University Travel in Mexico – Department/Unit-Level Approvals

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University Travel in Mexico – Department/Unit-Level Approvals

Subject: University Travel in Mexico – Department/Unit-Level Approvals

Date: December 10, 2012

To: Deans, Directors, and Department Heads
From: Andrew Comrie, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Subject: University Travel in Mexico – Department/Unit-Level Approvals
Date: December 10, 2012

The University of Arizona conducts numerous teaching, research and service programs throughout Mexico, and greatly values the deep relationships established with our academic and community partners.  As part of the University’s commitment in encouraging appropriate academic travel to Mexico to advance these relationships, a revised procedure to expedite travel approvals for parts of Mexico is being implemented.  This procedure recognizes the continuing importance of maintaining travel safety in Mexico while enabling rapid response time at the department or unit level.

University officials continue to monitor information about conditions in Mexico that may impact the safety of faculty, staff, and students who travel there as part of UA programs.  The U.S. State Department Travel Warning for Mexico was updated on 11/20/12, and can be viewed at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5815.html.  The Travel Warning reports that while violent incidents can occur at any time, they have occurred most frequently at night and on isolated roads in affected areas.   For each of the regions identified in the Travel Warning, there is very specific guidance concerning certain roadways and regions where problems have occurred, and non-essential travel is strongly discouraged.  Although the Travel Warning identifies specific regions and situations that have experienced increased violence, and trips should be planned to maximize safety with minimum risk, it is impossible to predict where violence might erupt, or to guarantee that an incident will not occur.

Please note that the Interim Policy for International Travel Safety and Compliance requires advance review and approval of university travel to areas with a Travel Warning in effect.  The Interim Policy also specifies that the Provost may authorize or restrict UA travel to specific regions within a Travel Warning Country.   The International Travel Safety Oversight Committee (ITSOC) has made the following recommendations, which have been approved and are in effect until further notice:

Effective immediately, travel approval for the following locations and scenarios is delegated to Department Heads and Unit Directors, concurrent with submittal of the standard Travel Authorization Form to the FSO Travel Office in advance of travel:

  • Travel to the following Mexican states/regions:  Baja California Sur (South), Estado de Mexico, Mexico City, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Hidalgo, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatan.
  • Daylight travel to Nogales, Hermosillo, Mexicali, and Puerto Peñasco.

The Provost may also delegate to designated Department Heads or Unit Directors authority to approve travel for all other areas of Mexico for units that have significant activity and travel experience in the region. The delegation of travel approval authority described herein is subject to change or cancellation by the Provost if conditions warrant.

Further to the above authorization, UA travel to Mexico that does not meet one of the criteria listed above must be reviewed in advance by the ITSOC and approved by the Provost. This review is conducted following submittal of the Travel Authorization Form and Supplemental Travel Authorization for Travel Warning Countries to FSO-Travel. Forms should be submitted at least 30 days in advance of the departure date.

All UA travel to Mexico requires submittal of a completed Travel Authorization Form and the Supplemental Travel Authorization Form for Travel Warning Areas, and must be signed by the Department Head. In addition, students and volunteers on UA travel to Mexico are required to sign the Assumption of Risk and Release Form. These documents are available at: http://uabis.arizona.edu/eforms/.  

In addition to Travel Authorization, the UA has implemented an online travel registration system to keep track of UA travelers and communicate in the event of an emergency. The system includes itinerary registration, and a questionnaire to identify possible compliance issues that may need to be addressed in advance of travel. Each traveler should register their itinerary at: http://ua-risk.terradotta.com/

When planning UA travel to Mexico, please ensure the following precautions are taken:

  • Review the latest Travel Warning and evaluate your planned itinerary against the information contained therein. If possible, avoid or defer travel to specifically identified hazardous areas.
  • Plan all roadway travel to occur during daylight hours and to the greatest extent feasible, use only major roadways.
  • For travel to Puerto Peñasco, use the Lukeville port of entry to minimize highway travel to the region.
  • Consider flying commercially to your destination instead of driving.
  • Students and employees must be allowed to opt out of travel if they wish, and must be provided with an alternative to participation.
  • For Travel Warning areas students and volunteers are required to sign the Assumption of Risk and Release Form, available online at:  http://uabis.arizona.edu/eForms/Forms/iTravel_Assump_of_Risk_Release.pdf
  • In addition to travel registration at http://ua-risk.terradotta.com/, all faculty, staff and students traveling abroad are strongly encouraged to register with the U.S. Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free system allows Embassy staff to rapidly locate and contact travelers in the event of an emergency situation in the area being visited. The STEP program is available at: https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.

Questions related to these guidelines may be directed to Steve Holland, Assistant Vice President for Risk Management, at 621-1790 or sholland@email.arizona.edu.

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