Please note: The University changed its Travel Insurance Policy on 1 August 2018 and so previous policy details are now invalid. Please ensure that you have a copy of the new Travel Policy (Student Link) details before you travel.

If you are travelling or planning to travel in the near future, please see our guidance in relation to Brexit

Travel Declaration

If you are travelling from your home campus on University business (or mainly on University business) you will need to complete a travel declaration.

The only exception is where staff and students who are travelling within Scotland (if UK-campus-based), within the Emirate of Dubai (if, Dubai-campus-based), or within Putrajaya, Selangor or Kuala Lumpur (if Malaysia-campus-based), and whose trip does not involve an overnight stay, and where no ‘non-standard activities’ are being undertaken (see below), then a travel declaration is not necessary - only when all 3 of these criteria are met. If you are in any doubt, please submit a travel declaration form.

Note that the University uses completed travel declaration forms to identify if there are any staff or students in a particular location in the event e.g. of a security emergency, to identify anyone requiring assistance and to confirm their safety - so it is mandatory that travel declarations are completed and that information provided is accurate.

The travel declaration form should be completed at least 5 working days prior to booking travel. The Assurance Services team is required to check travel prior to booking, as there are certain countries and travel that are prohibited for University business and we need to verify this is not applicable to you before travel is booked. In very extreme cases travel may be denied and if a travel declaration was not completed in advance of booking then it may not be possible to claim back these costs through the University’s insurance.

Note that due to the requirements of our new travel insurance policy, we are required to seek prior authorisation from our insurer, prior to travel, to a small number of higher risk countries where travel is permitted but consent must be given. It is very important that travel declarations are submitted with sufficient time for all checks to be made and consent to be obtained where necessary.

The travel declaration provides the University with details of your trip for safety and security purposes,and confirms that you will be covered by the University’s travel insurance policy. Depending on your destination and the type of activities you plan on undertaking, you may be required to complete a risk assessment to confirm that all risks identified during your trip will be managed to an acceptable level and will allow the University’s insurance policy to cover you. The Travel Declaration form and process will guide you through this.

Complete your Travel Declaration form.

Once your travel declaration has been submitted it will reviewed by Assurance Services. We endeavour to review Travel Declarations within 1 working day of submission in most cases (but it can take up to 5 working days). Once it has been reviewed by us, you will receive an email response from Assurance Services. For most people this will be confirmation that there are no issues and that your trip is insured. In some cases, we may request that you supply further information before we can confirm the trip, and in extreme cases, we may unfortunately have to deny travel. When travel is denied, we will follow up with an email explaining the circumstances behind the decision.
Travel FAQs

Do I need to tell the University when I am away and where I will be?

Yes. If you are travelling on Heriot-Watt business (e.g. to a placement) then it is mandatory that you complete a Travel Declaration form for your trip. This allows the University to verify that you are properly insured before you go, and it makes sure that we know where you are when you are away in case we need to get in touch with you. Note that due to the requirements of our new travel insurance policy, we are required to seek prior authorisation from our insurer, prior to travel, to a small number of higher risk countries where travel is permitted but consent must be given. It is very important that travel declarations are submitted with sufficient time for all checks to be made and consent to be obtained where necessary. You must also make sure you have downloaded the SafeZone app before you go.

In addition, you should make sure that your academic supervisor is aware of your trip, or if there are other localised processes within your School you should ensure that you follow these as instructed.


What does the University’s Travel Insurance Policy cover me for?

If you are travelling on Heriot-Watt business and your Travel Declaration has been approved, then you are covered by the University’s travel insurance policy. Full details can be found in the policy itself and you should make sure you take a copy with you when you travel, but the key points are below:

Travel arrangements

Generally if you have incurred additional costs because of travel delays or cancellations (which were not caused by you) then you may be able to make a claim for these costs*.

Lost/Stolen property

If you have property that is lost or stolen when you are travelling then you may be able to make a claim. If the property is stolen, you should notify the local police and get a crime reference number*.

Accidents / Medical emergencies

If you are in an accident or have a medical emergency when you are travelling then you will be able to access medical treatment (for most situations to a limit of cover*). Note that the University’s travel insurance policy is not full health insurance and will cover you generally to get emergency medical treatment to either resume your studies or return home. It will not cover any prior or ongoing non-emergency medical conditions that may require medical intervention to treat.

* Note that the University’s travel insurance policy does have restrictions and limits on its cover and you should check the detail, or ask for further information, if you think you might need to make a claim. All claims are at the discretion of the University’s travel insurer – Zurich Commercial whose decision is final on the merits of all claims.


If your placement is in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, then you should ensure you apply for a free EHIC card before you travel. This card generally allows you to access healthcare equivalent to local citizens in the country you are in. The University’s travel insurance applies in any event, however EHIC will cover you for a wider range or treatments, so we recommend that you take this with you. Please note that depending on the outcome of BREXIT, there is a risk that EHIC cover may end in the future for UK citizens and if this applies to you, we recommend that you monitor the news and the University will also send out information to everyone travelling.

Go Global

If your placement is to another Heriot-Watt Campus e.g. Dubai, Malaysia, then you will have access to student health cover whilst you are in country which is more comprehensive than the University’s travel insurance policy.


What am I not covered for by the University’s Travel Insurance Policy?

If you make any personal trips or take holidays whilst you are away, these are generally not covered by the University’s travel insurance cover and you should arrange to take our personal travel insurance for these trips.

In addition, if you undertake any risky activities (e.g. skiing, diving,), these are generally not covered and you will need to arrange for specific insurance to cover you when undertaking these activities.


How do I make a claim?


