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Travel Policies and Exceptions

SPECIAL ALERT

Consistent with UNC System guidance, Carolina is prohibiting University-affiliated international travel unless approved via one of the processes outlined on this page. Please see the Carolina Together website and the resources below for additional guidance. Note that the System Office prohibition on domestic University-affiliated travel was lifted on June 2, 2021, ending the need to seek exceptions for domestic travel.

How to Request Approval for University-Affiliated International Travel

University-affiliated international travel includes international travel funded by the University and international travel for academic credit.

In accordance with UNC System Office policy, Carolina prohibits University-affiliated international travel until further notice. (Restrictions on domestic travel ended June 2, 2021.) Exceptions to this travel restriction may be granted by the chancellor or provost, as detailed in the following processes. Click on the specific category of travel below to view guidelines and criteria for requesting an exception.

The following processes apply to all international travel. For information specific to domestic travel exceptions, please see the Travel Guidance section of the Carolina Together website.

Important Notes for Approved University-Affiliated International Travel

  • Deans and others weighing whether the benefits to UNC of the proposed travel outweigh the risks should review guidance updated June 21, 2021, on increased risks of international travel.
  • Individuals who are approved for any of the categories of University-affiliated travel below must comply with all applicable guidelines and requirements, including the Department of State requirement of a negative COVID-19 test for travel to the US, which went into effect January 26, 2021. Other requirements may include mask-wearing and recommended periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation after entry into the United States.
  • Individuals on approved University-affiliated travel will generally be asked to sign an assumption of risk and acknowledgement document.
  • Individuals on approved University-affiliated travel must be enrolled in international health insurance such as the program established by the UNC System Office and administered by GeoBlue.

UNC-Chapel Hill is operating a limited number of study abroad programs for Fall 2021. These are provided by the Study Abroad Office and Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Note that individuals participating in a UNC study abroad program do not need to submit an individual request for a travel exception.  For study abroad, approval is sought and granted for the program (and all participants in the program are covered).

Undergraduate University-affiliated international travel outside study abroad is currently prohibited. Exceptions may be requested for travel in cases in which a student needs to fulfill a distinguishing academic or professional credential or qualification, such as advanced language study, thesis research requiring access to an archive only available in another country, or other academic purpose essential to an advanced multi-year academic program. Students seeking such an exception should plan to remain at a fixed location. A student under 18 years of age as of their departure date is not eligible for international travel exceptions.

The policy applies to undergraduate student independent travel that is University-affiliated and not to personal travel. There are separate approval processes for undergraduate international travel through established, credit-bearing study abroad programs, and for undergraduate domestic University-affiliated travel.

1. Approval

Exceptions for undergraduate University-affiliated travel begin with the 1) student’s faculty advisor who certifies that the proposed travel meets the exceptional academic criteria in the first paragraph above; and 2) chair of the department in which the faculty adviser resides, who ratifies the academic endorsement of the faculty advisor; and 3) dean of the student’s college/school who must certify that the benefits to the student’s academic career outweigh the risks to UNC of the proposed travel. The dean will submit the exception to the provost.

2. Dean sends request for exception to

    •  Barbara Stephenson, Vice Provost for Global Affairs and Chief Global Officer: barbara.stephenson@unc.edu

    •  The Vice Provost for Global Affairs reviews requests for completeness and compliance with current procedures and forwards them to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost as appropriate.

3. In their submission, deans should include

   a. A completed and signed Undergraduate Student International Travel Approval Request Form, which includes

  • Student’s name, PID, major, graduation date, and certification that the traveler is over 18 years of age
  • Specific dates and destination of the proposed travel
  • A description of the proposed travel itinerary detailing the travel route
  • A description of travel risks and how the traveler proposes to mitigate those risks during the trip and upon return to campus; factors that may help strengthen a case for approval include vaccination against COVID-19 and support in the destination country, such as through a local host or program administrator or family present in the destination country
  • An essential academic justification for the proposed travel and an explanation as to why the work cannot be fulfilled remotely via video conference or through other electronic means, and why the work cannot be completed during a future term or semester
  • Signed certification of the student’s advisor and ratification of the department chair
  • A signed statement by the dean that he/she has reviewed the request and certifies that the benefits to the student’s academic career outweigh the risks to UNC of the proposed travel

   b. An Assumption of Risk and Acknowledgement completed and signed by the traveler

1. Approval

Exceptions for University-affiliated international travel must be approved by the traveler’s 1) department chair or director of graduate studies; and 2) appropriate senior administrator (school dean or associate dean). By approving the request, the dean or dean’s designee has determined that the articulated benefits to the University outweigh the risks associated with the travel. In weighing whether to certify that benefits to UNC of the proposed international travel outweigh the risks, deans or designees should review the guidance on increased risks updated June 21, 2021.

