Travel Preparations for All TravelersSkip to content Skip to main navigation
Office of Risk Management
Office of the Controller
Travel Preparations for All Travelers
All travelers should do the following when planning to travel abroad:
1. Obtain U.S. passport and entry visa - If you already have a U.S. passport, make sure your passport is valid at least six months into the future. You can apply for, or renew your passport at Travel.State.Gov. Check the visa requirements for each country you are visiting to see if you will need to obtain an entry visa and, if so, apply to the destination country embassy/consulate to obtain the appropriate visa. To apply for a visa, plan at least 2-3 weeks in advance of your travel dates to avoid any delays. For a list of foreign consular offices, please visit U.S. Department of State website of U.S. Embassies.
2. Non-U.S. Citizens - If you have an F or J visa sponsored by TC, please make sure to check with the Office of International Services to determine if you are required to obtain a travel signature that will allow your re-entry into the United States.
Non-U.S. citizens should inquire of their destination country to determine the visa requirements for the country to which they will travel. For example, a Chinese student with a Chinese passport traveling to Canada should contact the Consulate General of Canada in New York to determine the visa requirements. Please note that some countries may also require a special document called a transit visa for connecting flights or layovers.
3. Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) - Register your international travel with the Department of State under the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. STEP also allows Americans residing abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Non-US citizens should check with their local government website for similar services.
4. Country Information - Familiarize yourself with political, health, crime, and other safety-related conditions prevailing in the country, and specific locations within the country, you will be visiting. The U.S. State Department provides up-to-date information on travel and travel risks. Travelers are responsible for checking the State Department website and keeping abreast of travel alerts, warnings, and country-specific information.
5. Insurance Requirements - Make sure that you have the necessary insurance. Please refer to the specific section related to your status with the College (faculty, student, or staff) to determine the insurance coverage that is provided by the College and the requirements to be eligible for that coverage. In all cases, the College will only extend coverage for travel deemed to be for College business. College business is defined as activity that is predominantly supported with College funds. This includes money derived from the College’s operating budget as well as funds derived from grants and gifts to the College. For each day of travel on College business, insurance coverage will be extended for an additional 2 days either immediately prior to or after the College business trip.
Please make sure you have medical insurance and evacuation coverage if you are traveling for vacation or other personal or non-College reasons, as the College insurance will not apply in those circumstances.
6. Health Services - Consider scheduling an appointment with a travel clinic for education, vaccination, travel medications, and, if necessary, referrals. You can obtain health information about your destination from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Faculty and staff members traveling on College business can visit GeoBlue Traveler website for the Global Health and Safety database. Students should contact Heath Services of Columbia University.
7. Register Your International Travel with the Office of Risk Management - All travelers on College business are required to register their travel with the Office of Risk Management. This is necessary to allow us to ensure coverage under the appropriate insurance and to be in a position to assist you in the case of a natural disaster or other urgent circumstance. For example, Colleges that had community members in Japan during the Tsunami, in Egypt during the Spring of 2011 and in other similar situations report that they were able to provide immediate assistance to those who were registered but not to those whose travel plans were less clear. See the section applicable to your status (faculty, student, or staff) to determine the appropriate forms to complete.
8. Excluded Countries -Teachers College will not fund, award credit for, or otherwise sponsor or support, any international student travel relating to graduate course in any country or location within a country for which 1) the U.S. State Department has issued a warning that orders departure of U.S. dependents and non-emergency personnel; recommends that U.S. citizens depart the country; advises U.S. citizens against all travel to the country; or recommends that U.S. citizens defer non-essential travel to the country, or 2) all listed countries with a high threat level. This restriction applies through the date of departure.
9. Emergency Instructions - Print out and carry your emergency instructions with you at all times while traveling overseas. You can obtain these instructions from the Office of Risk Management.