MIT Travel Risk Policy
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(Last updated May 22, 2015)

(For printable version view PDF)

I. Introduction

All members of the MIT community should be able to make well-informed travel decisions, and no one should be coerced or required to travel to locales where there are significantly heightened health or safety risks.

The following guidelines describe the various levels of travel warnings, definitions of MIT Travel, and the policies that apply to MIT Travel. Under these policies, student travel may be restricted under certain circumstances.

MIT will use the best available sources for assessing risk: Travel Advisories from the Department of State (DoS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO). In a crisis situation, MIT may also rely on information from it's 3rd party security advisor or from OSAC (Overseas Security Advisory Council-US Dept. of State).

II. Defining MIT Travel

  1. MIT Travel is defined as travel by any member of the MIT community on MIT business. MIT business is defined as any program or activity that is required or run by MIT or financially supported through any MIT account.

  2. Any member of the MIT community (faculty, staff and students) who is traveling wholly for personal reasons and without financial support by MIT (i.e., without funding through any MIT account) is not subject to MIT’s travel policy.  Individual discretion governs decisions regarding such personal travel.

  3. Faculty, staff and students who combine travel on MIT business with travel to their home country for personal reasons must sign MIT’s travel form, but may use their individual discretion regarding decisions to travel to areas on the travel warning lists.

III. Travel Warnings

The following Travel Risk Categorizations were last updated on May 22, 2015 and appear on MIT's emergency and travel web pages.

On occasion, there may be determinations made by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) or other U.S. government agencies concerning health risks from travel to specified locales that result in restrictions, potentially including quarantines, being imposed as a condition to returning to the United States.  For example, if in the future the avian flu or SARS were to be determined to pose a sufficient risk, the CDC or other agencies could cause restrictions to be imposed on entry into the U.S. by individuals who have traveled to locales where they are likely to have been exposedTravel restrictions imposed by the CDC or the World Health Organization (WHO) are eventually noted on this travel risk policy, but travelers are advised to check the CDC's and WHO's web sites frequently for the most up-to-date travel warnings and advisories. For more information about the circumstances under which a disease-related quarantine may be imposed and a list of diseases see Section IV.F, no. 5.

(Dates in parenthesis reflect the date a warning is made or update by the US State Dept).

A. Highest Travel Warning

This applies to countries or areas where any of the following conditions apply:

  • DoS personnel and/or their families have been ordered to leave and/or services are not available at US Embassies or consulates.
  • The DoS, CDC and/or WHO have determined that there is a very serious health risk and therefore prohibit travel and/or require quarantine before or upon re-entry to the U.S. 

Countries or areas currently given the highest travel warning are:

  • Afghanistan (2/20/14)
  • Burundi (5/14/15)
  • Central African Republic (5/1/15)
  • Gaza, Gaza Strip (and 25 miles thereof) (2/18/15)
  • Iran (1/16/15)
  • Libya (1/20/15)
  • North Korea (4/23/15)
  • Pakistan (2/24/15)
  • Somalia (10/24/14)
  • South Sudan (1/7/2015)
  • Sudan (10/30/14)
  • Syria (3/3/15)
  • Ukraine, (1/5/15) eastern portion including Donetsk, Luhansk and the Crimean Peninsula
  • Yemen (4/3/15)

B.    High Travel Warning

This applies to countries or areas where any of the following conditions apply:

  • DoS personnel and/or their family are authorized to leave
  • US citizens are urged to delay all but essential travel
  • Only emergency or intermittent services are available at U.S. embassies or consulates, and even they may not be available.
  • DoS, CDC and/or WHO find there is a serious health risk and inadequate medical care, and urge a delay of all but essential travel. 

Countries or areas currently given a high travel warning are:

