Travel Guidelines

Penn State has established comprehensive guidance for both personal and University-affiliated travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. These guidelines have been developed with the health and safety of the entire University community in mind, in accordance with the latest information and requirements from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the governor’s office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of State. All Penn Staters are being asked to follow these basic guidelines in the interest of their own health, and for the common good.

Personal Travel

Penn State encourages its faculty, staff and students to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations related to travel. In particular, unvaccinated travelers should delay travel until they are vaccinated. In addition to the risk to their personal health, travelers should be aware of the elevated risk to other members of the community — including individuals with compromised immune systems and the elderly — should they become infected.

If you must travel for personal reasons, follow all state and local travel restrictions currently in place. All travelers should consult the CDC’s recommendations related to domestic travel and international travel, which differ depending on vaccination status. International travelers should consult the CDC’s website for the latest travel health notices and COVID-19 travel recommendations by destination, and research the restrictions imposed in the country they plan to visit, as well as any U.S. government restrictions that could impact their return home, as the global travel situation is changing frequently.

COVID-19 vaccines are available across the commonwealth. Click here for information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health on where to sign up for and receive a vaccine.

The U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued international COVID-19 travel advisories and recommend reconsidering or avoiding travel to many destinations.

Employee Domestic Travel

Starting July 1, 2021, employees resumed University-affiliated domestic travel without unit executive approvals. Employees are asked to limit travel where possible and consider virtual options that might replace or reduce the need to travel. Employees planning to travel on Penn State business should follow their unit's pre-COVID-19 travel approval process. College of Medicine faculty at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, both clinical and basic science, are expected to follow the shared guidelines issued together by Kevin Black, interim dean of the College of Medicine, and Penn State Health.

Employees wishing to travel should carefully review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance; research the restrictions imposed in the area(s) to which they are traveling and make sure they can comply with any restrictions; and arrange any necessary air travel through Anthony Travel, Penn State’s preferred travel agency, when possible.

Employees planning domestic travel should:


  • Practice physical distancing and hygiene recommendations before and during travel.

  • Obtain masks, hand sanitizer, and any PPE that might be necessary in the course of their work while traveling. Masks should be worn at all times when interacting with others.

  • Follow all quarantine guidelines and requirements of the destination.

  • If you are unvaccinated, the CDC recommends upon return that you seek a viral test three to five days after travel, and stay home and self-quarantine for seven days after travel.

Student Domestic Travel

COVID-19 Vaccination Guidelines

The University strongly encourages all students traveling domestically for any University-sponsored or University-affiliated purpose to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the date of departure.

Travel associated with a course

If a student is traveling off campus as part of a course, the instructor of record is responsible for working with their unit administrator to ensure that student travel adheres to the University’s travel guidance. This includes travel for short duration field trips. At this time, overnight field trips are discouraged.

Travel associated with research

Students wishing to travel domestically to conduct research, including thesis or dissertation research, should make a request to the faculty member teaching the course that is associated with the research, or the student's research adviser. The faculty member will review the request and submit the request to the unit executive (dean or chancellor) of the unit to which the travel is related.

Travel to a conference

Students wishing to travel domestically to attend a conference should make a request to the unit executive (dean or chancellor) of the unit to which the travel is related.

Requests to travel associated with a course, research or conference must include:


  • Dates and locations of travel.

  • Rationale for the travel.

  • For travel associated with a course, the faculty member must explain how the student(s) will follow the University travel guidance and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines. If the proposed travel involves an overnight stay, the faculty member must outline a contingency plan in the event that a traveler becomes ill with COVID-19 or any other illness.

  • For travel associated with research/travel to a conference, the student must describe how they plan to follow the University travel and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines.

  • How the student(s) will comply with any restrictions imposed in the area(s) to which they are traveling.

Cocurricular travel

Cocurricular travel that is sponsored by the University should follow the appropriate approval paths and guidelines through the sponsoring unit.

Student organization and student-initiated fee funded travel must be registered. At University Park, travel must be registered through OrgCentral using the travel registration form and will be reviewed by Student Activities staff. Club Sports travel must be submitted and reviewed by the Competitive Sports staff in Campus Recreation.

At Commonwealth Campuses, travel must be registered through campus-specific travel registration processes and will be reviewed by appropriate staff.

Trip coordinators will be responsible for sharing CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines, safety measures and potential risks associated with traveling with all participants.

