The University of San Francisco: Center for Global Education

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Travel Preparation and Arrival

Travel Documents

  • Next to your passport and visa, if needed, the International Student identity Card (ISIC) can be among the most valuable travel documents for you to have. It verifies your student status and it is widely recognized throughout the world. With the card, you are eligible to qualify for discounts ranging from lower airfares, cheaper insurance coverage to reduced or free admissions to museums, theaters, concerts and cultural sites around the world. You may purchase it online at www.myisic.com.
  • Driver’s license, identification cards, health insurance card, ATM/Debit, credit cards, and birth certificate – Make two sets of copies. Store one set in your room abroad. Leave the other set with your family in the U.S. Be sure you have the right telephone numbers to report any lost or stolen cards.
  • Air flight Itinerary – You should book your travel arrangements as soon as you have been officially accepted into your study abroad program. Provide a copy of your itinerary to your family and host program coordinator.

U.S. STEP Enrollment Program
The U.S. Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. government to U.S. citizens traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. The program allows the U.S. Department of State to better assist you in an emergency. If you would like to enroll your presence abroad with the nearest U.S. embassy through the STEP Enrollment program, visit: https://step.state.gov/step/ for more information. 

Filing Income Tax

If you currently pay income tax and will be out of the U.S. during spring semester, you can request an extension of the deadline for filing federal, state and local tax returns. If you choose to file from abroad, then you can request your family or friends to send you the necessary paperwork. You can also find out if the closest American embassy or consulate has forms. The embassy and consulate staff may also be able to find someone to help you complete the forms.

Absentee Voting

If you will be absent during a U.S. election and wish to request an absentee ballot, you should do so at least two months before the election. To request an absentee ballot, complete the Federal Post Card Application found here . You can also check with your county registrar or the secretary of state's office.

U.S. Customs & Duties

If you plan on taking expensive items, such as cameras, MP3s, Ipods, personal computers, etc., you should consider registering them with US Customs before you leave. That way those items won’t be subject to duty when you return. Save receipts for major purchases made overseas, as you may be able to get reimbursed for the taxes (VAT) paid. You are allowed to bring up to $400.00 of gifts and souvenirs duty free. Above that amount, you will be charged an import duty equivalent to ten percent of the value of the items.

When you come back to the U.S., you must pass through U.S. Customs, where you will be asked to declare the value of items that you purchased abroad that you are bringing back with you. Certain items are illegal to bring into the U.S., and some require that you pay an import tax or duty. Depending on the countries you have visited, your personal exemption will be $200, $800, or $1,600. The duty rates for products purchased above your personal exemption vary by country.

International Airfare Basics

A few host programs include group flights to and from the program site. Most programs require that you make your own arrangements. Make sure you know what arrangements have been made for the arrival of students in your host country before finalizing your flight reservations. Often a designated meeting place and time are established so that program staff can greet students upon their arrival.

Visa application requirements: Some consulates list a roundtrip ticket as one of their entry requirements.

Shop carefully when selecting flights. Check several sites and companies to compare prices. Be sure to inquire about change fees and options, and cancellation policies. Here are a few sites that offer good student deals:

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Contact Information and Personal Documents
  • Complete an Emergency Contact wallet card
  • Give your family and the Study Abroad Office copies of your itinerary and keep all apprised of changes
  • Copy of passport – one at home, two to take with you
  • Bank information, copy of credit card info at home and with you
  • Visa(s), if required
  • If you are not a US citizen, consult with an international student advisor to make sure your US visa, travel documents, and other papers are in order

Financial

  • Pay all fees on your student account before you leave. If you have a HOLD, your online early web registration will be blocked.
  • Financial aid – Promissory Note or other critical papers signed and turned in Financial aid disbursement arrangements made with Financial Advisor, Christine Salazar
  • Give your parents or other family member Power of Attorney while you are gone to deal with any financial matters
  • Obtain small amount of local currency to take with you
  • Credit, Debit, and/or ATM cards have 4-digit numerical PIN numbers
  • Card numbers and emergency assistance numbers – leave one copy at home and take one with you, separate from the cards
  • Plan with family at home for emergencies – can money be deposited in an account at home that you can access overseas?
  • Know how you will be billed for and paying for room and board in your host country

