For all international travel, you will need a valid passport that expires at least 6 months after your return to the U.S. and has two or more blank pages remaining in your passport book. Information on U.S. passport requirements can be found via the State Department. The International Institute is a Passport Acceptance Facility, and more information on required documentation, fees, photos, and hours of operation is available on their website.
Depending on your destination, length of stay, and reason for travel you may require a visa in order to enter the country you are visiting. Visa requirements for U.S. citizens can be found in the Entry, Exit, and Visa Requirements section of the Country Information page of your destination. Additional resources pertaining to visa requirements can be found by contacting the embassy of the country you are visiting.
Passport and visa fees are reimbursable with receipts when approved by your department.
Check your airlines website for information on what is permitted in your checked and carry-on baggage, excess baggage fees, and weight requirements. If you choose to lock your checked baggage be sure to use TSA approved locks.
Insurance for Emergency Assistance
Benefits eligible employees:
- The Minnesota Life Insurance benefit that is provided to ALL benefits eligible employees includes a Travel Assistance service with emergency medical and security evacuation coverage.
- For health insurance, you should check out the BlueCrossBlueShield Global Core website. There you will find an app that provides information on doctors, hospitals and more while you are traveling. You can find more information here.
Non-benefits eligible travelers:
- The International Institute highly recommends that non-benefits eligible employees, including all student travelers, purchase an international health and emergency assistance insurance plan provided by Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) that covers injury and sickness abroad. The insurance also includes a security evacuation rider in the event of an emergency. The insurance cost is a reimbursable expense and is currently available for around $47.25 per month. For more information on the insurance coverage and a link to purchase this insurance using MSU’s rate, please email the Office of Study Abroad at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travel to some destinations requires vaccinations, medications, or other specific medical treatment. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) provides comprehensive information on these requirements. The World Health Organization (WHO) is an additional resource for health-related travel considerations. The Longest Student Health Center has a Travel Clinic that can assist travelers with the health related travel requirements for their destination. Vaccinations are reimbursable with the following documentation: (1) CDC or other health department requirement/recommendation, (2) receipt from clinic, and (3) approval from department.
Some prescription drugs (including narcotics) and some U.S. over-the-counter medications are illegal in other countries. Check the Health section of the Country Information page on the Department of State’s Travel website for more information on medications. Travelers are encouraged to bring enough of their prescription medications to last the entire length of their stay abroad. Medications (prescription and over-the-counter) should be brought in the original containers and clearly marked.
Safety and Security
Prior to travel, please refer to the Department of State’s Travel Advisory webpage for an overview of each country’s Travel Advisory level, risk indicators, and alert information from embassies and consulates regarding specific events. MSU will not approve University travel to a Level 4 country or region. Countries and regions within countries designated as Level 3 are considered elevated-risk regions. Travel to Level 3 areas is discouraged and requires additional approval.
Know the emergency number of the country or area you are traveling to. Keep in mind the police, ambulance, and fire numbers may not be the same. You can find this information in the Safety and Security section of the Country Information page.
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) – U.S. citizens are encouraged to enroll for free in STEP to receive travel and security updates about your destination. In addition, registering through STEP is a way for the Department of State to reach you and provide assistance in case of emergency. Smart Traveler is the official State Department app for U.S. travelers. By downloading the app you will have access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more. You may also consider following TravelGov on Twitter and Facebook for travel related updates from the State Department.
The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) is an additional resource which provides safety and security information to American private/non-profit companies. Mississippi State is a current OSAC Constituent, and any employee can register as a Constituent User to gain full access to all OSAC content and services.
To mitigate risk when traveling, keep a low profile and avoid attracting attention to yourself. Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Take the time to learn about the country or region to be visited and what is or is not allowed legally and culturally.
Before going abroad, notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel. Check the resources on the Country Information page on the Department of State’s Travel website for more information about using cash, debit/credit cards, and ATMs overseas. ATM fees are reimbursable with receipts. Do not keep all forms of payment in the same bag or wallet while traveling.
Check the exchange rate for your destination. For reimbursement purposes, Travel Services accepts conversions from XE (app available) and Oanda. Conversions may be done daily, or you may calculate an average for the trip and apply to all expenses. When you use a credit card, your credit card statement reflects the conversion rate and is the best documentation to include for reimbursement.
Be sure to translate all receipts and include all necessary information: items purchased, dates, and cost converted to dollars. Meal receipts are not required by Travel Services but may be required by your department. If required by department, it is still not required to be sent to Travel Services for reimbursement. But if meal receipts are sent to Travel Services, each item must be translated, and all amounts converted. In instances when a vendor doesn’t provide receipts, take a receipt book or small notebook, fill out the expense at the time, and ask the vendor to sign the receipt. There may be instances when you need to take a photo to document a purchase or transfer.
Safeguard Your Documents
Make two copies of all your travel documents and other important documents in case of emergency. Leave one copy with a trusted relative or friend that is stateside and bring the other (kept separate from the originals) with you abroad. Documents and information to consider including are passport, visa, medication/prescriptions, important addresses/phone numbers, credit and debit cards (front and back) etc. This information should be saved electronically (Google Docs, Dropbox, etc.) so it can be accessed from anywhere in case the originals/copies are lost.
Research the voltage, frequency, and plug type of your destination. World Standards is a good resource for this. Purchase the appropriate converters and adaptors prior to travel.
Phones – If traveling with your personal cell phone, be sure that it is password protected. If you add an international plan to your cell phone plan for use while abroad it is reimbursable if you submit your monthly statement that clearly states the plan was added for the dates in which you were traveling on MSU business.
Data, phone call, and text rates are very expensive without an international plan and travelers should research the costs associated with their plan prior to traveling. If you decide to forgo an international phone plan, it is advised that you keep your phone on airplane mode the entire time you are abroad as to not incur unintended costs. There are plenty of free apps (FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Voxer, etc.) that can be used while connected to Wi-Fi to communicate with others abroad and stateside.
Laptop – If you are traveling with a University laptop or other device, please contact the Office of Research Compliance & Security regarding data encryption or participation in the Laptop Loan Program which provides clean laptops for travel.
If you are working on an export controlled project, whether or not your international travel is related to that project, you will need to contact the Office of Research Security prior to your travel to ensure you are in compliance with all policies in relation to the sensitive nature of your project.
- U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs
- International Travel page
- Travel Advisories
- Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
- Country Information
- Information for travelers with special considerations (students, women, LGBTI, disabilities, etc.)
- Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
- Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- International Institute Passport Acceptance Facility
- Longest Student Health Center Travel Clinic
- MSU Travel Services
- MSU Office of Research Security