Students and student organizations wishing to travel should do the following prior to submitting a request:


  • Review and make sure they fully understand and appreciate the risks they are accepting associated with COVID-19 and other communicable diseases when traveling. ALL STUDENTS WHO REQUEST TO TRAVEL AGREE TO THE BELOW ASSUMPTION OF RISK. IF A STUDENT IS NOT PREPARED TO AGREE, THEN THEY SHOULD NOT REQUEST TO PARTICIPATE IN UNIVERSITY-RELATED TRAVEL. Carefully review the state Department of Health guidance for the state to which the travel is being requested.

  • Research the restrictions imposed in the area(s) to which they are traveling and ensure that they can comply with the restrictions.

If approved for travel associated with a course, travel associated with research, or cocurricular travel, students must comply with the following:


  • Follow all COVID recommendations and requirements of the destination, in addition to the CDC order requiring face masks on public transportation and transportation hubs.

  • Arrange any necessary air travel through Anthony Travel, Penn State’s preferred travel agency, when possible (not applicable to student organizations or student-initiated fee travel).

  • Upon returning home, the CDC recommends that unvaccinated travelers get tested with a viral test three to five days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for seven days after travel.


Acknowledgment of Risk

Students who participate in University-related travel acknowledge and understand that participation is wholly voluntary. In addition to other hazards connected with travel, students understand that there is risk they may become exposed to and/or infected by COVID-19 or any of its variants, and that this risk cannot be entirely eliminated even with adherence to all preventative measures including vaccination. Students who participate in University-related travel assume any and all risk of such exposure or infection, and acknowledge that it may result in personal injury, illness, severe complications, permanent disability, and/or death. STUDENTS UNDERSTAND THAT ANY REQUEST FOR TRAVEL IS COMPLETELY VOLUNTARY AND SHALL OPERATE AS AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND ASSUMPTION OF RISK RELATED TO COVID-19 AND ITS VARIANTS.

Full guidance related to student domestic travel is available on the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs website, under "Visitors, Travel and Meetings."

International Travel

Effective Aug. 16, Penn State lifted its moratorium on University-affiliated international travel, which was in place since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing that travel imposes additional risks relative to the spread of COVID-19, Penn State developed the following guidance (effective Aug. 16) for University-affiliated international travel by employees and students. Policy TR01, International Travel Requirements, applies to all international travel.

Student International Travel

SEPT. 17 UPDATE: The U.S. Department of State is warning that passport processing times are taking, on average, 12 to 18 weeks, not including mailing time. More information is available here. Education Abroad is advising students that if they are planning to study abroad during the spring semester, they must apply for a passport immediately and through the expedited process.

All students conducting University-affiliated international travel, regardless of the funding source, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the date of departure. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Please note the following:


  • Some students may not be vaccinated due to exemptions for medical, disability or religious reasons. In these cases, the student should contact the following offices to request documented affirmation of their exemption:

    — Medical condition: University Health Services at uhs-insurance@psu.edu.

    — Documented disability: Student Disability Resources Office at edaccessibility@psu.edu.

    — Religious belief: Affirmative Action Office at aao@psu.edu.

  • Students who are not vaccinated and do not have a documented exemption must submit unit executive approval that travel is essential.

  • Exemptions approved by Penn State offices hold no influence with foreign governments or international educational institutions, many of which have enacted strict vaccination protocols. Therefore, students who are not vaccinated, even those who have been approved for an exemption by Penn State, may face limitations or restrictions in their participation in education abroad programs, including cancellation of their admission, due to regulations by foreign governments or international educational institutions. The Penn State Education Abroad Office will work to determine whether reasonable accommodations can be made for students who have been approved for a medical/disability- or religious-related exemption from the University’s vaccination requirement. If reasonable accommodations cannot be identified without fundamentally altering the nature of the educational program or activity, including if significant health and/or safety concerns remain, Penn State reserves the right to rescind the offer of admission to study abroad, regardless of any academic unit’s approval.

  • For students planning university-affiliated international travel that is not part of a Penn State Education Abroad program, in the case of an approved medical/disability- or religious exemption from vaccination, the University will explore whether reasonable accommodations can be identified for student participation without fundamentally altering the nature of the educational program or activity. If reasonable accommodations cannot be identified, or if significant health and safety concerns remain, Penn State reserves the right to deny or rescind approval as a university-affiliated international trip.

