Planning while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place

Next Steps and Planning FAQ

If you have already started or are planning to start an application for one of these programs, here is what you SHOULD be doing now:

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Research programs and apply

  • Attend general advising to help narrow down programs and make an appointment for program-specific inquiries once you’ve narrowed down a program.
  • Review what programs are of most interest to you and have several options in mind. Look at the virtual program options we currently have available.
  • Check the program webpage to see if there is an application open for your desired term, as not all programs are accepting applications due to COVID-19.
  • Apply for your program by the application deadline.
  • Ensure you have a valid passport that expires at least six months after your program end date. If you do not, you are strongly encouraged to apply immediately. Application instructions and information is available here.
  • Please note that your desired program’s location(s) may have COVID-19 vaccination (and/or testing) requirements to enter. These conditions change often. Please contact your Study Abroad Advisor if you have any concerns about these requirements.

Understand your program’s costs

Review the cost sheet for your program, which includes our financial policies.

Important notes:

  • Acceptance deposits are normally non-refundable. However, if you cancel your program participation for an on-site (non-virtual) program prior to the start of the program due to concerns about COVID-19, then the acceptance deposit is refundable.
  • Acceptance deposits are refundable if UW Study Abroad cancels a program for any reason.
  • Remember that out of pocket expenses are your responsibility.

Once accepted to a program, complete your acceptance tasks

  • Complete required Acceptance Tasks in your MyStudyAbroad (MySA) account, and check in on this task list regularly. These tasks include the Student Acceptance Form:  COVID-19 Acknowledgement.
  • Familiarize yourself with your program information and related policies. These are found on your program website, study abroad/away and program handbooks (located in your MySA account), and your program cost sheet.
  • Research housing and other on-site arrangements, but do not make any arrangements until the program is confirmed to run.
  • Submit Course Equivalency Requests (CERs) (when applicable) in your MySA account to determine course equivalents.
  • Research visa requirements (if required) for studying in your program location.

WAIT on the following activities

WAIT on the following activities, or connect with your Study Abroad Advisor with questions/concerns before moving forward with these tasks:

  • Do not purchase an airline ticket at this time. We recommend you explore fully refundable tickets and travel insurance options.
  • Do not put any money down for program housing. If you are looking for housing in Madison, read the lease carefully, and have a back-up plan if your study abroad program runs.
  • Avoid paying any other non-recoverable expenses at this time specific to your plans to study abroad/away.

The pandemic requires all of us to remain flexible as plans can change any time. We encourage you to have backup plans for classes, housing, and other arrangements.

Understand what your experience will be like and how to prepare

Study abroad and study away will look differently than it did in years past. In the immediate future once on-site programs are able to recommence, there will probably be fewer locations to choose from, housing options may be more limited, program dates may shift, course formats may change, excursions might change, and physical distancing guidelines will need to be followed. We will do our best to keep you updated on changes that may occur on your program. We’ll be here for you to answer any questions you may have and support you in your planning. Additionally, please read the Student Acceptance Form:  COVID-19 Acknowledgement.

Travel while on the program may look different as well. Whether you can travel or not to other countries while abroad will depend on each program’s and country’s regulations. You may be restricted to stay within your host country. If you are in a situation where your ability to travel is limited to your host city or local region, we hope you embrace this as an opportunity to deepen your understanding of the local culture and landscape.

What PPE/pandemic-related items should I pack?

You should plan to pack masks, hand sanitizer, a thermometer.  Your program may have other specific requirements.

Do I need to show proof of vaccination to enter my country?

This will vary by country and may change over time.  We encourage you to go to the U.S. Embassy’s page for your host country for the most current information on vaccination requirements.

You are responsible for understanding and following the entry information for your host country and for any country where you travel.  If you do not follow the entry requirements, that could preclude you from entering your host country, resulting in unforeseen personal expenses for which you won’t be reimbursed, and may impact successful program completion.  You also must understand that rapid border closures, movement restrictions, or other declarations may occur.

