Chapter 4 TRAVEL GUIDE
Subchapter 400 - GENERAL
- Subchapter 400 - GENERAL
- 401 HEALTH CARE
- 402 EMBASSIES/CONSULATES
- 403 OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
- 404 BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON COUNTRIES
- 405 MONEY
- 406 LODGING
- 407 TRAVEL TICKETS
- 408 ARRANGING TRAVEL WHILE ABROAD
- 409 LUGGAGE
- 410 TRAVEL DOCUMENTS
- 411 TRAVEL ADVISORIES
- 412 PER DIEM RATES
- 413 FOREIGN CULTURES AND MORES
- 414 U.S. CUSTOMS AND DUTY
- 415 PERSONAL SECURITY MEASURES
The purpose of this chapter is to provide general guidance to international travelers. Most investigators/analysts feel comfortable performing the actual inspections. However, personal situations may arise during international travel that would not be encountered during travel in the U.S.
Information contained in this chapter originated from experienced travelers. DFI strongly urges international travelers to submit ideas and suggestions to enhance the information contained in this chapter.
See also Sub Chapter 232.2 of this guide.
It is in the best interest of the traveler to take whatever prophylaxis measures are necessary to maintain good health during international travel. Travelers should carry over-the-counter cold preparations, aspirin, antidiarrheal products, antifungal products, etc. If allergies are a concern, remember to carry appropriate medications.
If you use prescription medications, be certain to take a sufficient supply to last throughout the trip, plus an extra supply. Carry copies of the actual prescription for the drug so a new supply can be obtained in case of emergency.
If the traveler wears glasses, and/or contact lenses it is suggested that they carry a second pair, and a copy of the prescription.
Keep and carry an up to date shot record. These are available through the CDC, PHS health unit or personal physician. Many inoculations are provided free through the CDC, PHS, or other public health units. It is suggested that travelers obtain verification from their personal physician if unsure. Inoculations should be taken well before leaving on the trip to allow for possible reactions.
If a medical emergency arises, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Contact the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate for guidance regarding which local medical institution is recommended. After being properly treated, immediately notify DFI with the status of your condition. It is permissible to abort an international trip due to health reasons. Advise DFI who to contact regarding the situation (district management, family, etc.). The traveler should not attempt to travel home until certain that they are fit to travel and have notified DFI.
The U.S. consular offices are located at U.S. embassies and consulates in most countries overseas. They are available to advise and help you, if you are in any SERIOUS trouble (civil unrest, unstable political climate, a natural disaster, etc).
Contact your trip planner first to solve any problems before contacting the U.S. consulate.
Review the State Department Consular Sheets provided in briefing package. In the event of some unexpected circumstance, it is advisable to know the location and contacts for the U.S. Embassies and Consulates in the country to which travel is planned. Prior to departure, obtain information for those countries to be visited and keep this information available at all times. It is of no value if it is checked in luggage when needed. Embassies and consulates should only be contacted for assistance in case of emergencies or critical situations and not for routine matters.
The consuls CANNOT act as travel agents, information bureaus, banks, or law enforcement officers. If you get into legal trouble, the U.S. Federal law forbids a consular officer from acting as your lawyer. Consular officers cannot get you visas, act as interpreters, search for missing luggage; call your credit card company or bank, replace stolen travelers checks or settle disputes with hotel managers.
Check the current listing at:
The Office of International Affairs (OIA), HFG-1, can provide valuable travel information concerning the different countries to which travel is planned. If DFI is unable to provide the information desired, OIA will be contacted in an attempt to obtain that information.
ORA has developed a Country Profile System which has information regarding several countries, as well as data the Agency has compiled relative to them such as, import alerts, problem products and agreements with countries. Country Profile information is available via the FDA Internet.
The Department of State publishes general information on over 160 countries. Some information such as entry requirements, travel conditions, and available medical facilities can be very helpful. This information is available through the Internet at:
The CIA Fact Book contains a wealth of information about countries, including information about climate and major natural phenomena; population by sex, age and religion; life expectancy and infant mortality; political parties; and the structure of the economy. This information is also available on the Internet at:
Click on the “Library & Reference” section.
The Center for Disease Control has information on diseases that are prevalent in specific countries, the risk of contraction, and preventative measures. Their Internet site is: http://www.cdc.gov.
