We understand that many faculty, staff, and students have questions regarding university-related travel as campus begins to reopen and vaccination distribution improves. We also acknowledge the desire to resume business operations and make travel plans in the near future, as well as the challenge of interpreting CDC guidelines domestically and abroad. UC Berkeley is following the guidance of UCOP and the CDC when outlining travel policies. Please review UC Berkeley’s guidance on travel before you travel or make travel plans during the COVID-19 pandemic – particularly for international travel as advance approval is required. The following guidance is effective as of May 18, 2021, and until further notice.

UCOP Directive

UCOP updated its executive directive on travel on March 12, 2021, replacing previous system-wide guidance with a requirement that all UC travelers must follow CDC Guidance before, during, and upon return from domestic or international travel. Authority to determine what is essential travel is delegated to campus locations – see below for UC Berkeley guidelines.

CDC guidance and vaccination status

The CDC guidance refers to vaccination status, but UC Berkeley managers/approvers are not permitted to ask employees, students, or affiliates whether or not they are vaccinated. If an employee, student, or affiliate has not volunteered vaccination status, uncoerced, then the approver should interpret the CDC guidance as if the individual is unvaccinated when determining whether or not to authorize travel.  For the purpose of authorizing travel, units should rely upon the individual’s representations of vaccination status and should not seek to verify vaccination status. The campus unit that is authorizing the employee or other affiliated person to travel at campus expense and/or as part of employment duties is responsible for determining whether the travel is permitted. The unit can seek advice from Legal Affairs or Risk Services.

UC Berkeley guidelines for university-related Travel

Below is the most up-to-date information available pertaining to the campus’ travel directives and essential travel protocols, travel insurance, travel reimbursement, and international agreements for faculty, staff, and students.

  • It is up to the campus unit to determine if university-related domestic travel is permitted for the employee (faculty/staff), student, or other affiliated people, taking into account the CDC guidelines.
  • The CDC advises that domestic travel should be delayed until you have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.
  • Per CDC guidelines, individuals who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine or a vaccine authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization can travel safely within the United States:
    • Fully vaccinated travelers are still expected to follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely
    • If you have questions:
      • Please contact the UC Berkeley travel office at travel@berkeley.edu with questions regarding non-research domestic travel.
      • Please contact vcr@berkeley.edu with questions regarding off-campus research.
      • For questions about CDC guidance and vaccination status, contact Legal Affairs or Risk Services.

  • On April 21, 2021, the State Department issued a statement “strongly recommending U.S. citizens reconsider all travel abroad,” and issued a Do Not Travel (Level 4) advisory warning to nearly 80% of the world to align with CDC guidelines.
  • All UC Berkeley community members (faculty, students, staff) engaging in university-related international travel to countries rated CDC Level 3 COVID-19 High (avoid all nonessential travel) , CDC Level 4 COVID-19 Very High (avoid all travel), or State Department Level 4 (do not travel) must seek approval through the two-step International Travel Protocol, which includes approval first at the decanal level and then from the vice provost for academic planning. Only essential university-related travel (as defined below) is permitted to these destinations.
  • The March 12 UCOP directive has delegated the determination of what international travel is considered essential travel to the campus. At UC Berkeley, university-related international travel is defined as essential if it is required to:
    • Preserve the safety of a research subject and is not possible to be postponed.
    • Preserve the results of a research activity and is not possible to be postponed.
    • Perform other work related to university objectives that is unable to be postponed or performed remotely without catastrophic interruption.
  • Regardless of whether or not you have been vaccinated, these requirements for university-related international travel remain in place at this time. Please review the CDC Travel Recommendations by Destination and Department of State COVID-19 Country Specific Information to determine the status of your destination.
  • Anyone seeking exceptional permission to travel to a CDC Level 3 or 4 country should be aware that:
    • Challenges to international travel at this time may include mandatory quarantines, travel restrictions, and closed borders. Foreign governments may implement restrictions with little notice, even in destinations that were previously low risk. Some international destinations have restricted entry based on citizenship status, including for US citizens.
    • Some state and local governments require you to self-quarantine after arrival, sometimes in accommodations specified by the host country.
    • Several Presidential proclamations have suspended or limited entry into the United States of noncitizens who were physically present within certain countries during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States. Please refer to CDC COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination for more information.
    • All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States. Please refer to FAQs for more information.
    • Travelers to CDC Level 3 or 4 international destinations may be required to participate in a pre-departure “Know Before You Go/Travel Preparedness Briefing” with UC Berkeley Risk Services.
  • Additional considerations:
    • Travel to locations that are not designated CDC level 3 and 4, and/or State Department level 4 are not subject to the campus international travel protocol. However, travelers must still register their travel and are responsible for monitoring the travel advisories and adhering to CDC guidelines.
    • Off-campus researchers must also review the VC Research COVID-19 Off-Campus/Field Research Guidelines for travel considerations and to determine any additional necessary approvals.
    • All study abroad and group student travel for Berkeley coursework or credit involving Berkeley faculty, students, or staff (including advance travel for program planning and site evaluations, faculty-led programs, MBA exchanges, etc., both undergraduate and graduate), regardless of CDC designation, must complete the 2-step Study Abroad Travel Protocol as outlined below, regardless of CDC or State Department Designation.

