Accurate estimation of reference evapotranspiration (ETo) is a major task in hydrology, water resources management, irrigation scheduling and determining crop water requirement. There are many empirical equations suggested by numerous references in literature for calculating ETo using meteorological data. Some such equations have been developed for specific climatic conditions while some have been applied universally. The potential for usage of these equations depends on the availability of necessary meteorological parameters for calculating ETo in different climate conditions. The focus of the present study was a global cross-comparison of 20 ETo estimation equations using daily meteorological records of 10 weather stations (covering a period of 12 years) in a semi-arid region of Iran. Two data management scenarios, namely local and cross-station scenarios, were adopted for calibrating the applied equations against the standard FAO56-PM model. The obtained results revealed that the cross-station calibration might be a good alternative for local calibration of the ETo models when proper similar stations are used for feeding the calibration matrix.