International Travel Tips for Faculty

Travel Registration
U.S. State Department

Visit the U.S. State Department’s travel webpage and register your trip in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Registration allows you to enter information about your trip and destination so that the Department of State can assist in case of an emergency. Although this is not proof of citizenship, registration also allows Americans to get information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, and allows embassies help Americans who encounter difficulties related to legal, medical, or financial matters.

Duke University

We encourage faculty to register at Duke Travel Registry (located at the bottom-right hand page of the site). This, too, is for your safety in case of emergency. Should there be a natural disaster or political unrest, registration will allow Duke Registry staff to contact SOS potentially quicker than the employee.


Several airlines have registration processes that allow travelers to provide their contact information, emergency contact, and travel itinerary information. Please contact your airline for specific information about its emergency contact forms and procedures should you be interested.

International SOS

Duke offers a university-wide travel assistance and evacuation services program called International SOS (ISOS) that covers faculty, staff, and students who are traveling abroad on a Duke-related trip. The ISOS program offers evacuation in the event of medical emergencies as well as in the event of political strife, or natural disaster. Please visit the ISOS website to learn more about the services. A printable ID card can be found on this site; you will need to sign in with your Duke ID and password in order to access the card. Please bring this card with you on your trip.

Health Insurance

Duke employees who carry one of the Duke health insurances are typically covered for emergency care internationally, which should be the applicable coverage for this trip (call to make sure). If you do not carry one of the Duke health plans, please contact your insurance carrier to discuss policy as it relates to your travel. It is always best to contact your insurance carrier to understand your coverage as it relates to travel.

Duke has partnered with Cigna Global Health Benefits’ Medical Benefits Abroad to offer eligible employees and dependents supplemental medical coverage for those traveling internationally on Duke business for less than six months. The Cigna Global Health Benefits’ Medical Benefits Abroad offers benefit coverage for unexpected injuries and illnesses that may occur and will also coordinate with Duke’s International SOS program. No enrollment is necessary and the coverage is available at no additional cost for full-time benefits-eligible employees, spouse or same-sex partner and dependent children up to age 26. Employees must have primary coverage through Duke or another insurance provider.

Travel Insurance

We encourage all travelers to sign up for travel insurance, to insure your travel arrangements against unexpected illnesses and disruptions. One option is Allianz, but there are several companies who offer similar services. Be sure to read and feel comfortable with the level of coverage before purchasing the policy.

Travel Vaccinations

Consistent with University reimbursement practices, the applicable Duke Department will pay for direct costs associated with obtaining the required and/or recommended vaccinations for travel outside of the U.S., and contingent upon final approval by the Dean. Please visit the CDC website for more information on the required and recommended vaccinations for your destination.

Any discussions with regards to the appropriate travel vaccinations should occur with a certified/licensed travel clinic. Although you may choose to speak with your health care provider, please note that international travel health services is a specialized area and such offices will provide informed and up to date information that is specific to your health and the country of destination.

The Duke Employee Occupational Health & Wellness (EOHW) Office has a Travel Clinic service and provides international travel health services to employees who travel abroad on Duke related business. It is a private, certified travel clinic tailored specifically for Duke employees and offers “at cost” and pre- and post-travel services. It is recommended that you use EOHW services to discuss vaccinations and other health-related matters. In addition, when you sign up online, your basic (non-medical) information will be connected with the Duke Travel Registry; this site is a confidential site that is used to locate you in the event of an emergency.

Please visit the Vaccinations/Travel Health Review website. Toward the bottom of this page click on the “Travel Form” link. Complete and submit this form. Your information will be sent to EOHW in preparation of your visit. The next step will be to make an appointment with EOHW at 684-3136 (option #2). You will need to bring with you an interdepartmental request form that you will hand to staff at EOHW Office upon arrival. EOHW will bill costs to DUSON. Please contact the business office for the form.


U.S. currency can be exchanged for foreign currency at most international airports prior to your departure, at the international airport of your destination, and at most major banks and railroad stations abroad. In general, exchange rates are unfavorable at airports and train stations. It might be wise to exchange a small amount of money prior to your departure, either at your home bank or in the airport, in order to have some cash on hand upon your arrival abroad.

This online currency converter contains currency exchange rates between 164 different countries that are updated daily. We encourage faculty to visit the website and print out the currency converter “cheat sheet” to take with you:

Credit Cards

Banks and credit card companies frequently have policies to minimize the risk of identity theft and these can involve cutting off access to the card if changes suddenly begin appearing overseas. If you plan to use your credit card while abroad, please call your credit card company prior to your departure to inform them of your travel. It is wise to let your company know what dates you will be abroad, and to what countries you will be traveling. If you use your credit card, please monitor your activity to make sure that the appropriate expenses were charged to your card. It is easier to dispute charges there, but almost impossible to do so once you return.

Recently, banks in most of the world outside of the U.S. have switched their credit card system from the “stripe and sign” system to a newer “chip and PIN” system. Instead of having a merchant or machine read information off a magnetic stripe on your card, and having you sign a slip to verify the transaction, the merchant or machine gets data from a chip imbedded in your card and you verify by entering a PIN. Most of Europe has embraced the chip and PIN system, as have many countries in Asia and South America. However, many U.S. credit card companies and banks have been slow to implement the new system. Check with your credit card vendor and/or bank to see if this new chip and PIN card is available to you.


If you incur expenses during your trip that are allowable for reimbursement, please request a receipt with each purchase. If the receipt is in another language, please make a written note (in English) on the back of each receipt to explain the purchase. Please include the date, the amount, and the reason for the expense.

Other Logistical Items

Please make a copy of your passport/visa prior to your departure and bring with you. We also suggest that faculty travelers make a copy of their passport and visa to leave at home with family.

For More Information

We highly encourage all faculty planning international travel to visit the Duke University Office of Global Strategy and Programs’ website for more information on international travel and the available resources. Similar information is provided in this presentation.

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