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Travel Policies

Traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic is complicated and travel policies designed to protect our community change as conditions change. It’s important to stay abreast of the latest policy, process, and requirements for engaging in Cornell travel.

Sign staked in the ground pointing to a COVID testing site on campus.

Updated 5/4/2022

For the foreseeable future, the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to impact the safety and feasibility of international Cornell travel. A modified travel policy will remain in effect alongside Cornell’s existing Risk Management for International Travel, University Policy 8.5. These policies will continue to evolve as conditions change.

Please check this page when you anticipate engaging in Cornell-related international travel, and contact Cornell's International Health, Safety, and Security team (IHSS) at intlsafety@cornell.edu with any questions.

Please note: International travel policies apply to outbound Cornell travel only. Inbound travel is NOT considered Cornell travel and does not fall under the purview of these guidelines. To learn more about traveling to the U.S. and Cornell's campus, please visit the International Services travel page.

University Travel Restrictions Update

Effective as of December 8, 2021: Due to the high rate of vaccination among the Cornell community, we are relaxing some of the COVID-19 travel restrictions for students, faculty, and staff traveling on Cornell business. Part of this shift requires travelers to be responsible for understanding potentially complex border restrictions and entry and re-entry requirements. Loosening or tightening restrictions is an evolving process, with the Cornell community’s health and safety of utmost importance.

  • All Cornell students, faculty, and staff engaging in approved international travel on Cornell business are required to register in the travel registryThis should be done four to six weeks before departure to ensure the most accurate information about your travel can be provided.
  • Faculty and staff on individual travel no longer need to submit a petition to the International Travel Advisory and Response Team (ITART).
  • Graduate students no longer need to submit an ITART petition to travel to destinations with a CDC 1, 2, or 3 COVID Travel Health Notice and Department of State 1, 2, or 3 Travel Advisory.
  • Undergraduate students no longer need to submit an ITART petition to travel to destinations with a CDC 1 or 2 COVID Travel Health Notice and Department of State 1 or 2 Travel Advisory.

    • Destinations with the original CDC Travel Health Notice 3 continue to require a petition for all students.
  • Participants in official and approved fall study abroad programs are exempt from the petition process while engaging in that experience. Registration in the travel registry is required.

A note about petitions: ITART petitions are triggered by rules built into the Travel Registry. If your travel requires a petition, the Travel Registry will prompt you for additional information about, and a rationale for, your elevated risk travel plans.

Travel Restrictions at a Glance 

Decision tree for student travel approval requirements:

Steps for faculty, staff, and students to take who are traveling for Cornell business

Is this Cornell travel?

If no, personal travel is not supported by Cornell. Traveler is responsible for all emergencies including evacuation.

If yes, first check CDC COVID-19 Risk Level.

  • For undergraduates, if CDC level 1 or 2, no ITART petition is required.
  • For graduate students, if CDC level is 1, 2, or 3, no ITART petition is required.
  • For undergraduates, if CDC level 3, 4, or unknown, ITART petition is required.
  • For graduate students, if CDC level 4 or unknown, ITART petition is required.

Next, check the Department of State Advisory.

  • For undergraduates, if DoS level 1 or 2, no ITART petition is required.
  • For graduate students, if DoS level is 1, 2, or 3, no ITART petition is required.
  • For undergraduates, if DoS level 3 or 4, ITART petition is required.
  • For graduate students, if DoS level is 4, ITART petition is required.

Next, check country-specific travel restrictions.

Option 1: I AM able to enter the country (this could change at any time) and am willing and able to satisfy all destination requirements and still accomplish the goals of my travel.

  • Obtain expenditure approval from the relevant supervisor. If denied, then travel is not permitted.
  • If approved, petition ITART for travel, if required. If denied, then travel is not permitted.
  • If approved, travel is permitted.

Option 2: I am NOT able to enter the country (this may change at any time) or am not willing and able to satisfy all destination requirements and still accomplish the goals of my travel.

  • Travel is not permitted


Cornell-supported International Travel

What is considered international travel?

International travel is travel outside of the United States, its possessions and territories, and between any two countries.

What types of international travel is supported by Cornell's International Health, Safety and Security team?

  • Cornell Directed or Supervised Travel: Travel by a member of the Cornell community that is mission-related and organized and overseen by Cornell. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Cornell course activities and programs that are supervised by, and fully or partially supported by Cornell, such as international Cornell faculty-led courses.
    • Cornell study abroad programs.
    • Travel that fulfills Cornell grants or contracts.
    • Faculty, researchers, and officers traveling internationally on University business.
  • Cornell Facilitated or Supported Travel: This is travel by a member of the Cornell community for a specific activity that is not managed or overseen by Cornell but furthers academic or professional objectives related to Cornell, is meaningfully vetted by Cornell, and is either arranged or funded by Cornell.  Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Approved study abroad or exchange programs, with another university or outside organization for which there is an active agreement in place.
    • Cornell-arranged internships for which there is an active agreement in place.
    • International travel by graduate or professional students to do independent research for their dissertations within absentia status.

All Cornell students, faculty, and staff engaging in international travel as outlined above are required to register in the travel registry

What is considered non-Cornell or personal travel?

Travel that is neither Cornell-directed or Supervised Travel nor Cornell-Facilitated or Supported Travel falls under the definition of personal travel. Personal travel is not covered by this pandemic policy. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Travel such as for spring break, vacations, visiting family or friends, or returning to one’s home country for purposes other than conducting research in said country.
  • Self-identified and self-organized summer study abroad programs with no oversight from Cornell, with or without the intention of transferring credit back to Cornell.
  • Travel organized by third-party providers for individuals or groups who are not current students, staff, or faculty at Cornell.

Personal or domestic travel should not be registered in Cornell's travel registry.

Suggested Pre-departure Steps

We recommend following these steps as near departure as possible while allowing time to complete them all. Travel restrictions and advice change often.

Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Verify the CDC’s COVID-19 notice level for your destination and carefully read key information and travel recommendations on the country profile page.

Check the United States Department of State:

Check entrance restrictions:

  • Verify that you are, at the time of travel, able to enter the destination given your purpose of travel and traveler type (for instance, student, "tourist," critical researcher) and are able to obtain any documentation required to do so.
  • Verify that you are aware of, able, and willing to comply with all quarantine, testing, vaccination, and other requirements of your destination, transportation providers, and partner organizations and can still accomplish the purpose of travel.
  • This information changes often and can impact your ability to enter the destination, depart, and reenter the United States. It is your responsibility to stay informed of the most current information up to and throughout your travel. Cornell cannot assist travelers stranded or unable to travel due to government regulations.
  • There are several sources of information to satisfy this step. Here are a few we recommend.
    • Fragomen: Click “Download a summary of the latest key COVID-19 global immigration impacts and resources,” then choose your destination country.
    • International SOS (member I.D. 11BSCA827281): Click "COVID-19," then select your destination under Travel Restrictions, Flight Operations and Screening. 
    • United States Department of State: Most country information pages link to the embassy’s COVID-19 page.

If required, file your Travel Health and Safety Petition:

  • International Travel Advisory and Response Team (ITART) petitions are triggered by rules built into the Travel Registry. If your travel requires a petition, the Travel Registry will prompt you for additional information about, and a rationale for, your elevated risk travel plans. Travel restrictions are designed by traveler type and destination. 

  • For details on how petitions are filed, evaluated, and approved, please review the Travel Petitions page.