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 2020, 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 running gap year programs this year?
Yes! You can see a complete list of our gap year programs here.
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.

What happens if, due to COVID, EF changes my program prior to departure and I can no longer go to one of the countries on my original itinerary?

EF will suggest an alternative itinerary and the student will have 14 days to make the decision to cancel or join to the new program. If the student chooses to cancel within that 14-day window, they will receive back all monies paid to EF. If the student chooses to reschedule and the program price is lower than the original program, the difference will be refunded.

Do you have vaccine requirements?

Based on information and guidance from the U.S. Department of State, we are currently requiring all travelers visiting destinations with a Level 4 Travel Advisory due to COVID-19 to be fully vaccinated. Full vaccination is defined as at least two weeks since the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine.

Additionally, vaccination is required if the tour destination requires it.

Do I need to get a COVID test before traveling?

At a minimum, we require all travelers to either receive a negative COVID PCR test within 72 hours of their tour departure or to be fully vaccinated. Some destinations may also require vaccinated travelers to present a negative COVID test upon entry. If a traveler receives a positive COVID test within 72 hours of departure they may not travel on tour and will be rebooked.

In addition to pre-tour testing, the United States Centers for Disease Control currently requires all travelers to provide a negative antigen or PCR COVID test before boarding international flights into the U.S regardless of vaccination status. This test must be taken no more than 72 hours before departure. EF is currently facilitating traveler testing to meet this requirement.

Travelers are responsible for all COVID testing costs and must be prepared to show test results to any parties that require them on tour including, but not limited to, airlines and other suppliers.

Will I need to wear a mask on tour?

We require all travelers to wear a mask on tour when required by local law, other relevant authorities, or at the direction of their Tour Director or EF staff. We are currently requiring all travelers to wear masks when on all tour buses. At this time, travelers who have been vaccinated and/or recently recovered from COVID are not exempt from wearing masks.

What other safety guidelines should I be aware of on tour?

Travelers are expected to comply with safety measures outlined in our Safe Traveler Agreement 14 days prior to departure as well as all local guidelines and regulations. See the current version of the agreement here. Our global team has worked hard to make our programs the safest way to see the world.

What else will be different about my trip?

Some aspects of your tour experience might be impacted by local restrictions such as businesses operating at reduced hours and/or reduced capacity. In some rare cases, we may need to adjust the itinerary.

What if I am exposed to COVID and need to quarantine/miss part of my tour?

If you are either diagnosed with COVID-19 while on tour or required to quarantine on account of COVID-19 while on tour, EF will provide or arrange for support including lodging, meals, translation services, and more at no additional cost.

What if I have more questions?

If you have more questions, give us a call at 1-800-726-9746 during these hours:
Monday–Friday, 9am–5:30pm ET.

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.

  • Traveler health

    It is important that our students are healthy before they begin their programs. At a minimum, we require all travelers to either receive a negative COVID PCR test within 72 hours of their tour departure or to be fully vaccinated. All EF Gap participants should closely self-monitor their health throughout their program. Should you feel ill on the program, your Tour Director, Gap Advisor, and EF Global Emergency Support team are trained to support you.

  • Travel preparation

    All travelers will receive information about local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations expected to be in place during their tour before departure. Travelers are expected to comply with safety measures outlined in our Safe Traveler Agreement 14 days prior to departure as well as all local guidelines and regulations. See the current version of the agreement here.

  • 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. We require all travelers to wear a mask on tour when required by local law, other relevant authorities, or at the direction of their Tour Director or EF staff. Currently, travelers who have been vaccinated and/or recently recovered from COVID are not exempt from wearing masks.

  • 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 info@efgapyear.com, 1-800-726-9746, or directly contact your Gap Year Advisor or Consultant with any questions.

  • Worldwide presence

    EF has the largest worldwide network of support teams and in-country experts to assist you in times of need with EF staff on the ground, 365 days a year, in over 50 countries. Our Safety & Incident Response team is available 24/7 and we have a resource network of industry experts, healthcare professionals, and government personnel who liaise with local embassies, government authorities, and health providers.

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