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Travel Guidelines


In general, travel should be limited or delayed wherever possible to promote the safety of our community and to contain costs.


  • All University-sponsored international travel for undergraduates is suspended through March 29, 2021; undergraduate study abroad programs and graduate student exchanges are also suspended through Spring Quarter 2021.
  • Faculty, staff and graduate student international travel remains prohibited to countries with a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Travel Notice Level 3 or a COVID-related U.S. Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4.
    • Effort to develop a process for graduate students to apply for special permission to engage in independent travel to countries with a CDC 3, or COVID-related DOS 3 or 4 are delayed until COVID cases in the U.S. and abroad are in decline. An update will available in January.
  • Faculty, staff and student – graduate and undergraduate – domestic travel is now permitted for essential purposes only.
  • Travel to U.S. states or territories where COVID-19 cases are high or increasing should be avoided. Consult the COVID Warning System and avoid travel to areas where outbreaks are active (red) or at risk (orange).
  • Essential travel includes travel for research, teaching or other mission critical activities. Specifically:
    • Essential travel for faculty and staff includes travel required for Northwestern-related employment, research or teaching responsibilities; recruitment; admissions testing; fund-raising, which may be may be considered essential subject to prior approval of the vice president for alumni relations and development, dean or the Provost; or other purpose as deemed mission-critical by unit director, dean or department chair.
    • Essential travel for students includes travel to engage in research related to one’s thesis or dissertation; to participate as a student (or instructor) in a Northwestern class or coursework, including those held at or in conjunction with all five US-based* Northwestern campuses; to engage in educational or experiential activities at other institutions as invited or arranged; or to participate in other educational or experiential activity required for degree completion.
    • Non-essential travel for students, faculty and staff is considered conference attendance, seminars, meetings and voluntary speaking experiences.
  • Travel to destinations and/or events where travelers cannot adhere to Northwestern’s guidelines for social distancing and health and hygiene should be postponed.
  • Travelers must adhere to pre-travel requirements including:
    • If 14-days self-quarantine is expected at one’s destination or upon return and the trip cannot be postponed, the travel must be approved by a supervisor, department chair, unit director or dean.
    • All air travel must be booked through one of Northwestern’s three Preferred travel providers.
    • All faculty, staff and graduate students who are traveling internationally must enroll in GeoBlue, the University’s Global Health Insurance program.
    • Graduate students must adhere to applicable international travel policies, including registering their trip with the OGSS; travel-related funding will not be released, approved, or reimbursed without proof of registry to the sponsoring department, unit or school.
    • All travelers or trip leaders must maintain a detailed itinerary, such as flight, rail and accommodations information; a participants list (if applicable); schedule of meetings / attendees, etc., for up to four weeks upon conclusion of the trip for contact-tracing purposes.
    • All travelers should review the appropriate resources available on the Office of Global Safety and Security website.

*Travel to NU-Q requires approval the Provost’s Office and coordination by the Evanston-based Qatar Support Office (QSO).

Key Considerations

  • Travel is not recommended to destinations where 14-days of self-quarantine is expected on either end, and such trips should be postponed.

Additional Resources