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Undergraduate International Travel Policy

Northwestern University encourages its students to participate in a wide variety of educational experiences abroad. To minimize health and safety risks, the University has approved policies to govern undergraduate travel based on advice from the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The U.S. DOS informs citizens of health and safety risks through its Travel Advisories. The advisories provide clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information for every country. As the first step in planning a trip abroad, all students should read the Travel Advisory for their intended destination(s).

Pre-pandemic, Northwestern policy precluded undergraduate travel to any country with a U.S. DOS rating Level 3 (Reconsider Travel), Level 4 (Do Not Travel) or a CDC Warning Level 3. Given Northwestern's high [COVID] vaccination rate, we have developed a temporary policy that involves regular review of the Travel Advisories to develop a list of countries whose Level 3 or Level 4 ratings are solely tied to COVID.  See purple textbox. Uundergraduates interested in traveling to these countries must submit a Travel Permission Request (TPR). For detailed information, review the new Undergraduate International Travel Policy approved by the International Travel Risk Management Committee and the Associate Provost for Global Affairs (APGA).

Travel Permission Request (TPR) Process

If you are traveling to a destination with a U.S. DOS Travel  Advisory or a CDC COVID Advisory Level 3 or 4, and your destination is not included in the list of pre-approved countries provided on this website (see purple box), you will need to complete a Travel Permission Request that will be reviewed by the International Travel Risk Assessment Committee (ITRAC). Use this TPR planning Guide to record answers you will transfer into the travel registry.

Traveling during a pandemic is still complicated. Review our COVID Considerations and work through the appropriate travel checklist in order to complete a COVID-specific survey for your trip, which you can upload to the travel registry. If your plan involves travel to one or more destinations that meet these criteria, contact OGSS.

After you have been advised, you will need to register your trip in the International Travel Registry. Once you input the itinerary of your proposed trip, you will be deployed several questionnaires, including the Travel Permission Request. Your TPR will be reviewed by the OGSS staff before it is sent to the review committee.

Note: If you are traveling as a group, the trip leader must contact OGSS prior to logging into the travel registry in to be able to create a group trip. Providing your NetID in the message will expedite the process.

Policy Exceptions

There are two exceptions to the policy above:

  • Students enrolling in an approved, for-credit Global Learning programs do not need to complete this process.  These programs have already been reviewed and approved by Northwestern
  • Likewise, students returning to their home countries do not need to petition for travel approval, but will need to show proof of citizenship and permanent residency and complete the pre-departure requirements associated with their travel experience