Subject: Academic Affairs, Student Success, Personnel
Policy: Montana State University Affiliated Campuses International Travel Policy
Effective Date: March 31, 2015
Review Date: March 31, 2018
Responsible Parties:  
                 MSU Billings: Executive Director of the Office of International Studies and Outreach
                 MSU at Bozeman: Associate Provost for International Programs 
                 Great Falls College MSU:  Controller 
                 MSU-Northern: Director of Field and Clinical Experiences 


  • Table of Contents
  • 100.00 Introduction and Purpose
  • 200.00 Definitions
        • 301.00 University Approval
        • 302.00 Travel of Countries Subject to Travel Warnings and Alerts
        • 303.00 International Travel Registry
        • 304.00 Group Travel Approvals and Requirements 
        • 305.00 Individual Student University International Travel Approvals
        • 306.00 Individual Faculty/Staff University International Travel Approvals
        • 307.00 Insurance
        • 308.00 Other Requirements
        • 309.00 Student Requirements
        • 310.00 Registration with STEP
        • 311.00 Waiver of Notice Requirements
        • 312.00 Travel Orientation Requirements
        • 313.00 Special Approvals for Minors and Unaffiliated Travelers
  • 400.00 Procedures
  • 500.00 Resources
  • 600.00 References
  • 700.00 Revision History



This policy applies to the following MSU campuses:

  • MSU Billings
  • MSU at Bozeman
  • Great Falls College MSU
  • MSU-Northern


100.00 Introduction and Purpose

Montana State University recognizes and supports the international expertise of its faculty, the essential importance of conducting research abroad, and the importance of providing its graduates with global and multicultural understanding. The University must balance the educational value of participation in international activities with the potential risks of those activities to its students, faculty, and staff. This policy is intended to address the risks of international travel in a comprehensive and consistent manner. It seeks to provide resources to assist students, faculty, and staff in preparing for safe and successful international travel and is intended to promote the health, safety, and security of all members of the University community while traveling abroad.  The University respects the academic freedom of faculty to pursue their scholarly endeavors through international travel. This policy is designed to support the international engagement of its students, faculty, and staff in a responsible manner.


 200.00 Definitions

Affiliated Campuses include all campuses, agencies, departments, centers, or other entities within Montana State University.

Faculty and Staff are all full and part-time members of the faculty, contract professional, and classified staff employed by the University.

International Travelers are all students, faculty, and staff or other participants (e.g., chaperon, high school students, students from other universities, alumni, or other non-students) undertaking international travel under the auspices of the University.

Responsible Official is the individual or group designated by each campus responsible for oversight, review, and implementation of this policy.  

Standards of Practice are rules, procedures, or guidelines developed by campus Responsible Officials to permit, restrict, or require actions within the parameters of this policy.

Student means any undergraduate or graduate student who is enrolled in the University.

Travel Warning Country is a country subject to a current Travel Warning issued by the U.S. Department of State (State Dept.) or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Group Travel is an organized group of International Travelers led by a Group Leader for the purpose of taking part in an educational activity abroad.  These are primarily undergraduate students led by an approved Group Leader, usually a faculty member.  Neither graduate students attending conferences or conducting research with their advisors, nor faculty and staff traveling together are considered Group Travel for purposes of this policy.

University means each of the campuses covered by this policy.

Group Leader is a member of the faculty, staff, or other person who has been approved in accordance with this Policy to lead a student group traveling abroad.

University Contact Person is a University employee designated by the sponsoring unit of a group program abroad who remains on campus but acts as a point of contact for the group leader, faculty, or students who are traveling.

University International Travel  means travel outside the United States organized, sponsored, or supported by the University, or a unit thereof, including travel by International Travelers (as defined above) for research, teaching, sabbaticals, conferences, study abroad, internships, practica, student teaching, community or university service, or Group Travel whether accompanied by a faculty member or not, whether offered for credit or not, and travel by registered student organizations, club sports, or athletic teams. Travel supported, at least in part, by sponsored research grants, contracts, F&A funds, or other university administered funds will be considered travel supported by the University. 

University Unit means a department, center, office, school, or college of the University, including registered student organizations.