Other Internet sites that may be useful to international travelers includes:
Business Travel News:
Currency conversion/language dictionaries:
International Time zones:
News, travel and city guides:
click on “World”, for international weather conditions
It is recommended that the majority of the travel advance be carried in traveler's checks. The fee for obtaining traveler's checks is reimbursable. Traveler's checks are readily accepted, and can be replaced at no cost should theft or loss occur.
It is recommended the traveler's checks be purchased in 100 dollar increments.
Under normal circumstances, carrying large amounts of U.S. currency is not necessary. However, some U.S. currency for necessary purchases, tips, and transportation fees on departure/arrival to U.S. will be required.
Some banks will provide (at a cost) a service called "Tip Packets." This service will provide the traveler with 20 or 30 U.S. dollars' worth of international currency for the countries to which they are traveling. The advantage of this service is that it allows the foreign traveler to have enough international currency to pay for transportation from airports, rail and bus stations, etc. to hotels without being concerned whether or not the currency exchange at the transportation hubs are open.
Fees for exchange of U.S. dollars to international currency are reimbursable. Records and receipts of such exchanges are necessary. Also keep a log of the exchange rates for use in preparation of the travel voucher. With very little effort, the best places to obtain the most favorable currency exchange rate can be determined.
The most convenient and cost effective locations to exchange currency are transportation hubs such as major airports and train stations. Banks often offer the best conversion rates, however due to inconvenient banking hours, it may be difficult to utilize their services. Post offices are another good alternative for currency exchange.
Under NO circumstances should travelers attempt to take advantage of exchanging U.S. dollars for foreign currency on the "black market." Although the exchange rates offered in such markets is highly tempting, they are illegal. Several countries have undercover police agents who attempt to lure unsuspecting travelers into such an exchange. Once such an exchange is completed, the traveler is arrested.
Each foreign country has their own rules and regulations regarding currency exchange. Some countries will exchange their currency only within the confines of their country. That is, it cannot be taken out of one country and exchanged in another. Examples are: India, Korea, China (PRC) and Eastern European countries.
Current exchange rates are available in major newspapers and on the Internet.
Use of government or personal credit cards during international travel has a number of advantages. Use of the credit card, especially at the outset of the trip, allows a "cushion" of available funds should emergencies arise. The credit card companies generally obtain the best exchange rate. Major credit cards are accepted in most places, however, some less common credit cards may not be accepted outside the U.S.
Immediately report the loss or theft of credit card or traveler’s checks to the credit card companies and to the local police.
Before leaving on your trip, you may want to check with your bank to see if the country or countries that you plan to visit have Automated Teller Machine (ATM) service. The bank should be able to tell you if you can use your ATM card during your trip abroad.
Upon arrival at a hotel, the individual should inquire about the room rates available. If available, a considerable amount of money can be saved by utilizing available discounts. Discounts are sometimes provided pending the method of payment such as with cash, credit card or traveler's checks.
It is sometimes useful to provide DFI with hotel information such as, location relative to a major transportation hub (airport, bus or rail station, etc.); its cleanliness; undesirable location etc.
Occasionally, a firm will attempt to pay or offer to pay for an investigator's lodging. As is the case domestically, FDA cannot accept such offers from regulated industry. Make every effort to avoid this type of situation. However, if there is no alternative, contact DFI with details as soon as possible. See Sub Chapter 244 of this guide.
Airline tickets as well as your passport and money should be guarded carefully. Airline tickets are a very valuable commodity and can be resold on the black market. Attention should be given to airline rules and regulations concerning reconfirming flights.
Generally, all international flights should be reconfirmed no later than 72 hours in advance of the flight.
Should it be necessary to purchase airline tickets while abroad, receipts must be obtained for voucher purposes.
Retain copies of all used airline tickets to be submitted with the vouchers. Refer to Sub Chapter 211.4 for details on reimbursable transportation expenses.
Generally, all surface, and possibly some air transportation will have to be arranged by the traveler while on international travel. This can be facilitated if the companies being inspected can provide guidance. Many companies have their own travel unit and are more than happy to arrange further travel. These companies generally will also assist to reconfirm any reservations necessary. However, do not accept tickets without payment. It should be made very clear, upon requesting assistance in making travel arrangements that the FDA traveler must make payment for transportation charges.
