Pre departure

Pre departure

Download a complete Pre-departure Guide (PDF, 2240 KB).


Exchange students typically live in on-campus accommodation or other student lodges or hostels. While it is not usually guaranteed, most host universities do try to make sure that exchange students obtain a place in campus accommodation. Some students find private accommodation near their university. The James Cook University (JCU) Global Mobility Office can give some help with accommodation, and the website of your destination should provide information about what is available and the costs.

The host university will usually provide an application form for accommodation when they offer you a place.

Travel arrangements

You will need to arrange your own travel arrangements. You are advised not to book your flights before you have received your official acceptance to your host university.

Visa requirements

Visa requirements vary from country to country and are updated frequently, so you will need to find out what the existing requirements are. The best place to start is to research the embassy website or call them. They can also inform you of the exact documentation you need to submit in order to obtain a visa. Be well informed of what you need to have with you before you show up at the embassy – it will save you a lot of hassle!

Students going to United States of America (USA)

Obtaining a visa to study in USA has in recent years become a more complicated process and you will now need to travel to Sydney to attend an interview. For information visit the US Embassy in Australia website.

Students transiting USA on their way to the final destination

If you are travelling through USA on your way to your final study destination, it is very likely you will need a transit visa for USA. Please talk to your travel agent and the Global Mobility Office about this.

Note: Under the visa waiver program, time spent in Canada and Mexico and adjacent islands count towards the maximum of the 90 day stay allowed under the program. So if you are intending to study in any of the above countries and want to visit the USA you will need to apply for a B1/B2 visa.

If you have any questions regarding any of the above, email and you will have a reply within 24-48 hours.

Students going to France

You will need to lodge your visa application in person at the embassy in Sydney. More information can be on the French Embassy's Australian website.

Students going to the United Kingdom (UK)

Students exchanging to the UK must provide biometric data to obtain their visa. This process requires taking a digital photo and ten fingerprints of each applicant and it means you will have to do this in person at the UK Consulate office. For more information visit the United Kingdom Consulate website.

Travel insurance and health information

Health and travel information varies from country to country. Check out the Travel Doctor or Smart Traveller websites for further information.

Having comprehensive travel insurance is mandatory (as well as common sense) for students participating in the JCU Exchange Program. This insurance needs to cover you from your first day of travelling until the day you return home. You must ensure that your travel insurance covers all areas that need to be insured: health, travel, repatriation and liability.

Mandatory Host University Health insurance

Many exchange partners require students to purchase a health insurance package to meet student visa requirements. This means that, although you are covered by the JCU Corporate Travel Insurance for while you are on exchange, you may have to purchase the health insurance provided by your host university.

International students

If you are an international student studying at JCU, you are entitled to apply for Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) credit for any period you are out of Australia for longer than one month. This includes the period you are studying outside of Australia on an exchange. To apply for OSHC credit, you will need to provide a copy of your passport Photo ID page and Immigration Australia stamps for Departure and Arrival to the Alliance Global Assistance OSHC Representative at the Townsville International Student Centre within 28 days of returning to Australia. A refund for the unused portion of the OSHC can then be obtained from Alliance Global Assistance.


The following will help you to start thinking about what you will need to do before departure.


  • Make sure that you have a valid passport and visa. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months longer than your planned time overseas.
  • Check the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Smart Traveller website for useful overseas travel and health advice for your host country. Register your travel plans with the Department online so that you can be contacted in the event of an emergency.
  • Photocopy all your important documents (passport and visa pages of your passport, insurance policy, plane tickets, birth certificate, acceptance letter, and any vaccinations and doctor’s notes). Leave one set with a friend or family member and take copies yourself. This will be crucial in event of an emergency or if you lose your documents.
  • Make sure that you get some passport-sized photos of yourself, as you will need these for official applications overseas.
  • Take a copy of your offer letter from your host university as well as your current academic transcript.
  • Ensure that you have the Customer Care Medical Assistance contact number in your phone and wallet/diary.
  • Take documentation to show that you have had any vaccinations that are required.
  • If you need medication, get a doctor’s note to enable you to carry your medication through customs.


  • Get any vaccinations that are required by your host country.
  • Get a supply of any medication that you need. Get a doctor’s note to carry your medication through customs.

Travel and arrival

  • Check your travel arrangements and make sure that someone at home has a copy of your itinerary. Arrange to make contact with that person to let them know when you arrive.
  • Write down the contact details of the Australian embassy in your host country.
  • Make arrangements for accommodation/temporary accommodation.
  • Think about what clothing will be appropriate in your host country - you may be leaving summer in North Queensland and arriving in European winter!
  • Think about taking some small gifts from Australia for your new friends and hosts.

Some tips to make the flight journey a bit more comfortable:

  • Make sure you get a good nights sleep before your flight
  • Pack your own bags and do not carry packages for strangers
  • Wear light and comfortable clothing and pack a change of clothes if your trip is really long
  • Don’t forget to keep hydrated and drink plenty of water during the flight