Student Travel Safety Information

Pre-Travel Safety

The College of Forestry now requires all foreign travelers to register with OSU Risk Management when traveling abroad on OSU Business regardless of funding type by completing the International Travel Registration Form. If participating in an OSU GO program, registration provides international travel insurance.  The insurance is centrally funded and there will be no cost to you.

If planning to conduct research abroad, be sure to review considerations and apply for the OSU IRB if necessary


Before travelling abroad, OSU students should:

1. Review the following websites for the country(ies) of travel:

The U.S. Department of State issues a Travel Warning when they want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. Travel Warnings remain in place until the situation changes; some have been in effect for years.

Travel Alerts are issued for short-term events that should be considered when planning travel to a country. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Alert might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. When these short-term events are over, the USDS cancels the Travel Alert.

Based on a host of international safety and health concerns, Oregon State University (OSU) may determine to suspend previously approved education abroad programs if the U.S. Department of State issues a travel warning or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues a Warning Level 3 for a particular country or region within a country. Additionally, OSU may not provide credit or funding for independent abroad programs in countries with travel warnings. We strongly suggest caution if you are considering travel or programs in countries with such warnings.

It is also important to understand customs and import restrictions both in terms of what you cannot take to another country, and what you cannot bring back to the United States.

There are special rules for transporting exotic woods, agricultural crops, and other live organisms or products made from endangered wildlife or woods. Many wildlife and wildlife products are prohibited either by U.S. or foreign laws from import into the United States. You risk confiscation and a possible fine if you attempt to bring them into the United States when you return.


2. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Enrollment is quick and easy. This program allows you to:

  • Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
  • Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
  • Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.


3. Visit the Student Health Center and obtain any required immunizations

OSU’s on-campus Student Health Services provides comprehensive education and immunization services, as well as affordable travel consultation visits. Users of the clinic receive information about immunization requirements in the parts of the world to which they will travel, disease prevention, handling of medications, dealing with emergencies and obtaining medical assistance abroad. If traveling to developing countries, it is highly recommended that students schedule a 60-minute Travel Consultation visit. For student travel to Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, a 40-minute Travel Consultation may be scheduled, if desired. Some vaccines or medication must be acquired a certain length of time in advance of departure for full effectiveness, so be sure to plan early and accordingly. 

Some of the services SHS provides include:

  • Assessment of immunization and health care needs based on your itinerary and personal health history.
  • Information on prevention and treatment of commonly encountered health problems in the area of the world you plan to visit.
  • Advice on what to do in a medical emergency.
  • Suggestions and supplies for your personal travel medical kit.
  • Laboratory services for any required titers or blood tests.
  • Prescription medications, when appropriate, for prevention or treatment of travel-related illnesses such as traveler's diarrhea, malaria, motion sickness and altitude illness. These prescriptions may be purchased in the Pharmacy located on the ground floor of SHS.
  • Resources for additional information as needed.
  • Travel Checklist (PDF)

It is also recommended that you check the CDC Travel Health Notices page regularly for updates on local outbreaks in the country you are visiting both before and during your trip. The CDC issues travel notices to inform travelers and clinicians about current health issues related to specific destinations. These issues may arise from disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters, or other conditions that may affect travelers’ health.  There are different types of notices for international travelers, laid out below, which describe both levels of risk for the traveler and recommended preventive measures to take at each level of risk.

You can also search for your country page on the CDC Destinations site, which will provide you with information on country-specific recommended and required vaccines, and health and safety tips.


4. Obtain any required documents for the country of travel

The U.S. Department of State Travel site has information regarding necessary visas and documentation. When leaving the U.S., you will need an unexpired passport. The average processing time for a first-time passport application is approximately six weeks, so plan accordingly.

In order to enter many countries, or stay longer than 90 days, you will need a student visa.  A visa is an official authorization from the host country appended to a passport, permitting entry into and travel within a particular country for a stated period of time. The government of the foreign country to be visited issues the visa. The actual visa is usually a stamp in your passport. The application process is country-specific and may take weeks or months, so begin ahead of time – you will also need your passport before you can apply for a visa.

Visas generally last 3-6 months and often come with country-of-origin specific fees, so be sure to account for this in your financial planning. If staying in a country for longer than the original visa length – such as for a semester or year-long study abroad program – you will need to apply for an extension at the local embassy. Make sure to plan accordingly, especially if your program is in a remote area, as the paperwork and process for a visa extension may be lengthy.


5. Obtain any necessary travel insurance

Most programs through OSU GO, including the CoF Faculty-led study abroad destinations, include travel insurance and/or health insurance. Check with each individual program to verify what coverage is included under the program fees. Registering your trip with OSU Risk Management through the International Travel Registration Form also provides free international travel insurance. 


Before travelling to any country, it is important to educate yourself on what safety risks to expect. Doing a little online research beforehand can save you a lot of stress in the future, and make your international experience much more rewarding. Your program advisors and contacts will likely have more detailed information about safety, risk, and health concerns for the particular area(s) you will be visiting. Be sure to consult them with any questions.