As an international student, there are a number of preparations that you will need to make prior to your arrival to the University. Please follow the checklist instructions based on your student type.

Also, please note that new F-1 and J-1 students may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date indicated on their I-20 (in PROGRAM OF STUDY Section) or DS-2019 (Section 3).

Pre-Arrival Checklist

  • Register for Orientation:
  • Take care of your Immunizations, Medical History, and Insurance:
    • Submit your medical health history and immunization form.
    • All international students must have health insurance and will automatically be enrolled into the University student plan unless they submit a waiver form.  Be aware that some graduate students who receive UA Graduate Assistantships and Teaching Assistantships may be eligible for health insurance as part of their assistantship.  If you are a graduate student, you can find more information about this benefit on the Graduate School website.
  • Additional Undergraduate Student Steps – Deposits, Housing, and Math Placement Test:
    • Undergraduate Students – Submit your $200 nonrefundable enrollment deposit (only applies to students admitted for fall semester). Check your Crimson email account for enrollment deposit instructions or visit This step must be completed before applying for housing on-campus.
    • Complete the residence hall housing contract and submit it with your $300 housing application fee and prepayment.
    • Complete the online math placement test. This will help your advisors place you in the proper level of math courses.
  • Already in the U.S.? Transfer SEVIS Record to UA:
    • If you are currently in F-1 or J-1 status at a high school or another college/university inside the U.S., please be sure to have your SEVIS Record transferred to the University of Alabama within your grace period (60-days for F-1 students/ 30-days for J-1 students).  You will need to provide the DSO/ARO at your current school with a copy of your admission letter to UA and request that they transfer your record to The University of Alabama, F-1 School Code: ATL214F01174000; J-1 EV Program Number: P-1-03854.
  • Diploma and Transcripts: Bring a certified copy of your diploma, final transcript/marksheets, and exam results for International Admissions or Graduate School Admissions.
  • Need a SIM Card and U.S. Phone Number before arrival: There are a few companies which offer specialized no-contract plans that are specifically designed for international students, scholars, and dependents.  You can order a SIM Card for your U.S. plan to be delivered to you in your home country.
  • Pay and Confirm Schedule: Once you’ve received your eBill, pay your tuition and fees with Student Account Services.  For international transfer payments, The University of Alabama has partnered with two vendors to offer international student payments – TransferMate and FlyWire.
    • TransferMate, a leading cross-border payments provider, and TouchNet offer you easy, economical and secure international tuition payment options. Students and authorized users can pay by clicking the TransferMate link in TouchNet.
    • FlyWire allows students to pay securely from any country and bank, generally in the student’s home currency.


What to Consider Bringing with You


  • Warm-weather clothing
    • Short-sleeve shirts
    • Light pants/dresses
    • Shorts
    • Light shoes
  • Cold-weather clothing
    • Jacket for fall and early spring
    • Light winter coat (winters are very mild in Alabama)
    • Long-sleeve Shirts and Sweaters
    • Heavier shoes
  • Clothing that is native to your country or culture
    • Don’t forget to bring any special clothing items which represent your home and heritage.

Other Items

If you plan to bring any medicines, food items, souvenirs or gifts please make sure they aren’t prohibited from importation.  Please review the CBP page on Information on Prohibited and Restricted Items.

Additionally, resources for International Visitors can be found here:

Declaring Items at Customs
Make sure that you declare all items of value (e.g. money, personal electronics, personal belongings, etc.) when you arrive at the U.S. port-of-entry.  If you don’t declare the items that you are bringing which are of value, the items can be confiscated or seized.  Some students have lost thousands of dollars which they failed to declare with US CBP.  Please see the following:


What to Consider Purchasing After Arrival

You should bring some basic toiletries and items with you for your first week or two, but the following items are easily obtained after your travel.

Most items can be purchased after arrival at Wal-Mart, Target, or other stores. Students must have an acceptable method of payment to purchase from U.S. retail stores (e.g. U.S. dollars or internatoinal credit card or debit card that has been unlocked for international purchases).


