UI International Travel Policy for Students

Table of Contents

Definition of International Travel under the Auspices of the University of Iowa
Pre-Departure and Program Planning Requirements for All University Units
Additional Pre-Departure and Program Planning Requirements for Study Abroad, International Programs
Student Pre-Departure Requirements
Travel to a Location under U.S. DOS Travel Warning
University Travel Prohibitions
Suspension of Travel
While Abroad
Travel in Violation of this Policy


The University of Iowa is committed to advancing the core values and priorities of inclusion and internationalization. Domestic and global diversity are essential to excellence in all parts of our mission. The University of Iowa must prepare its students, faculty and staff to live and learn in a culturally diverse and internationalized environment where cross-cultural understanding and collaboration are the norms. To further this mission, the University supports and promotes international travel by students under the auspices of the University, while encouraging sound health, safety and security measures that minimize risks to the traveler and the institution. This policy articulates minimum pre-departure requirements and expectations while abroad. A University unit approving or administering international travel for students may have additional requirements. 

Definition of International Travel under the Auspices of the University of Iowa

Student travel “under the auspices of the University of Iowa” or “for University purposes” is defined as travel that is facilitated or sponsored by the University, regardless of whether credit is granted for activities during travel. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Travel for an education abroad program administered, affiliated or approved for credit transfer by Study Abroad/International Programs;
  • Travel for unit-sponsored educational activities. These are programs organized, sponsored or administered by specific units (e.g., College of Law, College of Medicine, etc.);
  • Travel to a University or unit exchange partner;
  • Travel as part of, or in support of, a University research activity;
  • Travel for University credit;
  • Travel that fulfills a degree requirement (including internships, field studies, service learning, research);
  • Travel that fulfills University contractual agreements;
  • Professional development opportunities promoted by or supported by any University unit (including conference attendance);
  • Travel for which you are acting as a representative of the University;
  • Travel for University athletics;
  • Travel supported by University funding including grant awards, scholarships, informal financial awards and financial aid; and
  • Travel with, or organized by, a University faculty or staff member.

International travel that is not “under the auspices of the University of Iowa” or “for University purposes” is defined as any other travel, including:

  • Personal travel such as vacation;
  • Extended personal travel before or after travel for University purposes;
  • Group travel organized informally among students, without institutional support or administration. Note that student organizations are prohibited from organizing or promoting international travel unless specific approval has been granted by the International Programs Travel Advisory Committee.

Pre-Departure and Program Planning Requirements for All University Units

For the purposes of ensuring student and faculty safety, it is strongly preferred that student travel abroad programs be administered and organized by International Programs. When this is not the case, any and all University units (including colleges, departments, centers, offices, or other operational units) organizing such travel must comply with minimum requirements set by University of Iowa International Programs for the organization and promotion of student travel abroad. The following processes are followed for student travel programs administered by International Programs, Study Abroad. All other University of Iowa units organizing student travel must also:

  • Complete a due diligence review of all programs before promoting them to University students, with consideration of current Forum on Education Abroad Standards of Good Practice;
  • Ensure appropriate contracting of partners;
  • Develop a 24/7 contact protocol and emergency plan that includes prompt notification of the 24/7 emergency responder for Study Abroad (International Programs) in the event of a University traveler emergency abroad;
  • Prior to departure, confirm daily travel itinerary and 24/7 contact information for the traveler or a designated program leader abroad and share this information with the Study Abroad; (International Programs) Associate Director for International Health, Safety and Security: safety-abroad@uiowa.edu;
  • Secure signed approval of the administering unit DEO that demonstrates an understanding of the unit administrative and financial responsibilities of program administration;
  • Obtain approval from the International Programs Travel Advisory Committee before promoting any group or individual student travel. The committee includes representation from International Programs, Risk Management and General Counsel. Requests for Travel Advisory Committee consideration can be addressed to the Assistant Provost for International Programs;
  • Monitor U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS) country information for the intended international travel location. If the travel location appears on the U.S. DOS travel warning country list at any time, provide program-specific safety information to the International Programs Travel Advisory Committee for consideration during a review of the advisability of travel;
  • Provide location and program-specific pre-departure orientation for student travelers that includes consideration of safety risks indicated in U.S. DOS country information;
  • Ensure completion of student pre-departure requirements;
  • Ensure completion of faculty/staff leader training requirements, where relevant.

