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Office of International Programs

Pre-Departure

Find everything you need to know before traveling abroad.

Enjoy your trip!

General Pre-Departure Information

Our guidebooks include everything you need to know before you go including academic and financial policies; packing advice; health and safety information; tips for booking flights; advice for budgeting abroad; tips for adjusting to a new culture, and more!

IP also prepares detailed program information for all our international Approved Semester Programs, which we will send to students after the orientation. The program partner institution or organization, or faculty/staff program leader (for field studies and summer programs) will provide you with additional information as well.

Staff in IP pay close attention to world events through news sources, the State Department, OSAC, our partners abroad, and our professional community.  We regularly assess our programs for health and safety, provide health and safety training for our program leaders, and have fully developed protocols for any health and safety issue, from the very minor to a large-scale emergency.  While traveling always involves risk, we consider it our role to minimize these risks and help our students have safe and successful experiences.

State Department—Travel Information

You are responsible for reviewing the complete travel and safety information on the State Department website.  We also strongly suggest that you sign up for emailed updates and notices through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (link and instructions below).

Centers for Disease Control—Travel Health Information

You are responsible for reviewing the information on travel health and immunizations provided by the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The information provided by the Centers for Disease Control is excellent and up-to-date travel health information.  We recommend that you discuss your travel plans with your health provider.  

Health Insurance

All students who have registered for a study abroad program or travel experience through International Programs have coverage through EIIA and Europ Assistance for emergency medical expenses, medical evacuation and repatriation, security and natural disaster evacuation, trip cancellation/interruption, and lost/stolen checked baggage.  This coverage applies during the dates of the Rollins-sponsored or affiliated travel outside your home country as well as during personal travel directly preceding or following the dates of the Rollins-sponsored or affiliated travel.  You may also have additional coverage or access to healthcare through your specific program provider or host country/institution.  More information about this coverage and exclusions is available in the Pre-Departure Guidebooks in the "General Pre-Departure Information" section of this webpage.

Apply for a passport as soon as you know you want to study abroad since it can take up to 12 weeks to get one. Already have a passport? Check the expiration date: if it’s going to expire within six months of your return date, you must renew your passport.  For more information about U.S. passports and to download and complete passport applications and renewals, visit the official U.S. passport website. Your passport is your most important legal document while you are abroad so please keep it safe. We recommend that you make at least (2) copies of the photo and information page before you leave so you can give one to a family member and take one with you. Some countries may require that you carry your passport at all times. Consult with your program director about the requirements and expectations in your host country. When traveling within your host country or from one country to another, remember to carry your passport and be prepared when immigration officials and hostels/hotels ask for it. 

International Students: if you’re an international student, you’ll need to secure (and check the expiration) of your re-entry visa. Students who are not U. S. citizens should also be certain to verify visa status on the consulate website for the host country.

Office of International Programs Visa Policy

While IP staff can provide basic advising and assistance relating to the visa process (look up web sites, instructions, etc), it is ultimately a student's responsibility to obtain the necessary paperwork in order to apply for a visa (if needed) for study abroad. IP staff will provide students with visa support letters when required and can help students with scanning and copying any necessary documentation related to the visa process.  

Visas

A visa is a sticker or stamp that is inserted into a page on your passport that allows you to enter another country and stay there legally. You normally have to apply for a visa BEFORE travel though on occasion you apply for a resident permit once in country.  Most visa applications require a number of documents: typically you will need a flight itinerary (showing return ticket), bank statements, and a letter of acceptance from your host institution and/or home university. For most countries, students generally cannot start the visa application process until 90 days prior to departure. To find out if you need a visa, what kind of visa you need ad how to apply for it: visit the website of the consulate in the US for your program location.

Visa Issued Upon Entry 
Some countries don’t require you to apply for a visa ahead of time but instead issue a visa upon arrivalIn these cases, you may be required to provide documentation when you enter the country such as your flight itinerary (showing return ticket), bank statements, and a letter of acceptance from your host institution and/or home university.  

International Students:  if you’re an international student, you will most likely have a slightly different process for your visa application. Students who are not U.S. citizens must verify visa status on the consulate website for the country where their program is based. You’ll also need to secure (and check the expiration) of your re-entry visa. In some cases, international students can apply for the visa from the US; in other cases, it’s better to apply from the home country. In both cases, it depends on the timing—i.e. when you are leaving the US at the end of the semester and when you will need your visa for study abroad. Make sure to start researching early so that you can make an informed decision. 

