Skip to main content

COVID-19 Travel Considerations

International travel during the pandemic should prioritize health and safety and will require careful planning and flexibility to adjust plans as conditions change. Independent travelers should review the following resources and use these Independent Traveler Guidelines to assess and mitigate risks. Faculty or staff planning short-term international group travel should consult the Faculty and Staff Checklist page.

Information on this page will be updated regularly to align with emerging best practices in COVID-risk mitigation and exposure/infection management. If you are planning or supporting future travel, please bookmark this page and check back often for updates.

Vaccines and Masks

The CDC does not recommend traveling internationally unless one is fully vaccinated. As a result, all members of the Northwestern community (students, faculty and staff) are expected to be fully vaccinated prior to commencing any university-affiliated international travel.

Moreover, more and more countries will not admit travelers without proof of an approved COVID-19 vaccination and a booster. It is up to the traveler to determine whether or not they can access their planned destination. Countries permitting travel by unvaccinated travelers will likely require pre- and post- negative COVID tests, quarantine upon arrival, mask-wearing, social distancing and periodic testing while abroad. Travelers unable to be vaccinated should re-consider traveling abroad. If travel is deemed absolutely necessary, such individuals should plan carefully in order to adhere to these requirements and expectations.

The CDC recommends wearing an KN95 / N95 mask during travel. Read more about Choosing a Mask on the CDC website. To obtain one from Northwestern, refer to the Access section on the Face Coverings and Face Masks page.

Informational Resources

In addition to the Independent Travel Guidelines or the Group Travel Guidelines the following COVID-related resources may be consulted when planning international travel:

Outbound Travel Requirements

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination and/or a negative test may be required for outbound international travel. 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. Consider quarantining three to five days prior to flying to increase your chances of staying healthy and testing negative prior to traveling.

Inbound Travel Requirements

As of Dec. 6, 2021, 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.  As suggested above under outbound travel requirements, consider quarantining three to five days prior to flying to increase your chances of staying healthy and testing negative prior to traveling.

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.