The exception must also be acknowledged by the provost.

2. Submit requests for exceptions through Rapid Admin Service Request (RASR)

On The Graduate School tab, select the “Graduate Student Request for Travel Restriction Exception” form. For RASR access issues, contact Julie Montaigne at julie_montaigne@unc.edu. Applicants can follow the approval process in the RASR system under “My Forms.”

3. You will be asked to provide:

   a. Specific dates and destinations of proposed travel

   b. Purpose of the proposed research and an explanation as to why the work can’t be fulfilled remotely via video conferencing or through other electronic means

   c. If the proposed travel is related to COVID-19 or other pressing public health matters

   d. A summary of how the trip will explicitly advance the research mission of the University

   e. A description of travel risks and how the traveler proposes to mitigate those risks during the trip and upon return to campus.  Factors that may help bolster the case for approval include vaccination against COVID-19 and support in the destination country, such as through a local host or program administrator or family present in the destination country.

   f. Acknowledgement of the traveler’s assumption of risk

   g. A signed Advisor Approval Form

   h. A copy of your proposed travel itinerary detailing the travel route

If you are an approver for this process, please visit The Graduate School website for more information.

1. Approval by School Dean

Exceptions for University-affiliated travel must be approved by the traveler’s dean, or designee, and acknowledged by the provost. In weighing whether to certify that benefits to UNC of the proposed international travel outweigh the risks, deans or designees should review the guidance on increased risks updated June 21, 2021.

Units may require additional levels of approval including supervisor, department chair, and senior administrator. Be sure to gain necessary supervisory approval before submitting your request. The dean will submit the exception as outlined below.

2. Dean sends request for exception to

    •  Barbara Stephenson, Vice Provost for Global Affairs and Chief Global Officer: barbara.stephenson@unc.edu

    •  The Vice Provost for Global Affairs reviews requests for completeness and compliance with current procedures and forwards them to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost as appropriate.

3. In their submission, deans should include

   a. A completed and signed Faculty and Postdoc Travel Approval Request Form, which includes:

  • Traveler’s name, title, and department
  • Specific dates, destinations, and routes/itineraries of the proposed travel
  • Purpose of proposed activity and explanation as to why the activity cannot be fulfilled remotely via video conference or through other electronic means
  • Detailed explanation of how the trip advances the University’s educational or research mission; reference supporting documentation when available (i.e. external funded research)
  • Description of travel risks and how the traveler proposes to mitigate those risks during the trip and upon return to campus.  Factors that may help bolster the case for approval include vaccination against COVID-19 and support in the destination country, such as through a local host or program administrator or family present in the destination country
  • A signed statement by the dean that he/she has reviewed Carolina’s guidance on international travel and has determined that the articulated benefits to the University of this request outweigh the risks associated with the travel

   b. Completed and signed Assumption of Risk and Acknowledgement

1. Approval

Exceptions for University-affiliated travel must be approved by the vice chancellor for human resources and acknowledged by the chancellor.  Units may require additional levels of approval depending on the traveler’s reporting lines, including, from the traveler’s 1) supervisor; 2) department chair, center or institute director, or other unit head (if different from supervisor); and 3) appropriate senior administrator (school dean or executive dean, vice chancellor, or vice provost). Be sure to gain necessary supervisory approval before submitting your request.

In weighing whether to certify that benefits to UNC of the proposed international travel outweigh the risks, senior administrators should review the guidance on increased risks updated June 21, 2021.

