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Pre-Travel Considerations

Travel has always involved risk, and the COVID-19 pandemic presents even more considerations for anyone traveling domestically or internationally. Anyone considering travel should assess their personal risk tolerance and review the information below to make an informed decision about whether traveling is the right choice for you.


COVID-19 Risk Levels

The CDC outlines the particular risks associated with travel for contracting and spreading COVID-19. Risk can differ depending on the mode of transportation, the origin and destination of travel, accommodations, and activities.

You should consider the COVID risk level at your point of departure (since you risk spreading COVID-19 to others), at your destination, and at any points of transit.

Ingham County Public Health recommends using COVID Act Now data to compare COVID risk in the U.S.

We recommend using the Harvard Global Health Institute/Brown School of Public Health COVID-19 Risk Levels map to compare COVID risk globally (select "Worldwide" on the left-hand side of the map to view risk levels per country).

Individual Health

You should assess your suitability for travel by reviewing public health guidance from the CDC, reviewing COVID-19 spread at destination (see below in “COVID-19 Risk Levels”), and discussing travel plans with their primary care physician and/or International SOS (their pre-travel consultations with a medical professional are free to MSU travelers). Consider making an appointment with the MSU Travel Clinic or another travel health professional if you need immunizations, malaria prophylaxis, etc.

Some populations are more at risk of becoming severely ill after contracting COVID-19. This includes:

  • older adults
  • adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions such as immunocompromised state, obesity, pregnancy, smoking, or type 2 diabetes.

This is not an exhaustive list. The CDC also provides additional information about populations at increased risk for severe illness or who may need to take extra precautions against COVID-19.

Local Public Health Guidance, Entry Restrictions and Requirements

We have compiled COVID-19 travel health resources for understanding local guidance, restrictions and requirements for East Lansing, Ingham County, Michigan, elsewhere in the United States, and around the world.

You must verify all entry and exit requirements in advance of travel, for all countries on the itinerary including transit countries. Countries may have different entry and exit requirements at land borders, ports of sea, or airports. Common entry or exit requirements that countries are enacting during the global pandemic include:

  • testing requirements (including pre-departure, arrival and/or exit testing)
  • quarantine on arrival at a designated facility, designated hotel, or private residence (often at traveler’s own expense)
  • public health forms, participation in COVID-19 tracing apps, etc.

The U.S. has also introduced entry requirements and restrictions. Some requirements (like presenting a negative COVID-19 test) apply to everyone. Others (like prohibiting entry to the U.S. if you have physically been in the Schengen Area, the UK, South Africa, or Brazil) exempt U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and some other specific categories of traveler. More information is available on the COVID-19 travel health resources page.

This list is not exhaustive and entry requirements are subject to change without notice. You must monitor these restrictions carefully.

Travel and COVID Testing

Pre-Travel Testing


Some countries require evidence of a negative COVID-19 test (usually a negative PCR - or nasal swab - test) to enter. These test results often need to be from within 48-72 hours of departure. Read these entry requirements carefully as they vary by country and can be specific. For example, the PCR test results might need to include your name as it appears on your passport. We recommend securing a physician’s note or certificate attesting to the negative results.

Obtaining a PCR test, if required or desired, is the traveler's responsibility. 

MSU Together We Will offers information on testing locations in the East Lansing area. The state of Michigan also maintains a list of testing sites and data on the estimated turnaround time of various testing sites.

Anyone outside Michigan is encouraged to locate a local health center offering testing

Returning to the US


As of January 26, 2021, anyone traveling by plane to the United States from an international location must present proof of a negative viral COVID test (NAAT or antigen) from within 72 hours of departure to the U.S. Anyone without evidence of a negative test will be denied boarding. This requirement applies to everyone including citizens and permanent residents. It’s also required even if the traveler has been fully vaccinated against COVID. Please review detailed guidance from the CDC. You must verify that you can obtain a viral COVID-19 test at your destination/country of origin.

If you are returning to campus from domestic or international travel, you must follow MSU's inbound travel health protocols. All other travelers are encouraged to follow CDC recommendations.

Travel Advisories

The US Department of State (DOS) provides information on DOS country travel advisories as well as specific DOS information related to COVID-19, including Presidential Proclamations and restrictions on entering or re-entering the United States.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes country-specific travel health notices and has an interactive map with COVID-19 travel recommendations from the CDC.

If considering engaging in MSU-sponsored travel, International SOS can also offer additional insight on specific destinations.

Waiver Process

All MSU-sponsored international travel must be reviewed through the established waiver processes with a minimum of 3 weeks notice. Please keep this timeline in mind as you plan your travel.

Effective May 14, 2021, MSU-sponsored domestic travel authorization will return to the processes used prior to the pandemic.

Please carefully review information about the domestic travel procedures and the international waiver process for non-Education Abroad faculty, staff, and student travel.

Specific guidance for Education Abroad programs has been published online and sent directly to Program Directors. The Office for Education Abroad is also communicating directly with Program Directors and participants and is posting the latest updates on their website.