Foreign Travel

Last updated: 04/25/2019 - 10:04am

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What You Need to Know


  • The ASU Travel Guide provides detailed information on:
    • Foreign travel insurance
    • Getting approval
    • International travel
    • Travel in sanctioned countries
    • Travel regulations
    • Travel reimbursement
    • Traveler's health
    • World travel links
  • An ASU authorizing travel official must approve all foreign travel. With the exception of estimating lodging and meal expenses, preparation of the Travel Authorization form for foreign travel does not differ from regular out-of-state travel authorization procedures:
  • In order to mitigate risks to travelers' health and safety and to ensure timely approvals, the traveler or their delegate should ensure that the foreign travel request is submitted more than one week prior to the departure date. The process requires step-by-step approvals by several individuals, which can lead to time delays. In addition, notifications to the subsequent approver between these steps is not immediate which adds time delay.
  • All ASU students (and faculty/staff members accompanying students) participating in university-related travel outside of the United States and its territories must register in the International Travel Registry.
  • Individuals who are traveling internationally may want to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) offered through the U.S. Department of State. The program offers the traveler:
    • Important information from the US Embassy regarding safety conditions of the destination country
    • Assists the U.S. Embassy in being able to contact you in an emergency, whether a natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency
    • In the event of an emergency, provide help contacting family and friends

The program is free and takes only a few minutes to enroll. In addition to enrolling in STEP, it is advisable you provide your department and family emergency contact information in addition to your cell number.  This simple tool provides an additional method in managing the safety and well-being of the traveler.

  • Travel to most countries does not usually constitute an export control issue. It depends on several factors, including the destination, the equipment the traveler is taking with, and the purpose of the trip. ORIA's Exports & Security webpage has detailed information on export controls and foreign travel.

Best Practices for Complying with the Fly America Act

Generally, all international airfare charged to federally-funded projects must be taken on US flag air carriers however exceptions could apply and use of those exceptions must be documented.  The following process will aid in verifying compliance with the exceptions of the Fly America Act.  Consultation with your business office may be required as compliance with the Fly America Act is the responsibility of each department.

1. Verify the funding type the international airfare will be charged to.  The Fly America Act only applies to federally-funded sponsored projects.  Therefore, unless a non-federal award requires compliance with the Fly America Act, international airfare purchased on non-federal funds only need to comply with ASU travel policy.

2. Book international airfare through a US flag air carrier, such as American Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, Delta Airlines or Alaska Airlines.  The reason for this is the US flag air carrier will show their two-letter designator code on the tickets where they have a code share agreement with the foreign airline.  If no code share exist move onto step 3 otherwise move onto step 4.

Click HERE for more information on Code Sharing.

3. For foreign destinations which cannot be reached directly by a US flag air carrier or a code share agreement doesn’t exist, determine if an Open Skies Agreement is in place with destination country:

3.1 Confirm the international airfare is not being charged to a Department of Defense (DOD)-funded project.  For airfare not funded by a DOD award, move onto step 3.2, otherwise move onto step 3.1.1.

3.1.1 Airfare funded by the DOD must be on a US flag air carrier or comply with the code share exemption.  Airfare can be paid with non-DOD funds or written approval from the sponsor must be obtained in the event it’s necessary to fly on a foreign air carrier funded by a DOD award.

3.2 Confirm no city pair fare exist by reviewing the fare finder.  For the Departure City, enter City Code “WAS” and pick the appropriate Arrival City.

  • If a city pair contract appears, book the airfare through the airline referenced.  Keep in mind that the fares referenced are for US government use only.  Move onto step 4.
  • If no city pair exist the fare finder response reads “Awards not found for the given criteria”.  Move onto step 3.3.

3.3 Confirm the destination’s state is listed on the Open Skies Agreements page.  If the destination’s state is listed, you may book your travel from the US to that country or between countries (on the Open Skies Partners list).  Keep in mind that a US flag air carrier must be used to the maximum extent possible on the route.  If your destination’s state is not listed, move onto step 3.4 otherwise move onto step 4.

3.4 If your destination is not listed on the Open Skies Agreements page, using the Certification of Exception to Fly America Act as guidance, book your flight in compliance with the exceptions listed on the certification.

4. For exceptions applied from steps 2 and 3, complete the Certification of Exception to Fly America Act.  Attach copies of itinerary, tickets and boarding passes for all legs of the trip, and keep these documents with your travel authorization.  The form and documentation does not need to be submitted to ORSPA.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Fly America Act

What is the Fly America Act?

The Fly America Act (49 U.S.C. 40118, pp. 52-53) provides that Federal domestic grantees should use U.S. flag air carriers to the maximum extent possible when commercial air transportation is the means of travel between the U.S. and a foreign country or between foreign countries.  NOTE: Canada and Mexico are considered foreign countries.  This requirement shall not be influenced by factors of cost, convenience, or personal travel preference.

