to download here.

Note: operational constraints include security context and regulations that may apply (import options, labour law, etc).


The number and type of vehicles should always be aligned to the operational needs and conditions, including security, terrain, and team movement patterns. Operational fleet decisions must be compliant with IFRC safety and security guidelines (as stated in the IFRC Fleet Manual), with any deviation requiring approval from UKO.

The vehicles selected must comply with IFRC standards, unless approval for the use of non-standard vehicles has been obtained from UKO.

When selecting vehicles, consideration should be given to the following factors:

  • local terrain and topography
  • state of road and traffic infrastructure
  • need for specific equipment, such as in-vehicle communications equipment, a tow-bar or winching equipment, or use of the vehicle as ambulance
  • import and export regulations
  • local driver capacity (automatic or manual driving, 4×4 driving, left or right-hand drive)
  • distance to be travelled and estimated usage (frequency, payload, etc)
  • compatibility with existing fleet composition
  • local and national service/maintenance and the availability of spare parts
  • local rules and regulations, including emission regulations (not all IFRC-standard vehicles meet current emission levels for all countries)
  • climate, including seasonal change.

The IFRC standard products catalogue contains full technical specifications of Federation-standard vehicles.

The key point for organising fleet is knowing what the needs are for the programmes in the country office (including any sub-delegations) and for general operations. It is the role of logistics to analyse these needs and then optimise the fleet. This, combined with the national regulations (i.e. load limits for trucks) and the limitations of the surrounding area (i.e. infrastructure) will provide the necessary information to choose the most effective set-up of fleet.

Defining the number and type of vehicles depends on the volume of the workload and the material or number of passengers to be transported, as well as the distance and terrain covered.

The below table will help define the type of equipment needed in operations. To help calculate the number required of each type of vehicle, see Annex 9.1, vehicle set-up evaluation in the ICRC fleet management manual.

Type of terrainTown/country/topography
Paved/dirt roads
Construction site
Cars, high-range 4x4, low-range
4x4, engine power
Specifications of vehicles
Tyres, sand plates, motorbikes, etc.
Transport capacity
Bridge and road weight restrictions
Local/international distribution
Transport of passengers/cargo
Light trucks
Radius of operation
Vehicle fuel capacity and reliability
Number and type of vehicles
Typical and exceptional journey durations
Fuel quality and quantity in area of operation
Refuelling options, linked to typical
and exceptional journeys (mileage
and duration)
Fuel sourcing strategy
Storage on site
Availability of electricityPower for all operations
Generators vs city power

Each department has its own needs in terms of type and number of vehicles to add to the fleet list. For example:

  • Administration may require cars for errands or official visits.
  • Programme teams may need light 4×4 vehicles for field visits and transfers.
  • Construction and warehousing teams may need pick-ups for equipment.
  • Teams in charge of distribution (usually called relief team) will need trucks.

Combining and analysing these needs into a summary table will help constitute the fleet (in number and type), in a way that meets the needs of each team and minimises the cost of operation. The vehicle pool system (see the Requesting a vehicle and cost recharge section of Vehicle usage) should be considered, as it maximises vehicle utilisation through avoiding the taking of vehicles without justification.

Team 1Team 2Team 3Team 4Team 5Total
Vehicle type 1
Vehicle type 2
Vehicle type 3
Vehicle type 4

Available to download here.

Power supply

Generators must be set up and maintained by qualified staff – a mechanic or a head driver. Support is always available from locally available staff from other PNS, IFRC or ICRC or from UKO-based logisticians.

Note: specialist skills are required to manage generators. Staff involved in plant management processes must be trained electricians or experienced logisticians.

The output of a generator is measured in KvA (kilovolt-ampere) and volts. They can be air or water-cooled and can be soundproofed (silent) or not. Generators are either petrol or diesel-powered.

The British Red Cross uses hybrid generators when deploying their logistics or MSM Emergency Response Unit teams (see the ERUs chapter for more details on the ERUs). These provide standard power generation and simultaneously charge a set of batteries, which can be used to provide power once the generator is turned off. The batteries’ power demand must therefore be included in the load calculations. Details of the generator specifications as well as a user manual are available from the international logistics team upon request and provided to the ERU teams when they deploy.

 It is important to match the power generated to your electrical needs as closely as possible: if the load is too high, the generator will stop and be damaged. But when the generator is supplying less than 40–50 per cent of its power capacity, fuel consumption increases, the lubricant deteriorates more quickly, and the engine’s life cycle is reduced.

Without any power demand to it, a generator will typically already be using 25-30 per cent of its rated power.

ScenarioImpact on generator set
 A Power demand is less than 40–50%
of the maximum rated power
Fuel consumption increases
Generator life cycle is reduced
Lubricant deteriorates more quickly
 B Power demand is between 60–80%
of maximum rated power
Optimal use of the generator
 C Power demand is more than 80%
of the maximum rated power
Fuel consumption increases (but less than in Scenario A)
 D Power demand is more than 100%
of the maximum rated power
Generator stops
Generator life cycle is reduced

Available to download here.

It is a good idea to have batteries as part of an electricity provision setup, so that they can be charged while the generator is turned on. Critical appliances (communication systems, fridges, alarm and/or security systems) can then work in case neither city power nor the generator can supply power. If the generator is used to charge batteries, make sure their rated kVA is calculated into the total power requirements.

A text box explains that solar power is only considered a back-up to supplement generators and battery banks. It cannot be relied upon completely

To calculate your power supply needs and to choose the right generator, use the power calculator table. The generator size (in kVA) must be equal to or greater than the total consumption of all appliances. The higher starting requirement must be considered when calculating the generator size.

