International Travel Requirements and Resources

Review the information below to ensure you are following UNC international travel policy

In accordance with UNC System Office policy, Carolina has prohibited University-affiliated international travel until further notice. Exceptions to this travel restriction may be granted by the chancellor or provost, and we have created a Gillings School exception process prior to requests going to the chancellor and provost.

University-affiliated international travel includes all international travel funded by the University as well as all travel for academic credit.

UNC Gillings International Travel Exception Process

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic increases risk associated with international travel, in particular to countries with low resources for providing health care. In addition, the emergence of variants of concern has added new uncertainty about the risks of COVID-19 and placed some health care systems under great strain. As deans and others weigh the required certification that the benefits to UNC of the proposed international travel exceed the risks, these elevated risks must be front and center in making judgments.

In practical terms, this means that travel to destinations of concern should, in many cases, be delayed or deferred. The benefits to UNC and beyond of travel for purposes such as conducting essential humanitarian activities, engaging in training essential to UNC’s mission, COVID-19 vaccine or treatment trials, or other life-saving activities may receive special consideration.

Why should travel be restricted?

  • COVID-19 and recent variants reported in the UK, Brazil and South Africa are spreading rapidly with still unpredictable morbidity and mortality
  • The evolution of COVID-19 variants of concern does not allow us to predict the quarantine trajectory. A place that currently allows travel may suddenly “lock down,” leaving personnel stranded
  • While we know that travelers who are fully vaccinated reduce their risk of suffering ill effects from COVID-19, we still do not know the benefits and durability of the current vaccines and cannot rely on vaccines to ensure resistance to COVID-19, especially where variants have been detected

In summary, as decision-makers weigh the risks of travel against the benefits to UNC’s educational and research mission, the elevated risks of travel must be given all due consideration. Current conditions still call for a highly restrictive UNC international travel policy.

We have set up a Gillings School travel exception process specific to students, faculty, and staff where travel will need to be approved prior to continuing through the university travel exception process. Please read the exception process below that corresponds to your position to follow the Gillings School travel exception process.

Graduate Student Exception Process

We highly encourage those who are looking at international practicum/internship opportunities to pursue those as remote options. For now, we will be reviewing international travel exception requests related to a student’s academic program, not recreational travel, on a case-by-case basis.

The steps of a travel exception request approval are as follows:

  • Review by Associate Dean for Global Health and Global Health Associate Director
  • If the request meets the basic criteria for approval, then the request will be reviewed and must be approved by the student’s Department Chair.
  • If approved at the department level, then the student will submit a travel exception request via the Rapid Admin Service Request system
  • Requests are all reviewed by Provost Blouin for final approval

Criteria the School will use to decide if your travel exception request will move to the next phase.

You will be required to respond to these questions through the Gillings School Travel Exception Request form:

  • Is the country the student is traveling to allowing entry from the U.S.?
  • How long will the student remain in country?
  • Is the proposed travel related to COVID-19 or other pressing public health matters?
  • Is this opportunity essential for the student to continue to make academic progress?
  • Could the travel be postponed to a time when we are not in a global pandemic
  • Could the work be conducted remotely?
  • Could the work be conducted by someone locally?
  • Is the student  traveling to a UNC affiliated site or another site that has substantial infrastructure in place should something happen?
  • Please describe how you intend to address mobility restrictions, border closings, and testing and quarantine requirements. Other cases for approval have included support in the destination country, such as through a local host or program administrator or family present in the destination country.
  • It will likely bolster your case if you are vaccinated.  If you feel comfortable, please disclose if you have been fully vaccinated and/or will be fully vaccinated by the time of your travel and the type of vaccine.

If you would like to apply for an international travel exception, please fill out a Gillings School Student Travel Exception Request.

If travel is approved, you must comply with all applicable guidelines and requirements, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirement of a negative COVID-19 test for travel to the US, which went into effect January 26, 2021. Other requirements may include mask-wearing and recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States.

Undergraduate Student Exception Process

Undergraduate University-affiliated international travel outside study abroad is currently prohibited. Exceptions may be requested for travel in cases in which a student needs to fulfill a distinguishing academic or professional credential or qualification, such as advanced language study, thesis research requiring access to an archive only available in another country, or other academic purpose essential to an advanced multi-year academic program. Students seeking such an exception should plan to remain at a fixed location. A student under 18 years of age as of their departure date is not eligible for international travel exceptions.

The policy applies to undergraduate student independent travel that is University-affiliated and not to personal travel. There are separate approval processes for undergraduate international travel through established, credit-bearing study abroad programs, and for undergraduate domestic University-affiliated travel.