2. Send request for exception to
  • Becci Menghini, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance (becci_menghini@unc.edu)
  • Katie Nolan, interim chief of staff, (kbnolan@unc.edu)
  • Sherene Jenkins, executive assistant (sherene_jenkins@unc.edu)
  • The traveler’s immediate supervisor or manager and the appropriate school dean or senior administrator
3. Include

   a. A completed and signed Staff Travel Approval Request Form, which includes:

  • Traveler’s name, title, department, and supervisor
  • Specific dates, destinations, and routes/itineraries of the proposed travel
  • Purpose of proposed activity and explanation as to why the activity cannot be fulfilled remotely via video conference or through other electronic means
  • Detailed explanation of how the trip advances the University’s educational or research mission; reference supporting documentation when available (i.e. external funded research)
  • Description of travel risks and how the traveler proposes to mitigate those risks during the trip and upon return to campus.  Factors that may help bolster the case for approval include vaccination against COVID-19 and support in the destination country, such as through a local host or program administrator or family present in the destination country
  • A signed statement by the dean or other appropriate senior administrator that he/she has reviewed Carolina’s guidance on international travel and has determined that the articulated benefits to the University of this request outweigh the risks associated with the travel

   b. Completed and signed Assumption of Risk and Acknowledgement

Other categories of travel may also be considered for an exception. Some processes are still being finalized but will be posted here as soon as possible. In the meantime, please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs at GlobalAffairs@unc.edu with any questions.

Global Travel Registry

The legacy Global Travel Registry system is not being used to manage University-affiliated travel under the current restrictions and special procedures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Record-keeping for University-affiliated international travel is being managed manually by the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs, with entry into the registry the last step of the international travel approval process. Contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs at GlobalAffairs@unc.edu with any questions.

International Health and Evacuation Insurance

Students, faculty, and staff are required to have international health insurance coverage when traveling abroad on University-affiliated business. Affiliates granted an exemption to current travel restrictions can visit our page on travel insurance for full details.

For any questions, please contact Janet Hoernke in Risk Management Services and Mission Continuity at +1.919.962.6681 or janet_hoernke@unc.edu.

Special Insurance Guidance for Students Returning from Overseas Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Students who were enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield GeoBlue travel health insurance are eligible to enroll in the U.S.-based StudentBlue plan. Loss of GeoBlue is considered a qualifying life event to obtain Student Blue. Coverage is retroactive to the date after the loss of GeoBlue and will be activated once prorated premium payment is made.

Student Blue does cover coronavirus testing at 100% and does not require prior approval. However, doctor visits to screen for COVID-19 will be covered the same as any other doctor visit, subject to the applicable copay, deductible or coinsurance. Student Blue members will also have access to telehealth services through MClive. To begin your application, contact Vicki Warwick, vwarwick@email.unc.edu, and include your name, PID, date of birth and date that you are canceling GeoBlue. 

UNC-Chapel Hill Travel Policies and Forms

Currently, the restrictions and special procedures regarding University-affiliated travel as described above supersede the provisions outlined in the legacy Policy Concerning Global Study, Travel and Research.

This policy was created to ensure compliance with state and University regulations; establish guidelines for approval, control and accounting for employees and others who travel on University business; and ensure fairness for both the traveler and the University.

View full policy.

Additionally, UNC Finance & Operations provides information about using the web travel system, travel authorizations, travel reimbursements, airfare requests, the business travel card program and related forms on the Travel Services website.

If you are traveling outside the country, sending items overseas, inviting a visiting scholar to your lab on campus, or related activities, then export control regulations likely apply. Export controls are federal laws that govern the transfer of items, materials, equipment, commodities, biologics, software, encryption, and/or technical information to foreign nationals, wherever located. Many University activities fall under these very comprehensive regulations, and violations of these laws carry both individual liability and significant penalties.

The UNC-Chapel Hill Export Compliance Office is here to help UNC faculty, staff, students, and other personnel navigate through U.S. export controls. The Export Compliance Office is committed to supporting the University’s global mission, as well as our extraordinary foreign national population on campus. Please contact exportcontrol@unc.edu with questions or for help with your international engagements.

View full policy.

Communications

Download and print an emergency information card before traveling.

Carolina faculty, staff and students who experience an emergency while traveling abroad on University business should contact UNC Police at +1.919.962.8100. UNC Police is first in the chain of response. Students should ask UNC Police to contact the dean of students on call to find the appropriate resources for assistance. UNC Police will assist faculty and staff with identifying a human resources administrator or Employee Assistance Program officer who can help coordinate support.

For emergency evacuation and other 24/7 health insurance assistance, call GeoBlue collect from outside the U.S. at +1.610.254.8771, toll free within the U.S. at +1.844.268.2686, or via email at globalhealth@geo-blue.com. In an emergency, seek appropriate medical care immediately, and then call GeoBlue. Insurance coverage must be purchased in advance of travel.