Electrical loadTotal load calculations
Power (kVA)
Local voltage and frequency
Reduce requirements?
Alternate generators? (consider whether
budget can cover duplicate setup)
Expected usagePermanent/back-up system
Consider requirement for UPS by way of
Starting system (manual/electric/automatic)
Alternate generators if constant power
supply needed
Establish running hours with regular
breaks (consider if budget can cover
duplicate setup)
Make, brand, place
of manufacture
Local availability and quality of relevant
fuel and parts
Local maintenance capacity
Budget for fuel and spare parts
Geographical area
of use
Temperature and weather conditions
Exhaust emission regulations
Cooling system (air/water)
Improve electrical safety at location
Isolate generator appropriately (consider
budget availability)
Place of useIndoors/outdoors
Protection from elements
Noise and disruption
Type (portable/fixed/on trailer)
Budget for generator shelter or
noise reduction system
Require inspection of terrain
Security requirements
How to earth it effectively?
PriceBudget, set-up costs, maintenance costsWithin budget/out of budget

Available to download here.

Fleet options and modalities

The RCRC’s aim regarding fleet management is to standardise fleet as much as possible, allowing for easier tracking, resource-sharing, and maintenance management. It also allows different parts of the Movement to benefit from competitive pricing from manufacturers.

Vehicles outside the list of standard fleet should only be purchased after approval from a centralised fleet management team (usually HQ logistics, IFRC or ICRC).

The IFRC standard products catalogue and VRP include the list of standard vehicles.

Fleet to be used in field operations should always be procured centrally and through the existing agreements with manufacturers.

Where fleet is being procured locally and only for city use, the following criteria should be adhered to as much as possible:

  • Make – well-known European or Japanese make, well represented in country of operation.
  • Category – city car (Peugeot 208, Toyota Corolla or equivalent), not necessarily a station wagon.
  • Engine power – maximum 100 hp or 75 kw.
  • On-board security – Alarm/immobiliser, antilock braking system (ABS), electronics stability control and air bag if available.
  • Fuel – diesel or petrol (check regulations, availability and consider the environmental impact).
  • Pollution control – optimum, but at least as per local regulation.
  • Transmission – two-wheel drive, preferably automatic – unless road conditions in the city require four-wheel drive.
  • Colour – preferably white, and a light colour if not available – should not clash with Movement visibility.
  • Budget – equivalent to the cost of standard vehicles.
  • Maintenance – access to local maintenance without HQ support.

Standardisation and compliance to environmental regulations should also be applied to the choice of generators. In general, ensure that the brand is well-established, that fuel type matches local fuel availability and that spare parts and maintenance are widely available.

Different types of fleet sourcing solutions

British Red Cross own fleet

In this option, the British Red Cross purchases the vehicles and uses them for its operations.

The decision of what vehicles and how many to buy will be based on operational needs and the procurement must be controlled and managed through UKO. Such vehicles would be purchased and imported under the HNS and the British Red Cross would donate the vehicles to them once the British Red Cross-supported programme ends.

This option would usually only be considered when:

  • it represents better value for money than other options, such as using the IFRC’s VRP system
  • vehicles are required for more than two years
  • there is assurance that the donation does not place an unnecessary burden on the HNS in terms of maintenance and cost.

In these cases, the British Red Cross usually covers all the costs associated with the vehicles, including maintenance, drivers’ charges including per diems, local insurance, registration and fuel.

The maintenance of British Red Cross-purchased vehicles outside the UK is done following the IFRC maintenance guidelines, unless it is agreed that the vehicle is managed under the HNS‘ fleet management procedures.

Commercial rentals

Renting vehicles or outsourcing their maintenance can be a requirement for an operation either temporarily (during a short-term surge in activity) or as a long-term solution (where ownership is not an option).

If renting vehicles, the applicable procurement procedure should be followed. The selected rental company must be reputable and offer value for money. See the Sourcing for procurement section for more details.

IFRC vehicle rental programme

For step-by-step guidance on sourcing vehicles through the VRP, refer to the VRP service request management/business process document.

The vehicle rental programme

The International Federation’s vehicle rental programme (VRP) was established in 1997 to ensure a cost-effective use of vehicles and fleet resources. Revised in 2004, it continues to be an effective means of providing vehicles to International Federation and National Society operations. The programme is run as a not-for-profit service within the International Federation; monthly vehicle rental charges are calculated to cover the vehicles and the operating costs of the VRP.

Depending on the estimated period of vehicles’ requirement, it may be cheaper or more straightforward to rent them through the VRP, but a full cost comparison should be done before a decision is made. Cost comparison must cover the cost of the vehicle, shipping, registration, insurance and local insurance, maintenance and PSR of 6.5 per cent.

The overall aim of the VRP is to provide good-quality vehicles as quickly as possible, and with maximum bulk discount. It also enhances standardisation, centralises control and minimises costs, through end-of-lease sale. Vehicles on this programme are managed through the fleet base in Dubai and remain the property of the IFRC. All leases must be organised through the IFRC.

The vehicle rental programme is managed through the global fleet base in Dubai, but a lot of the fleet management team’s responsibilities are delegated regionally and implemented through regional fleet coordinators in the Operational Logistics procurement and supply chain management units (OLPSCM, also known as Regional Logistics Units).

Note: monthly VRP invoices are processed through UKO.

The VRP agreement is materialised through a vehicle request form, which must be signed off by the British Red Cross country manager and submitted to the global logistics service (GLS) team in Dubai.

Global fleet base vs regional units: roles and responsibilities

VRP system – roles and responsibilities are as follows:

Global fleet unit (Dubai)

  • overall VRP management (operational and financial)
  • maintaining the VRP business plan
  • procurement hub for vehicles and vehicle-related items
  • managing all incoming requests for dispatch and allocation of new and used vehicles
  • supporting disposal of VRP vehicles
  • preparing vehicles for deployment (technical assessment and repairs).

