Students in China.

Education Abroad

Passports and International Student ID Card

Before studying abroad, students must have the proper identification. Make sure to apply early because some applications may take several weeks.


You should get a passport well in advance of studying abroad, in some cases at the same time that you are applying for the program — especially if you also must have a visa. A visa is a stamp in your passport from the consulate general or embassy of the country you will enter. Depending on the country, you may experience delays or complications in obtaining a visa. These may pertain to official notifications of your acceptance by your program or exchange university, required medical examinations or other necessary documentation. It is important to begin the process of fulfilling these requirements early. If you already have a passport, make sure the expiration date is six months past your return to the U.S. following your study abroad program.

Further information and details are available at the State Department’s Passports website, where you may also download a passport application.

Passport applications are available at any post office. Applications must be submitted in person to an appropriate passport agency.

Please note that applications accepted in Richmond are processed through the New Orleans issuing office. If you are concerned about timing, you may wish to take your application to Washington, D.C., where they are processed on site. Although not guaranteed, this can expedite the issuance of your passport.

The passport application process takes several weeks, so plan ahead. If your current passport will expire when you are abroad, make sure to get a new one before you leave.

Don’t forget
Your passport is the most important document you have when outside the U.S. Know where it is at all times and keep it in a safe place. Make copies and keep one yourself and leave one with someone at home. Photocopy the front pages of your passport and keep them separate from your baggage. Once in your foreign country, keep these copies in a safe place. This will facilitate replacement if the passport is lost or stolen.


Many countries require a student visa for residence of more than three months. Contact the corresponding consulate or embassy for the visa requirements of the country in which you will be studying. Your exchange program may provide information on visas. You will need a passport, proof of acceptance by the overseas university and documentation of adequate funding for the length of your program.

If you plan to travel while abroad, investigate the visa requirements of each country you plan to visit. Some countries require a visa for even short-term stays and some require that the visa be obtained while you are in the U.S. In some cases it might take as long as three months to process the visa. You should check into the requirements early.

Embassy contact information is available online at the Electronic Embassy website.

International Student ID Card

VCU Education Abroad recommends the International Student Identification Card (ISIC) and the International Teacher Identification Card (ITIC) as basic international travel insurance for all students and faculty traveling abroad. The card is valid for one year from the date of issue and includes the following insurance coverage:

  • Medical and Dental Expense (up to $25,000)
  • No-out of Pocket Medical Expense (up to $1000)
  • Travel Document Replacement (up to $500)
  • 24-Hour Emergency Hotline Services
  • ISIC Basic AMH
  • ISIC Premium Insurance can be purchased for a total of $99. On the payment page, students must select both the $25 ISIC basic fee and the $74 ISIC premium upgrade fee in order to purchase ISIC Premium Insurance.
  • ISIC Explorer Insurance can be purchased for a total of $209.

Some programs, but not all, include issuance of the card. If your program includes issuance of the ISIC, you do not need to complete the below online form since VCU Education Abroad already has your information on file. If your program does not include the card and you would like one, please follow the steps below.

Note: VCU Education Abroad no longer makes the cards in our office. ISIC's and ITIC's are made at an off-site location and will be mailed to students and teachers at the home address provided on the online form. Cards take approximately 2-3 business weeks to process and be shipped. Once mailed, the cards will arrive to you through regular US mail, so please plan accordingly so that you can be sure you will receive your ISIC/ITIC before your departure date. Cards are valid from the date of issue.

To request an ISIC or ITIC, you must fill out the online form below. Please remember to verify all entered information prior to submitting this form to ensure that it is correct.

After submission of the form, you will need to complete the application process by paying the $25 card fee online and emailing a copy of your payment confirmation to Once paid, your card information will be processed and you will receive an email from ISIC requesting a digital color photograph of yourself to complete the card. The photograph you provide must be a square color headshot. After your photo has been received by ISIC, your card will be made and mailed to the address that you provided.

Once you have submitted all required materials, including payment confirmation, please allow two to three weeks for your card to be made and mailed to you. Cards are valid from the date of issue. If you have any questions or concerns, you may contact VCU Education Abroad at or 804-827-7882.

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(IMPORTANT: Participants going on VCU faculty-led programs should NOT fill out this form. Their ISICs will be ordered automatically.)

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