Virginia Tech®home

Mandatory Travel Preparation


  • Required to enter or leave USA and host country
  • Should usually be valid 6 months beyond program end date (18 months for Russia)
  • Takes 2 – 8 weeks to obtain (up to 4 weeks longer in the busy season)
  • Expedited service is available for an additional fee
  • Check what you need (passport photos, ID, fee etc.)
  • Filling out forms can be done online, but you need to apply in person
  • Most locations (post office, Newton library, state or country courthouse) need appointments (they can fill up quick, so call a few weeks in advance!) 
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact your home country's consulate or embassy about procedures 

A passport is one of the most valuable identification documents in the world. So limit the number of people who handle your passport (if a hotel/rental agency needs your passport as collateral, offer another form of ID or a copy of your passport)


  • Visa: entry permit to a foreign country and is issued in the U.S.
  • Resident permit: allows you to stay in a county (might be required if staying abroad longer than 3 months and you apply for it once you’re in your host country).
  • You need a passport to obtain a visa
  • Determine whether you need a visa and how to apply at your host country's embassy/consulate in Washington D.C.
  • It is your responsibility to determine visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad
  • Contact host country embassy/consulate for current and specific requirements
  • Processing time can take up to 3-4 months
  • Costs vary anywhere between $ 20 and $ 500
  • You may be required to apply to a specific consulate in your jurisdiction
  • An in-person interview/application submission may also be required
  • Understand your visa type! The visa may require you to leave the country at a certain time (usually a few weeks after the program ends), deny permission to work for money, etc. If you violate it, you risk deportation

About CISI 

  • CISI Insurance (Medical and Security Assistance Insurance) is mandatory for all students studying abroad
  • This plan is your primary insurance coverage specific to overseas travel
  • You must self-enroll (VT faculty-led study abroad students excepted)
  • Coverage that can be purchased in small increments (one week/two week/threeweeks/monthly)
  • Some countries require you to take a national insurance as well (depending on length of stay)
  • CISI is only for the duration of your program and not for personal travel before or afterwards; you are highly encouraged to obtain similar coverage for personal travel



Submit a CISI Waiver Request Form only if studying through a Third Party provider, or international students going to your home country

How to enroll

  • Go to the CISI self enrollment page
  • Enter VTH-SE for Sponsor Code
  • Under Personal Data, you may enter the Program Name, but you do not need to enter a Participant ID
  • Be prepared to pay for the insurance with a credit card. CISI costs approximately $35/month, regardless of your age or destination
  • Once your payment has processed, you will be able to save as a pdf, print, or email your insurance information and ID card
  • Email your confirmation to your confirmation


  • For NON-VT PROGRAMS you need to register your program to access forms on your My Study Abroad account (if you’re not registered, you jeopardize your transfer credit, your financial aid, and you are not in compliance with Virginia Tech's policy regarding health, safety and risk management). After you have been accepted to your program, complete and submit the Virginia Tech Global Travel Assessment (VT-GTA)


On campus

  • Going Fall
    • Room: you cannot complete a housing contract for the academic year if you intend to go abroad in the fall and live on campus in the spring.  Instead, you must notify Housing and Residence Life during the fall semester. This can be done through the “Email Housing and Residence Life” option under the “Housing and Dining Services” menu on Hokie SPA.
    • Dining: during the fall semester, you can add your spring dining plan on Hokie SPA through the “Housing and Dining Services” menu.
  • Going Spring
    • Room: check out of your room properly and check the “Study Abroad” box on your Room Condition Form to cancel your spring semester’s housing contract. You can fill out a new housing contract for the next fall semester over the summer.
    • Dining: when you cancel your housing contract, your dining plan will also be canceled.  Check this through Hokie SPA under the “Housing and Dining Services” menu.

Off campus

  • Apartment: The best way to find apartments is through the Tech Off Campus website and through the VT Free and For Sale Facebook page.  It is often easier (and cheaper) to sublease into someone else’s apartment than it is to sublease your own apartment.  There are always more people looking to sublet than there are students looking for apartments.
  • Dining: if you desire a dining plan, you can add it on Hokie SPA through the “Housing and Dining” menu before the beginning of your semester at Tech


Subletting your apartment

If you are looking for ways to sublet your apartment while abroad, visit Virginia Tech Off Campus Housing