Regional fleet coordinators (in OLPSCMs)

  • implementation and maintenance of IFRC standards at a regional level
  • advise on the implementation of preventative maintenance and repairs to maximise lifespan and usage of regional fleet
  • coordinate movement of fleet across the region
  • supporting planning of transportation needs in the region
  • implementing standard asset disposal procedures
  • ensuring proper maintenance of fleet wave database and analysing data
  • reporting on regional fleet usage to global fleet base
  • maintaining regional fleet files
  • advise and train on fleet sizing, fleet management and VRP
  • managing regional IFRC fleet.

VRP rental costs

To encourage forward planning, cost incentives have been built into the VRP. Rental rates are based on a sliding scale, in which longer rentals benefit from cost savings (i.e. a sliding scale, based on the duration of the contract).

ModelFive-year average
monthly cost (CHF)
12-month average
monthly cost (CHF)
Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ78720830
Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up double cabin HZJ79671775
Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up single cabin HZJ79650750
Toyota Land Cruiser SWB HZJ76736850
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado LJ150696800
Toyota Corolla ZZE142635TBC
Toyota Hiace minibus LH202621715
Nissan Navara pick-up double cabin546630

Available to download here.

These rates are indicative and may change – quotes can be requested from the global fleet team when considering renting vehicles through the VRP. The latest version of the rate sheet is available here.

An additional 6.5 per cent programme support recovery cost must be added to the total cost of the contract with the VRP, as well as delivery and return shipping costs (including any applicable import duties).

VRP system – cost structure

Included in VRP rental rate

  • global third-party liability insurance cover (up to CHF 10 million)
  • full vehicle damage insurance (including a replacement vehicle)
  • vehicle replaced at the end of its lifetime
  • fleet management support
  • accident insurance for driver and passengers
  • specialist driver training (depending on context and availability of funding)
  • access to a web-based fleet management system.

Not included in VRP rental rate

  • telecom equipment ordered by the operation
  • additional equipment: snow chains, spare part kits, roof rack
  • all charges linked to the delivery of a vehicle: shipping, in-county transport, customs duties, taxes for import, port and warehouse charges, etc
  • all in-country charges: registration, vehicle insurance, local third-party liability insurance, etc
  • all operating costs, including fuel, maintenance and repairs
  • all charges linked to the return of the vehicle to a VRP stock centre or secondary destination (as requested by global fleet base): customs duties and taxes for re-export, cost to deregister the vehicle in-country, transportation, port and warehouse charges, etc.
  • any costs for additional repairs resulting from the loss of or improper documentation relating to a vehicle’s maintenance history
  • any costs for additional repairs at the end of the rental period, for damage considered beyond the normal wear and tear.

Using another National Society’s vehicles

Most National Societies (NS) use a mileage rate that they charge for the use of their vehicles by Partner National Societies (PNS). Alternatively, they may charge a monthly fee or let PNS use their vehicles and only charge them the cost of fuel.

Mileage rates and what they include often differ, and it is recommended to clarify what is covered (fuel, driver costs, maintenance, etc), and how the amounts to be recharged will be calculated.

Choosing the best vehicle ownership solution

British Red Cross owned vehicles

Benefits for British Red Cross

  • Vehicles belong to British Red Cross.
  • At the end of a project, these can be disposed and realise residual value.
  • British Red Cross is free to donate these vehicles to any partner of choice after the end of a project or five years.

Risks for British Red Cross

  • British Red Cross must source the vehicles and ship to operation where required.
  • Some governments force international organisations to donate vehicles to their governments at the end of a project.
  • Vehicle must be managed as an asset (including depreciation).
  • British Red Cross must spend large sum to buy the vehicles outright.
  • If mission is cancelled or discontinued at short notice, British Red Cross is stuck with these vehicles.
  • It is difficult to increase/reduce fleet size at short notice, but surge option plans can be built in.
  • Donor constraints on expenditure.

IFRC’s vehicle rental programme

Benefits for British Red Cross

  • Monthly vehicles rental cost is known, so easy for budgeting purposes.
  • Access to standard IFRC vehicles.
  • There is good scalability of fleet.
  • Vehicles comprehensively insured at global level by IFRC.
  • IFRC will replace vehicles after 150,000km or five years, whichever comes first (in-country costs associated to vehicle change will need to be covered by the requesting PNS, but all other costs covered by GLS).
  • IFRC will provide fleet management support, including cost tracking and driver training.
  • There is no cost of disposal.

Risks for British Red Cross

  • Solution includes shipping the vehicle into operation area and shipping out after the end of the lease, which can delay the availability of the vehicle to the operation.
  • After five years, vehicle still belongs to IFRC and British Red Cross cannot donate it to partners.
  • It can be expensive in the short term, considering shipping costs into and out of operational area.
  • IFRC will charge a programme support recovery fee.

Local vehicle rental

Benefits for British Red Cross

  • Locally available and no importation costs or delays.
  • It is easy to scale up or down.
  • It is easy to arrange at short notice.
  • It supports the local market.
  • Budgeting is easier when rates (including maintenance and service) are fixed.
  • There is no need to have own maintenance facilities or resources.

Risks for British Red Cross

  • Rental rates can be very high.
  • There may be a maximum mileage under the rental scheme.
  • Locally available vehicles may not be of a good standard.
  • Local maintenance practices may not be safe.
  • The right vehicles are not always locally available.
  • Renting vehicles from questionable business people could result in bad reputation by association. Consult international sanctions lists before entering a lease agreement.