 300.00 Policy

301.00  University Approval

International Travelers shall comply with all University requirements and approvals as specified herein.  Approval requirements vary based the traveler, the nature of the program, and the destination.

With the assistance of the sponsoring University Units, the Responsible Official designated by each Campus shall be responsible for implementing, administering, and overseeing compliance with this Policy.

302.00  Travel to Countries Subject to Travel Warnings and Alerts  

Any University International Travel by a University Traveler to or through any country for which a U.S. State Department Travel Warning or a Center for Disease Control Warning Level 3 is in effect must be reviewed and approved in advance of travel by the Campus International Travel Safety Review Committee. Each campus shall determine the membership of its Committee established to undertake this review, but each committee shall include the (1) Affiliated Campus Responsible Official and (2) the Bozeman campus Associate Provost for International Programs.

Current information about State Department or CDC warnings and alerts can be obtained at the Office of International Programs’ International Travel Resource Page.

302.10  In evaluating requests relating to Travel Warning Countries, the University will consider a number of factors, including, but not limited to the:

      • academic need and appropriateness of the proposed travel;
      • individual’s or group’s personal preparedness; and,
      • adequacy of plans to avoid the threats to health, safety, and security identified in the warning 

302.20  The University shall not authorize international travel to any country for which the State Department has issued a mandatory evacuation order.

302.30  The University reserves the right to prohibit or suspend University International Travel to any destination by International Travelers  at any time if it determines: (1) health, safety, or security concerns pose unacceptable risks; (2) travelers have violated laws, regulation, or University policy (including student conduct codes);  or (3) other good cause. If the State Department issues a Travel Warning for a given country, the University may require International Travelers to depart that country. Unfortunately, the University cannot guarantee full cost and academic credit recovery to students in the event of a government- or University-mandated withdrawal or evacuation.

302.40  Even in the absence of a formal Travel Warning, the Responsible Official may require any University Traveler or Group to seek approval from the Campus International Travel Safety Review Committee if there appears to be substantial potential risk (e.g., programs involving potentially dangerous physical activities or programs which do not appear to have made adequate preparations to ensure the health and safety of participants, or the country is outside insurance coverage areas).

303.00  International Travel Registry

No less than 30 days before departing, all International Travelers must register their travel plans in the University’s International Travel Registry.  Information entered into the Travel Registry will be available to University officials in the event of a crisis or emergency.  The information entered shall include, at a minimum, names of travelers, contact information abroad and emergency contact information domestically, passport numbers, travel itinerary, and information concerning required insurance coverage. The Travel Registry provides the University with the information it needs to locate and communicate with travelers in the event of a crisis or emergency. The University may not be able to assist or arrange evacuation for International Travelers who do not register their travel plans with the University.    The Travel Registry is accessed through the International Travel Resource Page.

304.00  Group Travel Approvals and Requirements

304.10  Group Leader  

All University Group Travel must have a University-approved Group Leader and an alternate Group Leader, who will act as Group Leader if the primary Group Leader is unable to lead the group for any reason.  Students with the appropriate knowledge and experience may be approved to act as Group Leaders and alternate Group Leader. 

304.20  Group Travel Approvals and Approval Process  

Proposed Group Travel, including Group Leaders and alternate Group Leaders, must be approved by the cognizant Department Head (if applicable), cognizant Dean or Director, and Responsible Official.  Deans, Directors, Vice Presidents, and the Provost proposing Group Travel shall receive approval from the next level of supervision and the Responsible Official.   Registered Student Organization Group Travel must also be approved by the Office of Activities and Engagement (or equivalent offices on the respective campus).  Proposed Group Leaders must complete a Request to Lead Group Travel form and a Travel Authorization Request (forms accessed on the International Travel Resource Page) no later than 60 days (or such longer periods established by the particular campus) prior to departure or before non-refundable travel arrangements are made.  A proposed Group Leader and alternate Group Leader must be designated in the form and a Communication Plan detailed, as provided in 304.40.  All submissions for Group Travel reimbursements, including submission of P-Card statements, must include a copy of the Group Travel approval.

