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Foreign Travel Security

Researchers who travel domestically or overseas should be aware of security considerations that apply to themselves. Our office has provided a list of some useful travel tips for those of you who work on any sponsored research.  These tips are useful for any traveler and are often overlooked in the rush to acquire tickets, hotel reservations, visas, etc.

Please remember that secure research cannot be conducted outside the United States – this includes traveling with devices that may contain research.  Please contact us or the Export Control office with any questions as they may pertain to your situation: researchsecurity@uconn.edu or exportcontrol@uconn.edu

Depending on your travel situation, we are available to provide country-specific travel briefings.  Please contact our office researchsecurity@uconn.edu to arrange an agency briefing.

All university-sponsored international travel requests are routed through the Concur system, of which the Export Control office is part of the approval workflow for specific destination countries, to included sanctioned and high-risk countries.

Travelers to sanctioned countries are prohibited from taking regular use laptops, tablets, and/or university-provided equipment.

Loaner equipment is provided to travel to high risk countries to ensure sensitive or export-controlled information, data or materials with them.

If you are planning to travel to a country which is comprehensively sanctioned by the United States Government, you are required to submit a Pre-Travel Application for Embargoed Country Travel.

Contact exportcontrol@uconn.edu with any questions, to access the Pre-Travel Application for Embargoed Country Travel form, or to request a pre-travel informational meeting.


Travel Security ‘101’

Every time you move away from your residence, place of work, or some other safe static location you need to focus on what is going on ‘around you’; to be always situationally aware.  Notice what is ‘normal’ to include people, objects, and environment and pay attention when that ‘normal’ adjusts or changes.  Never disregard your gut feeling as the human body amazingly is able to detect stimulus long before our brains consciously pull it all together.  Prepare for the unexpected.  Noticing small things consistently can better assist with preparing yourself and those you might be traveling with anything threat-wise that may come later.


Plan Ahead

Always be prepared before you travel, research where and how you are traveling, staying, or living – – what does the on-the-ground situation look like?  Are there beyond normal security and safety considerations to focus on?  Areas to avoid?  Ongoing demonstrations and/or political strife that could affect movements and onward travel?  Your pre-travel preparations should be deliberate and fulsome.


Keeping A Low Profile

Do your best to minimize unwanted attention.  Review what you are packing or wearing, clothing, jewelry, and even overtly displayed religious items if you typically display them on your person.  Avoid items that might necessarily identify you as an American by alternately wearing non-descript attire that enables you to blend in as best as possible especially moving through public venues.  Do not accept letters, personal messages, photographs, packages, or other material to be carried in or out of the country.


Airports and Airplanes

Arrive early for your flights and proceed as quickly as possible through check-in and security to your gate as this offers the best level of in-depth security against a possible terrorist or criminal threat(s).  Keep close control of all carry-on items and stay alert to those other passengers and airport personnel moving around you until you board the aircraft.  Once onboard, pay attention to the location of the closest exits by counting rows of seats, both in front and behind if that is your closest exit.  Remember if and when smoke fills the cabin, you will be unable to see the lighted strips on the floor so counting seats and placing that fact in your muscle memory can be critical in evacuating safely.  When placing carry-on bags in overhead compartments, place them with their zippers and openers towards the back making it more difficult for potential thieves to get inside.  If placing bags underneath seats, turn your bag upside down to cover the zipper or even wrap the bags strap around your foot for an additional security measure.


Hotel Safety

Request a room between the second and fifth floors as those are rooms too high typically for thieves but would allow fire equipment to reach in the event of a potential fire emergency.  Locate your closest emergency exit(s) and develop a plan when/if there is a fire or other emergency where quicker egress is necessary minus using elevators.  When in your room, always use all the provided door locking hardware, and check to ensure if there are any opening windows or sliding glass doors, that they too are secured properly.  Keep your room neat so you can quickly notice anything that might be out of place or conversely messy which might do the same trick.  When leaving the room typically use the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door and keep a light on and the television also at a low volume to give the impression that someone is in the room.


Vehicle Safety

Always keep your doors locked and windows rolled up, especially if transiting busy thoroughfares with multiple stoplights or anything that reduces your vehicle speed.  Leave distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, typically if you cannot see the rear wheels of the vehicle in front, then you are too close and would be unable to move in the event you needed to. When parked, find well illuminated areas and keep any valuables you might have locked in your trunk and out of sight to passersby.


​​​​​​​Other Travel Related Resources

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs maintains a comprehensive library of information that can help you prepare for a unexpected crisis overseas. Their site includes links to additional information about other aspects of security for persons living overseas, including children.

The U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, receive information from the Embassy about safety conditions in the destination country, and help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

Traveling overseas with mobile phones, laptops, PDAs, and other electronic devices from The National Counterintelligence and Security Center.  Additionally, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations has created a similar brochure with additional information

U.S. Department of State Current Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. government’s ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.

Also see the CIA World Factbook, which contains a plethora of excellent travel data in one-page synopses.

The State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism details key developments in 2020 in the global fight against international terrorist groups.​​​​​​​