Before Traveling

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The information below will assist you in making informed decisions as you prepare to depart on your trip.  We also recommend you book an appointment with your program, advisor and the International Safety Office prior to your departure.

The university’s international travel policy requires all students, staff and faculty-traveling-with-students and encourages all faculty members to register their travel itineraries on My Travel Plans.  The University has a robust set of services in place to support travelers but can only do so if your location is known and your itinerary is registered.

In addition, we recommend all travelers sign up for our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at You can receive travel and security updates about your destination, and it will help the US Embassy or Consulate contact you in an emergency.  International students can also register with STEP and should look into similar services provided by their country of origin.

  • Read up on your destination at, other governmental sites, and WorldAware.
  • Understand any Travel Warnings or Travel Alerts for your destination country, which describe risks to you and may affect your travel plans.  Also check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be traveling for the latest security messages.
  • Learn about visa requirements, local laws, customs, and medical care in the countries you are visiting. Some travelers, such as those with disabilities, women, and LGBTI persons, may face additional challenges when abroad. Feel free to consult with your program or the International Safety office
  • Find out about health precautions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide recommendations for vaccinations and other travel health precautions for your trip abroad.
  • Prepare to handle money overseas. Before you go, notify your bank and credit card company of your travel, and check exchange rates.  For information about using cash, debit/credit cards, and ATMs, read about your destination on or WorldAware.
  • Carry contact details with you in English and the local language of your destination.  The university recommends saving the following numbers and addresses:
  • Get guidebooks. Guidebooks usually include maps, key words or phrases, and give you enough detail on certain sites that you won’t need to purchase the pamphlet at the venue.
  • Buy tickets now for places you know you want to visit or see. By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you.
  • Download apps before you travel. Avoid downloading charges from your wireless carrier and get your apps before you leave.
  • Research events going on while you’re there. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing be events going on in the city. Fun things like festivals, ceremonies and natural events. Also be sure to research as a few national dishes to try. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing what its known for.
Northeastern University travelers should be aware that any information, technology, software, and/or equipment you take with you may be subject to U.S. export control laws.  Export controls are federal statutes and regulations that govern certain transactions having international components including the transfer of commodities, data, hardware, software, and technology to non-U.S. persons and destinations as well as those involving countries or entities subject to U.S. economic sanctions. U.S. Export control laws apply to academic travelers and failure to comply can have grave consequences including civil and criminal sanctions, including imprisonment.

For More Information:

  1. Export control Policy
  2. Office of Research Administration and Finance (ORAF):  this link contains the university’s stand on export controls and openness in research and a Brief Tutorial on Export Controls
  3. Questions or concerns regarding export control licenses must be directed to the Compliance Department

Any information relating to foreign visas is provided as general information and for reference only. The university does not process or issue visas for students. It is the student’s responsibility to apply for and obtain the appropriate visa in a timely manner. Please note that all entry decisions are at the sole discretion of the immigration officer at the point of entry, and immigration authorities reserve the right to reassess admission suitability at time of entry, regardless of visa status.

It is the responsibility of any international student to check with Office of Global Services (OGS) regarding his/her visa status in the U.S. prior to departing for his/her international program.

Please check with your program for passport and visa requirements.  GEO travelers can click here for more information.

In general, US State Department recommends you:

  • Apply early for a passport, or renew your old one. It should be valid for at least six months after you return home, and needs to have two or more blank pages. Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter. Check all family members’ passports because those for adults are valid for 10 years, but children’s passports only for five. U.S. citizens must use a U.S. passport to leave and come back to the United States.
  • If you are traveling by land or sea, you must show proof of both your U.S. citizenship and your identity when you return to the United States. For many land or sea trips, this means you can travel using the new U.S. passport card instead of a normal passport book. Read more about U.S. passport requirements.
  • You may need to get a visa before you travel to a destination. Contact the embassy of the foreign countries you will be visiting for more information.
  • Get a letter from your doctor for medications you are bringing. Some countries have strict laws, even against over-the-counter medications, so read about your destination before you go.
  • If you are traveling alone with children, foreign border officials may require custody documents or written consent from the other parent. Check with the embassy of your foreign destinationbefore traveling.
  • Make two photocopies of all your travel documents in case of emergency.  Leave one copy with a trusted friend or relative at home and carry the other  separately from your documents in case of loss or theft.
The university provided a suggested packing list on the GEO Website.  GEO recommends, “when in doubt, leave it out” is a good one to keep in mind while packing.  Here are a few other highlights:

  • Bring a charger adapter and check the voltage on your electronics. Countries have different size plugs and voltage. If you want to use your electronic devices, make sure you can charge it.
  • Activate your phone’s global capabilities. There may be a charge, but it is much less than the roaming charges you’ll get if you don’t.  Check with your carrier for more information and their various options.
  • Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag.  This way, you will have an extra set of clothes if the airline looses your luggage.
  • To check a bag or not to check bag. Each airline has its own set of guidelines as to how many bags can be checked or carried on for free.  Make sure to look up what your airline’s rules are to avoid any incremental fees.
  • Bring snacks. Bring small snacks that will tide you over until you find that perfect restaurant.
  • Purchase some local cash. It is better to carry a small amount of local currency for in case you need it for taxis or tips.
  • Check the country’s entrance/exit fees. Some countries require travelers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200.

Disclaimer: these recommendations are intended to reduce the risk of victimization and are not guaranteed to prevent all incidents.