Please submit all travel requests using the essential international travel request form. Travel requests should be submitted a minimum of 21 days in advance, and prior to booking flights.

Please contact geo@berkeley.edu with questions regarding international travel.

  • Until further notice, regardless of CDC or State Department Advisory Level, all study abroad and international group student travel for Berkeley coursework or credit involving Berkeley faculty, students, or staff (including advance travel for program planning and site evaluations, faculty-led programs, MBA exchanges, etc., both undergraduate and graduate) must complete a 2-step Study Abroad Travel Protocol. This involves approval first at the decanal level and then from Berkeley Study Abroad. In addition, according to campus guidelines, all international travel to CDC Level 3 COVID-19 High (avoid all nonessential travel) or Level 4 COVID-19 Very High (avoid all travel), will require approval from the vice provost for academic planning/senior international officer. Berkeley Study Abroad will facilitate the third level of approval if necessary.
  • Anyone engaged in planning for university-related study abroad and international group student travel is encouraged to contact Berkeley Study Abroad (studyabroad@berkeley.edu) early in the planning process to maintain a comprehensive and effective program that includes risk assessment and mitigation, emergency preparedness and response, and business recovery. Berkeley Study Abroad will also assist in identifying and navigating local resources to support a strong academic and student experience.
  • UC travelers must follow CDC Guidance for before, during and return from international and domestic travel.  CDC Travel Recommendations by Destination currently include guidance restricting travel to 80% of the world.  The expectation is that these destinations will continue to be evaluated as local COVID-19 conditions improve.
  • Travel by UC Berkeley faculty, staff, or students must also comply with local, national and international travel restrictions. Self-quarantine may be required on arrival and return.
  • Students considering independent study abroad or planned leave for study abroad should reach out to the Berkeley Study Abroad office for advising (studyabroad@berkeley.edu).
  • Please note that:
    • UCEAP programs authorized to operate are reviewed and approved by UCOP and do not require additional approval from the Berkeley Study Abroad office nor the Berkeley campus.
    • Students, staff, or faculty considering other types of university-related international travel, including research, international business, executive education, etc. do not require approval from the Berkeley Study Abroad office, but should refer to the campus COVID-19 travel guidelines and approval processes for International Travel outlined above at https://coronavirus.berkeley.edu/travel/. Any international travel to CDC Level 3 and 4 or State Department Level 4 locations is subject to further review.

Step 1

Faculty, staff or students who wish to travel for university-related study abroad or student group travel, must first request in writing, approval from their dean.

Step 2

  • The group travel organizer, faculty, and/or traveler(s) should submit the respective Dean’s written approval along with study abroad and group travel requests via the Berkeley Study Abroad Travel review process.
  • Berkeley Study Abroad will assess the health and safety risks of the proposed travel for the given location(s) and work with Risk Services, faculty director(s) and program staff to develop safety plans, coordinate resources and minimize risk to participants and the host community.

Step 3 (for CDC Level 3 or 4 or State Department Level 4 destinations)

  • Per campus guidelines, international travel to countries rated CDC Level 3 COVID-19 High (avoid all nonessential travel) , CDC Level 4 COVID-19 Very High (avoid all travel), or State Department Level 4 (do not travel) will require additional approval from the vice provost for academic planning. Berkeley Study Abroad will facilitate the approval on behalf of the travelers via the campus International Travel Protocol.

Please contact studyabroad@berkeley.edu with questions regarding travel for study abroad.

Travel insurance

Please be advised that UC travel insurance will not cover foreseeable COVID-19 related risks, such as infection or foreign flight cancellations, at this time. Coverage for expenses related to business interruption or trip delay would be excluded. UC personnel traveling to high-risk regions against this advisory do so potentially at their own physical and financial risk. In the event an international airport is closed to commercial flights to the U.S., the only option back may be on a US Embassy repatriation flight – which can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 payable by the traveler at a later time. For more information about trip registration, please see the pages on travel for employees and travel for students. Contact riskservices@berkeley.edu with questions.

Travel reimbursement

If your business travel has been canceled as a result of COVID-19 and you were not able to obtain a full refund of some or all of your expenses, you have options for requesting reimbursement, which can vary depending on how you booked your travel. These options are outlined on the Berkeley Travel website as well as on a recorded webinar from April 21 provided by UC Berkeley Travel. A wide range of issues associated with travel impacted by COVID-19 is addressed, including an extended question and answer session.

International students and scholars

The Berkeley International Office understands that the UC Berkeley community of international students and scholars has many questions about the rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. BIO has created a webpage to answer common travel-related questions specific to international students and scholars and share support resources.

International agreements and travel

International agreements committing members of the UC community to travel, or foreign cohorts to visit the campus, should include terms that allow for no penalty cancellation of in-person deliverables. Depending on the specific language, force majeure clauses may not cover epidemics (e.g. COVID-19), especially where the cancellation or non-performance due to the incident was foreseeable or predictable at the time of contract execution. If you have not already, please contact the relevant campus contracting office for assistance in negotiating these terms into current or future agreements. The Global Engagement Office is available to assist individuals in identifying the appropriate contracting office. Please refer to the Campus Guidelines for International Activities and Agreements and consult Global Engagement.