Finacial Preparations

Prior to departure, Columbia travelers should anticipate the added complications that might be involved with carrying out financial transactions outside the U.S. Not only are there issues that need to be considered to ensure that travelers are personally prepared, but those traveling for Columbia business will also need to review and understand the circumstances of their travel destination and how they will be able to achieve their goals within that location, while complying with University policy, U.S. and local law. The sections above include some guidance and tips for travelers.



Follwing are some tips that might be helpful for making simple personal preparations that can avoid significant hassles while traveling internationally.

Your Wallet

→ Tell your bank and credit card companies that you’ll be traveling

→ Ask if they charge foreign transaction fees

→ Ask if you’ll need a PIN to make purchases abroad

→ Plan to bring appropriate credit cards and bank cards as recommended by your program

→ Clean out your wallet or purse; take only the credit cards and ID that you will need

→ Find out if traveler’s checks are a viable option or if you should rely on a debit card and ATMs to obtain cash

→ Bring an emergency fund (minimum $300) and $100 in local currency to bring with you on the plane

→ If using a smartphone, you might want to download a currency converter application (OANDA Corporation has a free one)

→ (If long-term travel) Arrange for power of attorney for the person handling your financial affairs at home in your absence


Undergraduate Students considering a semester abroad should review the Study Abroad Finances section of the Global Programs website.


Faculty and Staff

Plan your budget and if applicable, prepare to bring funds that could be required in-country for program start-up costs (see the Cash Management section for additional details).

In addition, thoroughly review relevant sections of the Travel and Business Expense Information from Procurement Services well in advance of travel so that all the required administrative procesess can be completed in time for your trip.

Use of Per Diems for Meals

The use of a per diem should be rare. Per diems may only be used for instances of international travel to destinations where local custom or culture makes it difficult to obtain receipts. Travelers must request and receive prior approval to use per diems from their Dean, VP, Associate Dean or Senior Financial Officer.

If a per diem is to be claimed, the traveler must select per diems for the duration of the trip (i.e. can not alternate between per diem and actual receipts). The per diem must be claimed in accordance with the government’s published per diem rates, which are available through the U.S. Department of State Foreign Per Diem Rates by Location page.

The amount claimed can not exceed the maximum that is established by the U.S. Department of State for a particular location but, University Departments still have the prerogative to designate lower limits for travelers based on project's budget constraints. Refer to your Department to determine if there are specific guidelines on use of Per Diems.

For Additional Information on how the use of Per Diems should be documented, please refer to the Prepare Your TBER section in After You Return.

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