Resources and Tips for Traveling with Electronic Devices

​​​​Global Affairs Travel Tips

Planning Travels with Electronic Devices

While cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices have become necessities, traveling with such devices occasionally poses challenges. Below are some general tips on traveling with electronic devices, as well as related resources, to assist you in trip planning.

General Tips for Traveling with Electronic Devices
 

  • In many countries, travelers should have no expectation of privacy

    • If traveling to such destinations, assume that all communications are potentially monitored and avoid making controversial political statements

    • Some states censor certain web content, applications, social media platforms, and occasionally impose complete internet blackouts
    • While some virtual private networks (VPNs) can bypass some levels of censorship, they should not be relied on to work at all times
    • There should be no expectation of privacy when utilizing “government approved” VPNs
  • Consider leaving your devices and data at home and utilizing a “loaner” laptop or phone

    • Back up phones and laptops before traveling

    • Retrieve sensitive information from cloud-based platforms while on travel
    • If you must travel with your personal electronic devices, have your IT department scan your equipment before departure for comparison upon your return to determine if devices have been tampered with or had malware installed
  • Ensure that you have the correct plug adapters

    • Review the information for plug adapters, and ensure, if necessary, you have the correct power converters

    • Consider purchasing a spare or external battery for your electronic devices
  • Back up phones and laptops before traveling

    • Use caution when connecting to public wireless networks and avoid entering credentials on such networks

    • Do not plug in untrusted electronic accessories
    • Change passwords after returning from a trip
  • You should assume no right to privacy at U.S. borders and points of entry

    • U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers can deny entry to the U.S. to individuals who refuse to unlock or surrender their electronic devices for inspection

  • Know what technologies, goods, and devices are subject to restrictions and export control licensing

    • If traveling to sanctioned countries or destinations that are otherwise impacted by export control restrictions

  • Avoid connecting to public wireless networks

    • If you must utilize a public WiFi, use of a virtual private network (VPN) may afford a basic level of security

  • Avoid transmitting credentials or sensitive information

    • Do not transmit sensitive information (especially login credentials and passwords) via computers or devices at hotel business centers (or other public access points)

    • Do not plug in untrusted electronic accessories
    • Change passwords after returning from a trip
  • Assume no right to privacy at U.S. borders and points of entry

    • U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers can deny entry to the U.S. to individuals who refuse to unlock or surrender their electronic devices for inspection

  • Know what technologies, goods, and devices are subject to restrictions and export control licensing

    • If traveling to sanctioned countries or destinations that are otherwise impacted by export control restrictions

    • If traveling with encrypted devices or devices with encryption software, be aware of which countries restrict or require licenses for importation of such devices/software (e.g., Belarus, Burma/Myanmar, China, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Ukraine)

Resources for Traveling with Electronic Devices
 

  • The UC Office of the President has a helpful resource for traveling with electronic devices

    • The resource includes a FAQ on border search authorities when returning to the United States

  • Consult the UC Davis Office of Research Compliance and Integrity at orrci@ad3.ucdavis.edu or (530) 754-0642

    • With questions regarding export control compliance

    • Well prior to any international travel or shipments for a determination on applicable export licensing requirements
    • Additional information regarding export control compliance can be found at the Office of Research’s Export Control webpage
  • Consult Nature’s “Cybersecurity for the Travelling Scientist” article

    • The article has additional tips on maintaining data security while on travel

More Information

UC Davis travelers with questions about traveling with electronic devices are encouraged to contact Global Affairs at (530) 752-9543 or travelsecurity@ucdavis.edu.