What is a vaccine passport?

Vaccine passports are issued in a paper or digital format, such as smartphone apps that securely store your data, showing proof of your vaccination status. In some places, a vaccine passport would allow individuals to travel without restrictions or entry bans, including quarantine obligations or testing requirements.   You will need to make yourself aware of what is needed for proof of vaccine for your host country/city.

Do I need to get a COVID test prior to departure?

This will vary by country and may change over time. We encourage you to go to the U.S. Embassy’s page for your host country for more information.  You will also need to provide the specific documentation requested by your host country.

If you need a negative test result for travel purposes and you are here in Madison, check with UHS for the test and appropriate documentation: You can also get a test through Dane County Public Health but make sure you follow the instructions listed here for international documentation: If you are not in Madison, check with your local healthcare clinic about testing and documentation. Be sure you have a plan well in advance of travel and understand the likely wait time for results.

Will I need to quarantine after I arrive, and what will that be like?

This will vary by country, but you may need to do so.  Many countries, including the U.S. have quarantine requirements.  You will need to research your country’s and program’s requirements.  The best source for this is the U.S. Embassy for the country you’re visiting.

Some programs are building a quarantine period into their program.  For other countries, you may have to quarantine upon arrival.  The level of support provided will vary by program, and we encourage you at ask your Study Abroad Advisor if you have any questions. Note that any costs associated with quarantine are your responsibility.

What are personal trips and travel going to be like once I’m abroad?

Travel while on the program may look different as well. Whether you can travel outside your host city or to other countries while abroad will depend on each program’s and country’s regulations. You may be restricted to stay within your host city or host country. If you are in a situation where your ability to travel is limited to your host city or local region, we hope you embrace this as an opportunity to deepen your understanding of the local culture and landscape.

You may also have to quarantine upon return for personal travel.  Any costs associated with that quarantine period would be at your own expense. Personal travel is not an acceptable excuse for missing classes and may impact your grades as many locations have attendance policies.

Will I be able to have visitors from the US?

You may be able to have visitors, but many countries have not allowed tourists to enter even when they are allowing student entry.  Your program may also have rules about visitors.  We would recommend waiting to make plans until after your arrival so you can see what types of options are available.

What happens if I test positive for COVID while abroad?

If you test positive for COVID while abroad, notify your local program staff immediately and follow their guidance on self-isolation and contact tracing. All UW Study Abroad participants are enrolled in comprehensive travel insurance through CISI. CISI provides medical benefits in the event of hospitalization as well as the cost of testing, when part of a course of treatment. CISI also offers trip delay benefits in certain instances of delay due to quarantine or sickness.

 What happens if my host city has specific requirements/restrictions/lockdown?

You must follow any public health and safety measures that may be implemented by your host country or program.  You will get steps communicated to you by local staff about expectations and requirements.  Lockdowns can mean different things in different countries.  You will be expected to follow any guidance given by us, program partners, and are expected to follow all local and national laws of your host country.

How do I know if my program will run?

We are constantly monitoring health and safety conditions at our program locations and are making decisions to run programs on a program-by-program basis. Most programs starting Spring 2022 or later will only be accepting applications once that program has been approved to re-open.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, global conditions, as well as rules and regulations established as a result of those changing conditions, are still highly dynamic. Please note that even if your program has been approved to proceed, circumstances could change requiring the cancellation or modification of your program, at any point before or after the program begins. Your study abroad advisor will be in contact with you with any important notifications. Please read through your program cost sheet carefully and make yourself aware of all relevant financial policies regarding program cancellations. Please reach out to your study abroad advisor with any questions regarding study abroad planning and managing potential changes to your program.  We encourage all students to have a back-up plan if their program is unable to run.

You can also use the new “Programs with Open Applications” search function on our Programs webpage to see a list of programs accepting applications for the spring 2022 semester and beyond.