All University units must obtain approval from the International Programs Travel Advisory Committee prior to organizing or promoting student travel abroad for University purposes.

All University units are considered to be sponsoring student travel when they grant scholarships, credit, the fulfillment of degree requirements or otherwise recognize international travel as educational enhancement. University units that are sponsoring student travel without organizing or promoting it must only notify travelers of the student pre-departure requirements listed below.

Additional Pre-Departure and Program Planning Requirements for Study Abroad, International Programs

In addition to the requirements above, International Programs, Study Abroad will do the following when University students register international travel plans under the auspices of the University by submitting travel registration forms to International Programs, Study Abroad:

  • Process University Travel Registry for student travelers;
  • Enroll student travelers in U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) or advise them to self-register;
  • Advise international students to seek similar registry services from their home country Embassy;
  • Monitor U.S. DOS notifications for the destinations of current student travelers;
  • Provide location-specific international security analysis to International Programs Travel Advisory Committee for consideration during program proposal review and during reevaluations of program advisability;
  • Provide 24/7 emergency response number for international crisis response coordination;
  • Facilitate enrollment in the Iowa Regents Universities international insurance policy for students traveling under the auspices of the University;
  • Facilitate medical self-assessment and encourage disclosure of medical needs to our international insurance provider so continuity of care plans can be made prior to departure;
  • Review disciplinary history and implement Study Abroad code of conduct policy/process, including confirmation of student agreement to Conditions of Participation for international travel;
  • For any program with a program leader:
    • Require the program leader to sign a Terms of Agreement that includes crisis management responsibilities
    • Require the program leader to have an appointed assistant, co-director, or contracted on-site staff member to assist with crisis response
    • Provide pre-departure training for international travel program leaders;
  • ​Provide general pre-departure training for student travelers.

Student Pre-Departure Requirements

Students traveling internationally for University purposes are responsible for taking measures to promote their own personal safety and the safety of fellow travelers and the University community. All students must complete the following requirements before international travel under the auspices of the University of Iowa:

  • All students, including those self-selecting into international activities not administered or promoted by the University, must meet with an appropriate University faculty or staff member in Study Abroad or in their College prior to confirming and registering travel plans;
  • Verify good academic and disciplinary standing with the University;
  • Sign a Conditions of Participation form detailing academic, financial, behavioral, travel risk and health-related responsibilities while abroad;
  • Review U.S. DOS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) resources for the planned destination;
  • Confirm enrollment in the U.S. DOS Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP);
  • If a citizen of another country, seek travel advice from the Embassy of your country of citizenship and inquire about traveler registration similar to STEP registry. Check with ISSS to confirm visa requirements for continuation of study in the U.S. after international travel for University purposes;
  • If approved for travel to a location under U.S. DOS travel warning, sign a waiver indicating an understanding of the known risks in the travel destination;
  • Confirm that all locations of the travel itinerary are submitted to the University Travel Registry;
  • Check uiowa email account regularly before travel for receipt of mandatory Iowa Regents Universities international travel, health and security insurance card;
  • Continue monitoring uiowa email account before and during international travel for U.S. DOS notifications generated by the University Travel Registry and STEP registry;
  • Create an emergency communications plan, including familiarization with numbers for local emergency services in the travel destination, the Iowa Regents Universities insurance provider and the 24/7 International Programs emergency responder;
  • Complete mandatory pre-departure training online, including health and safety training;
  • Attend any in-person orientation specific to the travel location that is provided for you prior to departure or upon arrival in the travel destination;
  • Address health and safety concerns prior to departure (e.g., check-ups, immunizations, continuity of care preparations with the insurance provider for anticipated medical needs during travel.)

Travel to a Location under U.S. DOS Travel Warning

The University discourages travel to a destination under current U.S. Department of State travel warning. Careful review is required when rare exceptions are made to allow student travel to a destination under U.S. DOS warning. Student travel is not permitted under the auspices of the University when the U.S. Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens “defer non-essential travel” to a specific location. Any student planning to travel for University purposes, as well as any faculty or staff member planning to lead or travel with University students, to a country under U.S. DOS travel warning must obtain approval from the International Programs Travel Advisory Committee. Units wishing to promote a travel opportunity to students must obtain approval from the same committee prior to promotion. Units wishing to promote or administer international travel to a U.S. DOS travel warning destination should consider the financial implications of dedicating resources to an endeavor with a higher than average risk of untimely cancelation. Units may be asked to demonstrate a financial commitment to offset unrecoverable costs in the event that travel plans must be suspended due to health or safety concerns.