What airlines are considered U.S. flag air carriers?

A list of certificated U.S. Air Carriers can be found at  A US Flag air carrier’s service may include service provided under a Code Share Agreement.

What are the common exceptions to the Fly America Act?

The commonly used exceptions to the Fly America Act are use of Code Sharing and Open Skies Agreements.

Are there other exceptions to the Fly America Act?

Yes.  Exceptions to the Fly America Act are detailed in full in the GSA Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), Chapter 301 - Temporary Duty (TDY) Travel Allowances (see §§ 301-10.131 through 301-10.143).

  • Use of U.S. flag carrier service would extend travel time (including delay at origin) by 24 hours or more.

  • Costs of transportation are reimbursed in full by a third party, such as a foreign government or an international agency.

  • U.S. flag carriers do not offer nonstop or direct service between origin and destination. U.S. carrier must be used on every portion of the route where it provides service unless, when compared to using a foreign air carrier, such use would:

    • Increase the number of aircraft changes outside the United States by two or more.

    • Extend travel time by at least six hours or more.

    • Require a connecting time of four hours or more at an overseas interchange point.

  • When foreign air carrier service is deemed a matter of necessity, the following exceptions apply:

    • U.S. air flag carrier cannot provide the air transportation necessary or will not accomplish the agency’s mission.

    • Medical reasons, including use of foreign air carrier to reduce number of connections and possible delays in the transportation of persons in need of medical treatment

    • Avoid unreasonable risk for your safety and is approved by your agency.

    • When you cannot purchase a ticket in your authorized class of service on a U.S. flag air carrier and a seat is available in your authorized class of service on a foreign air carrier.

What is code sharing?

Code Sharing is a commercial agreement between two airlines that allows an airline to put its two-letter designator code on the flights of another airline as they appear in computerized reservations systems.  For example, American Airlines might have an agreement to operate flights for Etihad Airways on an international route.  This flight would be listed under American Airlines’ designator code (AA) but actually operated by Etihad Airways.  See Code Share Fact Sheet for more information.

How is code sharing allowable under the Fly America Act?

To be in compliance with the Fly America Act, the ticket or documentation for an electronic ticket, must identify the US flag air carrier’s designator code and flight number generally stated as “US Air Carrier flight XXXX operated by Foreign Air Carrier”.  For example:

                Allowable: American Airlines (AA) 1234 operated by Etihad Airways (EY) 4321

                Unallowable: EY 4321 operated by AA 1234

In some code sharing situations, the boarding pass showed the U.S. flag air carrier code, so it’s best practice to retain both the ticket and boarding pass for all legs of the trip with the travel authorization.

What is an Open Skies Agreement?

An Open Skies agreement is a bilateral or multilateral air transport agreement to which the U.S. and the government of a foreign country are parties, and which the Department of Transportation has determined meets the requirement of the Fly America Act.  Use of a foreign carrier is allowed when transportation is between the U.S. and any point in the agreement member state or between two points outside the U.S. provided that:

  • Funding is not provided by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of a military department.

  • No city pair fare exists.

    • For the European Union agreement, a non-U.S. government employee traveler is exempt from the city pair fare requirement, i.e. a foreign carrier may be used for travel to any point outside the U.S. but must land in a European Union Open Skies agreement member state before traveling beyond the member states.

More information on Open Skies Agreement can be found at the Department of State website.  A full list of Open Skies Partners can also be found on this site.

Is certification required when a foreign air carrier is used?

Yes.  If a foreign air carrier is used based on any of the exceptions to the Fly America Act, certification of the exception, as noted in §301-10.142, must be documented along with travel itinerary, tickets, and boarding passes.  ORSPA utilizes the Certification of Exception to Fly America Act as part of ASU’s internal certification process for exceptions.

Do I need to save copies of my search results for steps 3 and 4 of the Best Practices section before I select any of the other exceptions?

Copies of search results don’t need to be included as part of the documentation.  The final itinerary should support why the exception(s) were selected.

Work Instructions & Policies

Forms & References

  • Budget Worksheet – This template includes line items for in-state, out-of-state, and foreign travel.  Cells are provided for itemized breakdown of per diem, lodging, transportation, registration, and other costs.
  • ORSPA Action Form – This form is used when change requests are made for such items as budget revisions, including foreign travel.
  • Proposal Information and Resources – Information is provided on budgeting for travel in proposals.
  • Certification of Exception to Fly America Act – This form is a statement executed by the traveler justifying the use of a foreign flag air carrier for travel charged to a federally-funded sponsored project.

Training Materials

  • ASU Fly America Act – Presentation slides from February 11, 2016 Research Operations Seminar Series
  • MyASU Travel Training – Regularly-scheduled training on ASU’s travel system provided by Financial Services

Useful Links

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