We understand that many faculty, staff, and students have questions regarding university-related travel, particularly in view of the COVID-19 situation. We also acknowledge the desire to make travel plans in the near future and the significant difficulty imposed by this uncertain period. Below is the most up to date information available pertaining to the campus’ travel protocol, 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 was updated August 26, 2020 and is effective until further notice. For questions or concerns related to any topic in this section, please contact Global Engagement.

UCOP and UC Berkeley COVID-19 travel directives

Essential travel

According to UCOP’s updated executive directives on August 6, 2020, as COVID-19 infections spread worldwide, including in the United States, UC Berkeley remains under the Office of the President’s directives to limit non-essential travel. Non-essential faculty, staff, and student travel is strongly discouraged, as travel increases your chances of contracting or spreading COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. University-related travel is defined by UC Berkeley 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.
Please be aware that educational conferences are not considered essential travel, even if you are a presenter. This is just one example of non-essential university-related travel and does not include all other activities that would also be considered non-essential at this time. If you do undertake such travel, be aware that some state and local governments require you to self-isolate for 14 days after traveling. In addition, changing air or governmental restrictions that are beyond UC Berkeley’s control may affect your ability to return.

University-related international travel

Per UCOP guidelines, UC Berkeley is advised to avoid non-essential university-related international travel until further notice. The State Department continues to advise all U.S. Citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. 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. According to updated UCOP guidance on Aug. 6, 2020, university-related travel to countries with a CDC Level 2 Travel Health Notice and greater remains restricted until further notice. In addition to the UCOP directive, and local to the UC Berkeley campus, due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, all UC Berkeley community members (faculty, students, staff) engaging in university-related international travel, regardless of destination, are advised to complete the campus two-step International Travel Protocol, which includes approval first at the decanal level and then from the Vice Provost for Academic Planning. For details regarding the International Travel Protocol and approval process, please refer to UC Berkeley’s Protocol for Essential International Travel.

Trip registration

As a reminder, faculty, students, and staff who do not book their travel using Connexxus should register all travel whether funded by UC Berkeley or another entity. Travel booked through Connexxus is automatically registered with the UC Travel Insurance program. 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, etc. For those intending to travel using UC Berkeley resources or for campus-approved research or educational purposes, please review the campus’ travel protocol and seek essential travel approval beforehand. For more information about trip registration, please see the pages on travel for employees and travel for students.

Travel insurance

Please be advised that the travel insurance will not cover foreseeable COVID-19 related risks such as infection or foreign flight cancellations. Any travel to areas with a U.S. State Department ‘Do Not Travel’ level 4 advisory will invalidate travel insurance benefits. 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.

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 are 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 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. The campus contracting offices are revising the language in international agreements to allow for remote alternatives in lieu of in- or outbound travel, or cancellation without penalty. 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.