University Travel Prohibitions

In addition to U.S. DOS notifications and consultation, the Study Abroad Associate Director for Health, Safety and Security reviews other sources of information that inform University decision making about international travel advisability. Other sources of information include the CDC, the WHO, a private security partner, OSAC constituents operating in the travel destination, foreign authorities and contacts in the intended destination. Based on a review of additional sources and independent security analysis, the University may prohibit travel to a destination even if U.S. DOS has not issued a travel warning or is not recommending that U.S. citizens defer non-essential travel.

Student preparedness to take on the heightened responsibilities associated with international travel is also an eligibility consideration. Minimally, students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University to be considered for international travel. Eligibility criteria may vary depending on the international activity planned, with higher disciplinary and academic standards required for some locations and activities. Student participants approved for international travel under the auspices of the University are expected to contribute to the mitigation of known risks for their chosen activity and location by following recommendations from U.S. DOS, the CDC and the University. The University, at its sole discretion, may deny approval for international travel. 

Suspension of Travel

The International Programs Travel Advisory Committee will review student travel currently in progress when a significant health or safety concern arises regarding that travel including new and renewed U.S. DOS travel warnings and alerts, travel warnings from the CDC or WHO, natural disasters, wars or other political disturbances, or other indicators of potential health or safety threats. The Committee will make decisions based solely on health, safety and security risks, with no consideration of the financial consequences to the administering unit in the decision making process. The University, in its sole discretion, may withdraw approval for international travel at any time. 

While Abroad

Students and faculty/staff/units traveling with, sponsoring or promoting student programs abroad must keep the Associate Director for International Health, Safety and Security appraised of any changes to their address and contact information while abroad. Changes should be submitted as soon as possible to safety-abroad@uiowa.edu at a minimum within 24 hours of any deviation from the original travel itinerary submitted to the same email account prior to departure.

Students are held to the University of Iowa Code of Student Life while abroad for University purposes in addition to any additional codes of conduct from the sponsoring unit, Study Abroad, affiliate or host.

Students and faculty/staff/units are prohibited from engaging in high risk activities excluded from coverage under the mandatory international insurance policy for travel under the auspices of the University of Iowa. Prohibited activities excluded from coverage under the mandatory insurance plan include mountaineering where ropes or guides are normally used; hang gliding; parachuting; bungee jumping; racing by horse, motor vehicle or motorcycle; parasailing.

Students are not permitted to drive motor vehicles (including but not limited to scooters, motorbikes, motorcycles and cars) while participating in education abroad.

Faculty and staff may not drive vehicles in which students are passengers abroad. Public transportation or locally hired drivers and vehicles may be used to transport students in international locations. 

Travel in Violation of this Policy

Students who choose to travel in violation of this policy are acting outside the control and responsibility of the University. If the travel is occurring during a required term of study, the student must take a leave of absence from the University, whenever possible. Students on leave of absence from the University are not eligible for financial aid, scholarship, travel stipends, and other University supports including granting of credit or facilitation of credit transfer. If a leave of absence is not an option, students who travel in violation of this policy will not be eligible for issuance or transfer of credit to the University from activities undertaken in the prohibited travel destination and also risk losing their student status. In addition to being ineligible for credit and risking their University student status, students who remain abroad after travel is suspended and departure is requested risk losing their Iowa Regents Universities international insurance coverage. When health or safety considerations require a suspension of international travel, the University will determine an end date for international insurance coverage. A student who remains in a restricted destination after being asked to depart is in violation of this travel policy even if international insurance coverage remains in effect past the requested departure date. 


This policy does not apply to personal, non-University travel by students. Students going on vacation abroad should not register their travel with the University and are not eligible for Iowa Regents Universities international insurance coverage. For information on reimbursement for travel and faculty and staff travel requirements, see the University Accounts Payable Travel Policy and Processes


[Last Revision 6/10/2016]