  • Pillow(s)
  • Blanket
  • Bedspread/comforter
  • Sheets & pillowcases
  • Mattress pad
  • Alarm clock


  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Personal Toiletry Items
  • Towels
  • Flip flops (for community shower)
  • Plastic carrier for shower items
  • Bathroom tissue


  • Trash can
  • Pictures and posters
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Storage
  • Stereo/radio/television
  • First aid kit
  • Power strip/surge protector
  • Umbrella & Raincoat
  • Small fan
  • Flashlight


Dining & Cooking

  • Bottle/can opener
  • Pots and pans
  • Spatula and cooking utensils
  • Plates/bowls/cups
  • Cuttlery/eating utensils
  • Paper towels


  • Laundry basket
  • Detergent
  • Fabric softener
  • Stain remover
  • Iron & Ironing board
  • Sewing kit
  • Clothes hangers


  • Desk lamp
  • Desk organizer
  • File folders
  • Calculator
  • Memo board
  • Stapler
  • Stamps and envelopes

Other Notes:

  • A shopping shuttle service is provided to UA students who live on campus, and operates on Sundays through the academic year:
  • If living on campus, laundry facilities are available in every residence hall on the UA campus. You will need to pay for the service using money loaded on your Action Card.  When using shared laundry facilities, you will need to provide your own detergent and cleaning supplies.
  • If living on-campus you will be responsible for cleaning your own living space and bathroom, unless you are assigned to a building with a community bathroom.

Port-of-Entry Procedures

IMPORTANT NOTE: New F-1 and J-1 students may enter the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the start date indicated on their I-20 (Page 1 in Program of Study Section) or DS-2019 (Section 3).

Do not store the following documents in your luggage as you will need them at the U.S. port of entry:

  • F-1 I-20 or J-1 DS-2019;
  • Passport (valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay);
  • F-1 or J-1 visa stamp (not necessary for Canadian and Bahamian citizens);
  • You may also be asked to present the following documents at the port of entry:
    • SEVIS fee receipt;
    • proof of funding for 1 year (e.g., scholarship or sponsorship letter, bank statements); and
    • proof of student status (e.g., admission letter, tuition receipt).

You should also carry International Student & Scholar Services’ contact information:

  • Address: 105 BB Comer Hall, Box 870254, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0254
  • Phone: 205-348-5402

In the event that the office is closed, contact the University of Alabama Police Department at 205-348-5454 and they will contact an ISSS advisor.

Customs Forms
Crew members will distribute Customs Declaration Forms (CF-6059B). This will be completed on the flight prior to arriving in the U.S.  You can find out more about arrival procedures on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Site and the CBP Page for International Visitors.

Please review the CBP page on Information on Prohibited and Restricted Items.

Port of Entry
After entering the U.S. at the airport, you will pass through a U.S. Immigration Port of Entry inspection. Your passport, visa, I-20 or DS-2019, and other documents will be officially reviewed. A digital photograph and a biometric scan of your index finger will be taken. You will likely have to answer a few questions and indicate your reason for entering the U.S. (to be a student); you may have to provide proof of admission. Please be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection official has authority to deny admission.

Once your inspection is successfully completed, the inspecting officer should stamp your passport with your date of arrival. The official should also note your non-immigrant status (F-1 or J-1) and D/S (duration of status— how long you are eligible to remain in the US). Please be sure that your passport is marked in this manner. If not, please bring this to the attention of a Capstone International Services advisor when you arrive on-campus and check-in with the office.

Additional information regarding Port of Entry procedures for students:

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT I-94 ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE RECORD: Make sure you have a copy of your most recent I-94 Record. You will now go to a website and print the electronic record of your I-94 after arrival at More information can be found at: This form should indicate your arrival date, your visa status, and the length of your stay, usually marked D/S (duration of status) for both F-1 and J-1 students. It will also include an 11-digit Admission/Departure Number; this number is your I-94 number and is the identification number with DHS.


Tuscaloosa is located approximately 330 kilometers west of Atlanta, Georgia; 96 kilometers southwest of Birmingham, Alabama; 1153 kilometers south of Chicago, Illinois; 451 kilometers northeast of New Orleans, Louisiana; 1617 kilometers southwest of New York City, New York; and 3753 kilometers east of San Francisco, California.


We recommend students to plan to fly into Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport (Airport code BHM):, which is the closest major airport to The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Tuscaloosa can be reached from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport via rideshare, airport shuttle, bus, or train.

If you arrive in Birmingham during the late evening hours, we suggest that you stay overnight in a nearby hotel which provides shuttle service to and from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport.  Many motels and hotels in Birmingham have free shuttle service to and from the Birmingham Airport.  Therefore, if you plan on staying in Birmingham overnight, you may want to consider this free service.

For reservations and further information, please contact the hotel where you intend to stay.  Below are two hotels, which are close to the airport and offer free shuttles to and from the airport:

Ramada Birmingham Airport  5216 Messer Airport Hwy, Birmingham, AL 35212  205-591-7900
Holiday Inn Birmingham-Airport  5000 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35212  205-909-1999


Most international students fly into the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport (BHM).  The city of Birmingham, Alabama is approximately 60 miles from the UA campus.

ISSS recommends that students seeking transportation from Birmingham first contact their respective student nationality organization, which can be found in the listing of organizations with The Source and on our Organizations Page.

