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Faculty and Staff Travel Policies

In general, Northwestern does not regulate the international travel of its faculty or staff, but staff travel typically requires permission from one’s supervisor. Employment-related travel is permissible when it applies to activities related to the University’s mission and / or the traveler’s employment such as research or teaching, recruitment, admissions testing, fundraising, or other purpose as identified by the unit director, dean or department chair. Some destinations deemed high-risk by Northwestern’s evacuation provider require advance disclosure to OGSS.  

Northwestern also strongly recommends that all travel for university purposes be booked through a prefer­red provider. Advantages associated with these services include direct billing via chart string, discounted air and hotel fares and traveler assistance when plans change.

Read more information on the following subjects:

Advising / Sponsoring Student Travel

Faculty or staff who provide or manage funds in support of international travel or serve in an advisory capacity for students engaging in other types of international travel, including research, conference attendance, performance, competition or service / volunteering, should review the applicable policies and resources below. If you are unsure about whether the travel is university-sponsored, read the definitions for undergraduates and graduate students.

  • Undergraduate advising: Review the Undergraduate international travel policy and information on Northwestern's International Travel Registry as you will be expected to assist in monitoring compliance and assist with applications for Travel Permission to higher-risk destinations. 
  • Graduate and professional student advising: Review the Graduate Student Travel Policies so you can inform students of international trip requirements as well as assist in monitoring compliance. While graduate students are not required to seek special permission for travel to higher-risk locations, advisers are expected to engage students in risk mitigation discussions

Northwestern strongly encourages schools, units and departments that fund independent international travel to tie disbursement or reimbursement to proof of enrollment in the International Travel Registry (ITR).

Note that students traveling as part of a group will be invited to engage with the ITR once a Trip Leader creates the trip. Only independent travelers “self-enroll.”

The OGSS also offers periodic “First Responder Training” training for those who do not travel, but may be the recipient of communications regarding an emergency need abroad. Register for an upcoming session through the OGSS Events webpage.

Emergencies / Incident Reporting

If a student, faculty or staff member contacts you for assistance abroad, review and share the Emergencies Abroad page. If the traveler requires immediate assistance, contact the Northwestern Police at (847) 491-3456. OGSS’s on-call staff will coordinate a response with the unit or department sponsoring travel.

Export Controls / International Compliance

Northwestern's Export Controls and International Compliance (ECIC) team assists travelers in navigating export control laws and regulations; however, the primary responsibility rests with the person engaged in exporting activities. Researchers must understand and adhere to their obligations under federal export controls regulations. The consequences for violating these regulations can be severe, including significant monetary, civil and/or criminal penalties. 

As of August 1, 2023, the ECIC team recommends that faculty and staff (regardless of citizenship) register official travel to comprehensively sanctioned countries in Northwestern’s International Travel Registry.  While comprehensively sanctioned countries change over time, currently, they are Belarus, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and certain Regions of Ukraine. ECIC encourages official travel registration to these comprehensively sanctioned countries to avoid violating federal law. View International Travel for more information and Contact ECIC with any questions or concerns.

More recently, the U.S. government has increased our regulatory obligations for safeguarding electronic devices and data for travel to the locations listed above plus Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Myanmar / Burma, Russia, and Venezuela. OGSS has streamlined messaging associated with some new requirements through the Travel Registry, but if you are considering individual or group travel to any of these locations, contact the ECIC. 

High Risk Destinations

Over twenty countries considered high-risk by our security assistance provider require pre-travel disclosure. Most of these countries are conflict and post-conflict zones not frequented by Northwestern travelers. See Evacuation for more information.

In February 2022, our security assistance provider suspended evacuation coverage to Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Travel to these countries by faculty, staff and graduate students should be postponed if possible. (Travel by undergraduates is prohibited without exception.) If travel must occur to these locations, contact OGSS to engage in risk assessment and emergency planning.

International Health Insurance

Full-time, benefit-eligible faculty and staff who travel internationally on Northwestern business are automatically covered by Northwestern's business travel insurance program provided by GeoBlue at no additional cost. It also covers any spouse/partner or dependents who may accompany you while traveling on university business. For more information about registration, plan coverage and limitations, go to GeoBlue for Employees. Such employees are also covered for political, security and natural disaster evacuation (PEND) through the Northwestern GeoBlue plan. 

Professional Development Opportunities

The OGSS also offers more in-depth, voluntary training called The Education Abroad Crisis Management Council (EACMC), a group of Northwestern employees that routinely support student, faculty or staff international travel who receive additional travel health and safety training as well as periodic “refresher” training. EACMC members may be called upon to lead or support travelers in crisis in collaboration with OGSS and other units on campus. 

Traveling Abroad with Students

Faculty or staff traveling on the same itinerary with three or more students is considered a group trip, which must be registered by a Trip Leader or Trip Organizer unless the trip is sponsored by the Global Learning Office. For guidance on planning group travel, see the Checklist for Group Travel Abroad which includes information about mandatory Trip Leader training.

Travel Safety & Security Information

Review Security Information Resources and sign up for safety messaging from the U.S. Department of State for your destination(s). (This service is also open to non-U.S. citizens.) For more in-depth travel security information, sign up for subject-specific alerts from our intelligence and assistance firm, Crisis24. Other topics, such as surveillance detection, terrorism, securing electronic devices and evacuation polices and procedure are covered on the Travel Security pages.

The Travel Safety section provides information about crime deterrence and evaluating accommodations as well as road, water and fire safety among other topics.