For first time travelers, it is often helpful to talk to more experienced travelers. They can offer suggestions on what types of luggage are best, and what to pack. Most veteran travelers will confirm that they vastly over-packed on their first international inspection trip. It is advantageous to pack light, as luggage may have to be moved from place to place where porters are unavailable. Luggage may have to be lifted to shelves overhead, or in and out of taxis and/or trains.
Do not pack extra pair of glasses or necessary daily medication in your luggage. Carry it in your briefcase, purse, or pocket. If luggage is lost, you may not be able to get to them when needed.
It is advisable to keep a change of underwear and toiletry items in your shoulder bag. This will assure personal comfort if your main piece of luggage is lost in transit.
Some experienced travelers carry a bottle of laundry detergent (e.g. Woolite) to wash clothes during the trip. Laundry is not a reimbursable item. Laundry services in locations outside of the U.S. are generally very expensive. Travelers are typically in a given town for less than three days and it may be impossible to get laundry returned in that time.
It is also advisable to keep some form of identification in each piece of luggage in case of loss or any question of ownership. One suggestion is to photograph each piece of luggage. This will greatly assist identification should it become lost. These pictures easily show the airline representatives exactly what the luggage looks like.
Never place your valuables (jewelry, money, traveler’s checks) in your checked luggage. Never leave your bags unattended.
Photocopy all plane tickets, itineraries, and the front portion of official passport (with your picture). These copies may become extremely useful should any of those travel documents become lost or stolen. Keep a set in each piece of luggage as well as on one's person. It may be helpful to leave an extra copy at home.
While abroad, guard travel documents the same as other valuable possessions. It may be advisable to obtain a locked safety deposit box at hotels.
The Department of State routinely issues travel advisories that include helpful information such as notification of political unrest, terrorist threats, large public events and festivals which may make it difficult to obtain lodging, etc. It may be beneficial to check for any advisories that have been issued by checking with DFI or at the website described in Sub Chapter 404.
The current per diem rates for cities on the itinerary will be indicated on the travel order. Check for per diem rate changes upon return in order to accurately prepare the travel voucher. Current per diem rates are available on the Internet:
It is helpful to learn as much as possible about the cultures and mores of countries before traveling. Refer to local libraries, the Department of State, and commercial travel guides to assist in learning the customs and mores. DFI has a limited number of useful publications available on loan to travelers prior to departure. Some travel publications include a section of "do's" and "don'ts" while in foreign countries. Another source of information are fellow travelers. Useful websites:
Travelers should familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations concerning U.S. Customs and duty requirements. This may prevent embarrassing moments upon reentering the U.S. Refer to the U.S. Customs website:
Click on traveler information for useful information
Refer to Exhibit 4-B entitled "Security Considerations When Traveling Abroad. "
As previously stated, travelers should guard cash and traveler's checks. Do not carry more cash than absolutely necessary. Most hotels have locked security boxes available for depositing money and other valuables. When exchanging money in cities, caution should be taken to display of large amounts of money in public. Pickpocketing is somewhat of an art in some European countries. Money should be carried in such a place or manner that it would be difficult for pickpockets to be successful. Holster type pouches, meant to be worn under a shirt are available and excellent for protecting money and documents from pickpockets.
Under NO circumstances should travelers attempt to take advantage of exchanging U.S. dollars for foreign currency on the "black market." Although the exchange rates offered on the black market are quite attractive, they are illegal.
Personal security is of utmost importance while traveling. Be aware of your surroundings. FDA's mission cannot be completed if security is compromised. Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home. Travelers should not place themselves in compromising situations. If civil disturbances erupt, the area should be evacuated as soon as possible. Do not loiter around undesirable places or in politically sensitive areas.
Individuals must not become engaged in heated conversations concerning politics or religion at anytime, but especially with strangers in an after hours location.
Do not bring anything on your trip that you would hate to lose, such as expensive jewelry or objects of sentimental value. If you bring jewelry, wear it discreetly to help prevent snatch-and-run robbery. Guard your valuables and avoid carrying excessive amounts of cash. Keep credit cards at a minimum. Leave department store credit cards at home. Travelers checks are much safer to use and the cost of purchase is reimbursable. As already suggested, travelers checks and other valuables can be kept in a safety deposit box. If cash is necessary for payment of bills, convert travelers checks just prior to payment