Using other National Societies’ vehicles

Benefits for British Red Cross

  • Vehicles are readily available and easy to scale down.
  • It gives support to movement partner.

Risks for British Red Cross

  • It is not always easy to scale up (they might not have enough vehicles).
  • It is only possible with small requirements.
  • Vehicles are not always of a good standard.
  • British Red Cross can only use what the partner has excess of or does not require.

Read the next section on Resourcing for fleet management here.

Download the full section here.

In this chapter, “fleet” will be used as a generic term for any piece of equipment fitted with an engine, including vehicles, motorcycles and power generators.

Types of vehicles

This chapter will cover the use of passenger vehicles and cargo vehicles equipped with engines, as well as utility vehicles.

Light fleet all vehicles weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, including passenger cars, pick-up trucks, small trucks, minibuses up to 16-seaters.

Passenger vehicles – buses with over 16-passenger capacity.

Heavy duty trucks – buses with over 16-passenger capacity.

Construction and mechanical handling equipment – including tractors, forklifts, diggers.

Motorcycles – two-wheeled or three-wheeled motorised vehicles.

Types of generators

Where power is not available through a publicly maintained network, generators may be necessary as a temporary or permanent source of power. A variety of generators are available, which can make the selection process complicated.

A generator is generally composed of an electrical generator (the alternator) and an engine (or prime mover), in a single piece of equipment.

For more details on types of generators and how to use them, see the Power supply section of Defining fleet needs.

Read the next section on Defining fleet needs here.

Download the full section here.



Learn more in the Definition of fleet section.

Building a fleet strategy

Learn more in the Defining fleet needs and Resourcing for fleet management sections.

Fleet sourcing: procurement and rental

Learn more in the Resourcing for fleet management section.

Fleet management

Learn more in the Vehicle usage and Managing fleet sections.

Fleet disposal

Learn more in the Fleet disposal options section.

Fleet documentation

Learn more in the Fleet audit trail section.

British Red Cross driving procedure

Learn more in the British Red Cross domestic fleet management systems and procedures section.

Download the whole Fleet chapter here.

Note: In the following sections, vehicles can be cars, trucks, planes, or ships. Where variations from the process occur, they are detailed at each step.

When planning inbound movements of freight (i.e. receiving a consignment):

Preparing for reception

The sender must always inform the consignee ahead of shipping goods, sharing as much information as possible on the shipment before the vehicles leave for delivery.

Information to share ahead of shipping:

  • expected arrival date and time
  • goods transported: a draft packing list or reference to orders (requisition), estimated weights and volumes
  • vehicle details: registration, driver/pilot details and route. For sea shipments, this will be vessel route and shipping line
  • special requirements: cold chain, dangerous goods, bulky equipment, etc.
  • details of vehicles: schedule, number of trips and prioritisation.

The receiver should confirm their capacity to handle the inbound shipment and make necessary arrangements.

Arrange your reception area to ensure the full consignment can be temporarily stored before being moved into the bulk storage area – if necessary, make temporary adjustments to the warehouse layout to accommodate the incoming consignment.

Communicate temporary changes to the layout to the warehouse team. 

To prepare for reception:

  • plan for space to offload
  • plan for documentation to track offloading process – ensure a detailed packing list is available
  • plan for available manpower to offload
  • plan for cold chain capacity if needed
  • re-schedule planned orders with the warehouse team and end users
  • prepare labels for storage
  • rent or procure handling equipment if necessary
  • prioritise processing order with end users.

Information to share after shipping:

  • container seal number where relevant
  • expected ETA
  • copy of final transport document (waybill, bill of lading, air waybill, CMR where relevant)
  • exact contents of consignment: final packing list, weights & dimensions, specific handling requirements and markings
  • contact details of driver/pilot and rental company (if relevant).
    The captain of a vessel can usually not be contacted directly, but vessels can be tracked by a bill of lading.

Note: where the shipper of the goods is the supplier of the same goods, the same details must be obtained from them.

Sharing shipment detailsProvided by

At the time of reception

When to count
When to count
When to count
When to count
boxes' contents
AirN/AAt airport if palletised
At airport if unpalletised
At delivery place
if palletised
At delivery place
At portAt port if possible
At delivery place otherwise
At port if possible and
At delivery place
if palletised
At delivery place
RoadAt delivery place
if relevant
At delivery place if relevantAt delivery placeAt delivery place
RailAt delivery place
if relevant
At delivery place if relevantAt delivery place
if relevant
At delivery place

Available to download here.

Note: counting the contents of sea freight containers (pallets, boxes, loose goods, etc)  can often not be done at the port and has to be done either at the final delivery place or at the freight forwarders/clearing agent’s premises.

Road consignments will usually be delivered straight to the delivery point. At the time of offloading, make sure every unit (pallet or box) is accounted for, and store them separately until the entire content of the boxes has been reviewed against the shipping documents accompanying the truck. Where a transhipment is needed, all pallets and boxes must be accounted for during the transhipment.

At time of reception:

  • Check that all documents are attached to the consignment: commercial invoice, gift certificate, packing list, waybill, bill of lading, air waybill or CMR sheet (where applicable) and any customs clearance certificate (including tax waiver documents where applicable).
  • Check that container seals are in good condition.
  • Check the condition of each box/pallet as it is offloaded and check for labels.
  • Confirm number of boxes matches the consignment documentation in each vehicle/container.
  • Check and inspect the contents of each box to confirm exact quantities received against the packing list attached to the consignment.
    Record any discrepancy and reconcile only once all boxes have been inspected (sometimes all ordered goods are in the consignment, but the packing lists are not accurately broken down per packaging unit).
  • If receiving a cold chain consignment, read the temperature-monitoring devices attached to the consignment, to confirm cold chain has been maintained throughout the transport process.

