International Travel Protocol & Approval Process

Updated April 20, 2022

International Travel Policies

UC Berkeley has decided to end the pre-travel approval requirement for all travel to CDC Level 3-4 countries to be approved before travel. For travel occurring after May 3, 2022, only the following university-related travel will continue to require pre-approval from central campus:

  • Study abroad or group student travel for coursework/credit: All study abroad and international group student travel for UCB coursework or credit involving faculty, students, or staff must be pre-approved by the relevant Dean and the Berkeley Study Abroad office, regardless of CDC or DOS advisory level, due to greater financial, academic, and business risk due to the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Requests can be submitted via the study abroad travel review process Contact studyabroad@berkeley.edu with questions.

  • State Department Level 4 locations: All university-related travel to U.S. Department of State (DOS) Level 4 travel advisory (i.e., Do Not Travel) destinations for any reasons other than solely COVID-19 continue to require a 2-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. Follow the International Travel Protocol steps below to submit a request. 

All other travel will return to pre-COVID, departmental approval processes. Be reminded that:

  • Trip registration is required for all university-related foreign travel, regardless of State Department Travel Advisory Level or travel purpose. (Travel booked via Connexxus is automatically registered, or register manually via UCAway.) Travelers are also urged to enroll in the State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and to make it easier for the US government to locate you in an emergency.

  • UC travel insurance will not cover foreseeable COVID-19 related risks, such as business interruption, delays, or flight cancellations at this time. It is the responsibility of the traveler and approving department to ensure the financial and health/safety risks associated with international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic are assessed before authorizing travel. Contact risk@berkeley.edu with questions.

  • UC travelers must follow CDC Guidance for before, during, and upon returning from international or domestic travel. COVID-19 restrictions for entry remain in place for a majority of countries. Challenges to international travel may include mandatory quarantines, travel restrictions, and closed borders. Foreign governments may implement restrictions with little notice, even in destinations that were previously low risk. Failure to assess local restrictions at your destination may have considerable personal and financial consequences. 

  • Air passengers are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result within 1 day before travel to the United States. Additional vaccine requirements may apply for non-US citizens. Refer toCDC FAQs for more information.

Refer to coronavirus.berkeley.edu/travel for complete campus travel guidelines related to COVID-19.

International Travel Protocol for State Department Level 4 destinations:

All university-related travel for UC Berkeley faculty, staff or students to countries designated by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) as having a Level 4 travel advisory (i.e., Do Not Travel) for any reasons other than solely COVID-19 requires a 2-step approval process, first from their Dean and then from the Vice Provost for Academic Planning. 

DOS 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 destinations, 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

Anyone seeking exceptional permission to travel to State Department Level 4 destination should be aware that:

  • Travel to State Department Level 4 destinations may be required to participate in a pre-departure “Know Before You Go/Travel Preparedness Briefing” with UC Berkeley Risk Services.

  • Certain destinations may be prohibited by UC or the Federal government and may not be eligible for an exception. Per Federal guidelines, University-related travel to comprehensively or targeted sanctioned countries is generally prohibited and requires immediate consultation with UCB Export Control, including: Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine (Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk Regions). Consult Export Control at ec-team@berkeley.edu

  • In addition to State Department and CDC advisories, units and travelers can utilize Crisis 24 country reports (UC’s risk management provider), and consult campus Risk Services to understand the situation at their destination.

Approval Process & Timing

Once campus approval is deemed necessary, travelers should follow the steps below:

Step 1 

Faculty, staff or students who believe their travel to a State Department Level 4 location is essential, must first request in writing, approval from their Dean. 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; or

  • perform other work related to university objectives that is unable to be postponed or performed remotely without catastrophic interruption.

Step 2 

Traveler(s) should first obtain the respective Dean's written approval and submit it along with the travel request here for final approval by the Vice Provost for Academic Planning. Requests should be submitted a minimum of 21 days in advance, and prior to booking any non-refundable flights.

Required information: 

  • Documentation of written approval from the unit Dean or Division head (ie Associate Vice Chancellor for Research for Organized Research Units)

  • For students and staff: Documentation of written support from the principal investigator or advisor (for students) or supervisor (for staff)

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

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

  • Travelers should also review CDC and DOS advisories for their destination, and should provide further information regarding any safety or security concerns beyond COVID.

  • Attestation that all travelers are in compliance with the UCOP SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Vaccination Policy

Timing for review: 

  • Requests should be submitted a minimum of 21 days in advance, and prior to booking any non-refundable flights.
  • Travelers should expect a minimum of 5 business days for their requests to be processed. Depending on the nature of the travel and destination, as well as the volume of requests, some reviews may take longer or require consultation with other units. You are encouraged to submit your request as soon as you determine the need to travel. The Global Engagement Office may reach out to you with further questions or more information. 

Please contact the Global Engagement Office at geo@berkeley.edu if you have questions, or submit your travel request here