International Travel Toolkit: Graduate and Professional Students

                                   Pre-Departure Travel Planning

                                           Click on each item for more information

Read up on the safety and security situation of your destination

Before making travel arrangements, use these resources to determine if it’s safe to travel to your destination

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How safe is my destination?
  • Is it OK to travel to a country with a threat rating of “4”?
  • Is the safety/security environment of the country in flux?
  • Would it make sense to visit a different, safer country instead?
  • If I go, what resources will I use to monitor changes in the security situation or respond in an emergency?

Visit the “Safety & Security” section of this toolkit to learn about the steps you can take to travel more safely.

Check your passport and get a visa

Passport basics

  • It can take several months to get a passport; apply now if you don’t have one
  • Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after you return from travel 

Passport Security

In some countries you must carry your passport at all times

  • Take your passport if you are taking a short trip from your base city

In many countries, hotels are required to photocopy or hold guests’ passports overnight

  • It’s common, but find out in advance if this is true for your destination

Report a lost or stolen passport immediately to your nearest embassy

Determine if you’ll need a visa

Try CIBT (Yale’s preferred vendor for visas), the U.S. State Department, or your home country’s embassy

Then ask these questions:

  • What type of visa do I need (tourist, student)?
  • How long will it take for my visa to arrive?
  • Will I need a transit visa (for a layover or travel through another country on the way to my destination)?

International students and visas

Non-U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. after travel can run into complications, so begin the visa process early

  • Meet with an advisor in OISS with questions about the visa process
Register your travel

Register with Yale through the Office of International Affairs (requires a NetID)

  • Help Yale locate and contact you in a major emergency
  • You can start your registration as soon as you know your destination and approximate dates of travel, then return to the registry as often as needed to add or update information about your flights, where you’ll be staying, local contact information and more, as those details become available
  • IMPORTANT:  You will need to login to the registry using your NetID and must use a Yale networked computer or a Yale VPN connection

Register with the U.S. State Department through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (if you are a U.S. citizen)

  • Help the State Department assist you in an emergency

If you are a citizen of another country, contact your country’s embassy in your destination to let them know your travel plans.

Print and take your travel assistance program card

Print the International SOS member card

Note that effective January 1, 2019, Yale’s travel assistance program moved from UHC Global to International SOS (ISOS).  For more information about ISOS, including guidance on travel while we transition to ISOS, visit

  • Keep it with you in your wallet or purse
  • Email it to yourself in case your wallet or purse is lost or stolen
  • Program the numbers into your cell phone

Emergency travel assistance

As a Yale traveler, you are automatically covered

Yale’s travel assistance program provides medical, security, and general travel assistance to travelers

  • medical and security evacuations
  • lost or stolen passports
  • legal referrals
  • emergency transfer of funds

Assistance is available 24/7/365, anywhere in the world (even in the U.S. more than 100 miles from Yale)

Understand your health insurance coverage

Check that you’re covered!

Don’t make assumptions about what will be covered.

1.  Determine if your current health insurance plan covers you while abroad, including for chronic medical conditions (see Yale Health coverage information below).

2.  Check if your program includes or offers health insurance for your travel.

3.  If you’re not covered abroad, or have incomplete coverage for your needs, consider purchasing an international travel health insurance policy for the duration of your travel. 

  • Insure My Trip is an online tool for helping travelers compare and identify appropriate international travel health insurance coverage.  The International Operations & Compliance Committee has not reviewed the information on that website to verify its thoroughness or accuracy and therefore travelers are advised to do their own due diligence before using this site and purchasing insurance.

4.  Discuss your options with your family and decide if you need to purchase an individual plan for yourself.

Yale Health Plan Coverage

If you’re enrolled in the Yale Health Hospitalization/ Specialty Care Coverage, you are covered for urgent or emergency health care anywhere in the world.

Still have questions

Insurance Card

Very important – Take your Yale Health (or other) insurance card with you.

  • Obtain a card at the Yale Health Center or request one via the Yale Health website
  • You may not receive treatment without one 

Acute Care

Call the Acute Care telephone line (203-432-0123) from abroad to speak to a Yale Health clinician.