Offloading trucks

If available, use loading docks or platforms. Otherwise, position the truck on level, solid ground, as close as you can to where the goods must go to.

Allow enough space for movement around the truck, especially if you are using a forklift truck or hand pallet truck.

A text box describes what to do with palletised and unpalletised goods. Goods that are not palletised should be palletised in standard sizes and quantities before being stored

If you have inbound trucks and outbound trucks available simultaneously, consider whether it is worth trans-shipping directly from one truck to the other (as long as you can control the process and ensure accurate counting is done).

If handling equipment is not available, do not throw unidentified goods from a truck but hand them down carefully.

If goods must be manually handled because there is no handling equipment, use a chain of people (with one person in charge). The chain must have enough people for each person not to have to ‘walk’ more than one step. The people should be placed facing alternately along the chain to avoid unnecessary ‘twisting’.

View an example diagram of correct offloading of trucks here.

Avoid handling goods more times than you must by only putting them down where they have to go, in the stack they have to go in (see the Storage options section of Setting up a warehouse for more information on stacking). If the person you are handing the goods to is not ready, call the chain to stop.

Always maintain height if you can. Do not put goods on the floor if they must be lifted up again.

Make sure someone who is not handling the goods is counting as the goods are moved. That person should keep a tally (marking off per layer removed or built, for example), in case they get interrupted and cannot remember where they had counted to.

A check count should be done when each stack is created.

When all goods are offloaded, cross-check offloaded quantities against shipping documents and make note of any discrepancy.

Remember to take breaks when needed during offloading and make sure drinking water is readily available.

Documenting the reception

For details on how to receive goods in a warehouse, see the Receiving stock, Document the reception, Receiving stock for the British Red Cross (in UK or at Regional Logistics Units) and Releasing stock sections of the Warehousing chapter.

After reception of the goods

Record all received quantities on the appropriate stock cards and bin cards, referring to the GRN/CTN as appropriate.

Transfer the goods from the reception area to the main storage area as soon as possible.

A text box describes how to update stock levels electronically, which happens automatically when posting the GRN, and manually which must be captured on the stock cards and report

In case of any claims, follow up on resolution options with the sender/transporter, agreeing on corrective measures to be put in place for future shipments where relevant.

Log the shipment in a shipment tracker, with complete details of the consignment – this will be used in the activity reporting process.

Inform the requestor and sender of completed delivery: share a copy of the GRN. Detail any measures being taken to address claims and raise (where applicable).

For more details on the reception of IFRC international cargo, refer to the Warehousing chapter.

Preparing outbound shipments

When planning outbound movements of freight (i.e. shipping a consignment):

The sender must always inform consignee ahead of shipping goods, sharing as much information as possible on the shipment before the vehicles leave for delivery.

Information to share ahead of shipping:

  • expected arrival date and time
  • special requirements: cold chain, dangerous goods, bulky equipment, etc.
  • goods transported: a draft packing list or reference to orders (requisition), estimated weights and volumes
  • details of vehicles: schedule, number of trips and prioritisation
  • vehicle details: registration, driver/pilot details and route. For sea shipments, this will be vessel route and shipping line.

Move the goods to be shipped to a designated dispatch area. The dispatch area can be temporarily modified as necessary, but make sure the warehouse team is informed of any changes.

Inspect the goods to be shipped: are all packaging units in good condition? Ensure cartons/pallets are stripped of any markings that could lead to confusion.

What are the packaging/labelling requirements? Be sure to ask the transporter and the consignee about any specific requirement they may have. Shipping instructions will also be helpful to find information about such requirements.

A text box describes how to kit items from loose stock, which involves conducting sample checks of kits, ensuring kits are identical and has a label and ensuring waybills specify the number of contents of kits

What will be the route of the vehicle, and the shipping mode? This will impact the loading plan and must be agreed with the transporter as early as possible. When sending sea shipments, control over the loading plan will be with the shipping line.

Where temperature control is required, cold chain materials (thermometer, temperature tracking devices, cool boxes, icepacks, etc.) must be made available.

Raise a final packing list with all details of the consignment. In the Red Cross movement, the waybill is often used as a packing list however it is sometimes easier to use both documents separately (for very large consignments for example).

Use a load optimisation tool to determine best transport options (this only works for road shipments).

Place the request for the necessary vehicles well in advance (as per the terms of the service-level agreement defined in the contract, where relevant), ensuring that you receive driver/pilot details and a vehicle registration certificate before the shipping date.

Ensure the necessary manpower and loading equipment will be available for loading the vehicles.

When using shipping containers, make sure the use of the containers is optimised and suggest changes in quantities where relevant (e.g., when five per cent of the order does not fit into a single container, the consignee might be willing to postpone the delivery to save the cost of the extra container).

Based on the number of packaging units shipped, prepare a loading sheet to give to the loaders, so they can track the progress of the loading process.

Where multiple vehicles are transporting multiple items, agree in advance the load composition (i.e. whether each vehicle holds a combination of all the items or only one type of item).

Loading trucks

  • If available, use loading docks or platforms. Otherwise, position the truck on level, solid ground as close as you can to where the goods have to go to or come from.
  • Allow enough space for movement around the truck, especially if you are using a forklift or hand pallet truck.
  • If handling equipment is not available, do not throw unidentified goods from a truck but hand them down carefully.
  • When loading trucks, always stack goods starting at the front of the truck and work towards the back.
  • Always place the heaviest goods on the floor of the vehicle.
  • Rules about stacking also apply on a truck (see the Storage options section of Setting up a warehouse).
  • If you are loading a truck for distribution, lay the goods along the length of the vehicle, so that complete sets of whatever is being delivered can be distributed off the back of the truck (unless the truck has an open top or can be easily accessed from the sides, like a ‘wing’ truck).

