University travel, regardless of funding source (10, 25, 35), is restricted due to COVID-19. Faculty, staff, or students seeking approval of travel at this time must submit a COVID-19 travel waiver exemption form available from the Office of Procurement Services.
The Department of State (DOS) announced on April 19, 2021, that it would elevate the travel advisory levels for a large swath of the world. In the DOS FAQ, it states: “After this update, approximately 80% of countries will have a Travel Advisory Level of 4: Do Not Travel. This does not necessarily indicate a change to the current health situation in a given country. It reflects an adjustment in our system to give more weight to CDC’s existing assessments.” A DOS Level 4: Do Not Travel has always been considered a very serious rating; however, the risk itself has not changed, just the way that the DOS rates the risks, weighing COVID risks much more heavily as opposed to civil unrest, terrorism, crime, poor security services, kidnapping, or geopolitical risks. As such, travelers should consult a variety of resources about their destination in addition to the DOS and CDC advisories to determine health and safety risks.
By their own admission, DOS said that these changes did not reflect a reassessment of the risks of any particular location, merely an alignment with the CDC. In addition to the CDC criteria of incidence rates and case trajectory, the DOS takes into consideration travel prohibitions, such as the availability of commercial transportation, entry restrictions for US citizens, and availability of COVID testing 72 hours prior to departure, and those prohibitions factor into the calculation of DOS advisory levels using the new methodology. Travel prohibitions alone are not a health or safety risk.
For study abroad programs, based on a holistic approach, partner guidance, and data gathered from a variety of sources, we will proceed with summer 2021 programs as planned prior to the increase in advisory levels. If there is a significant increase in risk in a particular location, we will reevaluate and make changes if necessary, just like we would pre-pandemic.
I’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine. Can I travel now?
Associations, countries, and regions have been discussing health passports for individuals that will allow for more convenient travel. The European Commission approved the “Digital Green Certificate” on March 17, and the International Air Transport Association is in a trial run for a health passport called the travel pass initiative with certain airlines. Countries such as Israel and the UK have been piloting similar programs.
The EU’s health passport, officially called the Digital Green Certificate, will be free of charge, bilingual, secure, non-discriminatory and available in digital and physical format via QR code. Its goal will be to facilitate “safe and free movement” inside the EU during the pandemic. It will be available to EU citizens and non-EU citizens who have the right to travel to other member states. It was supported largely by member countries whose economies depend on summer tourism. We will share more information about applying for the certificate when available.
The Digital Green Certificate will be able to verify three distinct statuses:
- Vaccination certificates, stating brand of the vaccine used, data and place of inoculation and number of doses administered.
- Negative test certificates (either a NAAT/RT-PCR test or a rapid antigen test). Self-tests will be excluded for the time being.
- Medical certificates for people who have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 180 days.
These health passports will grant some freedoms and conveniences to travelers, such as no quarantine upon arrival. Please note that health passports do not override the need for entry visas. They only allow more mobility within a region or country. COVID-free flights are also available from certain airports in the US to certain countries. Flying on a COVID-free flight eliminates quarantine at the destination.
The answer to the question of whether you can travel internationally is ultimately: it depends. It depends on the destination, your flexibility, personal risk tolerance, and vaccination status. While a health passport, if deployed globally and recognized widely, will make travel more convenient, it will not prevent a foreign government from stopping all flights in and out, imposing stay-at-home orders to limit the spread of COVID-19, or change the course of a COVID-19 variant in another country, for example.
If desired, OGE can provide an analysis of a country, make a recommendation to you and to UM, and you can then make an informed decision on whether to travel. We encourage travelers to check various sources for information on the spread of COVID-19 at the destination, entry/exit requirements, availability of COVID-19 PCR tests to return to the US, and the in-country limitations on mobility that will affect activities and the experience, such as curfews, limits on inter-city travel, museum and public building closures, etc. Please note and be prepared for any changes: authorities could tighten, reimpose, extend, ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity.
