As graduate students and postdoctoral fellows prepare to go overseas for research or to attend a conference, it is helpful to consider a few administrative, health, and safety issues before leaving the country.
Most Important Step Before Travel
The first and most important step before leaving the United States is to visit the Johns Hopkins Travel and Expense website. Here, JHU affiliates can:
- Learn how to book their travel and receive discounts towards flights, hotels, car rentals, etc.
- Find information about Travel Health Insurance and Emergency Medical Assistance while abroad
- Learn about travel advisories and updates from the US State Dept.
- Find country-specific resources and information
- Find links regarding visa requirements
- Learn what travel expenses can be covered by JHU/sponsored funds
- And more!
International Students and Postdoctoral Fellows should always remember to check with OIS about plans before making any travel arrangements. OIS will be able to advise on any special visa requirements or conditions.
Checklist for Traveling Abroad
It is recommended that graduate students and postdocs take the following common sense precautions seriously. Each country is unique and has special issues that should be attended to. Advisors, and others who have traveled regularly to the country travelers are visiting, can help plan for the trip accordingly. This list of recommendations is cursory and may not cover all events that may occur while abroad. It is best to plan ahead, to be careful, to follow the advice of colleagues, and to safeguard one’s health and safety.
- Prior to Travel
- Handling an Emergency While Abroad
- Recommended Travel Documentation
- University Approvals
- Host Country Approvals
- Contacting the Traveler While Abroad
- Return Procedures
IT, Technology, and Sensitive Data Considerations When Leaving the US
It is strongly recommended that whenever you leave the US that you first consult with your IT support team on what hardware and/or software travel issues you should consider. For example, bring the least amount of technology and sensitive data you need, make sure you are not using unknown/risky/unsecured/community networks (download and use the ‘Always On VPN’), be mindful of what data you are carrying in your devices, backup your systems before leaving the US, etc. WSE affiliates can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Johns Hopkins International Travel Registry is retired. To ensure your reservations are captured for duty of care, provided by HX Global, please book your travel reservations via Concur Travel, the travel management company, or Concur TripLink. For more information, visit the JHU Travel and Expense Website.
Other important steps before going abroad:
Note: When traveling to multiple countries, graduate students or postdoctoral fellows may need to secure visas for each country.
Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows need to be aware of the steps below:
- U.S. citizens, register with the host country’s United States Embassy.
- Carry information about HX Global with you at all times.
- After calling Helix (HX Global) graduate students and postdoctoral fellows should contact their advisors and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs: KSAS (Renee Eastwood), WSE (Christine Kavanagh)
Graduate students and postdocs should be sure that their travel documents are current and appropriate. Visas and reentry documents, if necessary, should be obtained well in advance of travel. Graduate students and postdocs can find out if a visa is required for the country they will be visiting by calling the embassy of that country (most are in Washington), or by checking the websites of most embassies. If there is a problem with obtaining a visa travelers will often fare better by going to the embassy directly. This is especially true if the graduate student or postdoc holds a non-U.S. passport.
It is also important to remember that a visa may be required for transit through some countries. In addition, a tourist visa is often all that is needed, but a business visa may provide extra time in-country and may help avoid additional fees if multiple visits are required. Advisors or principal investigators can help obtain a letter to submit with the visa application if that is required. Graduate students and postdocs should also be sure that their passport will be valid for the full time that they will be away – requirements for validity can be found on the State Department’s website. Most countries require that a passport be valid for 6 months from the date of departure.
Finally, all travelers should make certain that they have return airline tickets well in advance of their trip. Traveling with a one-way ticket may restrict the visitor from entering the country upon arrival, and he/she may have difficulty securing airline tickets while away.
Please note: All international graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are required to check in with OIS well in advance of departure. There may be additional documentation required for departure from and reentry into the United States.
Graduate students and postdocs need to ensure that they have the requisite approvals from the University to initiate overseas research that involves human subjects. These include the approval of advisers, and/or approval from the Homewood IRB for collecting data for research projects that involve human participants.
It is recommended that graduate students and postdoctoral fellows check on any needed approvals from the host country to travel and conduct research. Some host country governments have agencies that must approve all foreign research projects. To check on this travelers should consult with their advisor or principal investigator, as well as with their host country’s collaborators. These approvals often take considerable time, thus it is best to plan ahead. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows should also be sure that the host country’s collaborating agency has granted its approval. It is most effective to obtain this approval in writing. Travelers need to make certain that they know the scope of their work in-country, their travel dates, where they will stay while there, and whom they can contact if a problem develops.
Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows should consider checking on their overseas health insurance coverage. If the traveler is a member of the Homewood student health insurance plan provided through Wellfleet (Cigna), the plan provides health insurance and other health related services when traveling outside of the U.S. The Wellfleet (Cigna) plan will provide evacuation assistance when there is a medical condition. Details regarding coverage and reimbursement procedures for expenses, as well as contact information while traveling is available on the Wellfleet (Cigna) Travel site and additional Travel Guard information can be viewed on the plan brochure.
It is important that all travelers leave their contact information with their families and department before leaving the country. Additionally, it can be helpful to leave a copy of your visa/passport with a trusted contact in case it is needed. If a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow needs to be contacted while away it is important the University knows how to reach that person.
Upon returning to the United States and to the Homewood Campus, all graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are asked to inform their department, OIS (as appropriate), and his/her adviser of their safe return.