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International travel policy for employees

Last updated on 27 July 2023
This page provides practicalities to prepare for your stay abroad and what to do or whom to contact in case of a crisis.

Going abroad is a valuable experience, but a solid preparation is essential. Please carefully go over this checklist as a guideline to properly prepare yourself. In case of an unexpected termination of your stay abroad, we will do our utmost to support your return. Please note, VU Amsterdam is not financially responsible for any emergencies abroad.

VU Amsterdam follows the travel advice of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In case of code orange or red you are not allowed to travel abroad for work or research purposes. If the travel advice changes to code orange or red during your stay abroad, your immediate departure will be requested by your supervisor or the International Office ( 


  • Step 1: Inform yourself about the travel advice and follow this advice

    VU Amsterdam follows the travel advice of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MinBuZa). You can find the travel code of your destination here. The destinations for foreign stay are classified by VU Amsterdam in 4 categories, as shown below. 

    Please note that you always need approval of your supervisor or manager to travel abroad. Supervisors need to consult the International Office in case of code orange. 

    Please sign up to receive regular travel advice updates via and download the Travel app (in Dutch) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for real-time security updates during your trip. They also created a useful checklist. Frequently check the travel advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and take measures if necessary. We also advise you to discuss safety measures with the party that is welcoming you abroad.  

    • a. Destinations with code green: no special safety risks.
      You can travel without major risks. The degree of safety risks are similar to the Netherlands. However, travellers must always be alert and make sure you keep yourself updated with the latest news and happenings.
    • b. Destinations with code yellow: safety risks
      There are safety risks in this country. Circumstances are different from the Netherlands. Prepare for this and take special care (politically, medically, etc.). Please also make sure you are aware of possible entry restrictions. Please discuss the risks with your manager or supervisor.
    • c. Destinations with code orange: travel only if necessary
      There are serious safety risks in this country or area and daily life could be disrupted. Circumstances could be dangerous. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises you only to travel to this destination if necessary.

      --> Travelling for research or work purposes is never considered necessary. Employees cannot travel to this destination. If an employee is already in an area that changes to code orange, the employee's immediate departure will be requested by their supervisor or the International Office. 

      In exceptional cases, such as related research to the region or if an employee has chosen his home country to do the employee's research project or work-related project, employees will only get permission to travel to this destination or stay in this region after having consulted the International Office.

      Employees going abroad for their research or work-related activities need to contact their supervisor or manager first. If their supervisor thinks an exception should be made, the supervisor needs to reach out to the International Office directly ( A conversation will take place in which possible risks will be discussed and an individual recommendation will be given. This recommendation is binding; without authorisation, employees cannot travel. 
    • d. Destinations with code red: do not travel
      There is a clear safety risk in this region (eg. in case of war) with life-threatening circumstances. The security of students cannot be guaranteed, therefore the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises not to travel to this destination.

      --> Absolutely no employee can get authorisation to depart to this destination. If an employee is already in an area that changes to code red the employee's immediate departure will be requested. 

    Note: different color codes can occur within one country/region. For further questions about the travel advice, please contact the International Office via Please also check for updates via

  • Step 2: Arrange your insurance

    • We advise you to carefully look into your health and liability insurance. Ask your medical insurance company if your policy covers overseas emergencies such as repatriation or hospitalisation during your entire stay abroad or if you need additional health care insurance. The same applies to your liability insurance, which you need to have in order to cover incidents for which you can be held personally liable.

      VU Amsterdam's collective business travel insurance is taken out specifically for VU employees or students who will be travelling on behalf of the university. See the Business Insurance or Business Travel Insurance (in Dutch) pages on the VU website.
    • For employees who travel for research or work purposes and additionally travel privately before or afterwards, it is advised to take out private travel insurance. VU Amsterdam's business travel insurance has secondary cover for medical expenses. In case of a claim with medical costs, these costs should first be claimed on the private health insurance. Unreimbursed costs can then be claimed on VU Amsterdam's business travel insurance. Check whether the travel insurance covers financial and other support for evacuation in crisis situations. 
    • If you are travelling within Europe, get the free European Health Insurance Card, issued by your national health insurance provider. It gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 27 EU countries under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country. Please note, it is not an alternative to travel insurance. 
  • Step 3: Practical matters

    • Educate yourself about the country that you will travel to. If you plan to travel around to several countries, do the same for the other countries you intend to visit.
    • In case you travel by yourself for a research project or work-related project, please discuss how to create a social safety net with your manager (in case of emergency, but also to prevent social isolation) by, for example, making specific agreements with the receiving organisation.
    • Check whether the host institution or company has a policy in place for their employees regarding safety and security procedures and emergency measures. You need to familiarise yourself with these procedures and measures and comply with the security policy and instructions issued by the host institution and/or VU Amsterdam.
    • Register with the Dutch embassy or the embassy of your home country. The embassy can contact you in a crisis situation and will keep you up to date about the travel advice and possible evacuation.
    • Pre-program local emergency numbers into your cell phone, including your own In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact person, whom can be contacted by local emergency services under your ICE contacts of your phone (accessible without phone lock). Make sure you have informed VU Amsterdam about your ICE contact as well. 
    • Make copies of important documents: passport, driving license, tickets, bank cards, insurance policies/health insurance card, proof of vaccination, medical statements, address and phone number of the Dutch Embassy in your host country. 
    • Bring enough medical supplies for the length of your visit and any unexpected delays if you have a medical condition. Medical supplies may be difficult to get in some countries and in remote areas. Do check the legal status of medicines and how medicines are regulated for the destinations(s) you're visiting.  
    • Check which vaccinations are required for the country you are travelling to. Please remember that during your period abroad you may also want to travel in the surrounding area. Don’t forget to bring your medical (GGD) passport with you during your time abroad.
    • Upon arrival, register with a local General Practitioner in case a care need arises or if it already exists.
    • Check the possibilities and nearest location for first AID in the area you are visiting and any other safety measures you can take through the website of the Dutch Embassy. 
    • IAMAT has lists of English-speaking, well-trained doctors in 125 countries. The IAMAT website also has health information and other traveller risks for each country.
    • After returning from the tropics or from an area where work was done under primitive conditions, an appointment can be made with the company doctor in case of questions about work and health.