  • Algeria (2/24/15) areas east of Algiers or in the Sahara
  • Cameroon (2/4/15), portions thereof: north and far north regions of Cameroon.
  • Chad (2/26/2015)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (11/25/14) Central to eastern pronvinces of the country
  • Eritrea (5/6/15)
  • Guinea (8/15/14)-CDC Warning
  • Iraq (4/29/15)
  • Israel, (2/18/15) *The West Bank (except in Bethlehem and Jericho and on routes 1, 443, and 90, Qumran off Route 90 by the Dead Sea to the Allenby Bridge crossing to Jordan) Golan Heights and travel within 1.5 miles of the Lebanon border. MIT travel is currently not permitted on/to public buses and their terminals and bus stops throughout the country. Travelers are reminded to exercise caution at Muslim religious sites on Fridays and holy days, particularly during Ramadan.
  • Kenya (5/13/15) The Nairobi neighborhood of Eastleigh as well as the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu and the coastal portion only of Tana River County.  Northeastern Kenya, including the cities of El Wak, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera and Liboi.  Also the coastal area north of Pate Island, including Kiwavu and north to Kiunga on the Kenya-Somalia border.
  • Lebanon (11/26/14)
  • Liberia (1/21/15)-CDC Warning
  • Mali (5/7/15)
  • Mauritania (10/7/14)
  • Mexico (certain states )2 (5/5/15)
  • Nepal (4/29/15) - CDC Warning, DOS (Moderate) Warning
  • Niger (3/27/14)
  • Nigeria (Certain States)3 (2/2/15)– 8/15/14 – CDC Warning
  • Philippines, (5/20/15) portions thereof: Mindanao Island and the Sulu Archipelago island chain and in the southern Sulu Sea area.4
  • Sierra Leone (2/5/15)-CDC Warning
  • Ukraine (1/5/15) (other than areas with Highest travel warning)

C. Moderate Travel Warning

This applies to countries or areas where either of the following conditions apply:

  • Full services are available at US embassies or consulates but US citizens are urged to delay all but essential travel based on specific events/risks.
  • DoS, CDC and/or WHO find there is a serious health risk and urge delay in all but essential travel but do not find inadequate health care.

Countries or areas currently given a moderate travel warning are:

  • Algeria (2/24/15) (other than areas with High travel warning)
  • Cameroon, (2/4/15)(other than areas with High travel warning.)
  • Colombia5 (11/14/14)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (11/25/14) (other than areas with High travel warning)
  • Djibouti (11/25/14)
  • El Salvador (11/21/14)
  • Haiti (12/4/14)
  • Honduras (3/2/15)
  • Israel (2/18/15) (other than areas with a High travel warning)
  • Kenya (5/13/15) (other than areas with High travel warning)
  • Mexico (5/5/15) (other than areas with High travel warning)
  • Nigeria (2/2/15) (other than areas with High travel warning)
  • Philippines (5/20/15) (other than areas with High travel warning)
  • Saudi Arabia (2/24/15) (Note: Travel within 50 miles of the border dividing Yemen and Saudi Arabia should not be undertaken)
  • Venezuela (12/11/14)

D. Travel Embargoes

The following countries are subject to travel and/or other restrictions imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) or other U.S. authorities:
Balkans - Belarus - Burma - Central African Republic - Cote d'Ivoire - Cuba - Democratic Republic of the Congo - Iran - Iraq - Lebanon - Liberia - Libya - North Korea - Somalia - Sudan - South Sudan - Syria -Ukraine - Venezuela - Yemen - Zimbabwe 
MIT Travel and Emergency web sites will update the list of countries by Travel Risk Category on approximately a weekly basis.   Members of the MIT community are urged to check the DoS, CDC, WHO, and OFAC web pages for more current information.

IV. Travel Policies for Travel on MIT Business

Twenty-four hour travel assistance services are available to all MIT travelers (International SOS).  Please refer to: http://controllers.mit.edu/insurance for additional information.

A.     DoS Public Announcements and/or General CDC/WHO Advice (without advice to not travel): 

No restrictions apply to these locales.  MIT makes available links to DoS, CDC and WHO travel advisories and posts guidance on travel and emergency web sites.  MIT may offer 24/7 emergency travel service for individuals who register with the MIT Travel Office before departing. 

B.    Moderate Travel Warning: 

  1. MIT urges all members of the MIT community to heed DoS/ CDC/ WHO Travel Warnings and not to travel to these locales, but faculty, staff and students are free to make their own informed decisions.

  2. No one may be required or coerced to travel (e.g., by a faculty member, supervisor or advisor).

  3. All members of the MIT community who decide to travel anyway must sign MIT’s travel form before departure, acknowledging the risk and personal responsibility for their decision to travel. 

  4. All students must also agree not to travel to or through any areas where DoS personnel are required or authorized to leave.  They must also agree not to travel to or through areas where MIT Travel Insurance coverage or adequate medical care is not available and to not use modes of transportation that DoS personnel or their families are prohibited to use.

  5. Undergraduate students’ parents or guardians must also sign the MIT travel form (to confirm discussion of risks; and if the student is under 18, parents or guardians sign to provide consent). 

