Health & Safety Abroad

Health & Safety Abroad

Student safety is our first priority. The University of Virginia and its International Studies Office (ISO) carefully consider health and safety as a condition of program planning and administration and as an integral part of Pre-Departure Orientation and student preparation. The University monitors health, safety, and security conditions where our students travel. Our exchange university partners and the provider organizations that offer programs open to UVA students also monitor those conditions. If risks are identified, students are advised on how to respond and directed to support services. The ISO maintains a Crisis Management Plan for Education Abroad, which is followed in the event of a crisis outside the U.S. involving our students who are abroad for university related purposes.

All UVA students traveling outside of the national borders of the United States for University-related purposes, which may include but are not limited to study, research, internships, service, conferences, presentations, teaching, performances, recruiting, or athletic competitions are subject to the University Policy on Student International Travel. University-related purposes include any travel that is for academic credit and/or utilizes University resources. Students are required to register their travel with the ISO.

The Policy also requires students who travel outside the U.S. for University-related purposes to enroll in the UVA international health and emergency assistance insurance plan through CISI. The insurance plan covers health care costs incurred during international travel for university related purposes and provides emergency assistance, including medical evacuation, security evacuation, and repatriation of remains. The ISO recommends that travelers consider trip insurance that can be tapped in the event that travel to or from the education abroad destination is interrupted or in the event that a change in itinerary is required.

The University limits student travel for University-related purposes to or through a country or a region for which the U.S. Department of State has published a Travel Advisory of Level 3 “Reconsider Travel” – color code orange or Level 4 “Do Not Travel” – color code red; a country or region for which the Centers for Disease Control have issued a Travel Health Notification of Warning Level 3;  a country with a Sanctioned Country designation issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the U.S. Department of Treasury; and to a country of region for which the University has issued its own University Travel Restriction. If a DOS Level 3 or 4 Travel Advisory, CDC Travel Warning Level 3 or a University Travel Restriction is issued prior to departure for a planned destination or while students are participating in a program in the affected region, the program will be canceled or alternate arrangements will be made for students in the program. Should UVA decide to cancel a program prior to departure, or recall students currently abroad, every effort will be made to assist students in reintegrating their studies at home at the earliest possible time. In addition, given such exceptional circumstances, the normal refund policy may be modified to help students recover as many of their expenses as possible. However, students will remain responsible for any expenditures made on their behalf that cannot be recovered by the University. Please see the University Policy on Student International Travel for more information.

UVA Education Abroad Advisors work with students enrolled in study abroad programs individually and at the mandatory Pre-Departure Orientation and/or through a series of online modules to help students prepare for a safe experience abroad. Topics covered include: general safety, travel safety, medical concerns, and responsible and respectful behavior. Students, parents and family members are encouraged to review more information related to Health and Safety in the Education Abroad Handbook.

While we expect students’ education abroad to proceed as planned, unexpected events can occur. ISO and University staff in Charlottesville along with education abroad program faculty and staff on-site refer to the Crisis Management Plan for Education Abroad to guide the response to emergency situations. When appropriate, updates will be shared with those individuals who students have identified as emergency contacts.

Below are basic guidelines and resources for students.


  • Explore general resources and resources specific to your destination. Suggestions below.
  • Read your program handbook for important information about health, safety, and other issues.
  • Visit your doctor to talk about any existing health issues and how these issues may be impacted by your experience abroad. Ask about any medications you currently take and how to obtain and use those medications abroad.
  • Make an appointment with the Student Health & Wellness International Travel Clinic.
  • If you are traveling to an area where insect-borne illnesses are found, review the CDC page on avoiding bug bites and additional and CDC resources.
  • Students participating in UVA-administered programs (excluding exchanges) will be enrolled in the CISI plan as part of their education abroad program. Students participating on all other education abroad programs are required to self-enroll.  Please view our Insurance page for more information.

While Abroad

  • Carry your insurance card and emergency contacts card with you at all times.
  • Both CISI and the ISO monitor world events and will communicate as needed to travelers and their emergency contacts.
  • Be aware and pay pay attention to your surroundings at all times, monitor the media, avoid demonstrations and other crowds as they can turn violent without warning, follow directions from local authorities and your program.
  • U.S. citizens should register with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). All students should check for messages from the closest Embassy or Consulate of their home country regularly.
  • Remember to notify and/or obtain permission of on-site staff as well as contact your parents when you are planning to travel on weekends/breaks.

In an Emergency

In case of an emergency, students are instructed to contact appropriate on-site staff immediately. On-site staff are considered first responders in emergency situations. The on-site staff will contact the International Studies Office. The International Studies Office staff may contact the person the student has listed as their emergency contact, depending on the situation.

If a family member or friend is contacted by the student about an emergency and it is unclear whether or not the on-site staff are aware of the situation, that person should call the UVA International Studies Office at 434.982.3010. This number is answered during business hours, Monday-Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. In the event of a true emergency outside of business hours, your call can be directed to a message center for emergency assistance.

When preparing to call regarding your emergency, please have on hand as much of the following information as possible:

  • your name
  • country & program of study
  • student(s) names
  • date & time of occurrence/condition
  • description of occurrence/condition
  • action taken thus far
  • action requested of the UVA International Studies Office (if appropriate)
  • return contact information

Health & Safety Resources