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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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SMG 2342.2





Effective Date: 10/01/2003

[PDF Version]

 1. Purpose
 2. References
 3. Definition
 4. Responsibility
 5. Nominations of Personnel
 6. Preparation of Travel Documents
 7. International Travel Document Checklist
 8. International Travel Approval Process
 9. Passport and Visa
 10. Advance of Funds
 11. Airline/Train Ticket(s)
 12. Hotel Reservations/Rental Cars
 13. Key Contacts
 14. Individual Trip Reports
 15. Effective Date

Attachment A - (PDF) Travel Order
Attachment B - Office of the Secretary Notification of Foreign Travel Memorandum
Attachment C - Justification for Two or More Travelers
Attachment D - Request for Release of Official Passport/Visa Memorandum
Attachment E - Justification for Late Submission of International Travel Memorandum
Attachment F - (PDF) Request for Travel Reservations Form (PHS-1558)
Attachment G - (PDF) Official Letter/Telex/Agreement of Invitation
Attachment H - (PDF) Request for Approval for Acceptance of Payment of Travel Expenses in Cash or in Kind
Attachment I - Letter of Acceptance
Attachment J - (PDF) Background Information Form
Attachment K - (PDF) Authorization for Expert Services for International Intergovernmental Organizations (PHS-6039)
Attachment L - (PDF) Nomination of Member of Official U.S. Delegation (HHS-621)
Attachment M - (PDF) Checklist for Preparation of International Travel in the FDA


This Guide provides policy and procedures for FDA personnel to follow when requesting approval of international travel. This guidance applies to all officers and employees of the FDA, both civilian and commissioned corps. Travel funded by the FDA is processed through the Travel Manager System, which works in tandem with the FDA accounting system to generate travel related documents such as the Travel Manager Authorization.


Chapters 1-70 and 6-00, DHHS Travel Manual.


The Department has defined international travel as:

All travel on official duty time (except change of official duty station) outside the United States, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and any other territory under U.S. jurisdiction. (An exclusion is travel within a foreign country in which an employee's official duty station is located and non-overnight inspectional travel to Canada and Mexico as described in the Office of Regulatory Affairs' Field Management Directive number 13.)


A. Offices of FDA. The immediate office, or other designated office of the traveler shall prepare all necessary travel documents associated with a request for approval of international travel including the electronic Notification of Foreign Travel (NFT). This form should be sent to the International Relations Staff (IRS), Office of International Programs (OIP), HFG-1, Room 15A-55, Parklawn Building at least 37 calendar days prior to the scheduled departure date.

B. International Relations Staff (IRS). IRS is responsible for concurring in all international travel for FDA personnel, processing all travel documents, notifying the Public Health Service (PHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and responding to requests from the Office of International Health, PHS and the Office of International Affairs, DHHS concerning international travel.

C. Office of Management and Operations (OMO). The Associate Commissioner for Management and Operations or authorized delegee is responsible for approving all international travel for FDA personnel and for approving acceptance of cash or in kind travel support.


The policy and procedures to be followed when nominating employees for participation in intergovernmental meetings, expert panels, technical committees or to serve as consultants or advisors may be found in chapter 6-00-50 in the DHHS Travel Manual and the FDA Standard Operating Procedures for Interactions With Major International Organizations. http://intranet.fda.gov/ofm/travel/Authorization/Travabroad.htm


The immediate office of the traveler or other designated individual within the traveler's organization shall prepare the necessary travel documents. To provide meaningful coordination and to maintain effective liaison with the Office of International Health, PHS, all requests for international travel will be directed to IRS. The travel documents should include:

1. Travel Paid by FDA or Other U.S. Government Agency

a. Travel Manager Authorization

b. Office of the Secretary Notification of Foreign Travel - access http://ogha.psc.gov/ogha/

c. Justification for Two or More Travelers

d. Justification for Late Submission of International Travel memorandum.

This memorandum must be completed if the travel is less than 37 working days prior to the scheduled departure date

2. Travel Paid by Other Sources

Consult FDA Staff Manual Guide 2340.1 and DHHS Travel Manual Chapter 1-70.


Although each Office/Center has designated an International Travel Contact to interact with IRS, each traveler should designate one person (referred to herein as "manager") in their immediate office who will be responsible for assuring that all travel documents are prepared correctly and are submitted in a timely manner and that the essential documents are received prior to initiation of travel.

