Columbia University has a number of contracted and available resources that can help make your travel arrangements easier, possibly cheaper and safer than when doing them on your own.Under guidance from your Department, review the links above to determine which services are available for your upcoming international trip.
Columbia Departments with international operations often have established relationships with preferred vendors that already understand the processes and procedures that that Department prefers when booking travel for staff or students. Check with your department and determine if such a process is in place and what are the steps to follow to book travel.
It is suggested that a traveler make arrangements for travel through either a University-designated travel agency or a University preferred vendor. There are numerous advantages to using a University preferred agency. These agencies are aware of University travel policies and reimbursement guidelines and will help select air carriers and hotels that conform to the policy, which speeds up reimbursement. Furthermore, these agencies often have access to discounts and preferential rates negotiated by the University. Finally, the agencies can help access and maintain the appropriate documentation of expenses.
Refer to the Arranging for Travel section of Procurement Services for additional details.
For specifics on booking air travel, including the requirements of the Fly America Act (for federally funded programs), refer to Air Travel.
International SOS (ISOS)
Most members of the Columbia community traveling internationally are covered under International SOS (ISOS) and/or other emergency assistance program.
The following are not eligible for coverage under ISOS:
→ Students (undergraduate or graduate) who have graduated, are on leave from the school, or are suspended;
→ Students (undergraduate or graduate) of any non-Columbia institution unless a confirmed participant in a Columbia University-sponsored international academic program;
→ Officers, employees, or faculty members traveling for any purpose not directly related to academic, research or administration business of the University;
→ Family member(s) or traveling companion(s) of any eligible person -- unless traveling with an eligible person AND whose travel is directly related to academic, research or administration business of the University or attendance on the trip is at the direct written request of the University (dean or senior administrative officer; approval required prior to travel);
→ Contractors or consultants to Columbia University regardless of purpose of travel;
→ Expatriates whose home country of residence is any country other than the United States, unless specifically declared to ISOS prior to departure;
→ Trustees, guests, and alumni of Columbia -- unless their travel is directly related to the academic, research, or administrative business of the University.
Columbia University's agreement with ISOS provides for a number of services to travelers who are eligible. These include medical, security and general travel assistance. Click on the image to go to the Columbia ISOS page.
It is likely that you are also already eligible for one of these other plans and could use their services at no added costs:
Columbia students covered by the University’s Student Health Insurance Plan through Aetna Student Health are automatically enrolled in OnCall.
Go the OnCall International website to learn more about their services.
Faculty and Staff
Columbia faculty and staff have two possible options for Emergency Travel Assistance - ISOS (use link above to determine eligibility) and United Healthcare Global Assistance (formerly Frontier MEDEX). Note that for eligible staff, Global Assistance provides coverage during leisure as well as business travel and includes coverage for dependents, even when they are traveling on their own. Global Assistance is available to benefits-eligible employees who are covered under Columbia University’s Term Life Insurance through The Standard. If the employee's life insurance coverage is provided by their union, the Global Assistance benefit does not apply.
Go to the Global Assistance website to learn more about their services.
U.S. Department of State
STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program - if you are a U.S. citizen) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.
STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency.
STEP also allows Americans residing abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Learn more and register at Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
Columbia’s Office of Work/Life offers services that help faculty, staff and students through the relocation process. Prospective and Recently Appointed Faculty, Postdoctoral Research Scientists, Scholars, and Fellows, Administrators and Graduate Students traveling to relocate to New York City, should refer to the Office of Work/Life for assistance with:
The Office of Work/Life also offers additional programs and services including adult and elder care, backup care (pending eligibility) breastfeeding support (lactation rooms), and wellness initiatives.
The document Maximizing a Successful Transition to Columbia: Things to Consider Before Leaving Home and Upon Arrival demonstrates what needs to be thought about when relocating.