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Student Policies and Requirements

Planning ahead for students' safety, security, and health abroad helps to minimizes risks to your travelers and to the University. If your program or activity abroad involves Harvard students, it's important to adhere to the University’s student travel policies and build in time and planning for all pre-departure requirements.

You can start by:

  1. Reviewing the Harvard GSS Travel Risk Ratings.
  2. Becoming familiar with Harvard-sponsored travel and Harvard's student travel policies.
  3. Identifying the pre-departure requirements that apply to your program or activity.

Country and Regional Risk Ratings

Our International Safety & Security team maintains the Harvard GSS Travel Risk Ratings list, which rates certain countries, regions, and cities as watch list, elevated risk, or high risk. Harvard's student travel policies rely upon these ratings, which take into account the unique and diverse work of our students, faculty, and staff.

Student Travel Policy Restrictions

In collaboration with GSS, School leadership developed the student travel policies to protect students' personal safety when pursuing Harvard-sponsored activities abroad. Harvard-sponsored travel means that the travel involves academic work that qualifies for Harvard credit, is funded in whole or in part by Harvard, or is organized or accompanied by a Harvard faculty or staff member acting in a Harvard capacity.

The Harvard College International Travel Policy applies to undergraduate students and post-baccalaureate fellows. It prohibits Harvard-sponsored travel to high-risk locations. For Harvard-sponsored travel to elevated-risk locations, students must complete certain additional pre-departure requirements.

The Graduate & Professional Student International Travel Policy applies to each of the graduate and professional schools and requires students traveling to high-risk locations with Harvard sponsorship to complete certain additional pre-departure requirements.

Students' Pre-Departure Requirements

All Students

Harvard Travel Registry

All students traveling with Harvard sponsorship must register their travel and keep their itinerary and contact information up-to-date throughout their trip. Doing so enables us to identify travelers that may need medical or security assistance following an international emergency or crisis. You can register a group of Harvard travelers in bulk by using the travel import worksheet.

Travel Waiver and Release Form

All students must review, sign, and submit a travel waiver and release form to you that acknowledges the risks of international travel, their decision to travel, and their responsibilities. Contact us if you need help identifying which form is most appropriate for your program and students. You're responsible for keeping the travel waiver and release forms (print or electronic) on file for seven years.

Undergraduate Students' Additional Requirements

Online Orientation

The online pre-departure orientation is required for all Harvard College students and Harvard Summer School study abroad program students. The orientation helps students think through key considerations, requirements, and resources before they travel.

In-Person Orientation

Undergraduates traveling to elevated-risk locations are required to attend an in-person orientation prior to departure. The Office of International Education (OIE) organizes the undergraduate student elevated-risk orientations in conjunction with our office.

Travel Safety Questionnaire

Undergraduates traveling to elevated-risk locations are required to complete and submit a Travel Safety Questionnaire (HarvardKey) to our International Safety & Security team. The questionnaire is intended to encourage the students to consider their safety and security as they plan the logistics of their trip. Our team reviews each questionnaire and may require an individual consultation to further discuss risk mitigation strategies. We then pass our recommendations on to you for final approval. You can help students be better prepared by working with them to develop strong communication, transportation, and lodging plans for your international program.

Health Clearance

The health clearance process—completed by the travelers and their doctor(s)—helps to determine their physical and mental preparedness to participate successfully in an international program and whether existing medical needs can be met or accommodated in their travel destinations. The following students are required to complete the health clearance process:

  • undergraduate students participating in any Harvard-led international travel of any duration
  • undergraduate students participating in any Harvard-sponsored international travel (with limited exceptions for travel lasting less than two weeks)
  • all students participating in Harvard Summer School study abroad programs

Graduate Students' Additional Requirements

Online Orientation

The online pre-departure orientation is required for Harvard Law School students and recommended for all other graduate students traveling abroad. It helps students think through key considerations, requirements, and resources before they travel.

In-Person Orientation

All graduate students traveling to high-risk locations are required to attend an in-person orientation prior to departure. Graduate school program staff and group leaders can contact our office for planning and scheduling high-risk orientations as needed.

Travel Safety Questionnaire

All graduate students traveling to high-risk locations are required to complete and submit a Travel Safety Questionnaire (HarvardKey) to our International Safety & Security team. The questionnaire is intended to encourage the students to consider their safety and security as they plan the logistics of their trip. Our team reviews each questionnaire and may require an individual consultation to further discuss risk mitigation strategies. We then pass our recommendations on to you for final approval. You can help students be better prepared by working with them to develop strong communication, transportation, and lodging plans for your international program.

Health Clearance

Although not required for graduate students, health clearance is recommended. If you wish to utilize it for your graduate student program, our office can work with you to adapt the form and process (currently designed for undergraduates) as needed. The health clearance process—completed by the travelers and their doctor(s)—helps to determine their physical and mental preparedness to participate successfully in an international program and whether existing medical needs can be met or accommodated in their travel destinations.

 

Tracking Pre-Departure Requirements

The Office of International Education (OIE) tracks completion of undergraduate pre-departure requirements; contact OIE to request a report on undergraduate students' health clearance, orientation, travel safety questionnaire, and travel registry requirements.

Our office can provide updates, by request, on the status of the graduate student requirements that we oversee (travel registry, travel safety questionnaire, and online orientation). You're responsible for collecting and tracking completion of the travel waiver and release forms and any additional requirements you put in place.

Questions?

Contact us with any questions about the Harvard GSS Travel Risk Ratings, the Harvard Travel Registry, the online pre-departure orientation, and required forms. Our International Safety & Security team can also design and deliver a pre-departure orientation specific to the needs of your program or activity.

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