COVID-19 Advice and Resources

There are several questions you should ask yourself before you engage in international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Global Risk and Safety offers resources you can use to prepare for going abroad and manage your health while in your destination.

Before You Go

Preparing properly is one of the most important things you can do to stay safe while abroad. That is especially true now. We recommend taking the following steps as you prepare to go abroad:

  • Take into account your health and the health of those close to you. If you have questions, ask your health care provider.
  • Familiarize yourself with UT’s Overseas Insurance plan and what is and isn’t covered by the policy. Only student-travelers are covered under the Overseas Insurance plan; faculty and staff should check with their insurance provider.
  • Research how the pandemic has impacted your destination and how effective your destination’s response has been. Use the resources listed at the bottom of this page and read news reports from credible, reliable organizations.
  • Be aware of all visa and entry requirements for your destination. Are you able to get a visa in time? Do you need to show a negative COVID-19 test to get in? How recent does that test need to be?
    • If you are an international student, are there any entry restrictions specific to travelers from your host country and will you be able to reenter the U.S.?
  • Download the International SOS App and their COVID-19 pocket guide.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to get updates from the U.S. Embassy on changing travel restrictions, safety alerts and more. If you are not a U.S. citizen, enroll in your home country’s equivalent.
  • Monitor your health in the weeks leading up to your departure. If you start to exhibit any of the symptoms, contact a medical professional to see if you can get tested. You may not be allowed to enter your host country or you may need to postpone traveling until you feel better. If this happens, let your coordinator know so that we can see what adjustments can be made. DO NOT GET ON A PLANE IF YOU ARE SICK.
  • If you will be studying abroad or working with a partner institution, ask them some key questions:
    • What are you doing to limit the chances of COVID-19 spreading on your property?
    • What are your plans and procedures if there is an outbreak of COVID-19?
    • What happens if I am diagnosed with COVID-19? What resources will be available to me?
    • If I need to quarantine upon arrival, or at any point during the program, will housing be provided for me? Will that housing include food, Wi-Fi, and anything else I might need to continue my coursework? Will I be charged for those accommodations? 
    • Will I be able to complete my semester if it is disrupted by COVID-19? For example, if UT chooses to recall its students, can I complete my courses online?
    • What are your refund policies for lodging, food or other expenses if we are unable to finish the semester due to COVID-19?
    • What housing options are available to me? Do they provide the ability to self-isolate? What public health/sanitization measures will they adhere to?
    • How will I get to and from my classes? Can I walk? Is public transit running and am I comfortable taking it? If not, can I afford to take an Uber or taxi every day?

Getting There: Advice for Traveling

Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, it is difficult to maintain social distancing both on the flight and in the terminal. You should also consider how you will get to and from the airport, since public transportation and ride-sharing carry their own exposure risks.

Take the following steps to protect yourself and others when flying:

  • Ask your airline what extra sanitization steps they are taking to clean their aircraft, screen passengers and enforce social distancing
  • Check in online to minimize the amount of time you need to spend standing in line
  • While flying, direct the air blower on you, so that you have a steady stream of purified air
  • Clean your hands often, either with soap and water or with a hand sanitizer that is 60 percent alcohol or more
  • Bring disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol) for surfaces
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Do your best to maintain social distancing
  • Remain in your seat whenever possible and minimize movement around the cabin
  • Wear a cloth face covering that covers your nose and mouth; bring a spare in case yours gets wet or soiled
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Use cashless payment options when available
  • Consider wearing a face shield or protective eyewear
  • Consider bringing your own food and beverages

When You Arrive

Each country has different requirements and procedures in effect for arriving travelers. Those might include:

  • Going into quarantine for 14 days before you can enter the country. This could be at your own expense and/or in a government-mandated facility; consult these quarantine tips from International SOS
  • Downloading an app and using it to periodically report your health. Some countries have used apps and other technology to track travelers and enforce quarantine rules under threat of fines or deportation
  • Providing authorities with your address, contact details and any travel plans
  • Undergoing a COVID-19 test before you can enter. Alternatively, you may need to provide proof of a negative test result dated within a minimum number of days from your arrival date

These are just some of the possibilities. Requirements and procedures are changing rapidly. Check internationalsos.com, the local U.S. Embassy and your country’s dedicated COVID-19 website for updates.

While You’re Abroad

In addition to the health and safety tips available on the Global Risk and Safety website, there are some additional things to be aware of regarding COVID-19. Most importantly, if you feel sick, call International SOS right away. Consider monitoring your symptoms using the Protect Texas Together app while you’re abroad.

You should also be aware of the following:

  • Increase in crime and social unrest; avoid all protests and be aware of your surroundings. Maintain a low profile and do your best not to stand out
  • Changes in how business operates and who is allowed to be out
  • Any curfews that the government has implemented
  • Any requirements on masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Any restrictions on the number of people who are allowed to gather at one time

Quarantine and movement or entry restrictions change rapidly and without warning. For that reason, independent travel during weekends or academic breaks is highly discouraged as you could be caught in rapidly changing quarantine regulations. Check Internationalsos.com, the local U.S. Embassy and your country’s dedicated COVID-19 website for updates.

When You Return

It is important to also consider how to preserve the health of your community upon return. UT Austin will follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We recommend you do the following for 14 days upon your return:

  • When around others, stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) away from other people who are not from your household. It is important to do this everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when you are outside of your home.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Watch your health; look for symptoms of COVID-19 and take your temperature if you feel sick.

If you get sick with fever, cough or respiratory symptoms in the 14 days after you return from travel, call the UHS Nurse Advice Line at 512-475-6877.

Resources

The University of Texas

Health Organizations

Travel Information and Advice

Travel Restrictions and Lockdowns

Data and Dashboards