Before You Go

Keeping Safe While Abroad

A pre-departure orientation is required for students studying abroad. You will learn how to prepare to travel and study abroad. You will learn about local customs and currency and be given advice about what to pack for your trip and how to stay safe while you are abroad. You may be asked to complete a medical exam before you leave to verify you are healthy enough to travel abroad. If you have any special health concerns, it is recommended that you confidentially disclose them to the program administrators so that they can assist you in case of emergency. Students in CUNY programs will be required to buy international travel insurance. Non-CUNY programs generally include insurance, but make sure you follow up with the program director.


You can never apply too early for a passport, and you will need it to apply for a student visa (if required).  It can take eight weeks to have your passport processed, so the sooner you apply, the better. Passports are valid for 10 years, so you can never apply too early! If you have a passport, make sure it is valid. Most countries require that your passport be valid for six months after your program ends. Also, keep in mind that many countries require a student visa. A visa is a travel document used in conjunction with the passport, and you cannot apply for a visa without a passport. Your study abroad program will inform you of the need for a visa and will send you information on how to apply for it. Visa processing times vary from country to country and consulate to consulate, so advanced planning is imperative. Information on applying for and renewing your passport is available here.

Travel Guidelines

CUNY’s International Travel Guidelines are a resource to assist faculty and staff in the review and approval requirements and in the planning and preparing for health and safety issues that may arise in the context of students participating in domestic and international travel programs. As best practices for the implementation and oversight of travel programs evolve, the offices that created the guidelines anticipate reviewing them on a regular basis and revising them as needed. Please check for updated versions and contact us with any questions.

Pre-Departure Orientation

Attend the pre-departure sessions offered by your study abroad program. These are usually mandatory and will provide you with invaluable information in preparation for your study abroad experience. This is also your opportunity to have your questions answered.

International Travel Insurance

The City University of New York has contracted with Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) to provide overseas health coverage for its students.  Students participating in a CUNY study abroad or faculty-led program are required to buy CISI insurance.  In many cases, you will be automatically enrolled in the coverage by your study abroad program. In addition, students participating in any international travel using CUNY funding and/or receiving CUNY credit are required to buy the insurance.  Students participating in non-CUNY programs are highly encouraged to buy CISI insurance.  Please speak with your study abroad advisor or liaison for information on enrolling.  Download the CISI brochure for more information about the coverage provided for most programs, and review the most commonly asked questions. Travel to a part of the world that has travel warnings will have different insurance terms and may not be insurable.

While abroad, if an insured student, staff or faculty member needs to contact CISI for support, they should contact CISI’s 24/7 Emergency Assistance Provider AXA Assistance (also known as Team Assist) at:

Phone:   001-312-935-1703 (calling from outside of the US, collect calls accepted)
(855) 327-1411 (toll-free from within the US)

Health and Safety

Find out information about the country you are studying in by visiting the U.S. State Department Website. This site also posts travel warnings issued by the government, as well as public announcements and consular information sheets.

You should be familiar with the immunizations required and suggested for the area in which you plan to travel. Visit the Center for Disease Control for the latest update.

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