The University of Texas at Austin supports and encourages international travel and collaborations and recognizes that a global perspective is essential to its academic mission. The University realizes that some areas of the world present heightened health and safety risks and is committed to the safety and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff traveling abroad.
To minimize health and safety risks, the University has adopted the UT Travel Policy to Restricted Regions to govern student, faculty, and staff travel for UT-related activities abroad. The International Oversight Committee administers this policy under the direction of its chair, the Vice Provost of International Programs. The intent of the Travel Policy is to safeguard the well-being of UT students, faculty, and staff going abroad.
Travel Policy Table of Contents
For questions about the UT Travel Policy to Restricted Regions, please email IOC@austin.utexas.edu.
UT Travel Policy to Restricted Regions
The Travel Policy to Restricted Regions applies to:
- UT-Austin graduate and undergraduate students, traveling internationally as individuals or in groups, with or without University funding, for any UT-sponsored, UT-administered, or UT-related activity or program. This includes, but is not limited to:
- official study abroad programs
- recognized student organization trips abroad
- conducting research
- field studies
- service learning
- volunteer, experiential, or work programs sponsored, endorsed, promoted, or administered by the University
- UT-organized events and programs, with or without University funding (including, but not limited to, study abroad programs, recognized organization trips abroad, conferences and seminars, and class field trips, regardless of UT student, faculty, or staff participation).
- UT-Austin faculty and staff traveling internationally with or without University funding to conduct University business within one's capacity as a faculty or staff member, such as participation in research, conferences or teaching endeavors.
Note: This does not include personal/vacation travel that is unaffiliated with UT-Austin.
The IOC maintains a Restricted Regions List of locations worldwide which pose travel risk. No student, faculty, or staff can be required to travel to a location on the Restricted Regions List. UT-Austin students, faculty, and staff are not permitted to participate in international activities in locations on the Restricted Regions List unless an exception is granted by the IOC.
The Restricted Regions List includes, but is not limited to:
- Countries with a current U.S. Department of State Travel Warning, and
- Countries with locations that have an International SOS travel risk rating of High or Extreme, whether or not there is a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning.
Locations on the Restricted Regions List are evaluated for risk and assigned to a category as described below.
- Category 1 – Extreme Risk: International locations with an International SOS travel risk rating of Extreme.
- Category 2 – High Risk: International locations with an International SOS travel risk rating of High.
- Category 3 – Medium Risk: International locations with both a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning and an International SOS travel risk rating of Medium or lower
- Category 4 – Variable Risk: International locations where part of that country has an International SOS travel risk rating of High or Extreme, yet there is no U.S. Department of State Travel Warning. UT-Austin faculty and staff may proceed with planned travel with no IOC review or restrictions.
The Restricted Regions List is monitored regularly and may be updated by the IOC whenever specific conditions warrant. The list is reviewed on a quarterly basis. Absence of a country from the Restricted Regions List does not indicate that a location is safe or without travel risk.
Click here to view the complete Restricted Regions List.
Travel exceptions may be made upon official request to the IOC. An IOC subcommittee, appointed by the Vice Provost, reviews travel requests on behalf of the IOC. The IOC Subcommittee will review requests and make a decision. This decision is final and cannot be appealed.
The IOC will approve requests when there is a compelling justification for the travel and no suitable alternative opportunities exist. All requests must be strongly linked to academic goals. A thorough grasp of all major health, safety, or security concerns must be demonstrated in the request and accompanied by an adequate risk mitigation strategy.
The IOC will not support travel that takes place without adhering to the requirements of the Travel Policy. Therefore, the IOC will not retroactively approve any travel to a Restricted Region.
Click here for complete instructions and request materials.
The IOC has delegated the task of reviewing faculty and staff requests to travel to Category 1 and 2 locations to the traveler’s Chair/Unit Head and Dean/VP. The Dean/VP may delegate this responsibility to another individual in the same office. The Dean/VP or delegate should complete IOC training upon assuming this authority.
Faculty and staff requests to a Category 3 location do not require the review of the traveler’s Chair/Unit Head and Dean/VP. These requests will be routed to Travel Management Services for review. No IOC review is required for faculty and staff traveling to Category 4 locations.
Click here for faculty and staff instructions and request materials.
In addition to all requirements in the UT Student Travel Policy to International Locations, all students proposing travel to any location on the Restricted Regions List must have IOC approval.
The department Chair/Unit Head and Dean/VP must review and sign all Category 1, 2, and 3 student requests. The Dean/VP may delegate this responsibility to another individual in the same office. The Dean/VP or delegate should complete IOC training upon assuming this authority. Students proposing travel to Category 4 locations do not require the review and signature of the traveler’s Chair/Unit Head and Dean/VP.
Click here for student instructions and request materials.
The sponsoring or hosting department Chair/Unit Head and Dean/VP must review and sign all program requests. The Dean/VP may delegate this responsibility to another individual in the same office. The Dean/VP or delegate should complete IOC training upon assuming this authority.
New study abroad programs or other activities in locations on the Restricted Regions List may not be announced or formally marketed, and no promotional materials (print or web-based) may be distributed until the program or activity has been approved by the IOC.
Click here for activity/program instructions and request materials.
Late requests cannot be guaranteed a decision prior to the proposed departure date, and may result in a denied application and/or delayed start date for travel.
Though uncommon, it is possible that programs or activities abroad would need to be modified or suspended by the University due to a sudden change of condition. In making this assessment, the IOC will consider: 1) the risks associated with continuing the activity at that location; 2) the risk management plan for the students, faculty, or staff involved; and 3) the value of the academic experience in that specific location. The Vice Provost for International Programs or her delegate makes the final decision.
In circumstances where students are perceived to be in imminent danger and immediate action is required, the Vice Provost has the authority to suspend the affected programs or activities immediately and initiate evacuation proceedings.
If travel plans are adjusted after IOC approval has been granted, the traveler or program/activity sponsor is responsible for contacting the IOC to discuss the conditions of approval.
If there is a change in circumstances – in terms of the proposed itinerary, the critical nature of the trip, or the health, safety, or security climate of the region of interest – either prior to or after departure, the University retains the right to withdraw IOC travel approval and/or require return to the US.
According to the UT System Chancellor's directive to all UT System Presidents (April 22, 2010), "Institutions must implement the necessary processes to ensure anyone traveling on University business or programs is enrolled in the International SOS system."
To meet this mandate, all UT travelers are required to complete travel registration with International SOS. Failure to register travel with International SOS may result in program suspension or the IOC decision to withdraw approval.
Some countries on the Restricted Regions List are not covered by UT’s International SOS policy. All students, faculty, or staff requesting permission to travel to these countries must contact the UT International Office to ensure that adequate emergency assistance coverage is available.
Click here for more information on International SOS.
The University will not support travel that takes place without adhering to the requirements of the Travel Policy. To receive credit for coursework taken or research conducted in a Restricted Region, UT students must obtain IOC approval prior to travel. Violators may by denied credit or face non-academic sanctions.