COVID-19 Practices

The measures we're taking to provide peace of mind

Our response to COVID-19

In a short period of time, so much has changed about our lives—how we work, how we communicate, how we move around our communities, and how we think about the world. The past few months have been different—and difficult—for every single one of us.

In March, we led the industry in rapidly bringing all our travelers home. We went above and beyond federal, state, and international guidelines to get students out of harm’s way. We have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation around the world. As we prepare for our upcoming programs, our goal is to provide you a meaningful experience while exploring the world as safely as possible on an EF Gap Year program. However, given the evolving situation, we have put policies into place to provide flexibility and give you peace of mind in planning your upcoming gap program.

Commonly asked questions
Are you still running gap year programs this year?
Yes! We actually have a gap program on the road right now—our Spring 2021 Costa Rica Immersion, which runs from April 9 to June 5, 2021. Costa Rica is currently welcoming international travelers, and EF travelers in Costa Rica have been warmly welcomed by restaurants, hotels and communities and are having an amazing time.
Our summer and fall 2021 programs are also set to depart as planned, although we are still monitoring the global situation daily and will need to feel confident that our students will be able to travel safely and responsibly.
What if I choose to cancel my participation while on the EF Gap program after departure?

Please view our Interruption Policy as noted in EF Gap Year’s Terms and Conditions.

What if U.S. federal or state authorities and/or international guidelines require the postponement, cancellation, or modification of my EF Gap Year program?

EF reserves the right to modify, postpone, or cancel your EF Gap Year program before your departure or during your program as a result of federal, state, and/or international guidelines that would affect the quality of or EF’s ability to operate all or part of your program.  This may include changing the destination countries or cities, altering your length of stay in a city or country, or changes in departure, arrival or return dates, or format of the program. We will make every attempt to provide you with alternative options as available should changes be necessitated. The Standard Cancellation or Interruption Policies will apply should you choose not to travel on a modified program. If, prior to departure, a U.S. federal governmental authority has issued a travel ban or an order restricting travel options with respect to a location on your program itinerary, and there are no alternate available Gap program options, you will be refunded the Total Program Fee (minus the $129 Application Fee). Non-refundable fees also include declined credit/debit card fees, late payment fees, returned check fees, stop payment fees, and the Global Travel Protection Plan.

I am looking for an international immersive EF Gap experience but closer to home…

For summer 2021, we are excited to offer you our Sustainable Development in Costa Rica program, departing on July 1, 2021. This immersive, 4-week summer program is closer to home and features one destination, focusing on service learning and local sustainable development projects. You can also earn college credits!

Costa Rica is currently welcoming international visitors, and EF has already sent travelers to Costa Rica. They’ve been welcomed by local businesses and communities, and are having an amazing time.

EF COVID Care Promise

Provided to all travelers

If a traveler is either diagnosed with COVID-19 while on tour or required to quarantine on account of COVID-19 while on program, EF will provide or arrange for the following, consistent with local requirements, at no additional expense to the traveler throughout the duration of any on-tour quarantine period:

  • Lodging and meals
  • EF representatives available to support the traveler and to coordinate with local authorities on their behalf where necessary
  • Assistance connecting with local health care providers
  • Translation services
  • Communication between the traveler and the traveler’s family back home
  • EF arranged flights home, if needed, for the traveler once cleared to return

Our approach to travel this year

We have remained agile over the past year, updating program itineraries and plans to adapt to our changing world. As the global situation continues to evolve and we get closer to departure, guidelines will be updated to reflect any on-the-ground realities of your chosen destinations, so we encourage you to check back often.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns. We’re here to help.

  • Global partnerships

    We have strong, long-established relationships with some of the largest airline, hotel, and transportation companies, global government agencies, and health organizations. These partnerships, along with our leadership roles in major industry organizations, mean that we are actively shaping new worldwide cleanliness and safety standards. For example, EF is following the protocols and recommendations established by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). These include health, hygiene, and social distancing guidelines.

  • Traveler health

    It is important that our students are healthy before they begin their programs. We may therefore ask you to complete a pre-travel health check. All EF Gap participants should closely self-monitor their health throughout their program. Should you feel ill on program, your Tour Director, Gap Advisor, and EF Global Emergency Support team are trained to support you.

  • Travel preparation

    Prior to departure, all students will receive information about any local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations currently in place at their destination. In addition to local country guidelines and specific protocols that EF is putting in place, we request that students observe common-sense health, hygiene, and social distancing practices as they would at home.

  • On program

    Activities on program or specific excursions may be adjusted based on local conditions and developments. We continuously work with our local partners such as tourist sites, hotels, restaurants, schools, NGOs, conservation habitats, and internship host companies to prioritize our travelers' safety. Examples to program adjustments may include itinerary changes, smaller group sizes, avoiding crowded locations at peak times, alternate excursions or activities, special precautions when working with children at our service locations, and modified internship responsibilities in order to follow local guidance and recommendations.

  • Accommodations & learning environments

    While specific measures vary across program modules and locations, all accommodations and learning environments will have enhanced protocols. When you are touring, your hotels will practice enhanced cleaning measures, such as frequent cleaning of common areas and guest rooms between customers. If you are in a homestay, your hosts will follow mandatory local hygiene guidelines. In both homestays and student residences, we will prioritize assigning you another EF Gap student as your roommate. EF student residences will follow enhanced hygiene, cleaning, and social distancing protocols. Apartment accommodations will be thoroughly cleaned between guests. Note that an important part of your program is the opportunity to live independently, especially during your internship module. All of these enhanced protocols should be coupled with common sense personal hygiene and social distancing practices.

    At our language schools, cleaning protocols will be enhanced, protective plexiglass barriers are being installed in key customer service areas, and hand sanitizing stations and disinfecting surface wipes will be located throughout campus. Students and staff will be encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing, class sizes will be closely monitored, and there may be daily temperature checks, depending on the location.

    We are also working closely with our NGO partners to offer enhanced cleaning and social distancing guidelines in our Service Learning locations.

  • On the ground transportation

    Throughout the program, EF Gap students use a range of public trains, subways, coaches, or other local transport. As you would at home, we encourage you to take common sense precautions to avoid crowded areas, wear face masks, and practice social distancing. When touring as a group, adjustments will be made so that transportation is in accordance with safety guidelines. This will include adjusting times of excursions as needed to avoid crowded forms of transportation, training our bus drivers in best practices, and ensuring that private coaches are thoroughly cleaned daily with high touch areas wiped down throughout the day.

  • Hand sanitizer & face masks

    We recommend travelers bring their own personal hand sanitizer and multiple reusable face masks for use throughout their gap program. In addition to your own supply, additional hand sanitizer and disposable face masks will be available.

  • Tour Directors & EF staff

    All our staff, including your Gap Year Advisor, our local EF contact person, expert Tour Directors, and EF school staff will be ready to explain guidelines in the destinations where you are traveling. Your Tour Director, Gap Year Advisor, and EF’s Global Emergency Support Team are trained to support travelers should you feel ill during your trip.

  • Looking ahead

    As we innovate and develop our own protocols, we will continue to monitor guidance from the CDC and local and federal authorities worldwide. We will incorporate new procedures where appropriate as part of the comprehensive safety measures that are standard on every EF program.

    Please do not hesitate to reach out to [email protected], 1-800-726-9746, or directly contact your Gap Year Advisor or Admissions Officer with any questions.