Notification of Foreign Travel for NIH Staff
All NIH staff planning to travel abroad on official Government business must submit a Notification of Foreign Travel (NFT) through the web-based HHS NFT System. Once an NFT is submitted by the travel planner or the traveler, it is automatically routed to the IC for review and approval. When the IC approves the NFT, the form is sent to FIC for review and transmittal to HHS. An NFT is required for all official foreign travel regardless of the source of funding for the trip. To meet established timeframes, it is important that NFTs submitted to FIC are complete and accurate.
After transmitting an NFT to HHS, FIC will prepare a cable requesting country clearance from the US Embassy of the country to be visited. NIH travelers should not depart on an official business trip outside the US without first receiving country clearance from the relevant US Embassy or Mission overseas. For most countries, clearance will be granted. However, US Embassies may refuse clearance to travelers who fail to send their clearance cables in a timely manner or whose proposed travel includes countries where US citizens may be in danger. Current travel warnings, public announcements, and consular information sheets are posted on U.S. Department of State's web site.
NFTs must be submitted to FIC at least 35 days prior to travel to allow time for review and transmittal to HHS and for the cables requesting country clearance to be sent. NFTs must be transmitted to HHS at least 30 days prior to the proposed trip departure date. In exceptional circumstances, late notification may be accepted with proper justification. Travelers are urged to initiate their NFTs as soon as they begin to make their travel plans and to ensure the NFT is forwarded to FIC by their IC officials in a timely manner.
HHS Country-Specific Guidance
Any NIH traveler invited to participate in an international meeting hosted by a multilateral organization [ex. World Health Organization (WHO), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Bank (WBank)], should provide their travel planner with a copy of the invitation letter as a PDF file. The invitation letter will then be uploaded into the NFT by the travel planner.
Mandatory Personal Security Training
Effective January 1, 2005, all HHS personnel who request country clearance at an overseas location to perform extended temporary duty for a period of 30 days or more must complete mandatory personal security training prior to travel.
The Security and Emergency Response Program, Office of Research Services (ORS), NIH, reviews and clears on NFTs from a security standpoint and provides security information for NIH staff traveling abroad.
Registration at US Embassy
All HHS travelers on duty in a country listed by the Office of Global Health Affairs, HHS as "sensitive" must register with the US Embassy Consular Section in their country of assignment. In addition, all HHS travelers on duty in any country for a period exceeding 14 consecutive days must also register with the US Embassy Consular Section in their assigned country. Registering can help the US Embassy contact HHS travelers in case of an emergency. (HHS Chapter 6-00, Attachment 10 - International Travel, section 6-00-10)
All HHS travelers are required to prepare a brief written report of the significant aspects and results of his or her trip, including a summary of the extent to which the purpose(s) of the trip was achieved. Trip reports should be submitted to HHS through the NFT System within two weeks following return to the US. (HHS Chapter 6-00, Attachment 10 - International Travel, sections 6-00-30 and 6-00-90)
For questions about NFTs or country clearance, contact:
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