Tuscaloosa can be reached from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport via rideshare, airport shuttle, bus, or train.  Information can be found below.


Tuscaloosa is served by the Greyhound bus line.  Fares vary depending on the date and time that you travel. Schedule and fares are subject to change without notice. For more information, call Greyhound at (205) 758-6651 or 1-800-231-2222 ext. 9 (
Please note that if you are traveling from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport to Tuscaloosa via Bus, you will need to make arrangements to get from the the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport to the bus station in Birmingham as well as from the Tuscaloosa bus station to the UA campus.
BIRMINGHAM BUS STATION  1801 Morris Ave., Birmingham, AL 35203  205-252-7190
TUSCALOOSA BUS STATION  3301 Greensboro Ave., Tuscaloosa, AL 35401 (inside Chevron Gas Station)  205-758-6651


Information/Reservations (800-872-7245)

Please note that you will need to make arrangements to get from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport to the train station in Birmingham as well as from the Tuscaloosa train station to the UA campus.

BIRMINGHAM TRAIN STATION  1801 Morris Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35203  205-752-3200
TUSCALOOSA TRAIN STATION  2105 Greensboro Avenue, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401  205-758-3578



The University of Alabama is a large campus, and CrimsonRide provides quick and easy access to all areas of campus, whether you live on-campus or off-campus.

Tuscaloosa has an affordable public bus system which serves the UA campus and the city, but bus routes are limited to the most popular destinations.  For bus schedules, routes, maps, and rates, please visit the Tuscaloosa Transit Authority website:

There are several taxi and rideshare services in the Tuscaloosa area.  See Yelp or do a search for currently available taxi and rideshare services (including LYFT and UBER) .

Rates for transportation via taxi or rideshares are generally much more expensive than public transportation.


Hotels & Rentals

Furnished Apartments with No Lease (extended stay hotels)


Students should be aware that the greatest expenses will be incurred during their first weeks in the United States.

Students living on-campus in a residence hall or in an on-campus apartment must be prepared to pay the full amount of their full semester on-campus housing and meal plan plus dining dollars at the start of each semester.

On-campus housing and meal plans are billed for the full semester and cannot be billed monthly.

Students planning to live off-campus in an apartment or house should make a budget and prepare to bring money to cover their start-up expenses they will have upon arrival.

Also, before you sign any lease, please make sure to review UA’s Off-Campus Housing Resources and Before You Sign Info.

Your expenses at the time you sign your lease and during the first week in your apartment or house may be equal to 3 months of your monthly budget for the year.  We recommend students to bring or have available $2000 – $4000 for start up expenses during your first weeks.

Even those who are on scholarship or will receive stipends must keep in mind that your first stipend payment may not come until several weeks after the start of the semester.

Off-campus housing and initial start-up expenses include:

  • Rental fees and deposits for off-campus apartments
    • First and Last month of rent paid at time of move-in (i.e. 2 months of rent).
    • Security deposits may also be required and can be equal to 1 – 6 months of rent depending on whether or not you have a co-signer or have established credit in the U.S.
    • Most apartments require other fees, including application fees, cleaning fees, and pet fees if you have a dog or cat.
  • Utility deposits may be required for services that are not included with your property rental.  Check with your apartment to see what services are included with your rental and which services you will need to set up separately.  These utility services may include:
  • Small purchases for bedding, utensils, cookware, etc.
  • Large purchases such as furniture, computer, tv, etc.
  • Initial groceries, toiletries, and supplies
  • Transportation (whether purchasing a car, using public transportation, or using rideshares such as Uber or Lyft)


FIRST STEPS: What to do as a newly arrived international student.


Visit International Orientation & Check-in Page

Orientation and immigration check-in is required for all international students.  You can access all Orientation materials and videos as well as the check-in access on our main Orientation and Check-in Page.

The mandatory International Orientation and Check-in is required for students to activate their F-1 or J-1 status, and it must be completed by the end of the first week of classes.

Once completed, ISSS will process the validation of your immigration record with Homeland Security’s Student Exchange Visitor Program and also be able to process any requested verifications for I-9 processing, Alabama Credit Union accounts, Driver’s Licenses, and Social Security Number applications.


Bama Bound is for all first-year and transfer undergraduate students at UA – both American and international students must attend.

All new and transfer undergraduate international students must register and attend a Bama Bound Orientation.

GROW is designed to prepare incoming graduate students with the necessary information to make their time at UA a success. In addition, it serves to supplement your departmental orientation experience and give you a well-rounded view of the UA experience through the graduate student lens.

This workshop is required for all new Graduate Teaching Assistants.  New Graduate Teaching Assistants should contact the Graduate School about participation in the GTA Workshop.