Passports and visas


  • If you already have a passport, it will need to be valid for six months beyond the end date of your travels.
  • If you do not have a passport, or you need to renew it, apply for one before you apply to study abroad. Passport processing times can be long, and for most destinations you need to have your passport well before you go in order to apply for your student visa. Passports are valid for 10 years, so even if you end up delaying or canceling your program, it will be good to have.
  • You can apply for or renew your passport at the UAF Passport Services Office.


  • Student visa processes vary by country and are subject to change.
  • For some countries, it is necessary to travel to the nearest consulate of the host country to apply for a visa; this might be in Anchorage, Seattle, San Francisco, or another city.
  • It is your responsibility to research the visa application process for your destination, but you can ask the Study Away advisor if you are having difficulty finding or interpreting information.
  • The most definitive source of information is almost always the official government website of the host country. Your host school or program provider is also a good resource. It may also be possible to contact the nearest consulate with questions.

Health and safety

UAF requires all students going abroad to have health insurance coverage.

  • National Student Exchange: Students studying in Canada must purchase the student health insurance coverage provided by one of our approved providers. Some domestic NSE campuses may require incoming students to purchase their health insurance.
  • International exchange: Students must purchase the student health insurance coverage provided by one of our approved providers.
  • International affiliate programs: International health insurance coverage is provided by your program and included in the price. Be sure to verify the length of coverage and make other arrangements if you plan to travel outside of those dates.

Consult with your doctor to make sure you are up-to-date on all routine vaccinations and check if there are any you need for your destination. You can also check recommendations by destination on the CDC website. This is most relevant for students studying in Central or South America, Africa, or Asia.

Check to make sure that any prescriptions you take are legal to bring into your host country. If possible, bring enough medication to last for your whole program, and also bring along an original written prescription for a generic version of your medication. Bring prescriptions in their original containers, and when flying pack them in your carry-on bag.

Support services vary by destination. Ask your host school coordinator, program provider or the Study Away advisor if you have questions about what is available for your program. Students who have preexisting mental health conditions are encouraged to discuss the advisability of studying away with their mental health professional.

  • All students studying abroad are encouraged to enroll in the U.S. State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
  • More safety resources from the State Department:
  • All students studying away are also required to fill out an emergency action plan form as part of their predeparture paperwork. If you are a parent or other individual supporting a study abroad student from home, ask them to share a copy of this form with you.
  • UAF Study Away Program office direct line: 1-907-474-6516
  • UAF Police Department (24 hours): 1-907-474-7721

Other considerations

  • Your options for handling money while abroad vary with your destination. Research whether cash, credit card or other forms of payment are commonly used. Your host school or program may also have suggestions on the best way to pay for things.
  • In some locations opening a local bank account may be recommended, while in others it might not be possible.
  • Check with your U.S. bank/credit card provider before you go about international ATM withdrawal fees and foreign transaction fees. You may want to consider getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • You may also need to let your U.S. bank/credit card provider know you are traveling to avoid being locked out of your account.

If you are studying abroad, you have three main options when it comes to mobile phone use:

  1. If your phone is unlocked, purchase or rent a local SIM card with a short-term, pay-as-you-go phone plan.
  2. Purchase or rent a cheap local phone and SIM card.
  3. Use your normal U.S. phone plan with international roaming or an international plan activated.

Which option is best for you will depend on your program length, destination, U.S. carrier and phone use habits.

  • Pack lightly! Take into consideration your airline’s luggage allowance and weight limits.
  • Research the climate of your destination and pack clothing that is culturally appropriate.
  • We do not suggest packing bedding in most cases. Your host school or program may provide bedding or offer an option to rent or buy it.
  • If you use a hair dryer, straightener or curling iron, your U.S. one likely will not work abroad; plan to purchase one at your destination.
  • Before you travel, take pictures of your passport, credit cards and important documents and store your backup copies securely (not just on your phone).
  • If you participate in an UAF-approved study away program, you will remain eligible for the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD).
  • If applying for the PFD while abroad, and when applying for your PFD the following year (if you were out of state for more than 6 months in the prior calendar year), you will also need to submit an education verification form. Print this form out, fill in your information at the top and sign it. Then bring it to the Registrar's Office or scan and email it to uaf-registrar@alaska.edu. Be sure to fill out the form for the correct calendar year! After processing the form, the Registrar's Office will send it directly to the PFD Division office in Juneau unless you indicate in writing to have the form sent elsewhere.
  • If you have a post office box on campus and wish to keep it while you are away, make sure it’s paid for on time.
  • If you would like someone to check your mailbox for you while you are gone, as long as they have your key, they have full access to your mailbox. 
  • You may also choose to have your mail forwarded to a U.S. address.
  • If you have any questions, please contact the campus post office at 907-474-7215.
  • If you live in on-campus housing and would like to continue to do so after your return to UAF, you can either leave your housing deposit on file with Residence Life (for up to a year), or cancel your housing and reapply (with a new deposit) before your return.
  • All Residence Life deadlines will still apply to you while you are away.
  • Contact Residence Life at UAF-housing@alaska.edu with any questions.