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.

  • 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
(Updated Sept. 14, 2022)

COVID-19 vaccination guidelines

The University strongly encourages all students traveling for any University-sponsored or University-affiliated purpose to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, by the date of departure.

Observance of health and safety guidelines

Students traveling domestically should:


  • Follow the CDC guidelines for domestic travel.

  • Follow all COVID recommendations and requirements of the destination.

  • 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).

Travel associated with a course

If a student or group of students is traveling off campus as part of a course, the instructor of record should develop a plan for continuation or cancellation of the program should the faculty member become ill; a plan for continuation or cancellation of the program should the faculty member need to accompany a student who is ill; and a plan for returning students to their homes or campus in the event of a program cancellation due to emergent restrictions due to COVID-19.

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.

Acknowledgment/Assumption 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 risks associated with travel, including that of COVID-19 exposure or infection, and acknowledge that they 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 TRAVEL AND TO COVID-19 AND ITS VARIANTS.

Personal travel

Students wishing to travel for personal reasons should exercise caution and follow safety and hygiene recommendations.

International Travel

Penn State leaders encourage the community to continue taking health and safety precautions as outlined by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State.

Recognizing that travel imposes additional risks relative to the spread of COVID-19, Penn State developed the following guidance for University-affiliated international travel by employees and students. Policy TR01, International Travel Requirements, applies to all international travel.

Student International Travel

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, 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 up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations by the date of departure. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are specific requirements to be considered up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. As such, Penn State will require that all students who are eligible to be boosted receive a COVID-19 booster at least two weeks before the start of their University-affiliated international travel.

Note the following descriptions of the terms “fully vaccinated” and “up to date” on vaccinations.

Per the CDC, adults ages 18 years and older are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19:


  • after completing the 2-dose primary series of Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Novavax, or

  • after completing 1 dose of the primary series of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.


Per the CDC, there are specific requirements to be considered up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. Most adults aged 18 and older are currently recommended to receive at least one booster shot (excluding the Novavax vaccine). As a result, eligible Penn State students are required to have received at least one booster shot in advance of international travel. Students who are not eligible for the COVID-19 booster are not required to be boosted prior to travel so long as they are otherwise compliant with this requirement (i.e., fully vaccinated).”

Students should confirm they meet definition of up to date based on the vaccine type they received by reviewing the CDC page on vaccinations and booster shots.

Having all students traveling on University-affiliated international travel are up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters reduces the risk of severe disease while abroad, reduces the risk of substantial disruptions to the academic program and nature of the travel due to isolation or quarantine, and reduces associated with isolation, quarantine, and medical care abroad. This requirement aligns with international health guidance and best practices in public health.

Please note the following:

Some students may not be vaccinated or boosted due to accommodations for medical, disability or religious reasons. In these cases, the student should contact the following offices to submit a request for a documented affirmation of their accommodation:

Students who are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and do not have a documented medical, religious, or disability-related accommodation must submit unit executive approval that travel is essential. Generally, this means a Dean, Chancellor, or their delegate confirming in writing that the student’s travel is required or essential to the academic mission.

Vaccination accommodations approved by Penn State offices hold no influence with foreign governments or international educational institutions, many of which have enacted strict vaccination and booster protocols. Therefore, students who are not vaccinated, even those who have been approved for an accommodation 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 identified for students who have been approved for a medical/disability- or religious-related accommodation 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 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 fall semester travel plans were approved prior to August 22, 2022 are exempted from this requirement, but are strongly encouraged to be up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. Students whose fall travel is approved on or after August 22, 2022 as well as all students traveling abroad at any point after fall 2022, regardless of travel approval date, are required to be compliant with this policy.

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

Recognizing that travel imposes additional risks relative to the spread of COVID-19, Penn State has developed the following guidance for international travel. Policy TR01, International Travel Requirements, applies to all international travel.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for University-Funded Travel

Guidance

All employees requesting University-affiliated international travel that involves University funding must be up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations by the date of departure. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are specific requirements to be considered up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. Note the following descriptions of the terms “fully vaccinated” and “up to date”:

Per the CDC, adults ages 18 years and older are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19:


  • After completing the 2-dose primary series of Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax

  • After completing 1 dose of the primary series of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

Per the CDC, there are specific requirements to be considered up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. Most adults ages 18 and older are currently recommended to receive at least one booster shot (excluding the Novavax vaccine). As a result, eligible Penn State employees are required to have received at least one booster shot in advance of international travel. Employees who are not eligible for the COVID-19 booster are not required to be boosted prior to travel so long as they are otherwise compliant with this requirement (i.e., fully vaccinated).

Employees should confirm they meet the definition of up to date based on the vaccine type they received by reviewing the CDC page on vaccinations and booster shots.

Please note the following:


  • Travel funded by non-university funds (e.g., federal/state grants) is excluded from this requirement.

  • Unit executives may choose to exempt from the vaccination requirement those employees for whom the requested travel is part of their regular job responsibilities.

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. In addition, unit-level pre-COVID travel approval processes should be followed. 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 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 it is 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:


  • follow COVID-19 health and safety precautions before and during travel and consider getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible.

  • obtain masks, hand sanitizer, and any PPE that might be necessary in the course of their 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 travelers who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations get tested with a viral test 3-5 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.

If an individual who is not vaccinated is making a request 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), Dr. Lora Weiss (institutes and ARL), or Dr. Kevin Black (College of Medicine). Unvaccinated employees who receive permission to travel must sign an acknowledgement of risk as part of the Travel Safety Network registration process. Unvaccinated international travelers should get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel and stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 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.

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