COVID-19 General Information for Study Abroad Programs

The Office of International Education and Study Abroad Abroad understands there is some uncertainty about international travel due to COVID-19. We are consistently monitoring worldwide resources related to international travel to ensure the health and safety of our students and the wider University of South Alabama community.

We assess each travel situation individually and recommend students considering travel abroad to consult various resources, including:

  1. Center for Disease Control Travel Recommendations by Country
  2. Center for Defense Control Travel Health Notices
  3. U.S. Department of State COVID-19 Travel Information

These COVID-19 travel related frequently asked questions provide more insight and guidance.

▼   Can I study abroad right now?

In order to study abroad, your host country must meet the requirements of the Office of International Education (OIE) Travel Policy, as outlined below:

  • The Office of International Education (OIE) does not offer or approve study abroad, internship, independent travel, service learning, or other programs in countries where the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Travel Warnings and Center for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 Warnings are at a Level 4 or where all other current CDC Warnings are at a Level 3.
  • OIE, in consultation with applicable University administrative offices, will assess all university-sponsored or related travel to countries that have U.S. DOS Travel Warnings and CDC COVID Warnings at a Level 3 or all other CDC Warnings at a Level 2.
  • In the event that the U.S. DOS or CDC COVID Warnings advance to a Warning Level 3 or Level 4 and/or all other CDC Warnings advance to a Warning Level 2 or 3 for a country or region, the status of existing programs and university-related student travel will be addressed on a case by case basis.

This policy is visualized in the chart below.

  Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
DOS Approved Approved Admin Review Not Approved
CDC-COVID-19 Approved Approved Admin Review Not Approved
CDC-All Others Approved Admin Review Not Approved N/A

Travelers are not permitted to travel through countries with U.S. Department of State (DOS), Center for Disease Control (CDC), or CDC-COVID-19 Travel Warnings that are not approved or that require administrative review on route to their final destination.

This includes personal travel and/or flight layovers. Failure to follow these guidelines may put you in jeopardy of forfeiting your international insurance.

▼   Can I even apply for a US passport right now?

If you are thinking of traveling abroad, we highly encourage you to apply for a passport as soon as possible as processing times are longer than usual. If you are anticipating applying for a visa for your program, we recommend that you apply for a passport early. For estimated processing times and more information on passport applications, please click here.

OIE is happy to help you with the application process!

▼   Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine prior to studying abroad?
Vaccination is strongly encouraged before travel and anyone who chooses to travel, regardless of vaccination status, should self-monitor symptoms and follow masking and other safety protocols. For more information on traveling internationally, please see the CDC’s international travel guidance.
▼   Should I purchase trip cancellation insurance and/or refundable airfare?
While all students traveling abroad are enrolled in a travel health insurance policy for the duration of their trip, this policy does not protect against unplanned trip cancellations or interruptions due to COVID-19. We highly recommend purchasing additional “cancel for any reason” travel insurance that is available through our University Recommended provider, CISI. Please view Cultural Insurance Services International’s Trip Protector coverage recommendations.
▼   What will happen with my academics if my study abroad program is canceled or if I change my mind about my comfort level at the last minute?

Due to the current climate of travel, we advise that you have a back up plan in case you are unable to study abroad. Make sure that you discuss your plans with your academic advisor. Register for USA courses during the fall, spring, and summer (if applicable) in case you are unable to take your courses abroad.

If program cancellations present any challenging circumstances for you, we would be happy to work with you and your academic department to find a positive solution, as we do not want any student to be academically penalized due to program cancellations.

▼   Will I have to quarantine or get tested for COVID-19 when arriving at my study abroad destination?
It is possible and will depend on your program and destination. Please contact your program provider for country specific arrival information. You may also refer to the Department of State’s COVID-19 page and the CDC’s page on international travel.
▼   What are the COVID-19 protocols in my host country?
We recommend that you visit your host country’s official government website for information regarding country specific protocols. For some information, you may also refer to the Department of State’s COVID-19 page.
▼   Can you guarantee my safety abroad?
Keeping our students safe while studying abroad is a top priority for our staff. OIE has emergency policies and procedures that are continuously reviewed and updated for all approved programs. We work proactively to provide students with access to information about health and safety prior to their departure and while they are abroad. We monitor the world situation daily through available channels, such as the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs and the daily information provided by the Overseas Security Advisory Council. All students are enrolled in USA’s international insurance policy (CISI).  While safety cannot be guaranteed anywhere in the world, we work closely with students to be partners in risk management.
▼   What if I get COVID-19 while abroad?
Travelers who become sick with COVID-19 have medical coverage available through USA’s international insurance policy (CISI).
▼   I’m not ready to travel, but I still want a global experience. What can I do?  Can you tell me more about virtual experiences?
Virtual programs abroad are available for students who want to participate in remote global learning! Set an appointment with one of our advisors to explore your options today! 
▼   What is Cancel For Any Reason Insurance or CFAR?

International Insurance

All students participating in University of South Alabama study abroad programs are enrolled in international health insurance through CISI. This insurance policy is available in your Terra Dotta application. CISI coverage can be used for emergencies, accidents, and illnesses that occur while abroad. 

CFAR Cancel for Any Reason Insurance

The insurance available through CISI does not include trip cancellation. Participants interested in trip cancellation insurance should carefully evaluate in detail any plans that claim to cover cancellation for any reason. 

CFAR insurance will cover:

  • A percentage of your program fees, housing, and flights if your program is canceled or you withdraw from the program for any reason if these expenses are non-refundable.
  • CFAR insurance will not cover: any program fees, housing, or flights that are refunded through your program, housing, or airline as a result of a trip interruption or cancellation.

As you consider purchasing CFAR insurance, make sure you know the following:

  • The specified window of time by which you must purchase the CFAR after you make a payment for your program, e.g. must purchase a plan within 21 days of initial payment (your deposit). Please note that University of South Alabama Students who Commit to a Study Abroad program provide the Office of International Education with a deposit. This deposit is held until the program officially runs. Students can contact our office to inquire about the exact deposit date the payments are distributed on their behalf. 
  • What is and is not covered – specifically in relation to COVID-19 and pandemics since not all CFAR insurance policies cover COVID-19 or pandemic diseases
  • Your airline’s flight cancellation refund policy
  • The terms of your housing contract, the cost of housing, and when deposits and expenses are owed for your housing

The following are companies that provide trip cancellation/CFAR insurance. Please note, CISI partners with Travel Insured International. As USA students already have an existing CISI policy, their CFAR add-on might be a more affordable option.



Axa Travel Insurance

Travel Insured International 

The information about the companies listed above is provided solely as a resource to students. The University of South Alabama does not own, control, administer, or endorse the CFAR insurance plans provided. It is the responsibility of the student to evaluate the insurance plan and to select the appropriate plan for his/her individual circumstances.


We understand that thinking about CFAR might seem a little daunting, especially with everything you have on your plates. Our recommendation is to take it one step at a time and to call the 1-800 numbers provided by the insurance companies. Explain that you already have international insurance for the duration of your trip and you are only requesting a CFAR upgrade. 

For more information you can check out this blog post What is the CFAR upgrade and Why is it important.


*For more information on COVID-19 updates, click here.