      Complaints (psychological or physical) can manifest themselves on location but also when you have been back longer. If necessary, consult the company doctor or Staff Welfare Officer
  • Step 4: Check the business trip against the sustainable travel guideline

    VU Amsterdam takes responsibility for people and planet. That is part of our mission. We aim for a climate-neutral university, in line with the Paris Agreement. To achieve this, we will have to critically examine all our activities. We ask all employees to contribute to this. After all, only together will we achieve VU's ambitions.

    In this context, the travel guideline has been amended with a number of new guidelines. These regulations help employees to make environmentally-conscious choices when planning business trips. Please go through these prior to your trip. More information can be found on the Sustainable business travel webpage.

  • Step 5: Book your trip, preferably through travel agent ATPI

    For flights and overnight stays in hotels, you need to book and submit expense claims yourself using the digital claim procedure.

    It is preferable to use the services of the travel agent ATPI. VU Amsterdam has entered into a contract with travel agent ATPI. You contact ATPI yourself to make the reservations for your foreign travel (train/boat/bus/flight) and/or overnight stays (hotel or other). Booking through ATPI has some advantages. For example, the invoice goes directly to the VU Amsterdam unit; you do not have to advance the amount yourself. All information can be found on Booking business travel through travel agent ATPI.

    Please note that reimbursement for travel and accommodation expenses incurred during official travel abroad only applies if a travel request has been approved beforehand.

  • Emergency and accident reporting

    In case of an emergency, first call the national emergency number of your host country. Take note that 112 is the number to contact the emergency services in any EU country and 911 in the Americas.

    Pre-program local emergency numbers into your cell phone, including your own In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact person, whom can be contacted by local emergency services under your ICE contacts of your phone (accessible without phone lock). Make sure you have informed VU Amsterdam about your ICE contact as well. 

    Information or assistance from your travel insurer or the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    If you need more information or require assistance, please contact your travel insurer or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    • by telephone at +31 247 247 247
    • via Twitter at @24/7BZ

    SOS Travel app 
    The SOS Travel app gives access to all relevant emergency numbers, your own insurance details and emergency numbers in more than 200 countries.

    Changes in travel advice
    What to do when the travel advice changes to code orange or red? Leave the country or area as soon and safely as possible. Follow the advice from your own embassy. See contact details of the Dutch Ministry of foreign affairs above.

  • Social safety

    In case of an incident or experienced unwanted behaviour, contact your VU supervisor or manager, your local supervisor and/or local international office for support and advice. For more information on unwanted behavior, please check our Social Safety webpage.

  • Physical safety

    If (physical) risks are to be expected during the trip abroad, such as risks related to safety, health and behaviour, the advice is to take the necessary measures/provisions to reduce the risks to an acceptable level. The risks occur mainly:

    • When working in the tropics 
    • When working in inferior or primitive (working) conditions, working at height, depth, climbing, applying tools, etc.
    • In countries where greater physical risks (crime) are run
    • In areas where there is a risk of infection with (serious) diseases
    • In places where there is an increased risk of exposure to chemical or biological agents.

    All projects abroad must be screened in advance by the person involved with the immediate supervisor for aspects of health and safety (part of the legally required risk inventory and evaluation RI&E).

    Costs required for health and safety, such as personal protective equipment or protective clothing, footwear, materials, etc., are charged to the unit.

  • Information security

    A SURF campaign is launched to raise awareness of cybersecurity among staff and students. Also during your stay abroad, it is necessary to handle information in a secure way. More information can be found on the VU web page on Information Security.

  • Useful contact information

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel advice 
    Via this link you will be able to find the travel advice for your destination

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
    This link provides an overview of all Dutch embassies and consulates abroad

    BZ 24/7 Contact Centre 
    If you need help and advice you can call +31247247247, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This is an initiative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

    Global Travel Warnings 
    Nations Online Project collects travel warnings on a global scale. This website provides regularly updated travel advice by the governments of various countries: 

    Travel applications for your mobile phone 
    A few useful travel apps: 

    • International SOS Assistance App: information about medical help and safety. 
    • Travel Safe Pro: collects all emergency contact numbers and embassy addresses for specific countries. 
    • Travel Smart: provides numbers for emergency services by destination and offers a comprehensive list of hospitals in 129 countries. 

    ANWB emergency centre 
    The Royal Dutch Touring Club ANWB offers a wide range of services related to roadside assistance and medical and repatriation assistance abroad. Since 2012 the ANWB coordinates assistance in case of emergencies abroad when Dutch citizens are involved. 
    ANWB website (in Dutch)

    Health insurance abroad
    Nederland wereldwijd (in Dutch)

    GGD Reisvaccinaties (in Dutch)

    Digital safety

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