University Restricted Travel
As part of the vision of a Global Penn State, we work with students, faculty, and staff to support safe international experiences to a wide range of countries, including some that are higher risk. Advance planning is the best way to mitigate international travel risks, so please feel free to contact the Global Safety Office in the early stages of your planning process for travel to higher risk and otherwise restricted destinations.
The University is always concerned with the safety of all members of the University Community while traveling as part of any University Affiliated International Travel. Therefore, the following restrictions have been instituted. Please refer to the University’s International Travel Requirements policy for additional information. All petitions for travel to restricted countries should be submitted more than 30 days before departure and are reviewed by the International Restricted Travel Committee on a case-by-case basis.
Restricted Country List
Individual Faculty/Staff planning travel to a country on the Insurance Industry’s List of Restricted Countries, and countries with a Level 4 or Unknown U.S. Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 Travel Health Notice must complete a Restricted Travel Petition as part of creating an individual travel record in the Travel Safety Network (TSN) system. This list will be reviewed periodically and is subject to change. Additional forms, review and approval are required for travel to restricted countries. Travelers must receive approval for travel to restricted countries prior to purchasing airline tickets, hotel accommodations, etc.
Faculty/staff traveling with students are subject to the list of countries restricted for students travel which are outlined below.
The list of countries restricted for student travel by the University is a dynamic list developed based on a variety of sources, including U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories and risk ratings from our international insurance provider. In addition to this country list, any region within a country with a U.S. Department of State advisory of “reconsider travel” or “do not travel” is automatically restricted for student travel (applies to only that region, not the entire country), and travel to that region requires an approved petition (contact the Global Safety Office if you are in this situation). This list is reviewed periodically and is subject to change. Additional forms, review and approval are required for travel to restricted countries. Travelers must receive approval for travel to restricted countries prior to purchasing airline tickets, hotel accommodations, etc.
The TSN system will automatically provide student travelers with the required travel petition to complete in TSN when registering travel that includes a restricted country.
Please note that students participating in approved Penn State Education Abroad programs do not need to contact the Global Safety Office directly for the petition, as required documentation will be included in the study abroad application portal for relevant program locations. Contact Education Abroad with any questions or concerns.
The current list of countries which are restricted for all student (undergraduate, graduate, and professional) travel and require an approved petition in advance of making travel plans include:
- Countries on the Insurance Industry’s List of Restricted Countries
- Countries with a U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory of Level 3 or above
- and a small number of additional countries that continue to pose health, safety and security risks not otherwise captured above.
Please contact the Global Safety Office if you have questions about whether the country you plan to visit is restricted for student travel.
Planning Process for travel to Restricted Countries
Traveler or group leader submits a restricted travel petition. (Examples of what to include.) Petitions should be submitted about 2-3 months in advance, but no later than 30 days prior to departure
The International Restricted Travel Committee will review each petition on a case-by-case basis and work with the traveler on their travel plans, as needed. Review may take up to a few weeks. If seeking University Funding the traveler/group should not make any non-refundable travel arrangements (such as booking flights) until they are notified of approval as university funding is contingent on approval.
Traveler or group leader will be notified of the final decision on their travel petition. Once approved, the traveler/group may book travel and will complete the remaining steps to provide flight, lodging, and emergency contact information.
Travel to restricted countries must be reviewed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis and therefore require additional time for approval and processing.
planning individual travel to a country restricted by the University must complete a Restricted Travel Petition as part of creating an individual travel record in the Travel Safety Network (TSN) system The U. S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) places travel restrictions on certain locations or activities as does the University's workers’ compensation insurance. Therefore, Faculty/Staff restricted travel includes travel to a country on the Insurance Industry’s List of Restricted Countries (updated annually), and countries with a Level 4 or Unknown U.S. Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 Travel Health Notice. This list will be reviewed periodically and is subject to change. Additional forms, review and approval are required for travel to restricted countries. Travelers must receive approval for travel to restricted countries prior to purchasing airline tickets, hotel accommodations, etc.
Faculty/staff traveling with students are subject to the list of countries restricted for student travel which are outlined under Group Travel.
Students (including graduate and professional students)
planning individual travel to a country restricted for student travel by the University must complete a Restricted Travel Petition as part of creating a travel record in the Travel Safety Network (TSN) or an Education Abroad program application. Additional forms, review and approval are required for travel to restricted countries. Travelers must receive approval for travel to restricted countries prior to purchasing airline tickets, hotel accommodations, etc.
to a country restricted for student travel by the University must complete a Restricted Travel Petition as part of creating a group travel record in the Travel Safety Network (TSN) or an Education Abroad program proposal. The group leader submits one petition on behalf of the entire group.
Recognized Student Organizations
must complete a Restricted Travel Petition as part of creating a group travel record in the Travel Safety Network (TSN). The group leader submits one petition on behalf of the entire group.
Restricted Petition Example
A petition for travel to a restricted country should provide as much detail as possible to assist the International Restricted Travel Committee in its review process. Any location where an overnight stay is planned should be listed and addressed in the petition. The petition should justify the need to travel to the restricted country with a description of activities to be conducted, as well as demonstrate a sound understanding of the risks combined with strategies to mitigate those risks. While every petition is different, this is an example of the type of information that should be included in a Restricted Travel Petition.
Sample Travel Petition for the fictional country: The Penn States
1. Are you receiving financial assistance for this trip from the University?
If Yes then please list the sources of funding (Grant, Academic Program, Sponsored, Scholarship, UPAC)
2. Destination Justification
Given the inherent risks with this destination, provide justification for your request to travel to this country for your planned study/research/service/activity.