View an example diagram of a truck loaded for direct distribution here.

At the time of dispatching

  • Hand out loading sheets to loaders and retrieve them after the vehicle is loaded.

    The loading sheet should simply list all the parcels to be loaded, and one loader should monitor loading progress by ticking the parcels off as they are loaded on the truck.
  • Confirm the route of the vehicle.
  • Raise a waybill, detailing the quantity of units (pallets, sacks, boxes) loaded, weight and volume per unit and total weight and volume of the consignment.

    Alternatively, waybills can detail the total quantity, weight and volume per item included in the consignment (in particular when goods are sent unpalletized or loose).
  • Place seals on containers where necessary.
  • Ensure load is safe (with no risk of spillage or cross-contamination, etc) and securely fastened inside the vehicle – straps can be used, or blankets can be used to secure a load on a half-empty truck, for example.
  • When sending a cold chain shipment, double check the cold chain plan and ensure that clear instructions are given to the transporter.

The shipper and the driver must sign the waybill and one copy must stay at the origin.

Documenting the consignment

  • The transporter will leave with three copies of the waybill.
  • Certain countries or regions will require the shipper to obtain a permit to access certain areas – make sure you request such permits from the relevant authorities.
  • Keep a copy of the outbound waybill, to be reconciled with the returned signed copy after reception is confirmed by the receiver.
  • Where delivery is planned directly at a usage point (a distribution point where no stocks are managed, for example), a GRN will have to be raised.

    The delivery will not always happen at a warehouse, so a logistician should go to the delivery site and conduct the check of the delivered items and raise the GRN with the requestor of the goods.

    Where goods are missing or damaged, the GRN will be returned with a filled-out claims form.

It is safer to ensure that drivers/pilots are issued with a mission order, confirming that they are moving humanitarian goods. A standard mission order should be available in each delegation/mission/project.

After dispatch

  • Log the shipment in a shipment tracker, with details of the consignment. This will be used in the activity reporting process.
  • Update your stock cards and bin cards (where relevant).
  • Inform the receiver of revised expected time of arrival and confirm the transporter’s contact details.
  • After receiving the returned signed copy of the waybill and GRN, where claims have been raised, make sure they are addressed, and that a corrective plan is in place to avoid future disruptions.
A text box describes inbound planning, tracking and reporting which involves confirming green light to sender, checking all cargo and document reception and updating records and storing gooods
A text box describes outbound planning, tracking and reporting which involves ensuring the consignee can receive and planning the route and loading plan, inspecting the shipment and documentation and updating records

Read the next section on Shipping instructions here.

Download full section here.

Medical procurement

Needs definition

  • clear specifications including shelf life requirements
  • use medicinal names rather than brand names
  • special requirements
  • include sample quantities in total order where necessary.

Shelf life calculations

  • Paracetamol has a 30-month shelf life. Requestor asks for 90 per cent remaining shelf life (27 months) at delivery.
  • Import lead time is four months.
  • International procurement will not comply with requestor’s requirements. Options: lower the minimum remaining shelf life required or procure locally.

Supply chain requirements

  • Restricted items mean stricter import rules and controls.
  • Check transport and storage conditions needs (ex: cold chain).
  • Check who can be a consignee of imported medical supplies.
  • Check requirement for testing or sampling at arrival in country.

National regulations

  • Check national essential medicines list for any limitations or requirements in importations.
  • Some countries require that importers of specific medical suppliers be registered as such.

Procurement agent services

  • Procurement can be delegated to a procurement agent (at a cost).
  • Tendering is required for procurement agent contracting.

Supplier selection

  • Request for support from ICRC/IFRC procurement experts.
  • All procurement of medical items done under IFRC rules must be approved at GVA level.

Read more about medical procurement here.

Consultancy services procurement

In the British Red Cross, this is currently not managed by logisticians, although this is under discussion as it technically is a procurement process – contact international HR for details on the process to recruit consultants.

A process flowchart is available from international HR for more details on consultancy services procurement.

Facilities rental services procurement

The needs definition phase should focus on:

  • area of choice
  • safety and security
  • building/compound size
  • number of bedrooms/offices required
  • amenities
  • space needed for parking vehicles and storage
  • preference for serviced property.

Seek recommendations from peer organisations or rental agencies, with options compared in a CBA format.

The CBA and the recommendation should then be approved by a budget holder, procurement manager and finance manager, with the security focal point included for information.

Negotiations with selected supplier or service provider should ensue.

Negotiation points should confirm:

  • rent amount
  • regularity of payment
  • period of notice to close contract
  • shared maintenance responsibilities
  • responsibility for building and contents insurance
  • responsibility for payment of utilities.

Due diligence must be carried out before the contract is issued to the supplier or service provider.

Rental invoices should be sent directly to the finance team (or SSC in British Red Cross UK) for payment with a copy of the rental contract.

Facilities management in the UK

In the UK, the facilities team at SSC will support the selection and contracting process. The facilities team should receive invoices for all property rentals and process property-related payments directly.

SSC holds a framework agreement covering maintenance and services to property rented by the British Red Cross. Service requests must be placed through SSC’s support desk, who liaise with the facilities management company and allocate a level of urgency to every request.

Requestors of building services will be informed of the timeline for service delivery directly. More information on the facilities team and their support can be found on Redroom.

There is a requirement for the British Red Cross to have specific documents available on British Red Cross-run sites at all times, in a “statutory documents folder”. More information about the statutory documents folder can be found on Redroom.

