Health, Safety, and Travel FAQs

Visit our Health and Safety page for more information about managing your risk during international travel and campus resources to support your international experience.

Why is NDI hosting some study abroad programs in locations that are assessed high risk by the Department of State and/or the CDC?
NDI’s health and safety personnel, the study abroad team, and our global gateway and center staff around the world have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is affecting the countries where we host study abroad programs. In addition to monitoring the CDC, the Department of State (DOS) and the International SOS travel advisories, we also consult closely with medical and health experts and track a number of other indicators to assess risks and inform our decisions. Some of those metrics include the local infection rates, 7-14 day COVID case rates, mortality rates, hospital capacity, WHO efficiency of care, local vaccination rates, flight availability, and entry requirements, among others. We can expect the CDC and DOS to see these risk levels continue to fluctuate in the coming months as COVID cases may fluctuate abroad.

Our students are required to meet University of Notre Dame COVID-19 requirements; being fully vaccinated and boostered if eligible or have a University approved exemption, with the vast majority of study abroad students being fully vaccinated. In addition, Gateways, Centers and other study abroad partners have well-developed policies and protocols that outline detailed plans to provide for students' safety during their experience abroad. For the programs that we decide to run, we are confident that with our students following all local and University health and safety protocols, coupled with the improving public health situations in many of our host countries, they can have a safe, healthy, and meaningful experience abroad.

Will my study abroad experience look different?
Students will be expected to follow the requirements of the University, their program and host country regarding COVID-19 health and safety, which may include restrictions on gatherings, travel and mobility that can change at any time. Notre Dame may also institute additional requirements or restrictions if the COVID-19 situation warrants it.

As the pandemic continues to evolve, we ask that students be patient and remain flexible. For example, students should be prepared to not travel outside of their host country during their program, and be prepared to spend the entire semester within their host country’s borders—and possibly even your campus or housing. Even if travel from the host country is legally permissible and allowed by your program administrators, our gateways and centers may advise against it. Sudden border closures, which have occurred periodically throughout the pandemic, could mean an inability to return to your study site and continue your studies as planned. Also, your cultural enrichment activities may be adjusted slightly to accommodate the current COVID-19 situation where you may be.

Is it safe for me to go abroad?
There will always be inherent risks associated with international travel, and the evolving pandemic makes international travel more complicated. However, we expect that our host countries and program partners will be prepared to receive foreign students in the fall as many already are receiving students this spring semester.

As some people are comfortable taking on more risk than others, you should make your decision to study abroad in the fall after careful consideration of all available information, awareness of the risks, and how to best manage these risks. For example, the CDC is a valuable resource for advice and guidance as you assess your comfort level with the risks associated with travel and is one of many sources Notre Dame—and you as a traveler—need to consider. Other valuable resources include the US Department of State, International SOS and COVID-19 information published on the US Embassy homepage of your host country (for a full list, see here).

While NDI has worked hard to identify strong partners abroad who can mitigate some risks, Notre Dame cannot guarantee a COVID- or disease-free environment at any program, just like it cannot on the Main Campus. This means that each traveler must familiarize themselves with the risks, assess their comfort level with an experience abroad, and be willing to take responsibility for their own personal risk management.

Please take advantage of your Study Abroad staff, who are prepared to answer your questions. NDI also has a full-time international travel and safety professional who is available for consultation. If you would like to schedule an appointment to go over any concerns or questions about the program, please email or contact your program director directly. Also, we encourage students to take advantage of Notre Dame's partnership with International SOS and call their assistance center at any time to ask questions about your destination or any health or safety concerns you may have prior to departure.

How will NDI prepare me to go abroad during this time?
NDI has staff both in the US and at our global gateways and centers abroad who will help you prepare for your time abroad. In addition, we closely work with our partner institutions who will also be able to provide on-site support in locations where NDI does not have a presence. We will be providing students with a series of pre-departure orientation sessions, starting several months in advance, and continuing until close to your arrival day.

Is the COVID-19 vaccination and booster required to study abroad?
Yes. The University of Notre Dame requires COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for all undergraduate students, including students who are studying abroad. Students with University-approved exemptions to the vaccination and booster requirement will be eligible to participate in study abroad; however, entry requirements for many countries include proof of vaccination and/or quarantine requirements for unvaccinated individuals. In addition, many countries require proof of vaccination for in-country travel, and for entry into facilities, venues, and other public and private settings. Such requirements may significantly impact the study abroad experience for unvaccinated students, who may find it essentially impossible to effectively participate in study abroad in certain countries.

It can’t be emphasized enough that the pandemic is ever-changing by nature, and once you arrive, circumstances could become very different as the semester progresses. For example, the Program and participating students in another country may be subject to new or reinstated foreign laws or requirements due to a rise in COVID cases or a new variant that may make it difficult or even impossible for a non-fully vaccinated student to continue to in the Program, or for the Program to continue to operate in the same manner it did at the start of the term/session. Please contact your study abroad program director for further guidance if you have a university approved exemption.