304.30  Travel Registry  

Thirty (30) days prior to departure, Group Leaders are responsible for ensuring that all group International Travelers have entered detailed information about the proposed trip in the Travel Registry, including: (1) the full legal names of all group participants ; (2) a copy of the identification page from each participant’s passport; (3) a detailed itinerary of the group’s travel plans, including all contractors, hotels, travel agencies, etc.; and (4) contact information (including contact abroad and emergency contact) as detailed in the instructions.  Any revisions to the travel plans that occur while on the trip must be updated in the Travel Registry.  The Travel Registry is accessed through the International Travel Resource Page.

304.40  Communication Plan  

The Request to Lead an International Travel Group must include a plan for communication that will provide the ability to communicate with the University throughout the program, including designating a University Contact Person.  Contact numbers at all locations must be entered into the Travel Registry and submitted to the designated University Contact Person at least 30 days prior to departure.  For travel in remote locations, the travelers will consult with the Responsible Official to determine appropriate communication plans (e.g., satellite phone) if cell phone services will not be available. 

304.50  Group Travel Leader Orientation 

All Group Leaders and alternate Group Leaders must attend an orientation session to be trained on the health, risk, safety, and security aspects of traveling as a Group Leader responsible for the well-being of the participants as provided in Section 312.00

The Responsible Official may waive attendance at orientations by a Group Leader or alternate Group Leader upon a determination that: (1) the Group Leader has extensive recent experience in travel to that location and has attended previous orientations; (2) the duration of the trip is short (e.g., a two-day conference) and the destination is low risk; or (3) the destination is low risk and the travel has been unavoidably scheduled without sufficient time for attendance.

304.60 Group Leaders may not include family members on group travel programs without advance permission from the Provost (or comparable campus official) and the Responsible Official.

305.00  Individual Student University International Travel Approvals

All individual students embarking on University International Travel must obtain approval from the Head of the University Unit sponsoring the travel.  Individual students traveling under the auspices of a Registered Student Organization must also receive approval from the Office of Activities and Engagement (or equivalent office on the relevant campus).  Approvals are obtained using the appropriate Form found on the International Travel Resource Page.

Individual student University International Travel must also comply with all applicable requirements of this policy and the requirements of the specific travel program, including academic requirements (e.g., study abroad travel whether it is with an MSU sponsored program or not).  Information about study abroad approval process for MSU Bozeman can be found on the International Travel Resource Page.

306.00  Individual Faculty/Staff University International Travel Approvals

Faculty/staff embarking upon individual University International Travel (e.g., research, teaching, conferences) must comply with all applicable requirements of this Policy and the requirements of any other University policies pertaining to the specific travel (e.g., University and departmental travel policies, sabbatical policies, etc.).  An Out of State Justification form is required for all University International Travel by MSU policy.  All submissions for reimbursement for University International Travel, including P-Card statements, must be accompanied by a copy of the travel approval.  These forms can be accessed through the International Travel Resource Page.

307.00  Insurance

All International Travelers must have adequate health insurance coverage to protect against financial loss due to an unanticipated illness or hospitalization.

307.10  Student Insurance Coverage

Students traveling abroad must demonstrate minimum levels of health and medical emergency insurance established from time to time by the Responsible Official and the campus insurance/risk management office.  These requirements are found on the International Travel Resource Page.

307.20  Faculty/Staff Health and Liability Insurance  

Faculty and staff covered by the MUS Benefits Plan are provided health insurance covering their international travel. The international travel health coverage and benefits provided by the MUS Benefits Program can be accessed through the following link:   [put in Int Travel Resource link] In the event a faculty or staff member not covered by MUS Benefits is traveling internationally on University business he/she must demonstrate the same level of coverage as that set for students.  All MSU faculty and staff traveling internationally on University business are afforded international liability insurance benefits. This information is accessible on the International Travel Resource Page.

308.00  Other Requirements.

The requirements set forth in this policy are distinct from, and in addition to, other required financial and academic approvals relating to domestic and international travel set forth in other Affiliated Campus policies, including those listed below.

308.10  All students, faculty, and staff must comply with applicable U.S. federal law relating to export controls and sanctions, including as they relate to the transfer of laptops and other equipment. For more information, please refer to the Export Control website or such other policies as the Affiliated Campus may issue on this topic from time to time.