The steps of a travel exception request approval are as follows:

  • Review by Associate Dean for Global Health and Global Health Associate Director
  • If the request meets the basic criteria for approval, then the student will submit an Undergraduate Student Travel Restriction Exception Form to the relevant faculty advisor for approval
  • If approved, then the request will be reviewed and must be approved by the student’s Chair
  • If approved at the department level, the request will be sent to the Associate Dean for Global Health and the Associate Dean will send to the Vice Provost for Global Affairs and Provost Blouin for final approval

You will be required to respond to these questions through the Gillings School Travel Exception Request form:

  • Is the country the student is traveling to allowing entry from the U.S.?
  • How long will the student remain in country?  We have been told that the university is unlikely to approve requests of less than 8 weeks in length, so we will use this as our guide, and we will likely not approve any requests that are less than 8 weeks in length
  • What is the funding source for the student travel?
  • Is the proposed travel related to COVID-19 or other pressing public health matters?
  • Is this opportunity essential for the student to continue to make academic progress?
  • Could the travel be postponed to a time when we are not in a global pandemic
  • Could the work be conducted remotely?
  • Could the work be conducted by someone locally?
  • Is the student  traveling to a UNC affiliated site or another site that has substantial infrastructure in place should something happen?
  • A description of travel risks and how you propose to mitigate those risks during the trip and upon return to campus: Please address factors such as overall COVID-19 cases and deaths in the destination country, cases and deaths per 100K population of the destination country, vaccination rates at the destination, and COVID-19 Suppression Risk Level. Other cases for approval have included vaccination against COVID-19 and support in the destination country, such as through a local host or program administrator or family present in the destination country.

If you would like to apply for an international travel exception, please fill out a Gillings School Student Travel Exception Request.

If travel is approved, you must comply with all applicable guidelines and requirements, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirement of a negative COVID-19 test for travel to the US, which went into effect January 26, 2021. Other requirements may include mask-wearing and recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States.

Faculty Member and Post-Doc Exception Process

1. Approval by School Dean (For Gillings, Suzanne Maman, Associate Dean for Global Health, will be the Dean-level approval)
Exceptions for University-affiliated travel must be approved by the traveler’s dean, or designee, and acknowledged by the provost. In weighing whether to certify that benefits to UNC of the proposed international travel outweigh the risks, deans or designees should review the guidance on increased risks updated May 17, 2021.

Units may require additional levels of approval including supervisor, department chair, and senior administrator. Be sure to gain necessary supervisory approval before submitting your request. The dean will submit the exception as outlined below.

2. Dean sends request for exception to
•  Barbara Stephenson, Vice Provost for Global Affairs and Chief Global Officer: barbara.stephenson@unc.edu

•  The Vice Provost for Global Affairs reviews requests for completeness and compliance with current procedures and forwards them to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost as appropriate.

3. In their submission to Suzanne Maman, Gillings faculty and post-docs should include
a. A completed and signed Faculty and Postdoc Travel Approval Request Form, which includes:

  • Traveler’s name, title, and department
  • Specific dates, destinations, and routes/itineraries of the proposed travel
  • Purpose of proposed activity and explanation as to why the activity cannot be fulfilled remotely via video conference or through other electronic means
  • Detailed explanation of how the trip advances the University’s educational or research mission; reference supporting documentation when available (i.e. external funded research)
  • Description of travel risks and how the traveler proposes to mitigate those risks during the trip and upon return to campus.  Factors that may help bolster the case for approval include vaccination against COVID-19 and support in the destination country, such as through a local host or program administrator or family present in the destination country
  • A signed statement by the dean that he/she has reviewed Carolina’s guidance on international travel and has determined that the articulated benefits to the University of this request outweigh the risks associated with the travel

b. Completed and signed Assumption of Risk and Acknowledgement

Staff Member Exception Process

1. Approval

Exceptions for University-affiliated travel must be approved by the vice chancellor for human resources and acknowledged by the chancellor.  Units may require additional levels of approval depending on the traveler’s reporting lines, including, from the traveler’s 1) supervisor; 2) department chair, center or institute director, or other unit head (if different from supervisor); and 3) appropriate senior administrator (For Gillings, Suzanne Maman, Associate Dean for Global Health, will be the Dean-level approval). Be sure to gain necessary supervisory approval before submitting your request.

In weighing whether to certify that benefits to UNC of the proposed international travel outweigh the risks, senior administrators should review the guidance on increased risks updated May 17, 2021.

