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Travel Safety

The first thing you should do when you arrive in your host city is to contact your family and/or friends to let them know you’ve reached your destination. We encourage you to share your contact information, as well as the information about your host organization contacts. If your family needs to reach you while you are abroad because of an emergency, they can pass a message to you through the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, which can be contacted from within the United States at 888.407.4747 (toll free), and from abroad at +1.202.501.4444. The Office of Overseas Citizens Services will contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country in which you are traveling in order to pass the message to you.

Become familiar with your program location as quickly as possible. Also familiarize yourself with cities you will visit before you begin to explore them. Review Department of State website or guide books for information about your host country and city. Cities in other countries, just like American cities, have their safe and less safe neighborhoods. You can find out what areas to avoid by asking at an information booth in a train station or airport when you arrive, or by asking your on-site primary contact person. Use your common sense and do not take risks.

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If you are impacted by an emergency situation, you have a number of resources available to you. It is important to familiarize yourself with these resources before you travel abroad so that you can quickly respond if needed in an emergency situation.

  • Get immediate help: Know the local equivalent of 911 so that you can get immediate emergency assistance. To find the local emergency phone numbers in the country(ies) you will be visiting, go to and search for your country-specific information
  • Notify your onsite contact: Know how to reach your Faculty Director, host institution or program provider emergency contact. Someone is available to you 24/7 on-site and you should contact this person as soon as is prudent so that s/he may assist you.
  • Contact GeoBlue: They provide 24/7 health insurance assistance, call GeoBlue collect from outside the U.S. at +1.610.254.8771, toll free within the U.S. at 1.844.268.2686, or email
  • Contact UNC Study Abroad: During regular business hours, you can reach us at +1.919.962.7002; after hours contact the UNC Police at +1.919.962.8100. Students should ask the UNC Police to contact the Study Abroad Office.
  • Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy. Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies abroad are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates appears on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. The Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs may also be reached for assistance with emergencies at +1.202.501.4444.
  • Contact your family. If you are involved in any emergency, it is important for you to remain in contact with your family. They will be concerned about your well-being and will be anxious for regular updates from you. There is a limit to the nature and amount of information the Study Abroad Office may disclose to your parents (and/or designated emergency contacts), so it is best for those interested parties to communicate with you directly.
  • A downloadable and printable Emergency Information Card is available.
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Should you encounter serious legal, political, health, or economic problems, the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can offer limited assistance. It can provide you with a list of attorneys or physicians, contact next of kin in the event of an emergency or serious illness, contact friends or family on your behalf to request funds or guidance, provide assistance during civil unrest or natural disaster, and replace a lost or stolen passport. An embassy or consulate is the primary source for information on where to obtain advice; however, it cannot give advice directly.

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In any situation where students are capable of making their own decisions, communicating, seeking medical care, and making travel arrangements, students will decide whether to notify their emergency contacts[1].

At its discretion, the Study Abroad Office and other campus units, in consultation with the UNC-Chapel Hill (“UNC”) Global Risk Response Team, may inform a student’s emergency contact[2] about a real or perceived health or safety emergency abroad. Such situations include, but are not limited to, when:

  • UNC enacts new travel restrictions;
  • UNC, the host institution, or provider decides to evacuate students from the site; or

Students’ academic program is terminated or disrupted for more than one week, or the program location changes after the study abroad contract is signed, due to a health or safety emergency.

[1] Emergency contacts are individuals listed by students in Connect Carolina or submitted with the study abroad application.

[2] Only emergency contacts of students with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) waivers on file will be contacted. In case of a health or safety emergency relating to a student without a FERPA waiver on file, the UNC Global Risk Response Team, which includes the Dean of Students and the Office of University Counsel, may elect to contact the student’s emergency contact on file in accordance with the health and safety exception under UNC’s FERPA policy.

The University will consider the totality of the circumstances pertaining to a threat to the health or safety of student or to others.  If it determines there is an articulable and significant threat to health or safety, the University will record:  (i) the articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or others that formed the basis for the disclosure; and (ii) to whom the University disclosed the information.  This record shall be included in the record of disclosures and be kept with the student’s education records in accordance with the University’s Policies and Procedures Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 available at:

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