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Policy on International Travel to U.S. Department of State Travel Warning Countries and Other Countries Presenting Substantial Risk

The following policy addresses concerns about the health and safety of students, staff, and faculty during international travel to countries under U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings. Please visit the State Department's website for a list of current travel warnings.

This policy is in addition to all other University travel policies.

Use of University funds for travel to countries under U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings

The University of Richmond does not permit students to use University funds to travel to countries under U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings unless the student has received specific approval from the Office of International Education. Click here to download the DOS travel warning petition for students.

The rationale for this policy is that countries under Travel Warnings are considered to be unstable and unsafe. However, the University recognizes that a Travel Warning does not always negate compelling academic reasons for travelling to a country, and that security situations may vary considerably in different part of a country under a Travel Warning. Therefore, the University will review on a case-by-case basis all University-sponsored and/or funded student travel to any country under a Department of State Travel Warning. 

University sponsorship includes, but is not limited to: funding administered through the University, advising for travel through the University, and pre-arranged course credit arising from such travel. This case-by-case review applies to travel on University programs with or without faculty or staff leadership, programs sponsored by other universities or entities, or individual student travel deemed to be under University sponsorship. 

When Travel Warnings are posted for countries to which travel is anticipated, the University will not permit such travel until adequate review has been conducted and conditions surrounding such travel are deemed acceptable. Permission for travel under University sponsorship may be denied at any time and decisions may be reversed if the political climate or security situation changes after approval was initially granted.

The Office of International Education, in conjunction with the Office of Risk Management, will work with the University’s travel assistance provider to coordinate emergency evacuation if this becomes necessary. If students refuse to comply with an evacuation, the University maintains the right to withdraw financial support and may institute disciplinary action. This could result in financial loss, such as a required repayment of financial aid. 

It should be understood that an event as extreme as an evacuation creates highly unusual circumstances. If an evacuation is deemed necessary, it may not be possible to recover all costs that students have paid and/or to refund such costs to students for the cost of the trip as well as the cost of the evacuation. This is a risk students assume when they undertake study or research abroad. It should also be noted that if students are studying abroad and are unable to complete the semester abroad that it might not be possible to receive full or partial credit for work completed abroad.

Faculty and staff sponsors of student travel must submit to the Office of International Education (OIE) a completed Checklist for Taking Students Abroad at least three months prior to the anticipated departure. If the proposal is for student travel to a country under a Travel Warning, the Checklist must be accompanied by a petition for traveling to a country under a Travel Warning. The petition procedure is explained below.

Students traveling individually or studying on programs sponsored by other universities must also complete a petition to countries or regions under Travel Warnings.

Permission may be denied, in which case all elements of University sponsorship shall be withheld.

Travel on University funds will not be authorized to countries for which a mandatory evacuation order has been issued. If the U.S. Department of State issues a mandatory evacuation order, students in the country must contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain relevant information and guidance, and must leave the country by the most expeditious and secure means available. They are also required to contact the OIE at the earliest opportunity with information about their whereabouts and plans.

Procedures for submitting a petition to allow travel to countries under U.S. Dept of State Travel Warnings

Please click here for this form.

Review of Petition

The petition will be reviewed by a subcommittee comprised of the Dean of International Education, Director of Study Abroad, Director of Safety Services and Risk Management, the Provost, and University General Counsel. The subcommittee will strive to make a decision within three weeks after submission of a complete petition.

Those whose petitions are approved will be required to review and sign an additional Assumption of Risk and Release from Liability form. All insurance costs will be paid by the individuals traveling abroad. Grant monies can be used to cover such costs if permitted by the granting department or organization.

Sources of Essential Information

Prior to international travel, faculty, staff, and students should become aware of the associated risks of the places they will visit, as well as the risks of any places through which they will transit en route to their destination. The following resources will be of help.

U.S. State Department

Travel Warnings, Public Announcements, and Consular Information Sheets:

Australian Government Travel Advice

Canadian Government Travel Advice

U.K. Government Travel Advice

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Travel Alerts, Travel Advisories, and Notices:

World Health Organization

Questions about this policy should be directed to the Director of Study Abroad in Office of the International Education.