COVID-19 Travel Guidelines FAQ

As we navigate the ongoing COVID-19 related fluctuations with regard to disease outbreak and vaccinations in both the US and abroad, there will be changes regarding Penn-affiliated Travel Guidance. 

Below are a series of FAQs to help you navigate the new travel guidelines. If you do not find an answer to your question below, please contact travelsafety@pobox.upenn.edu

FAQs
Travel Resumption
Can I travel on a Penn trip during the pandemic?

For all travel occurring on or after May 18th, 2021, Penn will end the COVID-19 suspension on all domestic and international travel and move to restricted travel status. Penn-affiliated travel to certain countries may require a petition depending on the CDC risk level of the destination. For more information, please review Penn’s Travel Guidelines and Procedures.

What if my departure date is before May 18th?

If you will depart on a Penn trip prior to May 18th, 2021, please refer to the guidance available at the bottom of our main Travel Guidelines and Procedures. This information will be removed from the website on May 18th, 2021. 

Who defines heightened risk travel at Penn?

The Committee on Travel Risk Assessment (CTRA) is responsible for defining heightened risk travel for the Penn community and reviews undergraduate requests to travel to these regions.  

A separate working committee was appointed by the Provost to establish additional travel guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Petitions received from graduate students, postdocs, faculty and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic will be reviewed by a combination of school officials and CITRA members. 

More information on CTRA 

 

Who will review the travel petitions?

Travel petitions will be reviewed by Penn’s Committee on Travel Risk Assessment (CTRA) in collaboration with the School or Center of the person submitting the petition.  CTRA is comprised of members from across the University community, specifically Global Support Services, Risk Management, the Office of Research Services and Wellness/Student Health Service. CTRA will consult with external and campus experts on specific requests as needed.  Travelers are asked to submit their petitions for travel early as possible.  CTRA is committed to reviewing petitions quickly and will respond within one week with an answer or request for more information.

Vaccination Requirement
Do I have to be vaccinated to travel on a Penn-affiliated trip?

Yes. 

For all Penn-affiliated travel occurring on or after May 18th, 2021, a COVID-19 vaccination is required. This applies to both domestic and international travel, unless an exception has been granted for medical or religious reasons. If you have a question related to this guidance or will not be vaccinated prior to travel, please contact travelsafety@pobox.upenn.edu.

How long must I wait, after vaccination, before I can travel?

People are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or

  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

Which vaccines will Penn accept?

University leadership is currently waiting on guidance from CDC and ACHA amongst others before making a recommendation on which vaccines Penn will accept.

Do I have to show proof of vaccination?

You will not be asked to show proof of vaccination to travel on a Penn-affiliated trip. Schools, Centers and trip leaders may not ask the vaccination status of a Penn employee or student. 

The vaccination requirement is based on the honor system. Non-vaccinated faculty, staff and students should reach out to travelsafety@pobox.upenn.edu for additional guidance.

What if I am not vaccinated?

Non-vaccinated faculty, staff and students should reach out to travelsafety@pobox.upenn.edu for additional guidance.

What if I am traveling on a group trip and a portion of the group is not vaccinated?

We ask that you do not question the vaccination status of your travel group. All travelers are asked to review Penn’s travel guidance and contact travelsafety@pobox.upenn.edu if they have questions or will not be fully vaccinated prior to the group’s departure date.

I need to approve travel for an employee or student. Can I ask if they are vaccinated?

No.

Schools, Centers and trip leaders may not question the vaccination status of an employee or student. You may proceed with reviewing travel requests based on pre-pandemic internal procedures.  

Penn’s travel guidance is available to you and the traveler for more information on the vaccination requirement and petition procedures for travel to certain countries. If you have a question related to this guidance, please contact travelsafety@pobox.upenn.edu.

FAQs
Domestic Travel
How does Penn define domestic travel?

Domestic travel includes travel within the country where you currently and usually reside. Those with pre-arranged plans to return home for the summer may travel domestically within their home country following Penn’s travel guidelines.

