International Program Safety & Security

Want to talk to us?

Need to talk to someone about your international program safety and security questions? Contact us at

Nervous about security in your location or need to report a safety or security incident? Please do! Submit a report using the International Safety & Security Incident Hotline.

What do we mean by program safety and security?

Great question!  Information here is meant to provide guidance on what to do once you're on the ground at your destination.

What should you be thinking about as you travel within the country to research or tourist sites?

What preparation can you do in advance and what should you do when you arrive? 

Below you will find guidance on how to think about safety and security for a group of researchers or students or alumni who you may be leading on a trip or working with in a foreign country.  As always, feel free to reach out to us at with your specific questions.  We're here to help!

For safety and security information while traveling to your destination, please visit the International Travel page.

What to do

Be prepared! 

Once your trip and itinerary are approved, gather up-to-date security information about your destination(s). 

Go to the International SOS UMB portal, select your destination(s) and review the security information. You'll find key information on each country, including the local emergency number (the local 911).

Download the International SOS Mobile Assistance app. Encourage everyone in your group to do the same!

Visit the US State Department for additional guidance on your destination and enroll in STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which allows US citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll in their trip with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.

All travelers should be encouraged to visit their physician, travel clinic, or health department before departure to discuss medical concerns, immunization requirements, or other health issues that may affect successful and complete participation in the program.

Hold a pre-trip orientation 

To help get everyone on the same page regarding safety and security, hold a pre-departure orientation for the group and/or include safety and security information in your regular pre-trip meetings.

Share information!

  • Review current events (elections, demonstrations, significant weather events, etc.) with a view toward how such events may impact personnel and activities
  • Review Codes of Conduct
  • Share how to report concerns/incidents
  • Review what International SOS provides and how to contact them

Collect information!

  • Emergency contact information for each traveler, including the trip leader

Come up with a plan!

  • Prepare (or share) an emergency action plan and procedures for the trip
  • How will you communicate as a group on location?
  • Do travelers need to expand their phone plans?
  • Will there be wifi?

What to do when you arrive on the ground at your destination 

Once you arrive at your location, here are some key things to do with the group.

  1. Orient the group to the location (your accommodation and worksite) and services (hospitals and clinics, police and security services, US embassy).
  2. Review the accommodation. Think about location, access, security (access to residential areas, locks, safes, etc), and safety (fire, health).
  3. Review vehicle use.  Are you using contracted transportation? Is anyone in the group driving? If so, do you have all the right insurance? Are seatbelts available? Required?
  4. Have a personal safety and security briefing by your local hosts. Review the local laws and customs, behavior expectations, and how to report concerns and incidents.
  5. Review and revise the Emergency Action Plan. Designate a primary and secondary meeting place. Confirm alternative methods of communication if a physical meeting does not or cannot take place. Determine a backup leader in case the program leader is incapacitated or unavailable. 
  6. Remind everyone to check in with their families back home.

Contingency Planning 

Based on the pre-departure and on-the-ground risk assessments, likely threats should be prioritized and specific contingency plans/guidance developed and shared (and perhaps drilled!) by the team.

Check out the scenarios in the attached slide deck - Safety & Security Sample Scenarios & Responses for Contingency Planning -  that reviews the kinds of situations that may arise and how best to respond.

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