International Travel Protocol & Essential Travel

COVID 19: Essential Travel Requests

As COVID-19 infections spread worldwide, including in the United States, UC Berkeley remains under the Office of the President's March 5 directive to limit non-essential travel. Please follow the below International Travel Protocol for essential travel requests.

International Travel During COVID-19 (temporary advisory until further notice)

According to updated UCOP guidance on Aug. 6, 2020, university-related travel to countries with a CDC Level 2 Travel Health Notice and greater remains restricted until further notice. In addition to the UCOP directive, and local to the UC Berkeley campus, due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, all UC Berkeley community members (faculty, students, staff) engaging in university-related international travel, regardless of destination, are advised to complete the campus two-step International Travel Protocol outlined below, which includes approval first at the decanal level and then from the Vice Provost for Academic Planning. 

University of California directives do not apply to travel that is solely personally-funded, but such travelers should be aware of travel risks and of federal government warnings when traveling to any country during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Department Level 4 Locations

In addition, travel for UC Berkeley faculty, staff or students on University business to countries designated by the U.S. Department of State as having a Level 4 travel advisory (i.e., Do Not Travel) always requires a two-step approval process first from their Dean and then from the Vice Provost for Academic Planning. 

Level 4 is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance to travelers. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to these countries or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time, so it is advisable that travelers check the Travel Advisory often.

UC Berkeley International Travel Protocol & Approval Process 

Step 1 - Faculty, staff or students who believe their travel is essential, must first request in writing, approval from their Dean. Faculty essential travel is defined as follows:

Travel is defined as essential if it is required to:

  • preserve the safety of a research subject and is not possible to be postponed; or

  • preserve the results of a research activity and is not possible to be postponed.

Please be aware that educational conferences or delegation visits are not considered essential travel, even if you are a presenter. This is just one example of non-essential travel and does not include all other activities that would also be considered non-essential travel.  

Step 2 - If the Dean deems the travel as essential, the Dean must then forward the written request to the Global Engagement Office (GEO) for final approval by the Vice Provost for Academic Planning. Advance notice is preferred.

The following information is required:

  • Complete itinerary, including destination(s), dates, and quarantine requirements. 

  • Specific rationale detailing how the travel meets one of the two definitions listed above.

  • Documentation of written support from the Principal Investigator. (For students and researchers)

If Approval is Granted, Steps to Take Before Travel

1. UC personnel (staff, faculty, students) should contact Risk Services sends e-mail) and request a "Know Before You Go/Travel Preparedness Briefing."

2. Briefing requests need to be submitted at a minimum of 72 hours prior to departure, however for a more detailed briefing, please allow more time.

3. Each traveler should be prepared to answer the following questions: 

    • Reason for the Trip
      • Nature of program, details of research or meetings?
      • Is there a local sponsoring organization/university?
    • When will the traveler(s) be leaving and returning to the US?
    • Has the traveler been to the location before? Does the traveler speak the language?
    • Nationality of the traveler(s)?
    • What is traveler's itinerary? 
      • Please be as specific as possible: include dates, lodging, transport hubs, meeting/research sites, who traveler will be staying with, etc.
      • Will the traveler be using public transportation? If so, please list all modes (taxi, rideshare, limo service, etc.)
    • Phone number traveler will be using in the area. (Note: a phone with a US based sim card may not work in the region.)
    • What is traveler's contingency plan if that phone is lost, stolen, or not functional?
    • What email is best for reaching the traveler quickly?
    • Has the traveler received their Visa?
    • Has the embassy provided any additional information or guidance?  

    4. Participants on the live call/webinar should include the traveler(s), faculty most familiar with the trip (for students), and the Dean or Department Chair.

    5. When requesting the briefing, please provide at least 3 proposed dates/times for when would like the call to take place.