Travel

Take home message: If you are travelling, especially overseas, be sure to register your trip and purchase U-M Travel Abroad Health Insurance before you go – and take time to learn about any local laws in the countries you are visiting that may be different from what you are used to in the U.S, as well as any U.S. laws that may still apply to you when you are travelling (such as laws relevant to taking laptops, equipment or technical data overseas).

U-M Policy and helpful links

  • All U-M faculty, staff and students travelling to work, research or study in a foreign country are responsible for obtaining any visas or permits required to visit that foreign country, maintaining legal immigration status while in that country, and complying with all the local laws of that country while there – and to comply with certain U.S. laws and U-M policies that apply while you are travelling (see below).
  • Foreign nationals working or studying at U-M under a U-M sponsored visa and wishing to travel overseas should plan well in advance before travelling abroad (including for any trips to their home country), to ensure they have the appropriate documents required to reenter the U.S., and to allow time for possible delays in the visa issuance process for whatever country they are visiting. Foreign nationals on U-M visas should discuss their travel plans with an advisor at the International Center.
  • The U-M Travel Policy applies to all University-sponsored international travel by individuals and groups. Schools, colleges, and other units may have additional policies and requirements, so check with your local administrators.
  • If you are travelling, especially overseas, you should register your trip and purchase U-M Travel Abroad Health Insurance before you go.
  • The Global Michigan portal collates U-M’s key resources and information about international activity, including going abroad and travel planning. They have travel preparation checklists, for individuals as well as for U-M Departments of faculty taking student groups overseas.
  • If you are traveling internationally and considering establishing a foreign relationship see the checklist for international contracts and amendments. Students and faculty are required to comply with the University of Michigan Standard Practice Guide and all other University process and policies regarding professional conduct and business operations while engaged in off-campus University business.
  • The Education Abroad Office (within the U-M International Center) provides information and support to U-M students or employees wanting to study, work or travel abroad.
  • U.S. laws that apply to overseas activity – although U.S. laws don’t generally apply in foreign countries, and you need to follow all local laws while overseas, there are some US laws that do apply when you are engaging in U-M activities overseas:
    • If you are taking a laptop, other equipment, or technical data with you overseas, you need to comply with U.S. export laws – which in some circumstances (or for some countries) may require you getting special permission from the U.S. Government before you go. This includes international students or employees who are returning to visit their home country. See Guidance on traveling with laptops & other equipment (maintained by the ORSP) and information on export controls.
    • If you are dealing with foreign government officials or political officers, you must be very careful offering them gifts or services (including entertaining them or giving them a meal), so that it does not constitute bribery under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
    • Other export restrictions – U.S. law may prohibit or restrict imports, exports and transactions with designated countries or areas under economic sanctions programs.
  • Travel raises special health and safety issues – such as immunization, health insurance coverage and health care providers outside the U.S., travel warnings and security, and registering your travel with U-M, the State Department and U.S. Embassies abroad. See the Global Michigan website and OSEH’s Traveler’s Health page for more information.
  • Mobile devices, like laptops and USB drives, are convenient ways to take data with you when you travel, but are particularly vulnerable to security breaches. See the ITS Mobile Device Security (MDS) resource page, which is specifically tailored for researchers (but relevant for everyone) and contains information and contacts to help you put a plan in place to secure and protect your data, including in preparation for overseas travel.

Things to remember

  • If you are travelling, especially overseas, be sure to register your trip and purchase U-M Travel Abroad Health Insurance before you go!
  • The Education Abroad Office (within the U-M International Center) can provide you with a wealth of information relating to study, work or travel abroad – from getting a US passport or an international visa, through to finding funding or work opportunities.
  • If you are a foreign national on a U-M sponsored visa who is planning to return home or travel elsewhere overseas, be sure to plan well in advance and discuss your travel plans with an adviser in the International Center. They can help ensure you have the appropriate documents required to reenter the U.S. and advise you about any other relevant issues.
  • It’s worth reviewing the US government’s latest information about any countries you are travelling to: the US State Department’s International Travel page has general advice, travel warnings and legal issues (such as local laws that are different to US laws) to be aware of when travelling to specific countries. They also provide special information for student travelers, and a range of other guidance including health, safety and emergency information.
  • If you are taking a laptop or other equipment or data with you overseas – even if you are an international student or employee who is returning to visit your home country – make sure you check whether there are any export laws that you need to comply with: see Guidance on traveling with laptops & other equipment for assistance.
  • Review the individual travel preparation checklist on the Global Michigan portal when you are planning any travel – it has a great summary of the different things you need to think about, including various compliance issues.

People to talk to

For queries relating to export controls, and taking laptops or other equipment or data overseas with you, start by looking at the Office of Research of Sponsored Projects (ORSP) site on export controls.

For queries relating to travel health, contact Travel Health Services within the University Health Service (UHS); and for queries relating specifically to travel safety, contact the Environment, Health and Safety Department.

For queries relating to Education Abroad, contact the Education Abroad Office (within the U-M International Center) by emailing them, walking into their office (next to the Michigan Union) or contacting a peer adviser.

For legal assistance or advice relating to travel issues, contact Donica Varner (for travel and education abroad issues) or Maya Kobersy in the Office of the General Counsel.


Established 3/4/11, last updated 3/7/17- Contact us if you believe any information is incorrect or outdated