Selection criteria for rental premises

In general

Two text boxes describe the selection criteria for rental premises. One lists desired qualities including a secure location, at least two exit routes, access to secure parking and access to  a generator. The other lists qualities to avoid such as proximity to a military compound or other risk-prone areas, communication restrictions and liability to flooding

Given the status of PNS in country (working for the IFRC and not having legal authority in country), whenever considering property rentals, make sure the legal authority in country is involved in the process and kept informed at all stages.

The lease agreement must eventually be signed by the legal authority in country.

Warehouse selection

See the Building a stock strategy and Sourcing a warehouse sections of the Warehousing chapter.


As a rule, prioritise secure facilities such as an apartment, house or other fully self-contained area, or containers or prefabricated buildings in a compound. Considerations listed in the In general section apply.

Office space

Where the British Red Cross works in partnerships, it is usually possible to be hosted by either the NS, the IFRC or the ICRC, following the terms of an integration or service agreement (IA). The use of office equipment is usually provided on either a free or cost-sharing basis, or as part of the service/integration agreement.

Sharing premises within the Movement

As a PNS, it is usually not possible to acquire land or property in a country other than the PNS’s own; however, where relevant, a business case should be put together to provide a costs-benefit analysis to compare acquisition and rental options. A PNS willing to rent premises outside their own country would have to go through the HNS or IFRC to rent spaces for them.

If renting space from the IFRC, service charges must be defined as part of the integration agreement or through a separate agreement.

See the Policy and Procedure for Provision of Integration and Administrative Services for National Societies from the IFRC for more details on integration and service agreements.

A text box describes how to conduct due diligence on property leasers. This involves checking ownership documents and the name of the owner and agency marketing the property to ensure there are no links to terrorist acts

If renting space from the HNS, service charges can either be defined in the GAD or agreed locally.

Any examination of a new site should use the NS security audit checklist and ideally be carried out by a security adviser from the IFRC.

Clearing and forwarding services procurement

Read about the procurement of clearing and forwarding services here.

Procurement to support cash programme delivery

For more details and useful resources about cash programming, refer to the British Red Cross Cash Hub.

The Cash Hub platform, hosted by the British Red Cross as a shared leadership initiative with IFRC and ICRC, has been launched as a global resource for the Movement to help increase the Movement’s capacity to deliver cash assistance. All templates referred to in this section are available on the Cash Hub via the search function, mostly from the Cash and logistics section.

Visit the Cash Hub here and join the online cash community of the Movement: the platform offers support to expand our knowledge, skills and networks in different ways, such as searching through a range of resources, training opportunities, programme guidance and tools, or accessing interactive cash maps with key data on cash programmes.

The vast majority of cash programmes will require tendering for financial services and/or voucher services. The requirements for cash services must be defined by the programme team, using the scope of work template and the response sheet as a reference. Note that there are separate response sheet templates to use for FSP procurement and voucher vendors procurement. Using these resources will ensure that you collect the minimum information necessary to ensure the tender is successful.

A text box describes the cash and vouchers assistance programme which is a humanitarian response based on the transfer of cash, or vouchers, to individuals, households and communities

The modalities of cash distributions must be defined in a supply chain strategy and associated services must be captured in a procurement plan, so they can be sourced, contracted and monitored by procurement experts with consultation of finance and programme experts.

Cash services providers must be evaluated jointly by programme, finance and logistics, through a tender process or a simple CBA.

The most common services that cash programmes require are:

Cash transferCash transfer
ModalitiesIndividual cash assistance
Community grants
OptionsDirect cash distribution
Cash by third party provider
e.g. Bank, post office, mobile phone
company, money transfer service,
Value vouchers* - beneficiaries purchase whatever
they need, up to voucher face value
Commodity vouchers - beneficiaries purchase
a specific commodity, price pre-agreed
with traders and retailers

*Although beneficiaries can choose what they want to buy, the choice will still be limited to the products a certain shop offers, and often limited to a pre-determined set of items.

To define the procurement process to follow, refer to the flowcharts in the Quote-based procurement section of Sourcing for procurement, making sure the distinction is made between the value of the vouchers or amount of cash distributed and the cost of delivery.

The ICRC have published a step-by-step guide to cash transfer programmes tendering on the Cash Hub which helps planning for the entire procurement process.

Take the Cash assistance through Financial Services Provider training, a 90-minute online modular training outlining critical steps and tools to successfully contract an FSP. The training is accessible from the Cash Hub here.

Cash procurement rules:

  • Value voucher cash programmes – Only service fees to be charged by the third party or transfer service provider define the authorisation level and procurement process to follow (e.g. services to print vouchers or to encash vouchers), not the face value of the vouchers distributed.
  • Commodities voucher cash programmes – The combined value of the commodities and service fee determine the authorisation level and procurement process to be followed.
  • Cash assistance through Financial Service Provider< 1,000 CHF: single quote procurements is sufficient but regional/central quality check required. Use of the SoW response document is not mandatory but recommended.

    > 1,000 CHF: Run tender (preferably restricted) with support from regional/central logistics team (UKO, IFRC or ICRC).

See the Assessment section on the Cash Hub for guidance on tendering for financial service providers.

The following applies to all services:

  • Where the procurement experts reviewing the process identify a risk, they may escalate its validation to the funding PNS for further review.
  • The selection of a financial services provider should always be validated by a central procurement team (PNS at minimum, funding PNS where value of procurement is greater than £25,000).

Sourcing a financial services provider

Look up existing resources on the Cash Hub, under the assessment section, to find guidance on how to assess service providers and lay out a risk register for a cash response.

