International Travel Planning Policy

An essential part of Columbia University’s mission is “to support research and teaching on global issues” and “to convey the products of its efforts to the world.” These activities frequently involve travel outside of the United States. While traveling internationally can be an enriching experience, it also entails risks. Because of this, careful planning must precede international travel, even for seasoned travelers. Each travel destination requires a different strategy for responding to small inconveniences and serious emergencies

This policy establishes a set of guidelines and requirements for planning international travel and covers international Columbia Travel, which includes Columbia-Led Travel and Columbia-Facilitated and/or Recognized Travel, as defined below. It does not cover Non-Columbia Travel.

Pre-travel requirements described in the Policy primarily impact (a) students, Officers of Administration, support staff, and (b) faculty and other Columbia employees traveling internationally with students or organizing international student travel. However, all Columbia employees who conduct international Columbia Travel are also encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Policy.

Reason(s) for the Policy

Columbia University supports and encourages travel by individuals whose educational, research, or occupational activities are international in scope. At the same time, the University seeks to reduce risk to travelers and the University by encouraging thorough preparation and common- sense practices while abroad.

Primary Guidance to Which This Policy Responds

None

Responsible University Office and Officer

Office of the Provost – Vice Provost for Administration and Planning
Finance Division – Executive Vice President for Finance and Information Technology

Who Is Covered by This Policy

Members of the University community participating in international Columbia Travel or organizing international student travel.

Who Should Know This Policy

Members of the University community who are involved with supporting, planning, funding, or participating in international Columbia Travel.

Exclusions & Special Situations

Non-Columbia Travel is not covered by this policy.

 

Policy Text

Columbia University requires that all members of the University community comply with specific procedures for international Columbia Travel.

Planning and Preparation

All persons participating in international Columbia Travel should closely review information, alerts and warnings, and other guidance issued by International SOS (or “ISOS,” the University’s current travel emergency assistance company), the U.S. Department of State, health authorities, and other governmental and non-governmental entities. Particular care should be taken for proposed travel to countries, specific regions, or cities which the U.S. Department of State has designated as Level 3: Reconsider Travel and Level 4: Do Not Travel locations. A link to U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories can be found at:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/

Columbia University contracts with a travel emergency assistance company (currently International SOS) to provide 24-hour worldwide emergency medical and evacuation services for eligible individuals traveling internationally on Columbia Travel. Restrictions and limitations apply, and each traveler should carefully review the policies and guidance issued by ISOS in advance of travel. Some travelers are required and all others are strongly encouraged (see “Pre-Departure Travel Requirements”) to consult with ISOS directly and in advance of travel regarding security advice. Additionally, ISOS assigns travel risk ratings to locations, and these risk ratings must be used to guide planning and fulfillment of pre-travel requirements.

In addition, all travelers should discuss what inoculations and other medical measures are necessary with their healthcare provider when planning their trip. Columbia Health’s Travel Medicine Program also offers information and immunizations for international travel.

Resources for international travel may also be found at Columbia University Global Travel. Questions and concerns about any travel should be discussed with senior faculty, directors, principal investigators, deans, senior staff, or student group advisers as needed.

From time to time, the University may issue guidance, requirements, and restrictions regarding travel to specific designations. This guidance will be posted at: Global Travel advisories and alerts.

Pre-Departure Travel Requirements
• Columbia students, officers of administration, and support staff must register their international Columbia Travel through the University’s Global Travel portal and complete other pre-departure travel requirements as follows:

  • For travel to Insignificant-risk and Low-risk locations, these affiliates are required to register international Columbia Travel.
  • For travel to Medium-risk locations, these affiliates are required to register international Columbia Travel and have their itinerary reviewed by ISOS.
  • For travel to High-risk locations, these affiliates are required to register international Columbia Travel, have their itinerary reviewed by ISOS, and secure written approval from their dean or unit head.
  • For travel to Extreme-risk locations, these affiliates are required to register international Columbia Travel, have their itinerary reviewed by ISOS, and secure written approvals from their dean or unit head and, for Morningside affiliates, from the Provost, and for CUMC affiliates, from the EVP and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine.

