Fall-Winter Travel Guidelines and Outlook

Permissible Travel Guidelines for Fall Semester 2021 and Wintersession 2022

On July 21, 2021, the Associate Provost for International Affairs and Operations shared with the University community the new set of policies that will govern University-related travel for the upcoming fall semester and Wintersession. These represent a judicious approach to the realities we continue to face in a world where, despite great progress, the COVID pandemic is still a serious threat globally and where governments still employ travel restrictions as a key public health tool. The goal remains as it has been since last spring: to facilitate as much travel as can be safely and feasibly achieved, given the state of the pandemic and of government responses to it.

These guidelines, and the associated FAQ and other resources, apply to travel that beings on or after August 23, 2021. For travel beginning before August 23, please see and follow the guidelines released in April of this year.

Outlook for Travel

Updated as of July 22, 2021

Despite the many positive developments that have accompanied the roll out of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in most high-income countries, Global Safety & Security (GS&S) assesses that we are at or near the limits of the positive impacts we can expect this progress to have on travel, both within the United States and internationally. We remain confident that travel within the United States will remain largely possible through the remainder of this year, although we now believe there may be some restrictions imposed over the course of the fall and winter, especially for the unvaccinated and where large-scale outbreaks of the delta and other variants occur. Internationally, we expect that many countries who have liberalized their entry requirements over the summer may reimpose stricter controls as and if they experience worsening pandemic conditions internally over the fall months. We believe it highly likely that it will be a year or more before the global travel environment resembles pre-pandemic norms in any meaningful way.

Given this outlook, we caution against assumptions that the scope of permissible University-sponsored travel will continue to expand in the first half of 2022.  We will issue updated guidance covering the spring semester in mid-November. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue to plan creatively for your international engagements through summer of 2022. We also urge you to think carefully about advance bookings and other financial commitments to avoid cancellation penalties and other non-refundable commitments. We constantly and closely monitor developments related to the safety and feasibility of global mobility and maintain our commitment to review and revise our guidelines whenever an opportunity exists to do so.


Other Frequently Asked Questions

How does Global Safety & Security (GS&S) decide on pandemic-related travel suspensions?

GS&S is responsible for promulgating and helping the community to follow the pandemic permissible travel guidelines; however, the unit alone does not set these policies. A broad group of stakeholders, representing the interests of students, faculty, staff, and the University as an institution, determines the travel guidelines through consensus after thoroughly reviewing the current state of the pandemic and of international and domestic travel.

In our deliberations, we seek to balance our community’s need to remain connected to the broader world of research and learning opportunities with the present realities of the pandemic. We consider the risk of bringing infection back to our campus or into the communities we visit; the widely varying governmental responses to the pandemic across the world that severely restrict the logistics of travel; and the challenges of supporting our travelers in an emergency, particularly should they test positive for COVID or fall ill with the disease.

We do not rely heavily on indications of the current state of the pandemic in individual countries or regions, except as these may point to worldwide trends. The stochastic and ever-evolving nature of the pandemic means that there are few, if any, data points that can reliably predict disease prevalence beyond the most immediate term. Thus, today’s “safe” destination can – without warning and in a matter of days – suddenly be placed under draconian restrictions, including travel bans.

Finally, we must consider our institutional desire to be a responsible world citizen, giving particular weight to statements from governments and international health organizations.  This is true not only of their guidance on the advisability of travel, but also their appeals to limit it, so as to contribute to the global effort to end the pandemic.

How will I know when the pandemic travel guidelines change?

Our travel guidelines will be revisited again in late September to determine if any changes may be made for Wintersession 2022. We will perform another review in mid-November for the spring semester. Any resulting revisions will be released following those reviews. As with previous revisions, the Associate Provost for International Affairs and Operations will communicate the new guidance to the entire Princeton community via an email announcement. The new guidelines will also be available on the Princeton COVID information site and through the Travel Toolkit site, once they have been released.

You can also always contact the Global Safety & Security unit for information on current and any revised or prospective travel guidelines.