Preparing for international travel? With the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions continuing in many world regions, your planning process is more important than ever.
How intensively you need to plan depends on your destination, your familiarity with international travel, and your anticipated activities. On this page, you'll find some things that everyone should do to prepare for a safe and healthy time abroad.
Get Started at Cornell
Register your international travel.
All students, staff, and faculty are required to have their Cornell-related international travel plans documented in Cornell’s international travel registry. By supplying the registry with your itinerary, emergency contact information, and the purpose of your travel, among other things, you supply what Cornell needs to know to provide you with resources and assistance during an incident, crisis, or emergency abroad. Register as soon as you have your travel plans in place.
Reach out to IHSS.
Cornell’s International Health, Safety, and Security (IHSS) team is always ready to discuss your travel plans and help you find valuable resources to meet your particular needs. Email us to get started.
If you need to report a non-emergency incident abroad, complete the online international incident report form. In an emergency, call your local "911" or International SOS at +1-215-942-8478—or use the mobile app—and reference your membership number: 11BSCA827281.
Comply with IRB and export control laws.
Ensure that your applicable research is either exempted from review or approved by Cornell's Institutional Review Board (IRB) before you begin. Comply with applicable export control laws, including all devices, software, and data that you plan to take outside the United States. Learn about Cornell Library services while you're away from campus.
Check Your Papers Before You Travel
Make sure your travel documents are valid.
There’s nothing worse than finding out at the airport that your passport is about to expire—or arriving in a foreign country without the correct visa and being sent home. Don't let it happen to you. Find out what you need to know and learn about Cornell's preferred visa vendor on our Visas, Passports, and Vaccination Records page.
Check on your health insurance.
Cornell's no-cost insurance covers accidents, sickness, and emergency care for most travelers abroad. However, this insurance does not cover routine or ongoing care, maternity care, or out-patient mental health counseling. If you expect to need this type of care while abroad, speak with your domestic insurance provider to verify coverage abroad or purchase a supplemental plan.
Acquire any required COVID-19 testing documentation.
You will likely need to meet specific COVID-19 test requirements to enter another country. Many countries require a test (e.g., PCR, antigen, antibody) to have been done no more than 72 hours, or less, before the international (final) leg of your trip. You may need formal documentation of this test and negative results. Refer to Cornell's Global Risk Management and Assistance Program, International SOS, for COVID-19 test requirements, quarantine protocols, and entry restrictions for anywhere in the world. Requirements may change quickly and without notice; verify with your airline which types of tests or other documentation are accepted for boarding.
- Cornell's surveillance and supplemental testing programs are available during regular business hours. Please visit this page on medical documentation for travel. Be prepared to contact the Cayuga Medical Center before your test and provide information including your passport number, full legal name, and date of birth so that they can email you the results.
- Cayuga Medical Center continues to provide testing and travel documents. See their FAQ that contains specific instructions for pre-travel testing.
- PCR and antigen tests are usually available locally at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and WellNow Urgent Care.
- Many airports also have on-site testing. Here are a few examples (click on the airport identifier for more information): JFK, LGA, EWR, PHL, IAD, DCA.
For your return trip to the U.S., you will need to get a COVID-19 test (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) no more than one day before you travel by air into the U.S. Ensure that you know where to get this done at your destination abroad and be prepared for a cost.
Notify your bank and credit card companies.
Let them know you are traveling by putting a “travel notification” on your accounts. If you don’t, they may assume international charges are fraudulent and freeze use of your card.
Prepare to Stay Safe and Healthy
Consider your health needs.
This health self-assessment is a guide for thinking about your health needs in relation to your travel plans. You can use what you learn to facilitate a discussion with your physician. Also consider visiting Travel Services at Cornell Health. Find out how COVID-19 is impacting your destination.
Research your destination.
Cornell's ISOS online portal is an excellent source of destination-specific information. You’ll find out above local customs, health concerns in your destination, current travel restrictions and entrance bans, and more.
Complete a predeparture orientation.
We offer two short online predeparture orientations: one to help student travelers responsibly manage their health and safety abroad, and another to guide off-campus activity leaders through their responsibilities and Cornell's expectations of their role.
Register your travel with the nearest embassy.
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service for U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad. Enrollment allows the nearest embassy to send you information about safety conditions in your destination and contact you in an emergency. Non-U.S. citizens should contact their embassy to inquire about similar services.
Learn about Your Destination
Weather patterns, cultural norms, and even how often you’ll be able to wash your clothes all impact how you should pack. Don’t wait until the last minute—and remember, if it’s really important you can likely buy it at your destination.
Learn a few words in the local language.
Making an effort to speak the language can go a long way toward showing people you respect them and understand you're a guest in their country. If you don’t speak the language, try learning "May I speak English?" and know the difference between "excuse me," "pardon me," and "I’m sorry."
Consult these checklists for student travelers, leaders of Cornell-sponsored trips, and faculty and staff traveling on Cornell business to discover planning essentials for a safer international travel experience.