Visa Tips

  • The best visa resource is the website of the relevant embassy or consulate. Check this website before beginning the process to ensure you fully understand the requirements and do not run into any obstacles.  
  • Research the average time it takes to process a visa. It may take as little as 2 weeks or up to 12 weeks. In most cases, it is advisable to NOT make plans to travel internationally before the start of your program.  
  • Many visa applications require an in-person visit to the consulate for an interview.  You must be prepared to travel to the consulate, which may incur costs for hotel, gas, bus, train etc. We cannot ask them to make any exceptions for you.  
  • Consulates generally have very limited open hours to receive phone calls. Mornings are best to try to reach someone and sometimes email is more effective in terms of response time.  
  • If an appointment is required with the consulate, please book your appointment well in advance! Appointments fill up fast and it is often not possible to book an appointment only 1-2 weeks in advance. If no appointment is required, arrive as early in the morning as possible and be prepared to stay in line until it is your turn. Once you meet with someone, it usually only takes a short time for them to review your documents. 
  • It may be possible to use a visa processing service/agent that acts as a stand-in for the student. Please be advised that there is often an additional cost for using this visa processing service/agent and it may not be possible for all countries.  
  • The visa process can vary from consulate to consulate. For example, the Italian Consulate in Miami may ask for different forms than the consulate in NYC. Make sure you review the specific consulate website. Find out if you need to apply in the jurisdiction where you go to school or where your permanent residence is located. For example, if you are applying for a Spanish visa, and you attend school in Florida but live in New York, you need to know if you are applying to the Miami consulate or the NYC consulate.  
  • Keep in mind that when applying for a visa, whether in person or via mail, you have to surrender your physical passport with your application materials.  
  • It may seem strange to share personal information like bank statements, but please submit the requested information exactly as asked or you risk not getting your visa.  
  • Each type of visa has certain stipulations. In many instances, students are not allowed to work if they only have a student visa. If you wish to intern or work while abroad, please make sure you do the necessary research and find out the appropriate information in order to obtain the correct visa.  
  • Visas can be costly and can range from $40-500, this varies by country and visa type. For example, a visa to intern in London is estimated at $460, while a visa for studying in Argentina may be closer to $65.  
  • Make sure you monitor your e-mail carefully and constantly so that you do not miss any necessary information for obtaining your visa: sometimes a consular officer may contact you for updated or additional information that you can fax, scan, or mail over. 
  • Most of all, be patient, prepared, and remember to breathe! The visa application process can be the most overwhelming and time-consuming part leading up to going abroad. Keep in mind the end result! 

International travel is valuable, but it comes with an environmental costOne roundtrip flight from Orlando to London generates 4300 pounds of CO2, or about 10% of the average American’s annual carbon footprint We encourage students to consider the environmental impact of their time abroad and do what they can to give back. Below are some steps you can take to make your study abroad experience as sustainable as possible.  

  • Buy a carbon off-set. Dozens of organizations allow travelers to “off-set” their carbon emissions by donating to fund projects focused on protecting the environment. Most of these organizations provide a calculator that shows the carbon footprint of your flight and how much it will cost to offset it.  It’s more affordable than you might think: a roundtrip flight from Orlando to London only costs about $25 to offset. Sustainable Travel International is one place to purchase offsets.
  • Fly direct when possible. Direct flights are more energy efficient than ones with lots of connections, as planes use the most fuel while landing and taking off.  
  • Once you’ve made it to your host country, opt for bus or train travel whenever possible. Not only is this usually cheaper than flying, it produces a fraction of the carbon!  
  • Pack as lightly as you can. The heavier your luggage is, the more fuel it takes to move it. 
  • Say NO to single-use plastic. As cute as travel size toiletries are, they create a lot of waste. Instead, buy reusable travel bottles and fill them up at home.  
  • Think ahead to avoid single-use plastic: pack a reusable water bottle, a travel silverware set, cloth napkin, and a grocery tote.  
  • Staying in locally run hostels or bed and breakfasts is much more sustainable (and cheaper!) than staying at a hotel.  
  • If you’re buying souvenirs, look for locally made goods.  
  • Eat local and avoid chain restaurants. Not only is this sustainable, it will probably taste better, too!  
  • If you’re leaving some items in your host country to make room for things you bought there, try to donate them instead of just throwing them away. 
  • If you need something for your trip, like a winter coat or a power converter, try to borrow it from a friend or buy it secondhand instead of purchasing a new one.