Home>Study>Go on exchange>Get ready to go on Exchange

Get ready to go on Exchange

Once your choice of exchange has been approved by the Sciences Po placement committee, you should start preparing for your departure. Some parts of this process can take a long time, so we recommend that you make arrangements well before you leave. 

Section #sessions

Attend our preparation sessions

All students who are going on exchange should attend the relevant preparation session organised by the International Affairs Department for the country where they will study. 

The session schedule is published in spring. Sessions take place online, and are recorded so that they can be watched later by anyone unable to attend. 

These sessions will give you all the practical information you need to know about going on exchange (applying for a visa, finding accommodation, health insurance, budgeting, and so on). It will also help you to understand your academic obligations during your third year, as per the equivalence scheme that applies to the region you will be studying in. 

Consult the session schedule to find the dates of upcoming sessions, recordings from previous sessions, Powerpoint presentations and any additional documents depending on your region. 

Section #application

Submit your application to the host University

After your application for a partner university has been accepted by the Sciences Po placement committee, you need to be formally accepted by that university.  To do so, you will need to complete an application and attach the documents requested by that university. The application form and the list of supporting documents will be sent to you by the International Affairs Department regional manager for the region you will be studying in.

You must then return your completed application to the regional manager, who will send it on to the partner university. If you email any documents to your host university, please keep us copied into the email. 

If you are contacted directly by your host university, please follow their instructions carefully and keep us informed of your progress. Do not contact your host university unless they have contacted you first – the International Affairs Department should remain your point of contact until you are formally accepted by the host university. 

Do not buy your plane ticket until you have received your acceptance letter and you know the dates of any Welcome Programme, if applicable.

Section #visa

Apply for a Visa

Check the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (FR) advice for travellers to get information on the conditions for entry and residence in the country you are going to.  

Some universities offer a help service for student visa applications. Check with your host university.

Important points:

  • Obtaining a visa can take a long time. We recommend starting the process as early as possible, by finding out in February what documents are required by the Consulate of the country where you are going. 
  • Check your passport expiry date. Some countries require your passport to be valid for six months after the date you plan to return.
  • You will need an acceptance letter from your host university to apply for a visa, which will only be provided once the partner university has received and approved your application. The letter will be sent to you by Sciences Po’s International Affairs Department. If your host university sends you the letter of acceptance directly, please let Sciences Po know that you have received it. 
  • If you need to provide a criminal record extract, start the process as soon as possible. 
  • Non-French students: make sure you renew your French residency card if you intend to return to France after your year or semester abroad. Find out more from the Préfecture de Police and the French Consulate in your host country (where your new visa will be delivered) regarding the process to follow for your return to France.
Section #health


You must take specific health precautions when travelling to certain countries. Certain vaccinations may also be required or strongly recommended. Most Sub-Saharan African countries, for example, will require you to be vaccinated against yellow fever to enter the country.

Find out more on the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FR) and the Institut Pasteur (FR).

If you take medication regularly, or need particular medical supplies, make sure you have enough to last for your whole exchange. You should also find out whether, and how, you will be able to get more once you have arrived. 

It may also be useful to have a health check and a dental check in the months before you leave. 

Please note that the Sciences Po Health Centre will be available to support you while you are abroad.

Section #health-insurance

Take out health insurance

You must have health insurance that will cover you during your exchange and when you travel.

You must either use your European Health Insurance Card, sign up to the insurance scheme offered by the host university, or purchase private insurance that will cover you in your destination country.

Please check the relevant page of the Sciences Po website dedicated to health insurance while abroad. This page provides information about the civil liability insurance and repatriation assistance Sciences Po offers all its students every year. 

You can find your insurance certificates and detailed information about risk cover in your student account, under the section ‘Administrative Documents’. 

We recommend that you have these documents with you at all times while travelling in France or abroad. 

Please note that the insurance offered by Sciences Po only covers extreme situations (repatriation if you are severely unwell, or have an accident). It is not enough for students going on exchange to certain countries or regions, such as Latin America.

Section #accommodation

Find accommodation

While some universities offer accommodation on campus, others will offer help to look for housing or leave it entirely up to you.

To find out more about accommodation services offered to exchange students, you can:

  • Read the university information sheets and exchange reports from students who have studied there
  • Check with your host university

Please note: if you have accommodation in France that you want to return to after your exchange, contact Sciences Po’s accommodation service so that it can be offered to students arriving in France.

Section #administrative-registration

Complete your administrative registration

All students going on exchange in their third year must be registered at Sciences Po while they are abroad. They keep their student status at Sciences Po, and continue to pay tuition fees and social security to Sciences Po. 

Section #travel

Book your travel

Once you have received your letter of acceptance from your host university and you have obtained your visa (if applicable), look into booking your travel as air and train fares will increase as your departure date approaches.

Some advice:

  • If possible, try to arrive a week or even ten days before classes start
  • Try to buy a flexible ticket which is valid for a year. 
Section #safety

Be mindful of safety

Read the advice for travellers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FR)

For French students: Sign up to Ariane (FR)

Register with the Consulate of your home country and/or the French Consulate (FR) in your destination country. 

Section #go-green

Go green

The Erasmus + grant programme offers a one-off bonus of up to 140€ to students who use means of transport with low carbon emission (bus, train, carpooling) to travel to the country of the university or host organization. If this is your case, please send us your travel receipts which mention your name and surname. Only tickets related to the trip at the beginning and at the end of the mobility will be accepted (round trip). 

You can calculate the carbon impact of your journey on ADEME's Impact CO2 website. For example, traveling by train to Edinburgh from Paris emits only 3.37 kg CO₂e compared to 226 kg CO₂e for a plane journey, i.e. almost 70 times less.

With those data in mind, there are numerous resources available to help you create your own low-carbon itinerary. For example, trainline can help you find train and bus routes in Europe. Other websites such as hourrail, mollowOUAT, or the interrail platform will be your allies in defining a green itinerary. 

Section #finance

Plan for financial issues

Ask your bank whether you can use your bank card overseas. Consider getting a credit card so that you can access large sums in an emergency. Please note that some banks will allow you to use your French account through a partner bank in the destination country.