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Global Safety and Wellness


Reporting Emergencies

In the event of an emergency abroad, who do I contact?

24/7 Emergency Assistance is available through AXA, the "Team Assist" partner of Swarthmore's CISI travel medical insurance.  You will need the information below:

Policy #GLM N06566212
+1-855-327-1411 (toll-fee within US)
+1-312-935-1703 (from outside US)

What's the fastest way to contact the Global Engagement Office?

During business hours : +1-610-328-7827 (M-F 8:30am - 4:30pm)
After hours:  +1-610-328-8451 


Proactive Planning

Pre-Travel Health Forms

All students participating in Swarthmore-affiliated or Swarthmore-supported travel outside the United States are required to submit a pre-travel health form for review by the Worth Health Center.  The resulting counsel from Students Health will include recommendations regarding vaccinations, medications, and  other steps to be taken prior to departure.   It is important to have complete medical and dental check-ups prior to departure, so that if a health problem is identified, you can address it before leaving the country.

Travel Vaccinations

If you are traveling to a country with required immunizations that must be staggered over a period of time, you should make this appointment as early as possible. Your immunization and other travel medicine needs will be reviewed, including what supplies you should take with you. Do not put this off until the last minute. Some immunizations need to be administered over a period of weeks or months. Please be advised that the Worth Health Center does not carry all of the vaccines that may be required to visit a foreign country. If you require vaccines that Worth does not carry, you will be directed to a site where you may obtain them.

What if I have a pre-existing condition?

If you have a health condition that may require treatment while you are abroad, you will need to determine your medical needs beforehand, and make all related preparations. Do not assume that you will have access to the medications and care that you receive in the U.S.; you must verify that will be the case.  The possibility exists that your needs cannot be met at all overseas sites. Bring copies of all pertinent medical records to take with you.  You will also need to make arrangements to take any required prescription medications abroad.


Medications Abroad

What is the best way to travel with medications?

Be sure to bring your medications in your carry-on, not in checked luggage, to reduce the chance of theft.  You should travel with a written prescription AND a letter from your doctor that explains your need for any prescriptions medications that you bring (this should include the generic names of the drugs).  Always bring medications in their original containers with clear labeling.  Students can contact CISI Insurance for advice on traveling with medications.  

How can I know if a specific medication is available at my destination?

Pharmaceutical regulations vary from country to country.  Some countries have limited availability of certain drugs or prohibit their importation.  A limited number of countries prohibits certain (common used) prescription and over-the-counter medications.  These can not be imported nor are they available. This can include ingredients found in inhalers, and cold/cough/allergy/sinus medications.  

Can I have prescription medications shipped to me?

Arrange with your insurance company to purchase and take with you an ample amount of medication, rather than having medications shipped to you. Consult with the Worth Health Center. They can help you communicate with your insurance provider about this.  Shipping medications could easily result in the medications never getting out of customs and therefore not reaching you. Many countries has restrictions on unregistered drugs (i.e., those not approved for use in that country) coming into their country by mail.   A family member sending medications may also be putting themselves at legal risk. In the United States, mailing prescription medications anywhere is illegal unless you are a registered distributor. 

What if my medications are classified as controlled substances?

It is a traveler's responsibility to ensure that your prescriptions medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics by the foreign country.  Some medications that are legal in the US might be illegal in another country. For example, controlled substances such as stimulants and psychotropics are completely prohibited and thus not available in some countries (e.g., Indonesia, Japan, Russia, UAE, Zambia).  Possession of even small amounts of these substances for personal use during your time abroad may result in arrest, incarceration, and charges of drug trafficking.  Banned ingredients classified as stimulants can include pseudoephedrine, levmetamfetamine, dexromethorphan, and dextroamphetamine. 


External Support

How services does can the U.S. embassy provide? 

Whenever traveling abroad, U.S. citizens should register their travel using the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  Those on Swarthmore-affiliated programs abroad, are required to do so.   Travel registration is a free service provided to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. Registration allows you to record information about your upcoming trip abroad that the Department of State can use to assist you in case of an emergency.  Non-U.S. citizens should see if their government provides a similar registration system.

You can also download "Smart Traveler" - the official State Department app for U.S. travelers. It provides easy access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more.  For U.S. citizens, consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens.  Also note that the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs may be reached for assistance with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747, if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or 202-501-4444, if calling from overseas.  

The U.S. embassy in your host country is likely to keep citizens updated using Facebook and Twitter.


Personal Property

How can I secure my passport while traveling?

When traveling, secure your passport in a safe place such as a money belt worn under your outer clothing or a zippered compartment of a pouch that you wear close to your body.  Once you have reached your destination, make sure to store your passport in a secure place such as a program office or hotel/hostel safe.  If your passport is lost or stolen, it must be replaced immediately at the embassy or consulate of your country of citizenship.  Make a photocopy of your passport and keep it with you in a separate place from your passport. This will make it easier to have your passport replaced quickly if it is lost or stolen.

Does my CISI insurance cover property theft or damage?

No, CISI does not provide property insurance.  Check to see if your family has a homeowner’s insurance policy that will cover your personal property while abroad.  

If not, you are also strongly encouraged to purchase insurance for loss of property due to the relatively high incidences of pickpocketing and other theft abroad. Think of what you would do if your computer, camera, or other valuables were lost or stolen.

The College does not provide insurance for your personal possessions. If you do have a loss abroad, you normally need to obtain a police report from when you reported the theft to submit to your insurance company.



Will I be given leeway for being a visitor unfamiliar with local laws?

No. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. In some legal systems you are considered guilty until proven innocent. Many countries impose harsh penalties for violations that would be considered minor in the U.S.

How can I avoid being arrested for drug charges?
  • Make certain your prescription medication(s) are not considered illegal narcotics. (Example: many ADHD medications are banned in other countries.) See the section on prescription medications for additional guidance. 
  • Do not import, purchase, use, or possess drugs. Drug charges can carry severe penalties. 
  • Don't agree to transport packages for anyone. If you are caught, ignorance is no excuse. If the package contains illegal drugs or substances, the fact that you did not know will not reduce the charges.
Is it true that you can be arrested for taking photographs or buying souvenirs?
  • In some countries you can be arrested for photographing security-related institutions, such as police and military installations, government buildings, border areas, and transportation facilities. When in doubt, ask if it is okay to take photos. 
  • In some countries you can be arrested for purchasing souvenirs that are actually antiques or appear to be antiques (especially in Turkey, Egypt, and Mexico). 
  • Keep track of the credit limits on your credit cards. It is possible to be arrested for exceeding your credit limit in some countries. Know how to report any problems using your card to your credit card company. 
How can I avoid being arrested on violent charges?
  • Avoid participating in demonstrations and other political activities. Political activities in other countries can result in detention and/or deportation by officials. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can sometimes turn violent, and you do not want to be caught in the middle.
  • Do not carry weapons. Even a pocket knife can result in a serious weapons charge while on foreign soil - even if the knife is found during a search or arrest for an unrelated offense.
Can the Embassy help me if I am arrested?

The U.S. government cannot bail you out of jail. If you find yourself in a legal jam, contact the closest embassy or consulate (as relevant for your citizenship) for assistance. However, keep in mind that consular employees cannot arrange for local officials to release detained citizens.