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Travel, Health, and Safety

Cornell Supports International Travel

When you study abroad, your health, safety, and security are our top priorities.

Education Abroad works closely with Global Cornell's International Health, Safety, and Security team, campus partners across Cornell’s colleges, and local contacts at study abroad program sites. Together we assess program safety, manage foreseeable risks, and plan for and respond to emergencies.

Whether you plan to study abroad for a few weeks, a semester, or a year, the Cornell resources on this page will help you plan for a secure and rewarding international experience.

Student in jungle

Prepare to Reduce Risks

At home or abroad, personal health and safety are never guaranteed. While you can’t eliminate every potential hazard from your study abroad experience, you can take steps before and during your time abroad to prepare yourself and reduce risks.

  1. Register Travel
  2. Visit Checklist
  3. Take Orientation
  4. Follow Rules
  5. Find Help

1 Register your international travel.

Remember to register your international travel in Cornell’s International Travel Registry. It’s required for study abroad and all Cornell-related international travel. Register as soon as you have your travel plans in place.

In the event of an emergency, the travel registry helps university officials reach you quickly and provide assistance. During the pandemic, Cornell used the travel registry to locate study abroad students stranded by the health crisis and help them evacuate. Learn more about travel to elevated risk destinations.

International Travel Registry

2 Visit Global Cornell's travel planning checklist.

This travel checklist from Global Cornell's travel safety experts gives you all the information you need to get your study abroad experience off to a safe and healthy start. You can begin working through the planning process and resources on the checklist as soon as you commit to a study abroad program.

Be sure to check on your private health insurance and Cornell's no-cost insurance, which covers accidents, sickness, and emergency care for most travelers abroad, so that you understand what's covered before you travel. Also consider taking advantage of travel services from Cornell Health.

Can I use my student health plan while I'm abroad?

If you have SHP coverage and you're on Cornell-affiliated travel, you have access to two separate plans while abroad. It’s important to understand the difference between coverages.

If you have private health insurance with your family, your plan will already meet university requirements (confirmed during Cornell’s annual insurance waiver process). Some approved insurance plans, however, may decrease their coverage when you're overseas. Contact your insurance provider to verify that your level of coverage does not decrease when you are out of the country. If the level of coverage does decrease, you must obtain a rider or purchase an additional policy to ensure the necessary level of coverage.

If you have a preexisting condition that will require medical attention while abroad, plan in advance to ensure you'll have adequate access to the necessary treatment. Make sure you understand prepay requirements and out-of-pocket costs.

Where can I find current information about pandemic travel?

Visit International SOS for up-to-date information on COVID-19 travel restrictions, flight operations, and screening policies.

3 Complete predeparture orientation.

Complete Cornell's required predeparture orientation to learn more about how to responsibly manage your own health, safety, and security while you're abroad. You'll receive more information about these virtual modules when you're accepted into a program.

4 Follow your program’s rules.

We hope your international travel goes off without a hitch! Once you've arrived, it's your responsibility to follow your program’s rules. This includes abiding by the health and safety policies of your program and host country, which may include restrictions on travel and mobility due to the pandemic or other emergency conditions. Be aware that the rules can change at any time, and Cornell may institute additional requirements or restrictions.

What if I get sick or injured while abroad? 

All Cornell travelers are covered by travel medical insurance, which provides 100 percent coverage for any “urgent or emergent” ailment while abroad. If you test positive for COVID-19 while abroad and need hospitalization, this means the insurance will cover the cost in the same way it would for a twisted ankle or medically necessary evacuation. Take the time to understand this insurance and the benefits provided and not provided.

Getting sick or injured while abroad does not mean you can choose to return to the United States for care and have the insurance cover those costs. Evacuation from a destination must be medically necessary, and in most cases, the patient is transported to the nearest facility that can care for them. You should also understand that medical systems abroad may not always provide the same level of access or standards of care that are available in the United States and that the availability of some resources may be or become limited due to the pandemic.

Should I bring my COVID-19 vaccination card with me?

Yes. As countries determine how best to verify vaccination status for entrance requirements and mobility restrictions, we advise you to bring your original vaccination card when you travel abroad. This card is difficult to replace, and in most cases, Cornell cannot assist you—so treat this card as you would your passport. With ever-changing travel restrictions, the loss of or inability to provide this card may mean you can’t travel as planned. 

We do not suggest you laminate your card, particularly if the data was printed on thermal printer paper or stickers. The heat from laminating can cause your information to be unreadable.

5 Need help? Reach out.

In an emergency, call your local "911" or International SOS at +1-215-942-8478 and reference Cornell's membership number: 11BSCA827281. ISOS also has mobile app!

Global Cornell's travel safety experts are ready to help you find valuable resources and answer questions when your situation is not an emergency. Reach them by email.

Travel, Health, and Safety Resources

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