Officers of instruction, officers of research, officers of the libraries, and postdoctoral fellows/scholars traveling with students also are required to register international Columbia Travel. For other travel to Medium-, High-, and Extreme-risk locations, they are strongly encouraged to have their itinerary reviewed by ISOS. They must ensure that all student travelers have complied with all pre-departure travel requirements as noted above.

Officers of instruction, officers of research, officers of the libraries, and postdoctoral fellows/scholars traveling without students are strongly encouraged to register their international Columbia Travel. For travel to Medium-, High-, and Extreme-risk locations, they are strongly encouraged to have their itinerary reviewed by ISOS.

Officers of instruction, officers of research, officers of the libraries, and postdoctoral fellows/scholars who organize or facilitate international student trips must ensure that all student travelers have complied with all pre-departure travel requirements as noted above.

Please reference the Pre-Departure Travel Requirements by Destination Travel Risk Rating (as defined by International SOS, or "ISOS") table below.

 

Definitions
This policy covers international Columbia Travel, which includes Columbia-Led Travel and Columbia-Facilitated and/or Recognized Travel, as follows:
 

Columbia-Led Travel is mission-related travel that is organized and overseen by Columbia University. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Columbia course activities and programs that are supervised by and fully or partially supported by Columbia, e.g., Columbia in Paris at Reid Hall
  • Columbia-managed study-abroad programs
  • Travel that fulfills Columbia grants or contracts
  • Travel for Columbia athletics
  • Non-student travel sponsored by Columbia for alumni
  • Faculty, researchers, and officers traveling internationally on University business

Columbia-Facilitated and/or Recognized Travel is travel that is not overseen by Columbia University, but that may be partially funded or arranged by Columbia, may earn academic credit at Columbia, may be coordinated by a Columbia-recognized student group, or may be an extension of a faculty or researcher’s professional work. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • International study through another university or outside organization, e.g., CASB program in Barcelona
  • Approved exchange programs between Columbia and another university
  • Co-ops, practica, or internships organized by Columbia departments, e.g., the IFAP Global Health Program
  • International travel by graduate or professional students to do independent research for their dissertations
  • Civic engagement or service trips such as those coordinated with recognized Columbia chapters of larger groups, or with the recognized global organization itself, e.g., Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, Engineers without Borders, Global Brigades, Habitat for Humanity, or the Columbia chapter of any of these groups or others
  • Pre-professional and competition groups representing or competing on behalf of Columbia
  • Columbia-funded travel such as travel supported by scholarships, travel grants, or by a Columbia-recognized student organization

Non-Columbia Travel, which is not covered by this policy, is travel other than Columbia-Led Travel or Columbia-Facilitated and/or Recognized Travel. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Independent student travel through a non-Columbia student organization
  • Personal travel, such as spring break or vacations

Related Considerations

  1. Travelers should be aware that many transactions, e.g., hiring personnel, procuring service contracts, making payments, etc., will carry additional requirements in countries outside the U.S. Travelers should familiarize themselves with the information provided through the Global Support pages of the Finance Gateway and seek advice as far in advance as possible by emailing [email protected]
  2. The U.S. government has a variety of restrictions on the export of equipment, technology, and information, as well as on the provision of services. Travel to certain embargoed countries may be heavily restricted. Regulations also govern the transfer to or expenditure of funds in certain countries and prohibit any dealings with “Specially Designated Individuals and Blocked Persons.” Please review additional information regarding U.S. export and trade controls available within the Global Support pages (see https://finance.columbia.edu/content/us-export-controls-transferring-technology-commodities-and-software-gs) before engaging in project activities. Note: Certain activities require export licenses, which require a significant lead-time, sometimes several months.
  3. Sponsored project agreements may limit foreign travel, may require prior approval from sponsors, or may include applicable constraints, e.g., Fly America Act. For further guidance with these terms, please consult your unit manager or Sponsored Projects Administration Senior Project Officer prior to booking your trip.

 

Visit About Global Travel for a PDF of the policy, including a printable version of the chart below

Pre-Departure Travel Requirements by Destination ISOS Travel Risk Rating (*Scroll right for all Risk categories)

See Global Travel for a PDF of the policy, including a printable version of the table above.