door to the world

 Travel and Visas


  • You book your own flight (though some programs facilitate group travel.) Make sure to look at your program’s start and end dates; don’t plan on arriving late or leaving early!!

    • If you don’t have the cash to pay for this upfront, you can work with the SAO to get a “Bridge Loan” which is basically a 0% interest advance on your aid package. FMI talk with SAO. Other money questions like using a 529 plan, tuition insurance, and payment plans are answered by the Bursar’s OCS website.

  • Our Departing Resources page has links to several popular travel websites, including one specializing in student travel. We strongly recommend enrolling in STEP, however it is not required.*

  • Read up on your host country here.
  • When booking travel, be considerate of when your flight connects through another country before arriving at your final country destination as the country you transit through may matter when it comes to your host country immigration process. For example, students studying in the UK seeking a short-term visitor visa at Customs upon entry to the UK will be unable to get this if they transit through Ireland, because of a long-standing free border relationship between Ireland and the UK. Likewise, there can be difficulties arriving in a Schengen Zone country (e.g. Germany) as a pass-through en route to another Schengen Zone country (e.g. Denmark.) Please pay CLOSE attention to the travel/transit/visa advice in your program/university's webpage on immigration guidance and, when necessary, call/email your program/university to clarify travel intentions prior to the purchase of travel.

  • Thinking about what to pack? Ask someone who went there recently! Check out our Where do our Students go? page for names of students who are in your host country now or were there last semester!

*For a list of travel agencies and for information about the STEP program please visit our Resources page.


Lots of countries want you to go through their immigration control pre-arrival to get approval (aka a visa) to study in their country. This process varies widely depending on your nationality and your host country. Your program/university (not OCS) is your point of contact for any visa questions. OCS can serve as “common sense” advisors, but it’s beyond our scope to know the visa process of every country, whereas your host institution will know exactly what you’ll need (and when and how) for your host country. If you’d like to have us be a second set of eyes on your paperwork or to use our scanner/fax you’re welcome to!

If your visa application requires a letter of enrollment confirming your status at Bowdoin, we are happy to provide such documentation on official letterhead, however we ask for at least a week's notice. If the program/university's visa advising is not sufficient, students may wish to utilize a visa processing service such as Travisa.