CIEE Health, Safety and Emergency Protocol

Safety Alerts

CIEE’s Health, Safety, & Security (HSS) team strives to notify all stakeholders of any significant safety concerns abroad in a timely manner (e.g. terrorist attack, mass casualty event, mass transportation accident, natural disaster, etc…). To facilitate this, CIEE’s HSS team will post safety alerts and updates on our CIEE webpage under our “Alert Tab” in the Health, Safety, & Security section. If you have any concerns regarding a significant safety event that has recently occurred, we urge you to check our website first before calling CIEE directly with any other questions or concerns. Again, we strive for timeliness in alerting stakeholders but, if the event has just occurred, CIEE will still be in the process of assessing the safety of all of our participants and gathering all the facts before posting a new alert or update. You can visit our alert section of the CIEE website. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call us at 1-800-40-STUDY.

Risk Assessment

All decisions regarding program operations are made with reference to data from a number of sources. In addition to the consular information sheets and advisory messages posted by the U.S. Department of State, consultation with our security intelligence provider and our resident directors and program directors use information gathered locally and through conversations with other providers in the city or country. In making individual decisions concerning participation, we suggest that participants and their parents carefully review the State Department Travel Advisories web page.  CIEE also conducts annual risk assessments using incident data collected from participant reports and also utilizing the annual Crime and Safety Reports published by the Department of State.  This risk assessment informs the orientation strategy that is specific to each study center as it works to inform participants of risks associated with their new home.

Orientation and Training for Participants

Every CIEE Study Center program begins with a comprehensive orientation to the country, city, university, and the program, which includes, among other information, an explanation of any local risks that the Resident Director (RD) has identified and tips for enhancing personal safety. In addition, each RD distributes local emergency contact information to each participant. At orientation the RD reminds all participants to sign up for the State Department’s SMART Traveler program which provides them with updates from the Consular Office as they occur.\

On-Site Care and Insurance

Each RD maintains lists of recommended health and mental health providers. CIEE includes a mandatory political/natural disaster/health insurance policy for every participant in the program fee. CIEE has an emergency notification system that simultaneously broadcasts messages via text, phone and email for use when there is a necessity to contact all participants quickly. CIEE has established protocols to be used in the event of a health emergency, serious accident, political crisis, natural disaster, crime, sexual assault, or death of a participant.


Resident Directors and members of the Risk Management team subscribe to multiple emergency alerting systems and also to the U.S. State Department’s service and thus automatically receive any Travel Warnings and Advisories as soon as they are issued.  Additionally, CIEE receives multiple reports daily from multiple sources and is on the Academic Advisory Committee of the Overseas Security Advisory Committee of the U.S. State Department.

Local Contingency Plans

Each CIEE Study Center has contingency plans which will be activated in case there is a known local condition that requires (a) extra caution, (b) removal of the program to a different site in the same city or country or a nearby country, or (c) suspension of a program and evacuation of participants. For security reasons these local contingency plans are not available to anyone except CIEE staff.

In the Event of a Local Emergency

  • The Resident Director contacts participants to ascertain participants’ well-being, and to provide information, instructions, and advice.
  • The Resident Director contacts the local U.S. embassy, consulate, or Interest Section, and also confers with other study abroad providers and/or U.S. enterprises in the area.
  • Depending on the situation, the RD may or may not gather the participants together in a group.
  • Participants are advised to contact their parents, guardians, or emergency contacts as soon as possible. CIEE will post an alert for a significant event, but but will initially be focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of the students
  • The Resident Director reports to the Regional Director of Operations (RDO) per the CIEE Incident Reporting Protocols. Those protocols dictate timing of alerts which range from immediate to within 72 hours.
  • The Regional Director of Operations or the Director of Health, Safety, & Security will ensure that sending institutions are informed of events per protocols which include immediate notifications of severe incidents.
  • If the student is unable to communicate with their family, CIEE will reach out on their behalf.

In the Event that the U.S. Office of CIEE is Unable to Open or Communicate

Members of the Emergency Response Team have access to critical data regarding participants, insurance information, worldwide staff contact information, contact information for CIEE Academic Consortium Member Institutions, and other safety and crisis resources at all times.    The emergency notification system is cloud based and can be launched from any location in the world that has an internet connection.

Advice for Participants and their Families

CIEE strongly recommends that unless specific situations dictate otherwise, participants should designate their parents/guardians as emergency contact persons.

  • Participants and their emergency contacts should keep in touch with each other throughout the participants’ time out of the U.S.  
  • Participants should make sure their parents and/or emergency contacts have their accurate and up-to-date local contact information at all times, especially when on independent travel status outside of the student center.
  • Participants should immediately notify their emergency contacts in the event of any emergency, accident, serious health problem, or other serious mishap.
  • Participants are asked to notify the RD in the event of any health condition that lasts longer than a day.

CIEE advises participants and their families that communication between CIEE and participants’ sending schools is considered “internal communication” in the sense of the Family Rights and Privacy Act, and that therefore CIEE has the right and the duty to communicate all relevant information concerning participants’ health and safety, academic progress, behavior, etc. to appropriate officers at the sending school on a need-to-know basis.  The Terms of Participation of the CIEE Study Center specifically authorize CIEE to communicate any relevant information to participants’ emergency contacts.

Participants and their families need to be aware of the fact that the U.S. Department of State Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management will generally not release information about specific individuals to CIEE or to other third parties.  The U.S. State Department website includes the following statement: “Families in the United States whose U.S. Citizen relatives abroad are directly affected by a crisis can communicate with the Department of State through our Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management 202-647-5225."