General Travel Procedures
International Travel Request Form
All NRCS employees participating in official international travel must submit a completed International Travel Request Form (ITRF) to IPD at least 30 days prior to potential travel. Please be aware that some countries require travelers to have a visa for entry, which can take up to 90 days to obtain. Contact IPD as soon as possible so that visa timelines can be determined. The ITRF must provide all requested information, clearly state the purpose of the trip, note anticipated outcomes, and include the approvals of all supervisors up to a Deputy Chief or Regional Conservationist. Scan and e-mail the completed form to Marita McCree at email@example.com.
SES members, Presidential appointees, and Schedule C appointees must complete a modified ITRF, which also includes a Foreign Travel Justification Form. The IPD will submit the completed forms to the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for approval.
If the agency will be accepting travel funds from a non-Federal source under 31 USC 1353, acceptance must be approved via submission of the Form AD-1101 (http://www.ethics.usda.gov/forms/AD1101_7-14_C.pdf). Instructions for completing the form are included on the cover page. If the non-Federal travel funds are already specified in a formal agreement, MOU, etc., if the acceptance of funds is authorized under the Government Employees Training Act, or if the funds are from SARE, the AD-1101 may not be required. If you have any questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202.205.1826 to speak to a USDA Ethics Specialist.
Official Passports, Visas, and Country Clearances
The IPD will obtain official passports, visas, and country clearances for NRCS employees who will be traveling internationally on official government business.
All NRCS employees must travel on an official passport when conducting official business. The only exception is travel to Taiwan. In this situation, NRCS employees must use their personal U. S. passport, as diplomatic relations are not recognized. Upon receipt of an approved ITRF, IPD will verify the validity of the employee’s official passport and assist with any necessary updates. IPD will also assist those employees who require their initial official passport. Any associated costs, such as photographs or postage, may be reimbursed on the employee’s travel voucher or Claim for Reimbursement for Expenditures on Official Business, SF-1164 form.
If a visa is required, IPD will contact the employee with additional instructions. Application procedures vary from country to country and IPD may require several weeks to obtain the necessary visa.
The IPD will also request country clearance from the respective U.S. Embassy, prior to the employee’s departure. The U.S. Embassy is responsible for safety and security and needs to be aware of all employees who are conducting official government business in that country. Country clearance is required and employees are asked to provide IPD with all requested information to assist with this process.
Employees will receive their official passport on average one to two weeks prior to departure, along with general information packages, containing health, security, travel tips, and relevant country background documents. However, employees are advised to review country specific information in advance for planning purposes.
Training requirements will vary depending on the country and duration of the assignment. Travelers should note that completion of the “High Threat Security Overseas Seminar (HTSOS)” will be required for all TDY assignments that are less than 45 days. Currently, mandatory completion of the seminar is for High Threat-High Risk (HTHR) posts and will expand to all posts by 2019, as geographic regions are phased in annually. If the combined duration at HTHR posts exceeds 45 days, then the “Foreign Affairs Counter Threat Course (FACT)” will be required instead of the HTSOS.
Travelers should consult the International Programs Division to determine if their destination is considered a HTHR post or part of an identified geographic region.
Travelers who will be assigned for more than 30 consecutive days to a U.S. Embassy are required to complete the “Serving Abroad for Families and Employees (S.A.F.E.)” Program. The S.A.F.E. Program includes two courses, the “Security Overseas Seminar” and “Working in an Embassy.”
Government Phones and Computers
The NRCS Mobile Device Policy states, “Users are prohibited from transporting and using NRCS issued mobile devices while traveling internationally, unless the user is on official NRCS business traveling to an approved location and has explicit written permission from his or her supervisor.”
Travelers with necessary approvals to use mobile devices internationally must follow the guidance provided in the USDA Mobile Computing Policy at http://www.ocio.usda.gov/document/departmental-regulation-3580-003.
All travelers should also consider security protocol for use and transporting of their mobile devices, such as phones and laptops. The National Counterintelligence and Security Center provides some general guidelines on traveling at http://www.ncsc.gov/industry/travel/index.html.
Travel Health and Travel Warnings
Vaccinations may be required for foreign travel. Consult the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for country specific information. The CDC’s “Vaccines. Medicines. Advice.” website is available at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/. These types of medical expenses can be claimed for reimbursement.
Employees are advised to review travel warnings issued by the U.S. State Department. Current travel warnings are available at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.html.
Employees have additional responsibilities following an international trip. These include filing of their travel voucher, returning their official passport, and submitting an executive summary.
Travel vouchers should be submitted via Concur no later than five days after an employee has returned from their trip. The Concur website is accessible at https://www.concursolutions.com/.
U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations mandate that all official passports be returned to IPD immediately upon completion of travel for accountability purposes. Passports should be returned via overnight mail to IPD no later than five business days after completing travel. Passport expiration dates, unlikely future travel due to duty changes, or pending government separations/retirements do not exclude NRCS employees from returning passports.
All employees must submit an executive summary about their trip. This one to two page report assists IPD with analyzing program effectiveness, increase outreach, and serves as historical documentation. Photos, including descriptions and credit, are highly encouraged. Employees may also submit articles for inclusion in USDA newsletters, blogs, or websites. Executive summaries should be submitted within two weeks after return.
Federal Travel Regulation
Agriculture Travel Regulation
NRCS General Manual Title 280, Part 400 – International Conservation Programs
Agency Travel Coordinator: Marita McCree, email@example.com, (202) 720-1830
Backup Agency Travel Coordinator: Sascha Dixon, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 245-1173
For Concur Travel Issues, visit https://itsm.sc.egov.usda.gov and select the NRCS Travel Support icon.
For travel related emergencies, contact Travel 24/7 Hour Support at 1-855-344-4793 (Select Option 1) to speak to a customer service representative.