2. Send request for exception to

  • Becci Menghini, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance (becci_menghini@unc.edu)
  • Katie Nolan, interim chief of staff, (kbnolan@unc.edu)
  • Sherene Jenkins, executive assistant (sherene_jenkins@unc.edu)
  • The traveler’s immediate supervisor or manager and the appropriate school dean or senior administrator

3. Include

   a. A completed and signed Staff Travel Approval Request Form, which includes:

  • Traveler’s name, title, department, and supervisor
  • Specific dates, destinations, and routes/itineraries of the proposed travel
  • Purpose of proposed activity and explanation as to why the activity cannot be fulfilled remotely via video conference or through other electronic means
  • Detailed explanation of how the trip advances the University’s educational or research mission; reference supporting documentation when available (i.e. external funded research)
  • Description of travel risks and how the traveler proposes to mitigate those risks during the trip and upon return to campus.  Factors that may help bolster the case for approval include vaccination against COVID-19 and support in the destination country, such as through a local host or program administrator or family present in the destination country
  • A signed statement by the dean or other appropriate senior administrator that he/she has reviewed Carolina’s guidance on international travel and has determined that the articulated benefits to the University of this request outweigh the risks associated with the travel

   b. Completed and signed Assumption of Risk and Acknowledgement

If you have any questions, please contact Naya Villarreal, Gillings Global Health Associate Director, at naya@unc.edu.

Travel Tips and Resources

We have compiled resources to help prepare for your trip!

Health and Safety

Health

Safety

  • UNC Emergency Communications
    • Faculty, staff and students who experience an emergency while traveling abroad on University business should contact the UNC Department of Public Safety (DPS) at +1.919.962.8100.
    • Public Safety is first in the chain of response. Students should ask DPS to contact the Dean of Students on call to find the appropriate resources for assistance. DPS will assist faculty and staff with identifying a human resources administrator or Employee Assistance Program officer who can provide support.
    • For emergency evacuation and other 24/7 health insurance assistance, call GeoBlue collect from outside the U.S. at +1.610.254.8771, toll free within the U.S. at 800.257.4823, or email globalhealth@geo-blue.com.
    • In an emergency, seek appropriate medical care immediately, and then call GeoBlue. Insurance coverage must be bought in advance of travel.
  • Safety advice from the UNC Study Abroad Office.

Research Ethics and Cultural Competence

Research Ethics

  • All UNC faculty, staff, and students participating in research involving human subjects or identifiable data from human subjects must complete IRB CITI Ethics training.
  • You must submit an IRB application and receive approval well in advance of your trip. Visit the website for the UNC Office of Human Research Ethics for more on IRB approval.

Cultural Competence

We encourage you to review the material found on these websites to help facilitate working effectively abroad. All students planning to go abroad should attend the GO! Global Orientation Initiative Workshop held annually in the spring semester.

Learn About Your Destination

  • The U.S. Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world. You will find the location of the U.S. embassy and any consular offices, information about whether you need a visa, crime and security information, health and medical considerations, drug penalties, localized hot spots and more.
  • We highly recommend registering your trip on the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Passport Information

  • Make sure your passport is valid. You can find more information on applying for a passport or renewing your passport here. Make sure to give yourself enough time to apply or renew your passport!
  • Each year, hundreds of Carolina community members obtain or renew a passport at the annual Passport Drive hosted by UNC Global.

Financial Considerations

Helpful financial advice to consider prior to departure. Research to see what forms of payment (cash, debit and credit cards, and traveler's checks) are accepted in your destination country and any other countries you may be traveling through (do not carry too much cash at one time): Alert your bank and credit card companies when and where you will be traveling

  • Ask if they charge foreign transaction fees
  • Ask if you’ll need a PIN to make purchases abroad. If so, how many digits does the PIN need to be.
Exchange some cash to your destination’s local currency
  • Exchange money at a bank before you leave the U.S. or exchange in the airport prior to departure or when you arrive to have money for transportation, accommodations and food for the day of your arrival
  • OANDA Currency Converter allows you to print out a wallet sized Traveler's Cheat-sheet to take on your trip.
Find out about Arrival and Departure Taxes and Currency Restrictions
  • Check on any arrival or departure taxes you may encounter
  • Check on any restrictions on how much currency you can enter and exit with
Adapted from Yale's International Travel Toolkit

Ethical Photography

The above resources are to help with understanding how to appropriately respect the people and communities you are working with and meeting when documenting your experience for any purpose.

Taking photos with your smartphone

For those not taking a separate camera with them for their travels, learn how to take incredible photos with your smartphone!