Is a COVID test required for entering the host country? How should I prepare for this?
Students will receive important details from their Study Abroad program directors in the lead up to their departure about pre-departure testing requirements for entry to their host country. If a COVID test is required, students are responsible for fulfilling these requirements by:

  1. Finding a testing location of their choice,
  2. Scheduling and paying (if necessary) for their own test,
  3. Confirming the turnaround time to receive their test results so they can check in and board their flight and enter the host country (*this is often 24-48 hours), and
  4. Ensuring they have the proper information on their test result documentation (i.e. full name, date of birth, test type, date/time sample taken, results, etc.) required for entry by the host country (please note this differs from country to country).

If a student is delayed in transit to their host country and their pre-departure test expires (not allowing entry), students should immediately communicate with their Study Abroad program director and work directly with the airline to be re-booked and get another COVID test that meets the requirements for entry to their host country.

If you have had a positive COVID test within the past 90 days before departure, please inform your Study Abroad program director as entry requirements, airline requirements and documentation may differ.

If you test positive for COVID immediately before your departure and are unable to travel because you have not yet recovered and cleared by a medical professional to travel, contact your Study Abroad program director immediately.

Any pre-departure COVID tests that are required to board international flights and/or enter your host country (transit countries too if layovers cannot be avoided) are the responsibility of the student and not the University of Notre Dame or NDI.

Will I need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to enter my host country or return to the United States?
Some countries may require travelers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 3 or less days of departure or evidence of recovery from a previous infection for entry. This is often regardless of your vaccination status. Since requirements vary from country to country and may change prior to your program dates, we encourage you to stay up to date on your host country's regulations. NDI will continue to monitor testing requirements leading up to the start of your programs, and will immediately notify students if they change. In any case, to avoid spreading or contracting COVID-19 in your travels, please plan to be extra cautious in the 14 days leading up to your departure for study abroad.

Currently, the US does not require proof of a negative COVID-19 test to enter the US. However, COVID-19 vaccination is required for non-US citizens. 

Please note that Notre Dame’s GeoBlue Insurance does not cover the cost of any pre-arrival or on-arrival tests (precautionary testing) that host countries may require for entry. These costs may be reimbursable through your primary (domestic) insurance, so it is important to check with your insurance company. For more information on GeoBlue Insurance and COVID-19 testing abroad, please see the question below.

What if I get sick (including testing positive for COVID-19) or injured while abroad?
All Notre Dame study abroad students are automatically enrolled and covered by GeoBlue medical insurance, which provides 100 percent coverage of reasonable medical expenses while abroad, among other benefits. Take the time to read and understand the GeoBlue insurance documents provided to you in the Study Abroad Portal and contact your advisor with any questions.

Should you get sick (including testing positive for COVID-19) or injured while abroad, immediately contact the appropriate staff at your host institution and seek medical care. Your host institution staff and International SOS can help arrange local medical care, if necessary. For any prolonged illness, Notre Dame, International SOS, and your host will remain in communication throughout to support you to the greatest degree possible. Please note that due to the ongoing pandemic and current travel restrictions, you may not be able to return to your home country right away after testing positive for COVID-19 and you may not be able to have a family member quickly join you in your host country.

Will I need to quarantine upon arrival in my host country?
It depends on the host country and what travel restrictions that are in place leading up to the start of your program. Please note that quarantine means different things in different countries and may or may not be required. In some locations, a quarantine may be in a government-arranged facility or hotel with prescribed meals and no ability to leave your room until released. In other locations, you may be asked to self-quarantine in your own accommodations. It is very important to follow all quarantine requirements. In most cases, violators are subject to fines or criminal prosecution. Notre Dame cannot assist if you incur penalties for breaking your quarantine.

Recently, some countries began to exempt fully vaccinated travelers from on-arrival quarantine; however, it is still too early to tell whether or not these quarantine exemptions will be in place for the start of the fall semester and for which host countries. NDI will continue to monitor travel restrictions and entry requirements leading up to the start of and during your programs, and will immediately notify students if they change.

Do I need to sign any special documents for study abroad during COVID-19?
All students who participate in NDI study abroad programs are required to acknowledge and agree to financial, withdrawal, cancellation, and refund policies prior to participation. Students are also required to attest that they meet University requirements for vaccination. In addition, students are required to sign a COVID-19 Safe Travels Pledge before departure. Please review all signature documents in your Study Abroad Portal and talk to your program director if you have questions or concerns.

Where can I find the latest COVID-19 related entry requirements for my host country? 
Students traveling from the United States are advised to consult the COVID-19 Information page of the US Embassy website for their host country. A full list of US Embassy websites can be found here. For students traveling from countries other than the United States, please consult your home country's diplomatic mission's website in your host country to ensure you understand any COVID-19 related entry requirements for your host country.