In case of a medical or travel emergency, please call the Zurich travel assistance helpdesk on +44 (0) 1489 868 888 and quote ‘Heriot-Watt University’ and the policy number 7114834. This desk is manned 24/7 365 days per year and provides medical assistance and security assistance.

In relation to medical claims, if it’s possible, please call the number prior to obtaining medical treatment to ensure that cover is in place and that treatment is approved. Obviously if it’s an emergency then the main priority will be to get treatment as soon as possible and a claim should be made as soon as practical afterwards


For non-emergency travel insurance claims, e.g. delayed travel or lost luggage, these claims should be made to Zurich directly by yourself by calling +44 (0) 800 0260 184 or emailing a&


Where can I get more information on Travel?

To get more information about travelling on University business, access the Travel Declaration form, and to get a copy of the University’s Travel Insurance Policy, please access the Travel Tile on the Student Portal where all this information, and more is held.

Before you travel
You must visit the UK Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice site and inform yourself of any issues in relation to your proposed travel by looking at the country advice for the relevant country or countries you intend to visit.  If you are not a UK passport holder then you must also check your own Government's travel advice in relation to the country or countries you are visiting, and you cannot travel against your own Government's advice (even if travel is allowed by the UK Government). Travel advice is usually found on your Government's website.



Personal trips/vacations during University business trips

From time-to-time, students and staff may want to incorporate short personal trips or vacations as part of their overall University business trip. These are known as 'incidental holidays' in insurance terminology. All personal trips and vacations must be declared during the travel declaration process and these may be covered by the University's travel insurance policy, but a number of conditions apply generally and our insurer will make decisions as to coverage on a case-by-case basis. In general terms insurance cover is likely to be granted when the following conditions are all met:

  • The personal trip remains in the same country as the business trip;
  • The total time of the personal section of the trip is less than one week (7 days);
  • The personal portion of the trip is not longer than the business portion in number of days;
  • The trip does not involve travel to any areas which are marked by the Foreign Commonwealth Office as advising against all or all but essential travel; and
  • The trip does not involce any high risk activities.

You will be advised whether your trip, including any personal trips, is covered when your travel declaration is reviewed and assessed.

Note that participation in any high risk activities undertaken during personal trips e.g. skiing, snowboarding, diving etc. are not covered by the University's travel insurance policy.

If you are taking any personal trips or vacations during your University trip which are not covered by the University's travel insurance policy, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have taken out adequate personal travel insurance cover for the personal elements of your trip.

Risk Assessment
As outlined above, if you are travelling to higher risk destinations and/or taking part in higher risk activities during your trip (any non-standard activity as listed in the Travel Declaration), you are required to complete a Health & Safety Travel-Risk-Assessment For the avoidance of doubt, a trip involving fieldwork and/or research activity is generally considered higher risk and requires a risk assessment to be completed prior to travel.
Full guidance on completing risk assessments should be sought from your School’s Health & Safety Officer, or from central Health & Safety, however some brief guidance on what you should cover in your risk assessment (where applicable) is provided below.
The risk assessment must address all applicable risks which are relevant to the trip:
  • Specific​ risks associated with the activities being undertaken (e.g. fieldwork)
  • Safety and security risks (robbery, attack, kidnap)
  • Health risks associated with the areas being visited (outbreaks of disease, availability of healthcare)
  • Terrorism risk
  • Lone working risk
  • Communication risk (how reliable are communications e.g. Wi-Fi, mobile networks in the event of an emergency)
  • Any difficulties unique to the individual, due to Health conditions, disabilities, etc.
  • Accommodation risks
  • Travel and transport risks  
You should use the information provided by the FCO website for the country or countries being visited to help you complete the risk assessment. As well as identifying the risks, the risk assessment must also be able to explain the steps that you are taking to reduce the risks identified to an acceptable level. Once you have completed a risk assessment, it must be approved by the Health & Safety Officer within your School or Service prior to travelling. It is your responsibility to ensure the risk assessment has been satisfactorily completed and approved prior to completing your travel declaration - you may not be insured for travel if this has not been done.
Group trips
If you are the organiser of a trip involving multiple students or staff travelling in one party there is a facility in the Travel Declaration for members of the party to use a common reference. The trip organiser should create a unique reference and share it with all participants.

Please ensure everyone in the travel group completes ‘’Reference Code for Trip (if applicable)’’ box with a reference code that is unique to your group or trip i.e. Trip Organiser initial/date of trip The unique reference code could be used to by Heriot-Watt SafeGuarding Services in the event of an incident abroad to identify all parties that are travelling together.

Travel Handbook
On successful completion of the Travel Declaration, you will be provided with a Travel Handbook (Student Link) which you should read thoroughly prior to travel and make sure you have access to while you are travelling. This provides useful information in relation to the University’s insurance policy – what is covered and how to claim.
Consular letter
Certain countries may require you to obtain a visa to allow you to travel on business. This is dependent on both your nationality and the country or countries you intend to visit. If you require a visa, then you need to request a consular letter when you are completing the Travel Declaration form. You will receive a signed consular letter for your travel which will be provided in PDF format by email. This letter should be taken by you to the relevant embassy or consulate in order to obtain a visa for travel.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
If you are a UK or European Union (EU) national, or ordinarily resident in the UK, and are travelling within the EU or European Economic Area (EEA), then you must apply for an EHIC card, which is free to do. The EHIC card allows you to obtain free or discounted healthcare whilst travelling within the EEA/EU. If you require medical treatment while abroad, then you should present your EHIC in the first instance. If there is still a cost of treatment not covered by your EHIC card, then you will be covered for emergency medical treatment abroad under the University’s travel policy (within the terms of the policy). Details of how to claim are contained within your Travel Handbook.