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Global and Domestic Travel

Updated 6/8/20

For additional information about canceling University travel and being reimbursed, see the Canceling University-Related Travel webpage.

University-Related Travel

1. Is university-sponsored domestic or international travel permitted at this time?

No. On March 15, 2020, Northwestern announced that “[E]ffective immediately and until further notice, we are also prohibiting all University-related travel without exception. This includes both outbound domestic and international travel.” On April 23, Northwestern announced an expansion of its restriction on University-sponsored international travel—for graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, and staff—through July 12. Furthermore, University-sponsored student international travel—for both graduate and undergraduate students—is prohibited through August 2020.

As a result, no University-sponsored domestic or international travel scheduled before July 13 should be planned, booked or paid for by students, faculty or staff. (Updated 5/11/20)

2. Can I make travel plans for the summer or the fall?

Beyond the recent cancellation of all Global Learning (undergraduate study abroad) summer programs, both affiliated and un-affiliated, the University announced a prohibition on other types of University-sponsored international travel on April 23. This prohibition on University-sponsored international travel extends through at least July 12 for faculty and staff, and through August 2020 for students. For faculty and staff considering travel scheduled for after July 12, we do not encourage making any financial commitments at this time.

Staff wanting to plan summer or fall travel should confer with their supervisors. Undergraduate and graduate students wanting to plan fall travel should confer with the appropriate faculty member, department chair, unit director, advisers and the Global Learning Office to establish a timeline for decision-making that aligns with University directives. Deans are responsible for ensuring that their students are aware of these restrictions, and department heads and chairs are responsible for ensuring that their faculty, researchers and labs are made aware of and adhere to these restrictions and expectations.

For planning purposes, it also makes sense to track border closures and restrictions as external factors are most likely to impact any future travel plans. While this information changes rapidly, a good place to start is the destination country’s embassy website and by checking these resources:

(Updated 4/23/20)

3. Should I purchase trip insurance when planning travel in the future?

Trip insurance is not allowed from a policy perspective, and most insurance includes an exclusion for pandemic related incidents anyway.

International Health Insurance

1. I am abroad right now and have purchased Northwestern’s GeoBlue student health insurance. Does it cover me if I get sick?

Yes, if you purchased Northwestern’s GeoBlue for Students health insurance, you are covered for your medical expenses abroad including physician office visits, medications and hospitalizations. Plus, there is a new remote service called Global TeleMD can connect students with a medical doctor by phone or video call for a same day medical consultation. Read Remote Care Services for details on how to use this service for no additional charge.

GeoBlue does not provide evacuation coverage for students who simply wish to return home earlier than planned.

If you had GeoBlue and returned home unexpectedly, seek domestic coverage right away. If you have immediate medical expenses before your domestic plan begins, contact globalsafety@northwestern.edu to discuss options.

2. I am an employee on University business covered by Northwestern’s GeoBlue health insurance. Does it cover me if I get sick?

Yes, you are covered for your medical expenses abroad including physician office visits, medications and hospitalizations. Read more about the policy and complete a one-time registration at GeoBlue for Employees. Pre-registration will expedite claims and services during travel.

GeoBlue does not provide evacuation coverage for employees who simply wish to return home earlier than planned. If you had GeoBlue and returned home unexpectedly, seek domestic coverage right away.

3. I purchased Northwestern’s GeoBlue for Students and then my trip abroad was canceled or shortened. Can I get a refund?

Students who need to cancel or shorten their GeoBlue coverage in light of cancelled travel related to the spread of COVID-19 should email enrollment@geo-blue.com with the following information:

  • Name and date of birth
  • A sentence stating you are a Northwestern student
  • GeoBlue certificate number
  • Reason for cancellation
  • If requesting a partial refund, please include proof of return home travel (such as a copy or screen shot of your new flight itinerary)

Copy globalsafety@northwestern.edu on your cancellation email so they know that the university approves of the cancellation. (Updated 5/11/20)