I have been performing organized research of Saturday tailgates in various locations for the last eight years. This trip includes travel to the Penn States, which is currently listed among the locations requiring heightened security. Due to timing limitations, travel to the Penn States for tailgate research has to take place during one of the six home games when tailgates take place, and must be conducted at the Penn States because that is the only place such tailgates take place. As a result, there are no other locations where we can meet our research objectives. This research involves interviewing local university students about their tailgate habits, as well as meeting with local faculty and government officials. We do not expect this research to be controversial because tailgates are sponsored by the local university and accepted as a normal practice by local government officials. I will be conducting my research in partnership with local university collaborators I have worked with for the past year.
3. Current Risks
Please describe the prevalent risks currently present in the country or countries where you are proposing to travel.
There are some inherent risks associated with this travel. The local political environment is tense surrounding the election of Homecoming Court, so I will closely monitor local news and follow instructions from local authorities should demonstrations occur. My research involves being surrounded by large crowds and rowdy fans that are unpredictable; gatherings that appear peaceful can quickly turn violent. I am acutely aware of the risk of pickpockets in busy areas, especially downtown and near the Penn States stadium. I have also researched the risk of rival tailgaters, which the U.S. Department of State lists as hostile towards outsiders. As an outsider, I understand the importance of maintaining a low profile. There is also the risk of contaminated tailgate food since much of the food is prepared in homes and food safety cannot be guaranteed. In addition, there is the risk of contracting Nittany Lion Fever. I have scheduled to receive a Nittany Lion Fever vaccine prior to my departure. Although road conditions are generally of a high standard, as tailgaters often do not depart until after dark, walking and driving after dark requires extra caution.
4. Emergency Action Plan
For the risks you have identified, please explain how you or your group would prepare for and prevent those dangers and respond to possible emergencies.
Given the tense political situation surrounding Homecoming elections, I will closely monitor local news for developments, and will follow instructions from local authorities should demonstrations occur. I will register with STEP and monitor the local U.S. Embassy’s alerts to watch out for potential issues that could impact my travel. I plan to preload the local U.S. Embassy’s number, local emergency numbers, and the Penn State Global Safety Office emergency phone number onto my own phone prior to my departure.
I will stay aware of my surroundings, specifically I will be cautious of pickpockets throughout the Penn States and will not carry any valuable items on my person that would make me a target. I will keep duplicate copies of my passport, credit card information, and other travel documents available.
I will avoid confrontation with rival tailgate fans and will avoid travel on my own and at night. Due to road safety risks as night with large numbers of tailgaters on the roads, I will hire a security-trained driver to provide consistent transportation throughout my time in the Penn States. The driver will pick me up at the airport and provide transportation throughout my stay in Penn States, and was arranged through a reputable local company recommended by my local collaborators.
I plan to only purchase food from licensed vendors and have scheduled a Nittany Lion Fever vaccination to protect against health risks during my travel.
I will have a working cell phone with an international plan while in the Penn States so I will always be able to communicate in the event of an emergency.
In the event of an emergency, I will follow instructions from local authorities and my embassy of nationality and will check-in with the Penn State Global Safety Office to notify them that I am safe as soon as I am able.
5. Please indicate any previous travel experience and/or language skills that may be relevant to the country in which you plan to travel.
I have been researching Saturday football tailgates in various regions of the world for the last eight years and am quite familiar with the culture surrounding these events. I have not traveled to the Penn States before, however, I have taken courses in Penn Statesi (the local language) and will be comfortable enough to find my way around and hold a basic conversation. Additionally, I have traveled to 10 other countries for similar research and my previous experience traveling to hostile areas to document the local tailgates (such as in Ohio Stateistan) will serve me well, as I am used to maintaining a low profile.
6. Additional Information
If you would like to provide any additional information which you believe will support your petition you may add it below
Although I have not previously traveled to the Penn States, a colleague in my department is from the country, and I have met with her to discuss the local culture and environment to better prepare me for this research trip.
7. Upload Support Documents
If you would like to provide upload any items in support of this petition you may upload it here
Attachment 1: Proposed daily itinerary with activities and transportation
Restricted Country FAQ
How long does it take for my petition to be reviewed?
The petition review process may take up to a few weeks. The timeline depends on the complexity of travel and the environment visited. The Committee may consult a variety of experts in reviewing petitions, including government officials, international insurance provider, peer institutions, local contacts, and others, which times time for a careful review.
How much detail to I have to include in my petition?
You should include as much detail as you have available on your travel plans, need to visit the location, understanding of the risks, and your strategies to mitigate any risks. One word answers to the questions will require us to follow up with you to gather more information, which could delay review of your petition.
Who makes up the IRTC?
The International Restricted Travel Committee is comprised of university administrators and leadership, with representation from Global Programs, Risk Management, the Graduate School, Student Activities, and Hershey Medical Center.
I’m Flying through a restricted country, do I need a petition:
Trips with flights that connect through a restricted country that do not require an overnight stay in that country do not require a Restricted Travel petition.
The portion of my trip to a restricted country is personal (vacation type travel):
If the travel combines personal and professional travel and your travel to a restricted country is exclusively personal, please note this in the TSN petition and it will be automatically moved forward.
I’m not seeking funding do I still need to complete a petition?
YES, Any travel by University employees, students, authorized volunteers and guests to a restricted international destination which is for educational, research, or business purposes tied to the traveler’s affiliation with the University needs to have a petition approved.