- US Embassy websites for your destination
Destination Country Ministries of Health
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (see below)
International Insurance Coverage (see below)
For entry into the United States, applicable to all travelers regardless of citizenship:
The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remind all travelers that beginning Tuesday, January 26, 2021, all air passengers two years of age or older arriving to the United States must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding. This order applies to both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. For more information about the testing requirement, visit: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States | CDC .
Carefully consider the following before traveling internationally:
- You could have difficulty accessing a test. Testing availability and turnaround times vary widely around the world. Check the U.S. Embassy website for your planned destination(s) for information about testing options. What plan do you have to ensure you can get a test that meets the requirement in order to come home on time?
- You could test positive and have to stay abroad. Many individuals infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 are asymptomatic and unaware they carry the virus. If you test positive, you will not be able to return home as planned. What plan do you have in case you cannot come home for several weeks? Where will you stay? How will you finance your stay?
- You could have difficulty accessing or financing medical care. Travelers should be aware that the availability and quality of healthcare varies around the world, and that private health insurance may not cover expenses incurred abroad. Will your health insurance cover your hospitalization or other medical expenses abroad? Do you have travel insurance that covers medical evacuation to the United States, and does it include COVID-19 as a covered item?
The CDC recommends that travelers be tested again within 3 – 5 days of arrival in the United States, and stay home for 7 days after arrival.
We recommend that you be in touch with your airline if you have specific questions about the requirement, local test options, and documentation required. Airlines are enforcing the requirement for flights coming to the United States. FAQ are available at the CDC’s website.
With specific exceptions*, foreign nationals who have been in any of the following countries during the past 14 days may not enter the United States. For a full list of exceptions and proclamations specific to each country/area, please visit the CDC website.
- European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
- United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
- Republic of Ireland
- South Africa – effective 1/30/21
- India – effective 5/4/21
*National Interest Exceptions are available to intended F students and J students and scholars from all of the above countries. While some of the details around applying for an NIE are currently unclear, the goal is to allow nonimmigrants in these categories to arrive in the United States even if they have been present in a banned country during the previous 14 day period. Other, more specific exceptions are available for nonimmigrants present in these areas during the previous 14 day period prior to entry. Read more at NAFSA’s resource page.
Airlines and destination countries have varied requirements to exit the United States and enter another country. Travelers are responsible for knowing what COVID tests, if any, are required to board a flight or enter another country. Most international travelers will need at least a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure flight; however, requirements vary.
If you need a different test to travel, please check the link below for other clinics and options. Not all clinics offer all tests, so make sure to research the best location for you well in advance of your departure.
For additional entry/exit requirements, see the United States Department of State’s country information pages on its website.
Many major airports are offering COVID testing on site, though not same-day testing. Check your departure airport’s website and/or airline for guidance.
Viral RT-PCR tests available in Memphis, Tennessee:
- Poplar Healthcare – Results in 24 – 48 hours
- United Airlines has an online tool that shows COVID test availability and result times.
International Health and Safety Insurance
The University of Mississippi highly recommends that any UM faculty, staff, or student enroll in UM’s international health and safety insurance when traveling outside of the United States unless automatically enrolled due to participation in study abroad programs. To enroll, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is $46 per month (minimum coverage period is 30 days). Dependent coverage for spouses and children is also available at $98 per month. The AY 2020/2021 insurance policy is available for review in Box.
In addition, we highly recommend that US citizens enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the US Department of State. This program notifies the local embassy or consulate of US citizen presence abroad and provides automatic updates on news in the country/region and assistance if needed. Non-US-citizens should check their home country’s Department of State equivalent for similar safety and registration programs.
If you need recruitment materials to share with prospective students or institutions, PDFs are available in Box. Hard copies of the general brochure and other items are available upon request. Please email email@example.com if you would like paper copies of the brochure and other recruitment materials (small giveaways such as novelty UM footballs, lanyards, stickers), and we will prepare a pack for you.
Please see UM’s Global Footprint for a database of current UM partners. If you would like to visit any of our current partners while traveling, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for contact information and past/current collaborations. If you are interested in creating a new partnership for UM, please review the Partnership Criteria. Feel free to reach out to OGE or create a new proposal for a partnership in the Global Footprint database.