Office of Global Affairs

Travel waivers

Travel waiver requests

A ‘travel waiver request’ means that travel must be reviewed by UW and will require official approval. Whether a travel waiver is required will depend on the UW status and destination of the traveler. If a waiver is required, it will be included in the registration process.


Graduate Students

Travel waiver requests for graduate students are a part of the application process for UW Study Abroad Independent Learning for travel to a Department of State (DOS) Level 3 or 4 destination. A waiver for travel to a DOS Level 4 destination will be considered if your proposed trip meets one of the following criteria:

  • It is necessary to fulfill degree requirement or degree completion that cannot be completed remotely or through an on-campus option, or due to time-limited external funding
  • You are already abroad and facing extenuating circumstances due to visa/immigration issues in returning to the U.S. or your continued enrollment at the UW is required for specified reasons.

Next steps

  • If you are traveling to a country with a DOS Level 4, you must submit a written endorsement from your committee chair (or equivalent) and Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC). Please secure these endorsements prior to the independent learning application process. You will upload them as part of the application
  • A department or school may require a higher level of endorsement or additional approval steps for their graduate students. Graduate students must confirm these requirements with their department or school prior to submitting an application.
  • If your travel is approved, you will be made fully aware of exceptions and exclusions on the UW Student Abroad Insurance plan for countries under a current U.S. Department of State Level 4 Travel Advisory, and of UW policies governing returning travelers (including pre-departure requirements, quarantines, testing, or notification requirements).
  • Sign up for Independent Learning and request a travel waiver

Undergraduate Students

Faculty, Other Academic Personnel, and Staff

Travel to Department of State (DOS) Level 4 destinations require a travel waiver per the updated UW International Travel Rules and Restrictions. ITRASC will review your application and Provost approval is required.

Pre-approved travel

The following trip categories are pre-approved by ITRASC. If your proposed travel meets one or more of the following criteria, you are required to register your travel and complete a travel waiver request as part of this process. However, formal ITRASC and Provost approval is not required.

  1. Approved sabbatical travel (as outlined in the detailed sabbatical plan appended to the Faculty Application for Sabbatical Leave)
  2. Time-limited funding or grant for travel (unable to be postponed or rescheduled due to funding constraints)
  3. Travel is directly related to COVID-19 response/research (“first-responders”)

Important notes for all employee travelers

You must acknowledge that you have been fully informed and are aware of the following:

  • Exceptions and exclusions on the UW Employee Emergency Travel Assistance plan for countries under a current U.S. Department of State Level 4 Travel Advisory
  • UW Environmental Health and Safety policies governing outbound or returning travelers (including any quarantines, safety plan approval, testing, or notification requirements)

Start the travel registry process

Important considerations for travel abroad during COVID-19

Access to medical care and emergency transportation

  • Many countries, especially where health infrastructures are fragile, are having difficulty coping with the burden of COVID-19. Their ability to handle baseline non-COVID-19 patients as well as serious COVID-19 cases is severely stretched and may not support the needs of seriously ill foreigners.
  • Where medical evacuation can be arranged, the time required for immigration and aviation permissions is prolonged compared to normal, even in critical situations. Many countries restrict refueling stops for aircraft with a COVID-19 patient, making certain routes unavailable.
  • Many countries will not accept a COVID-19 evacuation for any patient unless they are a citizen or national of that country. Hence, if an expatriate worker is not a national or resident of a nearby country that has the needed level of medical care, they may not have the same access that would be available before the pandemic.
  • Only specific air ambulances are equipped to safely handle COVID-19 patients. While the pool of such providers is expanding, there are fewer air ambulances available to transport confirmed or possible COVID-19 patients and these providers are in high demand.
  • In general, it will be necessary to have the result of a COVID-19 test before a patient will be accepted for international evacuation. Handling of the patient will depend on the result. A negative test does not guarantee the patient is free of COVID-19. Permissions and approvals for aviation will take longer than normal and to manage the patient in place until flight plans are approved.
  • In the unfortunate case of a death abroad, return of remains is generally delayed. The deceased may be subject to local regulations governing preservation and shipping of remains (some countries do not allow cremation or embalming). Shipping of remains meantime may be delayed due to unavailability of commercial carriers.

Insurance exclusions and limitations

  • The UW Student Abroad Insurance and UW Employee Emergency Travel Assistance policies are subject to exclusions and limitations for countries under a current U.S. Department of State Level 4 Travel Advisory.
  • Political evacuation and natural disaster evacuation benefits are not covered while in a country with a Department of State Level 4: “Do Not Travel” travel advisory is in place. Travel destinations should be carefully considered given these exclusions.

Quarantine and testing requirements

  • Airlines, countries or regions may have quarantine or testing requirements. Quarantine timeframes vary. You may be subject to fines or legal consequences if the requirements are not followed.
  • Airlines, countries or regions may require certification of a negative COVID-19 test.
  • Quarantine and testing requirements can change with little to no notice.

Border and immigration restrictions

  • Restrictions of inbound travel from and between countries are still in place. This includes for critical patients who need access to a higher level of care.
  • Some restrictions may be based on previous travel, as well as passport or citizenship country.
  • Border restrictions or closures (abroad and for the United States) may change with little to no notice.
  • U.S. Department of State repatriation flights are not always available and not guaranteed and are generally provided on a reimbursement basis.