Do I need to follow these guidelines if I’m traveling domestically, even locally?

Yes, the temporary COVID-19 travel guidelines pertain to both international and domestic Penn-affiliated travel that include an overnight stay.  Even if you are traveling by car on a Penn-affiliated trip (with an overnight stay), you are expected to follow these guidelines and be fully vaccinated prior to departure. 

While you do not need to follow the guidelines for day trips, please observe the main tenants of public health throughout your journey, including face coverings, physical distancing and frequent hand washing.

Do I need to register a domestic trip?

No.

For all travel on or after May 18th, 2021, Penn travelers should no longer register their domestic trips in MyTrips.

What if I’m traveling by car, train or bus?

Even if you are traveling locally, all Penn-affiliated travel that includes an overnight stay must adhere to the COVID-19 travel guidelines and be fully vaccinated prior to departure. 

What if I am only taking a day trip (no overnight stay)?

If you are taking a day trip, whether it is Penn-affiliated travel or personal travel, we encourage you follow to local health directives. You do NOT need to follow Penn’s travel guidelines. You do NOT need to submit a petition for travel.

FAQs
Personal Travel and Commuting
Do I need to tell Penn about my personal travel?

You do not need to register your personal travel with Penn.  Penn’s travel guidelines pertain to Penn-affiliated travel only, although you are welcome to use this information as a resource when planning personal trips. If you have questions about returning to work after personal travel, please visit Penn’s Workplace Resources for COVID-19 Control.

Should I register personal travel?

No.

Please do not register personal or leisure travel in Penn’s MyTrips registry. MyTrips is reserved for registration of international, Penn-affiliated travel only.

Do I need to get permission to commute to Penn from another state?

No. 

You do not need permission to commute to Penn from another state. If you have questions about commuting to work, please visit Penn’s Workplace Resources for COVID-19 Control. 

FAQs
CONCUR Booking Tool
Why do I have to use Concur to book my flights?

Concur insures the lowest airfares and 24/7 support for University travelers from the travel management company and Penn Travel Services.  

All airline tickets booked through Concur or the University’s Travel Management Company (TMC) are direct billed to Penn, reducing out of pocket expenses.  

Booking through the University’s preferred travel vendor and systems guarantees seamless end to end service on any issues that may arise.  For example: 24/7 emergency assistance, ticket reissuance and rebilling through the University’s billing account, and assistance with refunds and unused tickets. 

Furthermore, lowest airfares are guaranteed with World Travel’s price match; and Penn’s airline contracts provide valuable corporate benefits such as complementary preferred seats on American Airlines. 

The Concur booking tool complements My Trips, Penn’s travel registry system, that connects Penn traveler’s to health and safety resources. This fulfills Penn’s critical responsibility for duty of care for Penn travelers. 

Please contact Penn Travel Services or email travel@upenn.edu with any questions.

How can I be sure I am getting the best airfares?

World Travel has a guaranteed fare match policy. If you find a lower fare, contact World Travel for procedures on obtaining a fare match. Please contact them directly regarding the policy and assistance. 1-888-641-9112; uofpenn@worldtravelinc.com 

Can I use my personal credit card to book travel in Concur?

When necessary, a personal credit card may be used to purchase airfare. However, the University policy is to book airfare through Penn’s preferred carriers, using the University’s direct billing account through Concur or World Travel. For all other travel products and services, a personal credit card is required for payment. These charges will be reimbursed upon completion of travel.  

See Concur Instructional Guide: Set up Travel Profile for instructions on including a personal credit card within your Concur profile.  

Please contact Penn Travel Services or email travel@upenn.edu with any questions.

How do I book a rental car?

To access Penn’s discounted rates, rental car reservations should be made within Concur only.  

Note: car rentals in Concur are only the reservation. You will need to provide a credit card upon check-in.

Please contact Penn Travel Services or email travel@upenn.edu with any questions.

How do I book a private car service?

The University has several agreements and special rates for car services. Please contact Penn Travel Services or email travel@upenn.edu for information on car services.   

