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International Safety & Security Planning

When it comes to international operations and travel, safety should always be a priority. At GSS, we offer resources that help you and your program participants stay safe and healthy: from country guides and consultations to medical support and evacuation assistance. We’re here to help you make informed decisions, wherever you’re headed. Remember, even locations considered relatively safe can present challenges.

Risk Assessments

Conduct a threat assessment that focuses on medical capabilities and availability of emergency support rather than high-profile, low-likelihood events such as terrorist attacks. Assess whether program participants’ nationality, gender, gender-identity, sexuality, religion, or activity (e.g. researching a sensitive or controversial topic) are additional risk factors.

Special consideration should be given to where individuals will work and live, which should include obtaining a criminal activity profile for the proposed locations, if possible.

GSS Travel Risk Ratings

GSS Country Snapshots

International SOS Country Guides

U.S. State Department Travel Advisories

What to Plan for


Create a transportation plan that includes options for public transportation, an employee-operated vehicle, or a car and driver service, as applicable. In the event of an evacuation, think through your options for an emergency departure (e.g., does the location have multiple means of egress, such as air, road, rail, or sea?).

Remote Road Travel Advice

Road and Transit Country Reports


Develop a communications plan that includes periodic check-ins with participants during the project as well as an emergency communications plan. Ensure all program participants are familiar with the plan.

Maintain a contact list for all participants, program these contacts into your phone, and distribute the list to participants. Ensure all participants (including you) have emergency contact numbers easily accessible and programmed into your phones. Emergency numbers include International SOS (+1-617-998-0000), the local equivalent of 911, and the U.S. embassy. As trip leader, you should also have Harvard-specific; emergency numbers including the Operations Center (+1-617-495-5560) and your School/Unit emergency contact.


Pre-departure orientations and trainings help prepare you and your program participants for a safe trip. Work with program participants and program managers to create individual risk assessments that include mitigation strategies and applicable training (e.g. emergency response training for on-the-ground personnel). We can also help you conduct pre-departure trainings that provide travelers with location-specific information and resources.

Options for Orientations and Consultations

Medical & Evacuation Insurance

Eligible Harvard students, staff, faculty, and other academics are covered by the University's International SOS membership, which includes medical, mental health, security, and evacuation assistance. To expedite assistance, it's vital that all participants register their itinerary and contact information prior to departure.

Individuals not eligible under the University's International SOS membership may need to purchase their own plans. Because International SOS is not health insurance, all participants should check with their health insurance provider to determine coverage in the program’s host country. You may also want to consider a pre-departure health clearance screening for participants.

International SOS

Registering Travel

Common Insurance Requirements Abroad


Based on your risk assessment, you may need to budget for physical security for lodging and office locations, transportation and travel security, access to medical care, and trainings to mitigate the risks you’ve identified. You should also incorporate emergency funds for disasters.

Common Costs for International Programs

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 project's location, or if you'd like to schedule a pre-departure orientation or consultation.

Schedule a consultation