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Policies & Requirements

When you’re traveling overseas, safety matters. At GSS, we help prepare students, staff, faculty, and other academics for a safe trip before you go, and also provide resources to keep you safe and healthy while abroad. Planning to lead a group of students abroad? We’ll help you navigate the student travel policies and requirements.

Travel Risk Ratings

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

Travel Risk Ratings

Student Travel Policies

In collaboration with GSS, School leadership developed the student travel policies to protect students' personal safety and balance their academic freedom when pursuing Harvard-sponsored activities abroad. The policies restrict some destinations and require students to complete additional pre-departure requirements for some destinations.

Harvard College International Travel Policy

Graduate & Professional Student International Travel Policy

Student Pre-Departure Requirements
Register International Travel

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

International SOS MyTrips

Registering a Group of Travelers

Submit a 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.

Travel Waivers

Online Orientation

All Harvard College students and Harvard Summer School study abroad program students must watch the online pre-departure orientation. The orientation helps students think through requirements and resources before, during, and after travel.

GSS Online Orientation

Group 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 to our International Safety & Security Team. The questionnaire addresses the security measures for 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.

Travel Safety Questionnaire

Health Clearance

The health clearance process—completed by the travelers and their doctor(s)—helps to determine the students' 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

Health Clearance

Online Orientation

The GSS online pre-departure orientation is required for Harvard Law School students and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health students. It's recommended for all other graduate students traveling abroad. The orientation helps students think through requirements and resources before, during, and after travel.

GSS Online Orientation

Group 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 to our International Safety & Security Team. The questionnaire addresses the security measures for 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.

Travel Safety Questionnaire

Health Clearance

Although not required for graduate students, health clearance is recommended. 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.

If you'd like to require health clearance for your graduate student program, our office can work with you to adapt the form and process as needed (it's currently designed for undergraduate students).

Health Clearance

Track & Verify Requirements

For undergraduate students: the Office of International Education (OIE) tracks and reports on the status of travel requirements. Contact OIE to request a report on undergraduate students' health clearance, orientation, travel safety questionnaire, and travel registration requirements.

For graduate students: our office can provide updates—by request—on the status of the requirements that we oversee (online orientation, travel safety questionnaire, and travel registration). You're responsible for collecting and tracking completion of the travel waiver and release forms and any additional requirements you establish.

Helpful Resources
Schedule a Consultation

Our International Safety & Security team specializes in risk assessments, intelligence analysis, and emergency response. We also maintain working relationships with security professionals, international consultants, and diplomats around the globe to advise Harvard programs and travelers on the latest trends and developments.

Contact us if you have questions or concerns about the health and safety risks for your participants, or if you'd like to schedule a pre-departure orientation or consultation.

Schedule a consultation