Do I have to use Concur to book my hotel?

During the pandemic, the best practice for booking hotels is to reserve through Concur.  

Note: hotel bookings within Concur are only the reservation and are not direct billed to Penn. You will need to provide a credit card upon hotel check-in. You may also call World Travel 24/7 for assistance, 1-888-641-9112.

Please contact Penn Travel Services or email travel@upenn.edu with any questions.

What if I want to use an airline credit or an unused ticket?  Do I still have to use World Travel?

Individuals who booked through Concur or World Travel should contact World Travel to utilize unused tickets. World Travel agents will advise on the conditions and apply any credit to a new reservation. Travelers who did not use World Travel should contact the airline or vendor that provided the credit. 

How can I purchase my Amtrak train tickets?

Amtrak tickets may be purchased via the Amtrak Website or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL. 

Other FAQs
Do faculty have to register their travel?

Yes, the temporary COVID-19 travel guidelines require that all Penn travelers, including faculty, staff, postdocs and students register their Penn-affiliated domestic and international travel in MyTrips.

Do faculty and staff have to submit a petition to travel?

Yes, the temporary COVID-19 travel guidelines require that faculty, staff, and students submit a petition for travel to CDC Level 3 and Level 4 countries. 

Do I have to sign a liability form?

If you are authorized to travel through a petition process, then you will be asked to sign an Assumption of Risk and Release of Liability form as a condition of your approval.  The liability form will be provided to you once your petition is approved.  If you would like to view the liability form in advance, please email travelsafety@pobox.upenn.edu.

How do I plan ahead for future travel?

We understand it is difficult to plan ahead in these uncertain times. If you have future plans for Penn-affiliated travel that you wish to discuss with a CTRA member, please email travelsafety@pobox.upenn.edu. If/when a time comes that you are permitted to travel or able to submit a petition for authorization to travel to your destination, CTRA is committed to reviewing your petition quickly and will respond within one week with an answer or request for more information.

What if my destination risk level changes during the petition process or after travel is authorized?

The safety of Penn travelers is a priority. CTRA will continue to monitor locations where travel approval has been granted. In the event the risk level changes and/or the health environment deteriorates, CTRA reserves the right to rescind authorization or revise the conditions of travel.

What if my destination country has entry restrictions, e.g. COVID testing requirements?

Travelers are expected to make themselves aware and abide by all state, local, tribal, and territorial government restrictions in the destination and upon return to Penn’s campus, which may include quarantine and/or COVID-19 testing.  Before you confirm your travel plans, it is extremely important that you review the most up-to-date entry restrictions, COVID screening requirements and quarantine mandates at your destination country. International SOS maintains an updated list of travel restrictions by country on the ISOS COVID-19 Pandemic webpage. You can also check the Department of State Travel Advisory and the U.S. Embassy.

Some important points to understand when preparing to travel:

  • Some countries require proof of a negative COVID test of all incoming travelers regardless of vaccination status

  • The types of COVID tests approved vary by destination

  • Requirements may ALSO vary within a country, e.g., testing requirement in Hawaii differs from rest of US

  • Timing of a COVID test, e.g., negative test 3 days prior to arrival, will also vary by destination

  • Free COVID testing is provided readily, often with same day appointments, around the country:

What if I get sick while I'm abroad?

Faculty, staff and students traveling on Penn-affiliated trips abroad are entitled to International SOS membership, which includes travel medical insurance and evacuation assistance.  Please register your international trip in MyTrips to be pre-authorized for the insurance coverage.  If you become ill or injured during your trip, contact International SOS (+1 215-942-8478) for assistance, advice, referrals and to arrange payment of medical bills.

When will Penn’s travel guidelines be updated?

As the University resumes strategic research and academic activities and adjustments are made to CDC country risk levels and local travel guidance, more Penn-affiliated travel opportunities will become available in the US and abroad. We will continue to monitor the COVID pandemic and vaccination roll-out and update travel guidelines accordingly.