C.     High or Highest Travel Warning:

  1. MIT strongly urges MIT faculty, staff and students to fully understand the risks and to not travel to High and Highest Travel Warning locales.  This includes places where there is a serious health risk and inadequate medical care and places where MIT’s Travel Insurance coverage is unavailable. 

  2. No one may be required or coerced (e.g., by a faculty member, supervisor, or advisor) to travel to these areas.

  3. Unless a waiver is granted in a specific case (as described in IV.E below) MIT will not approve or financially support (through any MIT account) travel by any student to High and Highest Travel Warning locales.  If a waiver is granted, the student must sign the Student Travel form before departure and submit a copy to the MIT Insurance Office.

  4. If faculty or staff members travel despite MIT’s urging not to do so, they must sign MIT’s travel form before departure, and they must not take (or enable) any students or staff subordinates to travel to these areas.

D.    Travel Embargoes:

  1. U.S. law may prohibit or restrict travel to embargoed countries or transferring anything of value to persons or entities on Treasury Department lists, whether the trip is on MIT business or for personal reasons.

  2. Anyone who seeks to travel to embargoed locales must contact the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) before making travel plans or transferring any item or information in any medium to any individual or entity (whether a U.S. citizen or not) in embargoed countries.  OSP will help determine whether travel to these countries is banned or whether a license is required or any other restrictions apply under OFAC’s regulations.

E.    Waivers of Policy Available in Extraordinary Circumstances

Where the categorization of travel risk is unclear, or extraordinary circumstances may warrant a waiver of MIT’s travel policy, the following decision-makers are responsible for granting waivers:

  1. Faculty and Academic Staff: Provost, with recommendation from the Vice President for Research/Associate Provost or the applicable School Dean.

  2. Students: Chancellor, with recommendation from the Dean for Undergraduate Education, the Dean for Student Life, or the Dean of Graduate Students, conferring with the Dean of the applicable School.

  3. Administrative Staff: Executive Vice President, with recommendation from the Vice President for Human Resources.

The Office of the General Counsel is available to serve in an advisory role to all of the above.  Members of the MIT Medical Department may also advise.

F.    Additional Information

Please refer to MIT’s emergency and travel web sites (listed below) for information about planning for travel, the risks of travel, and ways to avoid or better handle emergencies.  Information on these issues, as well as on where to find out more about availability and access to your regular medical benefits, regular life insurance, and Travel Insurance, with links to relevant web sites, are available in the memorandum, “Important Information on Foreign Travel,” which is posted on MIT’s emergency and travel web sites. 

Other references and resources regarding travel include the following:   

  1. CDC web site: http://www.cdc.gov
  2. DoS web site: http://travel.state.gov/
  3. WHO web site: http://www.who.int/
  4. OFAC web site:http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/Programs.aspx
  5. Quarantinable Communicable Disease Information: Amended Executive Order 13295 Relating to Certain Influenza Viruses and Quarantinable Communicable Diseases; Revised list of Quarantinable Communicable Diseases; and, Question and Answers :
  6. MIT Benefits Office: http://hrweb.mit.edu/benefits/index.html or 617-253-0500
  7. MIT Emergency web site: http://web.mit.edu/emergency
  8. MIT Insurance Office: 617-253-2823 or http://controllers.mit.edu/insurance
  9. MIT Medical Health Plan: http://web.mit.edu/medical/p-main.html  or 617-253-1322 (faculty/staff) or 617-253-4371 (students)
  10. MIT Police 24/7 Emergency: 617-253-1212
  11. MIT Sponsored Research Office: 617-253-2492 (Re: travel embargoes, export controls, and sponsor restrictions)
  12. MIT Travel Office: http://vpf.mit.edu/travel
  13. MIT Medical: http://medweb.mit.edu or 617-253-4481
  14. MIT Office of the General Counsel: http://web.mit.edu/ogc or 617-452-2082


    1. See U.S. State Department Warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/israel-travel-warning.html and its detailed warnings and notice requirements.

    2. All or parts of the states of: Chihuahua, Coahuila, Colima, Durango, Estado de Mexico, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Zacetecas. Please see U.S. State Department Warning at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/mexico-travel-warning.html
      and contact the Insurance Office at 617-324-5031 for specific guidance.
    3. States of Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Gombe, Jigawa, kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.

    4. See additional information at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/philippines-travel-warning.html
    5. Travelers are urged to abide by travel restrictions applicable to U.S. government employees as noted in the Travel Warning.
    6. Travelers to Israel, the West Bank or Gaza should use the specific MIT travel form for these areas due to particular risks.