Highly recommended Safety Measures

  1. U.S. Department of State: Review the website frequently to get timely information about developments in your host country. The site provides Alerts and Travel Advisory Levels up to four standard levels for each country. Travel Advisories appear at the top of each country page, with a color corresponding to each level. 
  2. STEP (The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program): If you register your trip, the State Department will send you important security or emergency messages about your host country, contact you in an emergency and they can help family get in touch with you in an emergency (you can download the "Smart Traveler" app)
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Review the website frequently to check travel notices (health issues like disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters etc.) 
  4. TravelSafe app: You will have access to crucial emergency information regardless of the presence of an internet connection (i.e. country emergency numbers, country information, tip calculator, currency exchange rate calculator, panic button widget to send text messages to 3 contacts)
  5. Environmental hazards: research how to deal with severe weather (heat, cold, wind, altitude, heat stroke, hypothermia, frostbite) and natural disasters (floods, hurricanes, tornados, typhoons, volcanos, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis)  
  6. Self-defense course: something you could consider taking



Loading player for /content/dam/globaleducation_vt_edu/videos/safety.mp4...

*Terrorism: annually less than 20 Americans (non-students) are killed abroad as a result of terrorism acts: more people are killed by lightning

Plane ticket

  • Wait to buy a plane ticket until you've been accepted into your program and you're sure you will be going
  • Consider leaving your return open ended so that you have the option of staying on after the program to travel on your own
  • You can find cheap flights online, or book directly with airlines (if you have an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), you qualify for many student fares with discounts up to 50%

Airport customs

  • Check both U.S./host country’s customs regulations before departure
  • What may be legal in the United States (i.e. prescription drugs) might not be allowed/limited elsewhere and vice versa
  • Smuggling can be a federal offense leading to fines or imprisonment
  • If the total cost of your purchases exceeds a certain amount, you will be asked to pay a tax on those items
  • Retain all receipts, or make an itemized list of purchases, prior to customs inspection
  • Customs declaration forms are usually distributed on the plane and should be completed before presenting yourself at passport control

Airport security

  • Contact your airline to learn more about their specific policies
  • Do not even think about joking about terrorism, or what "might" be in your bags. It will get you arrested immediately. Don't try it!

Traveling while abroad

  • Discount airlines are often less expensive than trains or busses
  • Train passes can be expensive, so don't buy one unless you're certain you'll use it


General info

  • Going abroad is normally stressful and can compromise your well-being if you are not careful
  • Health issues can, including ones that are under control at home
  • New or unexpected symptoms may arise
  • Going to another country will not solve personal problems and may make them worse
  • Consult with your doctor to ensure that you’re stable enough for travel without your usual support system

Check Up

  • Make an appointment with your physician (4–6 weeks before departure)
  • Have your physician write a summary of your medical history and current issues 
  • CISI can provide certified translations


  • Check if the countries you’re traveling to require or recommend vaccinations
  • Make an appointment with your doctor at least four to six weeks before you travel 
  • Keep in mind, many vaccinations require at least 14 days to become effective and some require multiple trips to the doctor
  • There are several resources on and around campus that assist with travel vaccinations. Some may not have particular vaccinations available
  • Learn more about Immunizations offered by the Schiffert Health Center


  • If you have any medical conditions that require prescription drugs, ask your physician to write a letter with your diagnosis, prescribed medications, and required dosage
  • Make sure your prescription medication is not restricted or illegal abroad (i.e. Adderall is illegal in Japan). Check with the country’s embassy on procedures.
  • Make sure you have enough medication while abroad. Do not rely on mailing it from home! Customs may stop the shipment
  • Keep your medication it in its original, labeled containers
  • If you have significant allergies to medication ensure that you carry a medication/emergency card with your drug allergies


  • What common diseases and illnesses exist in the host country?
  • How are they transmitted?
  • What medical facilities are in the area?
  • Are English speaking doctors readily available?
  • What will I need to do if I have a medical issue?
  • Can my dietary restrictions or food allergies be accommodated?
  • Are any medical conditions ignored or virtually taboo in my host country?
  • What is my weight in kg and my height in cm?


  • VT Emergency Contact Cards
  • Local emergency service numbers (911 equivalent, hospital, taxi)
  • Local address and phone number
  • Host university and/or third party emergency numbers
  • U.S. contacts (family and friends)
  • U.S. Embassy/Consulate closest to you
  • Credit card replacement contact numbers
  • ID
  • Charged phone
  • Emergency money (cash and credit card)
  • CISI Insurance card
  • Medical information (name of doctor and dentist, prescriptions, blood type, allergies, eye-glass/contac lenses prescription)
Loading player for /content/dam/globaleducation_vt_edu/videos/passport, visa, cisi.mp4...

Passport, Visa, and CISI Insurance