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Travel Guidelines


All travelers should familiarize themselves with and follow Centers for Disease Control guidance and protocols for domestic and international travel during the COVID -19 pandemic. These guidelines include recommendations to delay travel until travelers are fully vaccinated as well as protocols for travelers who are unvaccinated. The guidance below applies to all Northwestern community members regardless of whether they have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Additional resources can be found through the Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS).

In alignment with university policy, all members of the Northwestern community (students, faculty and staff) are expected to follow University guidance on vaccinations, which are required for all community members with limited exceptions, prior to commencing any university-affiliated travel.

Some countries may not admit travelers without proof of an approved COVID-19 vaccination. It is up to the traveler to determine whether or not they can access their planned destination. Countries permitted travel by unvaccinated travelers will likely require pre- and post- negative COVID tests, quarantine upon arrival for up to 14 days, mask-wearing, social distancing and periodic testing while abroad. Unvaccinated travelers should plan carefully in order to adhere to these requirements and expectations.

Updated Sep. 16, 2021


International Travel

Undergraduate Students

  • Fall 2021: Study abroad programs have been reviewed for possible Fall enrollment. Students and advisers have been informed about these decisions. For more information, see the Global Learning Office’s FAQs.

Non-credit, university-sponsored undergraduate international travel is permitted to countries where Fall Quarter study abroad programs are approved. See the undergraduate travel policies page for a complete list. Pre-departure requirements apply, including enrolling in the Northwestern Travel Registry and registering with GeoBlue. A decision on whether or not to open undergraduate non-credit travel to additional destinations will be made by Nov. 1.

Graduate Students

All eligible graduate and professional students traveling internationally for University purposes must enroll in GeoBlue, the University’s Global Health Insurance program. They also must adhere to the following requirements:

Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff international travel is permitted for University purposes, which are defined below. Travelers must:

  • Adhere to University travel policies as outlined on the OGSS website, including completing a one-time registration for Northwestern's business traveler insurance plan provided by GeoBlue.
  • Faculty or staff intending to lead or sponsor group travel must contact Beth Osterlund in OGSS to discuss risk mitigation efforts prior to registering a trip.
  • Book travel for Northwestern purposes through a preferred provider.

Domestic Travel

Faculty, staff and student – undergraduate and graduate – travel is permitted for University purposes, which are defined below. Travelers should adhere to CDC guidance for domestic travel.

University Purposes for Travel

Travel is permissible when it applies to research, teaching or other activities related to the University’s mission. Specifically:

  • For faculty and staff, this includes travel that is related to Northwestern employment, research or teaching responsibilities, recruitment, admissions testing, fundraising, or other purpose as identified by the unit director, dean or department chair, and which cannot be conducted virtually.
  • For students, this includes travel to engage in research that is related to the completion of one’s thesis or dissertation; to participate as a student (or instructor) in a Northwestern class or coursework; to participate in study abroad or exchanges; to engage in educational or experiential activities at other institutions as invited or arranged; or to participate in other educational or experiential activity important for degree completion that cannot be conducted virtually.

Additional Guidelines

  • Travel for Northwestern purposes should be booked through a preferred provider.
  • All travelers should review the appropriate resources available on the OGSS website.
  • All travelers who live or work in Chicago should adhere to the city’s travel order, as applicable.
  • GeoBlue for Employees, Northwestern’s international medical insurance / assistance program, does not apply to personal travel; where relevant, faculty, staff and graduate students should instead consider purchasing a policy that covers leisure travel.