The required documents for international travel have been incorporated into a "Checklist" which the "manager" in the traveler's office should use to assure that all appropriate documents have been prepared prior to forwarding the international travel package to IRS. The "Checklist" should not be submitted with the travel package.


A. The Office/Center International Travel Contact shall submit the electronic Notification of Foreign Travel form to the International Relations Staff (IRS), OIP, HFG-1, Room 15A-55, Parklawn Building at least 37 calendar days prior to the scheduled departure date.

Notification for travelers who are attending the same meeting must be forwarded to IRS along with the Justification for Two or More Travelers.

NOTE: If the NFT for some travelers have been completed and the 37 calendar day limit is in jeopardy, those that are completed should be sent to IRS and IRS should be informed that other(s) will be forthcoming.

B. IRS will review the NFT and issue cables to American Embassies following approval, as required.

C. IRS will:

1. Forward the Office of the Secretary Notification of Foreign Travel to the Office of Global Health Affairs (OGHA), DHHS.

2. For all SES and equivalent level travelers, send an information copy of the Office of the Secretary Notification of Foreign Travel to the Associate Commissioner for Health Affairs, Room 14-95.

D. ALL travelers must have an approved travel manager authorization prior to departure.


To obtain an official passport and visa(s), a Request for Release of Official Passport/Visa(s) should be prepared by the traveler's office and submitted to the Travel Audit Section (TAS) in OFM. TAS will notify the "manager" and/or traveler if it is necessary to complete any additional documentation with regard to obtaining a passport or visa.

The Department of State requires four weeks for processing a request for an Official Passport. TAS must receive the request for issuance or renewal of an Official Passport at least five weeks prior to the travel departure date.

Travelers may use an Official Passport only for official travel. FDA employees must return their Official Passport, either in person or by certified mail, to the Passport/Visa Coordinator, International Relations Staff, Room 15A-55, (HFG-1), 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857.


Travel advances for international travel will be limited to travelers that do not have government issued travel charge cards. All cardholders shall use their government issued travel charge card to obtain cash from an ATM. should be limited to meals and other out-of-pocket expenses unless the travel approving official determines that travel circumstances are expected to prohibit use of a charge card to charge lodging, car rental or other travel expenses.


To obtain airline and/or train tickets the traveler's office should contact the servicing Travel Management Center (TMC) for reservations.

Employees are reminded of five requirements regarding international air travel:

1. Rest stops of up to 24 hours may be authorized when at least one duty point is outside the contiguous 48 states, and scheduled flight time exceeds 14 hours (including stopovers of less than eight hours) by a direct or usually traveled route.

2. Only economy class travel may be routinely authorized for all trips.

3. Business class may ONLY be used on international flights, (of more than 14 hours including stopovers) in lieu of a rest stop, when a cost comparison shows that the cost of business class travel without a rest stop is less than the cost of economy class travel including a rest stop. Use of business class under these circumstances must be specifically stated on the NFT and on the travel authorization, and cost comparison information must be submitted with the travel authorization for approval.

4. Employees must use an American Flag Carrier on all transoceanic flights and between any other points served by them. Any use of a foreign flag carrier requires the completion of the Foreign Flag Carrier Justification Form.

5. Airline tickets must be purchased using the Agency's TMC.

Questions about airline/train tickets and regulations pertaining to them should be addressed to the TMC or the Travel Audit Section, OFM on 827-5008.


Obtaining reservations for hotels and/or rental cars are the responsibility of the traveler's office and therefore the servicing TMC should be contacted in order to make the appropriate arrangements.


To facilitate the preparation and processing of international travel documents, the following list of contacts is provided:

Assistance forContact
Overall International Travel, Passport and VisaInternational Relations Staff Office of International Programs 827-4480
Advance of FundsDivision of Accounting 827-5008
Travel Voucher (Paper vouchers)Division of Accounting 827-5008
Travel Manager VouchersTM Help Desk 827-5677
Accounting Information, Form 348Division of Accounting 827-5008
Hotel/Airline/Train reservationsCarlson Wagonlit 1-877-202-6712


Each traveler is to prepare a written summary of the significant aspects and results of their trip, particularly commitments made and required follow-up, when the activities of the trip impact other offices or components of the agency or the Department. A copy of the report should be provided to the IRS at tripreport@oc.fda.gov as well as all affected components.


The effective date of this guide is October 1, 2003.