308.20  All research conducted in foreign countries must be conducted in a manner consistent with local laws. Research and scientific activity, including collection of specimens, may be conducted only after appropriate permits and approvals have been obtained from the applicable legal authority.

308.30  Travel must also conform to University Policies including business, travel, and financial policies (e.g., MSU Bozeman Business Procedures Manual -- 500.00 Travel). For University financial policies, refer to the Financial Affairs Policies on the Affiliated Campus Policies website. The funding for University International Travel must be processed through university accounts in a manner consistent with university policies.

309.00  Student Requirements

309.10  Students must be in good academic standing (i.e., must not be on academic probation or suspension) and must not be on conduct probation for a Student Conduct Code violation to be eligible for University International Travel.

309.20  Students embarking on University International Travel must attend an orientation before travel. The Responsible Official will establish a process to ensure pre-trip orientation for students is available.  The type and content of the orientation required will depend on the program and the destination as determined by the Responsible Official.  See Section 312.00 below.

309.30  Students engaged in University International Travel are subject to the campus student conduct code and any other rules of conduct established for the trip.  Students who fail to comply with conduct rules may be subject to discipline, including dismissal from the trip and a requirement to return to the University or the student’s home.

309.40  Students may not be required to participate in any education abroad experience in destinations subject to Travel Warnings in order to satisfy a degree requirement.

309.50  Disability Accommodations.  MSU policy provides for reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities embarking on international travel.  Students with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact the Affiliated Campus officer responsible for administering the campus program for addressing requests for accommodations.

310.00  Registration with STEP

The University recommends that all travelers who are U.S. citizens register information about their planned travel with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (“STEP”).  STEP is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling outside of the United States. STEP registration allows the State Department to better assist U.S. citizens in the event of an emergency. The University recommends that non-U.S. citizens contact their home country governments to inquire about available registration and support. The University encourages all International Travelers to review and monitor safety and security information and travel advice issued by the federal government, including the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

311.00  Waiver of Notice Requirements

Notice requirements found in this Policy, such as for Travel Registry entries in 303.00, 304.30 and 304.40, may be reduced or waived by the Responsible Official in particular circumstances upon a showing of good cause.

312.00  Travel Orientation Requirements

The Responsible Official shall ensure that orientation sessions for Group Leaders required in Section 304.51 are available, with the participation of the student health services, the local health department, campus risk management office, and other relevant resources as necessary.  

In addition to Group Travel Leader orientation sessions, the Responsible Official, in cooperation with the student health services or local Health Department and other relevant resources, will periodically offer a range of orientation sessions (whether in-person, on-line, or other media) on health and safety in international travel for International Travelers.  Information about orientation sessions and schedules is found on the International Travel Resource Page.  Any such sessions for students will be designed to satisfy the requirements of Section 309.20 above.  As part of these orientations, information concerning immunizations and medications will be provided either directly or through referrals to local Health Departments or others for country-specific requirements and recommendations. 

313.00  Special Approvals for Minors and Unaffiliated Travelers

Any minor (student or non-student) proposed to participate in University International Travel must be approved by the Responsible Official to ensure safety and compliance with various visa requirements of minors.  Minors must also receive informed parental/guardian written consent and non-student minors may only participate as part of an approved Group Travel program.

Non-student, non-employee International Travel must be approved by the Responsible Official before participating in University International Travel.


400.00 Procedures

Individual campuses maintain campus-specific standards of practice and procedures that implement this policy. Campus-specific standards and procedures are currently under development; when published, the links to those pages will be published here. Constituents are required to comply with any standards and procedures developed for their campus.

  • MSU Billings
  • MSU at Bozeman*
  • Great Falls College MSU
  • MSU-Northern

*MSU agencies, extension, Montana Agricultural Experiment Stations, etc. follow MSU at Bozeman campus standards of practice.


500.00 Resources

Policy 325 of the Board of Regents Policy and Procedure Manual also applies to all campuses.


600.00 References

Current, comprehensive information about international travel, including links to State Department or CDC warnings and alerts, can be obtained on the International Travel Resource Page [put in link].


700.00 Revision History






Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs Policy superseded by International Travel Policy, adopted January 14, 2015