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Travel Guidelines

Latest Update

University-affiliated international travel may continue, but community members should continue to weigh the necessity of the short-term trips against the potential risks to one’s health and the possibility of disruption to one’s personal and/or professional life in light of potential border closures, onerous/expensive testing requirements, or mandatory quarantine. 

Outbound International Travel Requirements:
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, including a booster and/or a negative test may be required. Consult your airline and destination country to determine the type and timing of test required to board the aircraft and enter the destination country. Northwestern’s COVID-19 testing is available to students, faculty and staff at our centers in Evanston and Chicago from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. COVID testing is also available at numerous pharmacies and specialized testing centers in the Chicago area at no additional cost.

Inbound International Travel Requirements:
Proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test (Antigen or PCR), regardless of vaccination status or citizenship, taken within 1 day of departure is required in order to board any aircraft to the U.S. Results of at-home “self-tests” are not sufficient proof of a negative status unless they are associated with a telehealth service that provides real-time supervision remotely through an audio and video connection. Full details of these requirements are available on the CDC's website. See in particular the links for vaccine and testing requirements for air travel to the United States.

Furthermore, all non-U.S. citizens and non-U.S. immigrant travelers arriving in the U.S. from a foreign country must have proof of an acceptable COVID-19 vaccination. Such travelers should also consult the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS) Travel FAQs for more details about citizenship-based travel restrictions, and other travel guidance specific to this population. 

Winter Quarter/Spring Break travel:
Northwestern community members (faculty, staff and students) planning University-affiliated travel during Winter Quarter or Spring Break should review guidance available from the Office of Global Safety and Security. Planning checklists are available for both group and independent travel.

All graduate and undergraduate students planning University-affiliated international travel must register their trip in Northwestern’s International Travel Registry and enroll with GeoBlue at least two weeks prior to departure. Other pre-departure requirements may apply depending on the destination and trip sponsor.

We will continue to monitor the situation and issue regular guidance.

Updated Jan. 6, 2022

Overview

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.


Guidelines

International Travel

Undergraduate Students

  • Fall / Winter / Spring 2021-22: Fall study abroad is underway. Additional programs are under review for Winter and Spring enrollment. For more information, see the Global Learning Office’s FAQs.

Non-credit, university-sponsored undergraduate international travel to countries where Fall, Winter or Spring Quarter study abroad programs are approved do not require additional review or approval by the university. See the undergraduate travel policies page for a complete list. If the destination is not pre-approved and is located in a country with a U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory or a CDC COVID Advisory Level 3 or 4 rating, the trip must be reviewed and approved. Follow the instructions on the undergraduate travel policies page to submit a Travel Permission Request. These rules and procedures apply through Spring Break (March 28). Prior to this date, we will make a determination about Spring and Summer Quarters. Pre-departure requirements apply for all approved travel, including enrolling in the Northwestern Travel Registry and registering with GeoBlue.

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.

Resources