International Travel Policy

Policy Summary

A global perspective is essential to the academic mission of the George Washington University (“GW” or “university”) and the university has long supported international travel to conduct research, study cultures and languages, promote collaboration with peer institutions, represent the university, and for other academic, administrative, research and sanctioned student activities. This policy promotes travel safety for GW students, faculty, and staff, providing a framework for reducing the risk of harm to GW travelers and enhancing GW’s ability to support travelers while abroad.

Any student, faculty, or staff member proposing to undertake GW-supported or GW-related international travel must seek and receive the appropriate approval as described below, and adhere to GW’s insurance, travel security, and related requirements.

Who is Governed by this Policy

  • Students (Undergraduate and Graduate) 

  • Faculty 

  • Staff  


This policy applies to all GW-supported (by funds or equipment) or GW-related international travel (collectively “GW International Travel”), including but not limited to travel for research, educational, co-curricular, or administrative purposes (with or without a student or students), international study, exchange programs, and student group travel (of any duration and whether offered for credit or not). This policy applies regardless of whether the GW International Travel is undertaken by faculty, staff, or students, and regardless of whether it is organized by schools, departments, faculty, staff, student organizations, or students individually.   

Provided the travel is not GW-related, GW-supported, and/or funded in whole or in part by a U.S. federal research agency or related to work performed on behalf of a U.S. federal research agency, the travel is not subject to this policy. 

Registration of International Travel

GW Passport is a database for maintaining key travel information for all students, faculty, and staff on GW International Travel. GW Passport is the official and authoritative source of traveler information that forms the basis for GW’s emergency response protocols and communications strategy when responding to an emergency or a critical incident abroad. 

All students (undergraduate and graduate) participating in GW International Travel, as defined by this policy, are required to register their travel itinerary (including accommodation information), contact information while abroad, and a copy of their passport in GW Passport.

Any travel changes prior to or during travel must be updated in GW Passport as soon as reasonably possible. 

Faculty and staff participating in GW International Travel, as defined by this policy, are expected to register their travel itinerary (including accommodation information), contact information while abroad, and a copy of their passport in GW Passport. Note that travel to some higher-risk destinations requires prior review and approval by insurance/security assistance provider GeoBlue/Crisis24. Administrative review and approval may apply to GW International Travel by faculty and staff in excess of thirty (30) days under GW’s International Engagement Guidelines.   

Travel Review for High-Risk Destinations


Students planning GW International Travel to a high-risk destination must request and obtain advance permission from GW. A request may be made by submitting a High-Risk Travel Proposal in GW Passport.  Determinations of travel approval are made by the relevant Dean or Vice President. Additionally, undergraduate students proposing to travel independently or with faculty/staff to high-risk destinations must have their travel proposals reviewed by GW’s Office of International Programs (OIP) after receiving approval from the relevant Office of the Dean or Vice President. Funding or credit is contingent upon approval of the travel by GW. No university funds will be released, and no university credit will be given, prior to GW approval. 

Students traveling on GW-organized programs, such as programs through the Office for Study Abroad and Short-Term Abroad Programs organized by GW colleges/schools should follow their program’s guidelines on complying with this policy. Students are required to contact the respective school contacts for these programs and submit necessary materials in accordance with their requirements and deadlines.  

Submissions of High-Risk Travel Proposals in GW Passport must be done no less than 30 days prior to the scheduled departure date to allow time for the relevant Office of the Dean/Vice President and OIP (where applicable) to meet and review. Nonrefundable travel arrangements should not be made prior to receiving GW approval.  

Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff who are planning to travel with students to a high-risk destination must request and obtain advance permission from GW.   

Faculty and staff planning travel without students to a high-risk destination should register their travel in GW Passport and secure advance approval (if required) through their department. Departments cannot require an unwilling employee to travel on GW business to a destination that is subject to a U.S. Department of State Advisory Level 4 (Do Not Travel). Principal investigators or senior/key personnel in federally funded research have additional requirements outlined below in the GW International Travel Requirements for Federally Sponsored Research section. 

Outcome of High-Risk Travel Review Process

Upon reviewing the submitted materials, the relevant Office of the Dean or Vice President, in consultation with OIP (if applicable), may require applicants to take additional steps or alter their travel plans in order to obtain approval. GW may withdraw sponsorship should students fail to follow these steps. Should a travel review result in a denial of the travel request, a summary of reasons supporting the decision will be offered to the applicant.

Should a High-Risk Travel Proposal be denied, a petitioner(s) may appeal to the Office of the Provost. Decisions made by the Office of the Provost are final and may not be further appealed. 

Sudden Change of Condition

GW reserves the right to suspend an ongoing or previously approved international activity for students, faculty, or staff members if a significant health, safety, or security concern is raised regarding that experience. In making the assessment, GW will consider the risk management plan for the students, faculty, or staff involved in the activity and the balance between the value of the academic or professional experience in that specific location versus the risks associated with that location or activity. 

It is possible that a specific program, activity in a specific location (city, region, or country), or all activities abroad would need to be modified or suspended by GW due to a health or safety concern. This concern may arise if conditions at a location have changed significantly as determined by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, GW’s risk intelligence provider, or other official entity. If conditions and accompanying risks of operating in a particular location change significantly, OIP will consult with relevant administrative units overseeing the activity and other appropriate individuals to determine the best course of action. The final decision will be made by the Dean or Vice President of the sponsoring college/division and/or the Office of the Provost. 

Typical recommendations may include, but are not limited to:  

  • No material program changes  
  • Modifications to program housing, activities, or schedule
  •  Suspension and withdrawal/evacuation

In cases where a new U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory changes after an activity has already been approved but prior to the departure date, every effort will be made to conduct a thorough and timely review of the situation. If emergency action is needed, OIP or the department’s designated on-call representative will provide support to GW travelers and may advise or order postponement, suspension, or evacuation, effective immediately.  

GW International Travel Requirements for Federally-Sponsored Research

In addition to the general requirements above, principal investigators or senior/key personnel in federally-funded research who engage in GW International Travel that contributes in a substantive, meaningful way to the development or execution of a federally-funded project, must utilize GW systems to create and maintain a GW record of such international travel. This record of travel must include appropriate disclosures related to the travel and documentation of GW authorizations, if required, in advance of GW International Travel. These individuals must complete relevant travel and information security briefings and receive advice regarding electronic device security prior to international travel or for travel that includes devices used for federally-funded research or bought with federal funding.  


High-Risk Destination: The definition varies depending upon whether the traveler is an undergraduate student, a graduate student, or faculty and staff. Groups that include different categories of travelers are subject to the policy that applies to the most restricted member of the group: 

GW International Travel:  Any travel with a departure or destination outside of the U.S., including U.S. territories. 

GW-Related Travel: When the travel is: 

  • undertaken because an individual is acting in an academic or professional capacity relevant to the person’s area of responsibility, activities (including co-curricular and extracurricular ones), course of research, teaching, or study at GW; or 
  • undertaken with or organized by any GW organization, division, department, or office, even if not for an academic or professional purpose. 

GW-Supported Travel:  When it is funded to any degree by the university (this includes material support) or the U.S. federal government through research and development funding. Travel with non-GW organizations may still qualify as GW-related or GW-supported Travel. 


See Planning GW-Related or Supported Travel for standard procedures and forms. 

Related Information


Contact Phone Number Email
Office of International Programs 202-994-0470  [email protected]


Responsible University Official: Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs
Responsible Office: Office of International Programs

Noncompliance with this policy can be reported through this website.