International Travel Policies

Graduate School of Journalism students traveling abroad for class trips or to do project/thesis reporting are required to do the following prior to departure:


International SOS Travel Assistance Program

With well­-being of travelers as a top priority, Columbia University has retained International SOS (I­-SOS) to provide worldwide travel assistance services for all faculty, staff and students. International SOS provides 24­-hour, worldwide emergency medical care and security evacuation services when traveling abroad. Personal travel, including vacations or travel home to visit family is not covered.

For general guidelines on I­-SOS for Columbia students please refer to the Columbia International SOS Travel Assistant Program website.(link is external)

Journalism students need to do the following well before their scheduled departure:

  • Print an I­-SOS card to have with you during the trip.
  • Register your travel itinerary, personal contact information and emergency contacts using the ISOS MyTrips travel registry. You must also update your travel information (flight, hotel, country, etc.) in ISOS Travel Locator if it changes during your trip. If this is not possible, you should notify the Journalism School’s Dean of Students Office of any change of plans. This allows us and ISOS to reach you in case of an emergency and to reach out to your emergency contacts.

Health Insurance

I-­SOS is not health insurance. If you are enrolled in the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan, your travel insurance benefits, including medical evacuation, are provided by On Call International (Travel Assistance Program). For information on coverage and exclusions, see the Student Health Insurance Plan brochure.

If you are enrolled in another health insurance plan you should become familiar with its policies on overseas coverage and payment requirements.

Before departure, make sure you visit a travel health clinic or meet with a doctor to ensure that all immunizations, vaccinations, prescriptions and preventative health needs are taken care of. Columbia offers these services on campus for students paying the Health Services fee. For information on Columbia health services please refer to the Columbia University Medical Services website.

Visa Requirements

Check and verify visa requirements for each destination country and plan ahead as visa procurement can take several weeks. Visit the host country’s Office of the Consulate General website for information on visa requirements. U.S. citizens may refer to the U.S. State Department’s general visa information service website.

International students must verify with the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) that travel meets the condition of their student visa. Please visit the Columbia University International Programs and Services website.

Reporting Grants

If you were approved for a reporting grant (M.A. Thesis/M.S. Stabile), you may not submit receipts for reimbursement or otherwise receive funding unless you have registered with I­-SOS per the instructions in this document.

Other Useful Resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides helpful tips for travelers as well as health information specific to the country you will be visiting.

For background information on your destination(s) visit the U.S. State Department website. Keep the U.S. or your home country’s in­-country embassy address and contact information with you when you travel.

The International SOS/Columbia University portal also houses helpful pre­-travel information in the form of Country Guides and E­mail Alerts.

For additional resources on Health & Safety and General Travel, please consult Columbia’s Office of Global Programs. Get more information about computer and data security, and please review this security presentation.