Skip to main content

Pre-departure Requirements

The following steps and recommended timeline are associated with university-sponsored undergraduate non-credit international travel. Leisure travel, such as a vacation, is not considered university-sponsored travel. International students traveling  “home” for winter, spring or summer break is also not considered university-sponsored travel, and should not be registered.

Required Timeline

At least six weeks prior to departure:

  1. Review the State Department’s Travel Advisory for your destination(s). Read through the advisory and take note of the advice to travelers. If your destination has a Travel Advisory Level 3 or Level 4, check the purple box on this webpage to determine if special Travel Permission is required.
  2. Review the CDC Traveler’s Health destinations dashboard to evaluate health risks and review vaccination requirements or recommendations. Follow our Immunization guidance to connect with a travel health professional.
  3. Review the COVID Traveler Checklist, so you are prepared for complications associated with a COVID illness during travel.
  4. For student-led RSO travel only: complete additional information listed under RSO Trip Leaders

At least two weeks before departure: 

  1. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). If you do not have a U.S. passport, leave the passport field blank. Once you create an account, select "Add a Trip/Residence Abroad" and provide information about your trip. Take a screenshot of your confirmation to upload to the Travel Registry.
  2. Once your travel plans are finalized including destination(s) and travel dates, purchase GeoBlue health insurance. (Students traveling with a Northwestern-sponsored group, led by a faculty or staff member, should check with their trip leader to determine if insurance is being purchased on their behalf). After enrolling, you will receive an e-mail confirmation which includes your insurance certificate number. Print this confirmation and take it on your trip.
    • GeoBlue provides coverage wherever you travel during your enrolled period, but you have to select a destination at enrollment. If your plans include multiple countries, just pick the country where you will spend the majority of your time.
    • We recommend aligning your GeoBlue coverage dates with your air travel booking, but during the pandemic we suggest tacking on 3-5 days of coverage past your planned return in the case you test positive for COVID at the end of your trip resulting in a delayed return to the U.S.
  3. Register your trip in Northwestern's International Travel Registry.  Have your passport and trip itinerary available to complete the registry. On the “Essential Content” tab there is instructions on How to Generate a Travel Registry Receipt. Most units or departments funding travel will require you to submit a receipt for funds to be released or reimbursed.

If you have any questions or problems with your requirements or the travel registry, visit our FAQs or email