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Faculty and Staff Travel Policies

University-Affiliated International Travel / Approval & Compliance

In general, Northwestern does not regulate the international travel of its faculty or staff. 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. According to university guidelines, all travel during the pandemic for Northwestern purposes should be booked through a preferred provider.

Northwestern Office for Export Controls and Compliance (OECC) assists investigators to comply with export control laws, 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. Contact OECC with any questions or concerns.

Twenty-two countries considered high-risk by our security assistance provider require pre-travel disclosure. See Evacuation for more information.


Faculty and staff who accompany students abroad –undergraduate and graduate students– are expected to undergo pre-departure trip leader training to help them identify and manage foreseeable risks as well as be prepared to respond to emergencies. See Trip Leaders for more information. Other requirements apply to Trip Advisers / Sponsors, units and departments that fund or support student independent international travel that does not involve faculty or staff accompaniment. Unsure about whether or not the travel is university-sponsored? Read the definitions of university-sponsored travel for undergraduates and graduate students.

International Health Insurance

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 business. For more information about registration, plan coverage and limitations, go to GeoBlue for Employees.

Employees are also covered for political, security and natural disaster evacuation (PEND) through the Northwestern GeoBlue plan. GeoBlue requires disclosure of planned travel to countries considered high-risk to determine whether or not PEND services will be covered. For more information, see Evacuation

Trip Leaders

Regardless of the destination or duration of a university-sponsored trip or program abroad, Northwestern employees who accompany graduate or undergraduate students abroad accept a leadership role in understanding and mitigating risk. As part of this process, all trip leaders must:

  • participate in Trip Leader Training;
  • complete a risk management plan; provide a trip itinerary; and
  • ensure all participants are registered in Northwestern’s Travel Registry (unless they trip is sponsored by the Global Learning Office).

Trip Leader Training provides faculty and staff trip leaders a framework for travel risk management. These one-hour sessions, offered virtually or in-person throughout the academic year, will help faculty / staff identify and manage foreseeable risks as well as be prepared to respond to emergencies while abroad.

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 received 20 hours of 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.

For guidance on planning group travel, see the Faculty / Staff checklist. We’ve recently attached a COVID-specific planning guide, and noted the COVID-related questions trip leaders will need to submit answers to as part of registering their trip with the University. 

Trip Advisors / Sponsors

Undergraduates: Faculty or staff advising undergraduate students on university-sponsored independent travel should review the Undergraduate international travel policy if a country under a U.S. Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4 is under consideration. Additionally, review the specific requirements for Undergraduate Students as you may be helping your travelers complete requirements on time in collaboration with the OGSS.

Graduate and Professional students: Faculty or staff advising or funding graduate students on university-sponsored independent travel should review the Graduate Student Travel Policies so they can inform students of international travel requirements.

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.