  • Students whose approval for travel was granted prior to Aug. 1 are exempt from this requirement, but strongly recommended to be fully vaccinated.

All students traveling on University-affiliated international travel must record the trip with the Travel Safety Network (TSN) prior to travel, if their travel is not part of a University-affiliated group trip which has already been recorded. Students and employees traveling internationally on an Education Abroad program will have their travel recorded by Education Abroad and do not need to complete a TSN record for these programs. Students wishing to travel internationally must register their University-affiliated travel with the Travel Safety Network at least 30 days in advance or as soon as possible once travel is planned. All students wishing to travel should first review the list of restricted countries, which includes countries restricted for security and regulatory reasons and also countries with high COVID-19 risks. This list will be reviewed periodically and is subject to change. Additional forms, review and approval is required for student travel to restricted countries. Students must receive approval for travel to restricted countries prior to purchasing airline tickets, hotel accommodations, etc. The Global Safety Office (TSN@psu.edu) will continue to assist university-affiliated international travelers and be a resource for any questions about health and safety at your destination(s).

Travelers must:


  • Practice physical distancing and hygiene recommendations before and during travel.

  • Obtain masks, hand sanitizer and any PPE that might be necessary in the course of your work while traveling.

  • Follow all COVID-19 guidelines and requirements of the destination.

  • Monitor their health and follow COVID-19 health and safety precautions upon returning home. The CDC recommends that vaccinated travelers get tested with a viral test three to five days after travel and self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Individuals who become ill/symptomatic must stay home and follow the COVID-19 reporting protocols.

Arrange any necessary air travel through Anthony Travel, Penn State’s preferred travel agency, unless not possible to do so. One of the benefits of using Anthony Travel is that the traveler has 24-hour access to an agent should they experience a flight delay, cancellation, or other travel disruption, which is particularly useful during COVID times.

Below is further information about booking through Anthony Travel:


  • Travel arrangements can be booked through Concur or directly through Anthony Travel outside of Concur. Because Penn State does not have student profiles in Concur, if a unit wants the student to book via Concur, an employee would need to make the reservation for the student as a guest traveler by visiting travel.psu.edu and clicking on the “Travel OnLion” tab.

  • Travel may be booked by purchasing card or personal credit card. An employee in the unit in which the student is making the travel request may use a purchasing card to purchase travel for the student or the student may use a personal credit card and be reimbursed by the unit.

Employee International Travel

If an individual who is not vaccinated due to an approved exemption and is seeking to travel internationally for sponsored research purposes, they must obtain permission to travel from the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs (colleges and campuses), Senior Vice President for Research Lora Weiss (for institutes and ARL), or Interim Dean Dr. Kevin Black (for the College of Medicine). Unvaccinated employees who receive permission to travel must sign an acknowledgement of risk. Unvaccinated international travelers should get tested with a viral test three to five days after travel and stay home and self-quarantine for a full seven days after travel.

Employees who are not vaccinated because of a medical condition, documented disability or religious belief may request an exemption by contacting the Affirmative Action Office at aao@psu.edu.

Employees wishing to travel internationally must register their University-affiliated travel with the Travel Safety Network at least 30 days in advance or as soon as possible once travel is planned. All employees wishing to travel should first review the list of restricted countries, which includes countries restricted for security and regulatory reasons and also countries with a CDC Level 4 or Unknown 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. Employees must receive approval for travel to restricted countries prior to purchasing airline tickets, hotel accommodations, etc. Arrange any necessary air travel through Anthony Travel, Penn State’s preferred travel agency, unless not possible to do so. The Global Safety Office (TSN@psu.edu) will continue to assist university-affiliated international travelers and be a resource for any questions about health and safety at your destination(s).

Travelers must:


  • Practice physical distancing and hygiene recommendations before and during travel.

  • Obtain masks, hand sanitizer, and any PPE that might be necessary in the course of your work while traveling.

  • Follow all COVID-19 guidelines and requirements of the destination.

  • Monitor their health and follow COVID-19 health and safety precautions upon returning home. The CDC recommends that vaccinated travelers get tested with a viral test three to five days after travel and self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. Individuals who become ill/symptomatic must stay home and follow the COVID-19 reporting protocols.

Full guidance related to University-affiliated student international travel and employee international travel is available on the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs website, under "Visitors, Travel and Meetings."

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