Academic

Health

  • Inform exchange student coordinator at host university of any pre-existing conditions which may affect your participation at some point or which may be critical to know if you are ill/injured and unable to speak for yourself.
  • Health insurance card – leave a copy at home and bring the original with you. Know how payment/reimbursement works if treated overseas and what documentation you need to bring back.
  • Get a physical, appropriate vaccinations, immunizations in the recommended time frame.
  • Regular prescription medications – obtain a supply adequate for the duration of your stay plus two weeks. Keep prescriptions in original containers from pharmacy and bring copies of the prescriptions.

Housing

  • See the Office of Residence Life regarding housing contracts and arranging housing for your return.
  • Make arrangements to get from the airport to your housing destination.

General

  • Learn as much about your host country before you leave.
  • Discontinue CD/Book/Coffee/whatever-of-the-month club and magazine subscriptions in your absence.
  • Make an address book of the addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of your family and friends, and USF staff including your advisor. Include embassy information for the countries you’ll be visiting, insurance plan number, emergency numbers, etc.
  • Purchase International Student Identification Card – optional
  • Know electrical current and plug adapters used in your host country. Obtain appropriate transformers, converters, or adapters for appliances you will bring.
  • Clothing packing list – know generally accepted standards of dress. Know range of temperature and precipitation for the area you will visit.
  • Obtain rail passes, hostel cards, etc. if desired.

Suggested Packing Checklist

We suggest that you pack light. Keep in mind of ever-increasing fees for extra luggage and exceeding weight limit. Can you really carry all those heavy bags? Also don’t bring anything that you would not want to lose! Research the climate expectations of your host country. Don’t pack any valuables such as passports, credit cards, medication, contact numbers, and electrical equipment in checked luggage.

Documents & Essentials

  • Money belt or neck wallet
  • Passport and copy
  • Visa(s), if necessary, and copy
  • Airline tickets
  • Traveler’s checks
  • ATM, Credit, and/or Debit card(s) and copy
  • Insurance Information
  • Contact Information
  • Copy of written prescriptions
  • Letter of Admission to host university
  • Phone card
  • Rail pass, hostel card, etc. (if desired)
  • Other____________________

Medical/Toiletries

  • Prescription medication in original containers, prescriptions
  • Eyeglasses or contacts, spare pair, lens prescription, solution
  • Small first aid kid (Band Aids, ointment, pain reliever, laxatives, diarrhea medication)
  • Tampons/sanitary napkins
  • Contraceptives, condoms
  • Sunscreen
  • Washcloth and small towel
  • Comb/brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Travel blow-dryer with dual voltage

Miscellaneous

  • Luggage locks, tags, luggage strap
  • Sewing kit
  • Laundry kit – line, soap, flat drain plug
  • Travel alarm clock (battery operated)
  • Converter and adapter for electrical appliances
  • Camera and film
  • Pictures of family, friends, hometown.
  • A few CDs and portable player
  • Address book
  • Journal
  • A few notebooks and pens
  • Phrasebook or dictionary
  • Sleep sheet for hostelling
  • Belt
  • Small gift for host family
  • Other____________________

Clothing

  • Sturdy, comfortable walking shoes
  • Shower shoes or slippers
  • Dress shoes
  • Athletic shoes
  • Socks, hose, tights
  • Underwear
  • Pajamas
  • Work-out wear, bathing suit
  • Pants and skirts
  • Shirts or knit tops
  • Sweater or fleece
  • Nice outfit (shirt and tie for men, nice dress or outfit for women)
  • Rain jacket, light jacket
  • Heavier outerwear, as recommended (coat, hat, gloves, scarf)

Getting to your Host Site

  • Find out beforehand how you will get from the airport to your host designation. You may get a complimentary airport pickup or you may need to take a train or taxi. Be sure you have your study abroad coordinator or host family’s contact in case you get lost or are arriving late.
  • Once you arrive at your designation, please call your family in the U.S. to let them know that you have arrived safely. Provide them the contact information of your living arrangements (dorm, apartment, or host family’s telephone and address).