Read Yale's Travel and Conduct policies

Yale policies, rules and standard of conduct apply while abroad. 

It’s your responsibility to follow applicable Yale policies for travel, academic, and personal conduct.

See to your financial needs

Plan to bring a combination of cash (though never carry too much at once), debit or ATM cards, credit cards, and traveler’s checks, if viable for your destination:

Tell your bank and credit card companies that you’ll be traveling

  • Ask if they charge foreign transaction fees
  • Ask if you’ll need a PIN to make purchases abroad

Clean out your wallet or purse

  • Take only the credit cards and ID you will need

Exchange some cash to your destination’s local currency to last the first couple of days

  • Exchange money at a bank before you leave the U.S. or get similar rates of exchange in the airport when you arrive

Find out about Arrival and Departure Taxes and Currency Restrictions

  • Be aware of any applicable arrival or departure taxes that you may encounter
  • Likewise learn about any restrictions your destination may have on how much currency you can enter and exit with
Learn about your destination

Start with these resources:

Learn about:

Share a copy of your itinerary with family or a friend

Confirm all travel accommodations and bookings prior to departure.  In addition to your itinerary, provide family or friends with a copy of your passport data page and any visas as well.  This will make it easier for them to contact you in an emergency.

Take photographs of important documents

Make copies of the following documents

  • Passport identification page and visa
  • Driver’s license and other identity cards
  • ISOS member card and health insurance cards
  • Credit and debit cards (front and back)
  • Flight and other travel itineraries
  • Immunizations and prescriptions
  • Significant medical history (e.g., surgeries, major illnesses)
  • The letter of admission to your university abroad or your study abroad program


  1. Leave a copy of each at home with family or a friend
  2. Keep a copy in your luggage (separate from any originals)
  3. Scan and email copies to yourself or store photos of them on your smart phone (but make sure access to the documents is password protected)
Look into cell phones and communicating

Cell phones

Ways to get a cell phone for your travel:

  • Ask your current cell phone service provider to unlock your U.S. cell phone;
  • Buy an international cell phone before you leave;
  • Buy a phone when you reach your destination then purchase a SIM card that can be recharged on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Check in

Upon arrival, check in with a family member so that they know you have arrived safely.  Consider setting a schedule for communication with friends and family at home keeping in mind it may not be as frequent as when you are on campus.

Receiving calls from home

Making international calls from your cell phone can be expensive, but incoming calls may be free.

  • Skype and Google Voice may offer cheaper international calling rates to and from the U.S.

Collect calls

Learn how to make collect calls from your destination.

Emergency cell phone use

If you are using your cell phone during an emergency that could last hours or even days, try texting instead of calling to save battery life on your phone.

Social Media

Use of social media can be another means of communicating with family and friends at home.

  • Realize that posts and blog entries may be read by a broader community than just your peers in the U.S.:  be sensitive to cultural considerations, legal restrictions, and ethics.
Consider personal property insurance

Protect your property

Consider personal property insurance for electronics or other expensive personal items   

  • See if your belongings are covered abroad by your parent/guardian’s homeowner’s policy
  • Try the personal property insurance program made available by Yale
Visit Travel Health Services for Students or your personal physician

Schedule a consultation

Schedule a travel consultation 6-8 weeks before you depart with either Travel Health Services for Students at Yale Health Student Health Services, 203-432-8148; Passport Health at 203-285-3485 or; or your personal physician. 

You’ll discuss:

  • vaccinations
  • traveling with medication
  • other health concerns in the destination

Schedule your appointment early; many immunizations are given in a series over time.

Note:  Graduate students may qualify for reimbursement of Travel Health costs.  Visit the Travel Health Programs section of the Health & Wellness resources page for more information.

For more information

For additional info on vaccines and other health concerns, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travelers’ website and use the drop-down menu for destinations 

Request safety supplies from EHS for international clinical rotations

Those planning to take part in an international clinical rotation should review Environmental Health & Safety’s instructions for requesting safety supplies.