What is essential travel?

Faculty, researchers, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students: Essential travel is defined as travel that is required to:

  • Preserve the safety of a research subject and cannot be postponed; or
  • Preserve the results of a research activity and cannot be postponed.

For faculty, researchers, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students, travel to attend professional or educational conferences is defined as non-essential.  Employees in this group with questions about whether specific proposed travel is essential, or seeking approval to engage in essential travel, should confer with their supervisors.  Supervisors may recommend an employee’s travel as essential to the responsible dean or vice-president, who will make the final determination.

Staff: Staff travel is considered non-essential except when accompanying students on approved essential travel or when not traveling will cause harm to the operations of the university.

Employees in this group seeking approval to travel should confer with their supervisors.  Supervisors may recommend an employee’s travel as essential to the responsible dean or vice-president, who will make the final determination.

Students: Student essential travel is defined as travel for academic credit that is necessary to meet a graduation requirement and cannot be postponed.

Students seeking approval to engage in essential travel should confer with the responsible faculty member. The faculty member may recommend a student’s travel as essential to the responsible department head and the department head may recommend to the dean, who will make the final determination. Deans are responsible for ensuring that students are aware of this requirement, and department heads and chairs are responsible for ensuring that their faculty,  researchers, and labs are aware of and adhere to the required approval process.

For all travelers: If travel is approved and deemed essential, it is of utmost importance that all faculty, staff, and students traveling abroad for university-related purposes register their travel before their expected departure and update this information as changes occur, before and during travel. Registration is an important step in reducing the risks of traveling abroad and helps keep the university community safe, especially in environments with heightened health risks such as COVID-19.