The roadmap at the start of the assessment section gives useful general information, and the “financial service providers baseline checklist” and the “mapping service provider template” are also available. There is also an “assessing FS topics and sources template”. All templates are available from the Cash Hub.

Other information sources that can support the selection of an FSP:

  • Logistics, procurement and programmes collect information on the service providers in the market. Finance should be included in the assessment, too – if possible, they should lead, together with programme, as they have the necessary technical knowledge of FSPs.
  • Finance should also be involved in setting the requirements for FSPs, as they will need to be able to transfer the money to them, pay them on time and have the requirements met for reconciliation of funds. They may also hold a list of potential FSPs.
  • Identify and narrow down potential service providers that fulfil your requirements. Sourcing can also be supported by consulting other humanitarian organisations that already implement cash-based responses and have established contracts with service providers.
  • The IFRC FSP Framework Agreement Tip Sheet available from the Cash hub provides an outline of the critical differences if a long term (2-4 year) framework agreement is put in place rather than a standard service contract to ensure the process is completed comprehensively, and in compliance with the IFRC Procurement Manual.

There are strong regulatory controls around financial transfer services including (but not limited to) anti-money laundering (AML); counter-terrorism financing (CTF) and know your customer (KYC) procedures. Due diligence is therefore a key mitigating action against the risk of using an FSP for the delivery of a cash programme and will ensure both compliance and the technical quality of the services delivered.

A pre-qualification step should occur before the tender is published, with a Request For Information (very similar to the EOI) sent to potential suppliers (the supplier registration form can be used as an RFI when accompanied by background information on the future tender). The FSPs who respond should be evaluated against a pre-defined set of criteria. Pre-qualified suppliers should then be invited to tender (see the Tendering for goods and services section of Sourcing for procurement for more details on restricted/open tenders). This is the preferred option, but if there is insufficient time to undertake two steps, an open tender can be the preferred route to select an FSP. Technical and financial proposals must be requested and received from suppliers or FSPs and after the technical evaluation only those eligible will be considered for the financial evaluation.

Standard selection criteria for FSPs

Check the Cash Hub’s Procurement tools and templates section for guidance on the selection of service providers and use the CBA template for Financial Services Providers (FSPs) available in the section resources to define criteria and requirements.

Standard criteria include:

  • Can the FSP pre-finance the cash grants value?
  • Does the FSP charge account fees to users and recipients? If so, cost of account fee must be included in the amount of cash distributed.
  • Payment terms: unless otherwise agreed with the FSP, the payment terms of the procuring PNS will apply. Payment should be processed following thorough reconciliation.

standard contract for FSP has been designed by the ICRC. It will require adapting to the contracting organisation’s specific requirements.

For a voucher programme, retailers need to be contracted as service providers and all usual contracting requirements should be followed. A tip sheet for voucher programmes is available from the Cash Hub. A standard template for voucher printing services is also available from the Cash Hub under the Procurement tools and templates section.

A text box describes the role of the Cash-logs SMCC (Strengthening Movement Collaboration and Cooperation) working group which brings stakeholders together to agree on technical support and responsibilities for cash programming

Regular monitoring of the retailers and voucher providers is important from the procurement side, to ensure they hold the right items (in quantity and quality), offer fair and transparent prices, etc. The information collected from the retailers must then be triangulated with the beneficiary monitoring data to initiate payment of the retailers and of the voucher provider (reconciliation).

When using FSP services to transfer cash to beneficiaries, logistics must be involved in the reconciliation process before payments are processed. Logistics also supports the performance management of the selected FSP(s) throughout the contract implementation phase – see the Managing the performance of contracts and suppliers section of Managing procurement).

The reconciliation process should be formalised with a Certificate of completion and/or a service delivery note, available from the procurement tools on the Cash Hub.

Construction material

Where construction activities aren’t subcontracted, the organisation takes responsibility for conducting the procurement of construction materials.

A supply chain strategy is important for any programme requiring supplies but is crucial for construction projects. An analysis of the supply options needs to be included in the programme design.

Some points to consider when procuring construction items:

Direct delivery to construction sites

  • Direct delivery by supplier is preferred.
  • If supplier enters organisation’s premises, ensure safe access and prevent any image issues due to association (thorough supplier due diligence, precise communication to staff and other visitors).

Quality control

  • Consider hiring external resource to help with QC.
  • Quality of supplies AND quality of service must be controlled.
  • Assess supplier supply chain (ethical due diligence).

Storage of construction materials

  • Consider whether to use own warehouse vs temporary storage vs drip-feed deliveries.
  • Ensure safe storage.
  • Consider storage support options from local community.

Construction timeline

  • Often under one year in duration.
  • Build staggered deliveries into agreement with supplier.

Price fluctuation

  • As much as possible, agree fixed prices for the duration of the works.

Location of construction site(s)

  • Must have access to local markets.
  • Include transport costs in project budget.

Note that all procurement of construction items or services done under IFRC procurement rules MUST be approved by the procurement authority in Geneva before issuing a contract.

Food and seeds

The British Red Cross rarely supports the procurement of food and seeds. National Societies would typically seek advice from the IFRC or ICRC purchasing teams for such procurements, to manage the risks associated with procurement of food and seeds (mostly phytosanitary). For further information, see Section 3.4 of the IFRC’s procurement manual, which is dedicated to the procurement of food and seeds.

In many ways, the standards for procuring food and seeds are similar to those that apply to procurement of medical items: strong controls are in place to ensure goods are fit for consumption, and to protect national production – some countries will not allow food and seeds to be imported for example.

Always refer to your regional logistics coordinator for advice on procuring food or seeds.


See the Fleet chapter for details on the procurement of fleet.

Read the next chapter on Warehousing here.

Download the full section here.