We understand that many faculty, staff, and students have questions regarding university-related travel in view of COVID-19. We also acknowledge the desire to make travel plans in the near future and the significant difficulty imposed by this ongoing period of uncertainty. 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. Please review UC Berkeley’s guidance on travel before you travel or make travel plans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following guidance is effective until further notice.

UCOP and UC Berkeley COVID-19 travel directives

Essential travel

UCOP updated its executive directive on travel on March 12, 2021, replacing system-wide guidance restricting non-essential, University-related travel, with a requirement that all UC travelers must follow CDC Guidance before, during, and upon return from domestic or international travel. The UCOP directive has delegated the determination of what travel is considered essential travel to the campus. At UC Berkeley, university-related 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.
While the United States has recently experienced a decrease in new COVID-19 cases and positivity rates, and an increase in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, COVID-19 continues to present a global health risk that must be taken seriously. We must continue to observe the restrictions and guidelines currently in place for the safety of our campus community. Regardless of whether or not you have been vaccinated, these requirements for university-related travel remain in place at this time. Please note that academic or professional development conferences are not considered essential travel at this time, even if you are a presenter, as they can be conducted remotely. For more information, please visit the CDC COVID-19 website and Department of State COVID-19 Country Specific Information.

UC Berkeley Guidelines and Approval Processes for Essential Travel:

Off-Campus Research (domestic or international)

  • Until further notice, all off-campus research – domestic or international – must receive prior approval from the vice chancellor for research. Please submit requests via the VC Research critical field research continuity review process.
  • Field research, human subjects research, and other research that is carried out off-campus, in California, in the U.S., or internationally must comply with regulations from local public health authorities and follow best practices for minimizing risks to researchers and potential subjects.
  • 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.
  • International research travelers traveling to CDC Level 3 or 4 locations must also complete the two-step International Travel Protocol referenced below.
Please contact vcr@berkeley.edu with questions regarding off-campus research.

International Travel

  • Until further notice, 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) or Level 4 COVID-19 Very High (avoid all 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.
  • In addition, all research travelers must also complete the Research critical field research continuity review process referenced above.
  • 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.
  • Anyone seeking permission to travel internationally should be aware that:
    • Some state and local governments require you to self-quarantine after arriving in the host country, sometimes in accommodations specified by the host country.
    • Changing air or governmental restrictions that are beyond UC Berkeley’s control may affect your ability to return.
    • 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 CDC COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination for more information.
    • All travelers to CDC Level 3 or 4 international destinations will be required to participate in a pre-departure “Know Before You Go/Travel Preparedness Briefing” with UC Berkeley Risk Services.
  • International 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.

Trip registration

As a reminder, faculty, students, and staff who do not book their travel using Connexxus should register all travel with UC Away whether funded by UC Berkeley or another entity. Travel booked through Connexxus is automatically enrolled, except when using SWABIZ. Flights booked using SWABIZ or reservations made outside Connexxus, require manual registration. Registering has many benefits, including travel advisories for the locations that you travel to/through, and the ability for the UC to rapidly assist you in case of emerging incidents, medical emergencies, natural disasters, etc. For those intending to travel using UC Berkeley resources or for campus-approved research or educational purposes, please review the above requirements and seek essential travel approval beforehand. For more information about travel insurance benefits, please see the pages on travel for employees and travel for students. Contact riskservices@berkeley.edu with questions.

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.