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Congratulations! The Tufts International Center looks forward to welcoming you as a new member of the Tufts University international community. Below you will find resources and reminders to help you make a successful transition to Tufts. As always, contact the International Center if you have any questions!

About Greater Boston

The Greater Boston area - which includes the city of Boston and surrounding towns such as Medford, Somerville, Cambridge, Brookline, Malden, Revere, and many others - is home to approximately 5 million people and 50 colleges and universities. The birthplace of the American Revolution, Boston is also home to major sports teams and events, including the Boston Marathon, and boasts an extraordinary cultural and civic life.

Tufts has three campuses in the Greater Boston area - Medford / Somerville, Boston Health Sciences, and Boston Fenway (School of the Museum of Fine Arts). In addition, the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine is in the town of North Grafton, which is easily reached from Boston by commuter rail and close to the city of Worcester, Massachusett's second largest city.

We encourage you to take advantage of the many cultural, recreational and other activities available to you during your time at Tufts.

Download our Welcome Guide

International Center Welcome Guide for the Tufts International Community

To help you get started, download our Welcome Guide for new international students, scholars, and employees. The Guide provides invaluable resources about practical matters such as housing, transportation, weather, and other matters. Updated annually. > Download the Welcome Guide

Health, Wellness, and Health Insurance

Health care and health insurance in the US is extremely expensive and complex. As you plan your move to Tufts, we recommend taking the following steps

  • Review our Health and Wellness page for information about health insurance and health services available through Tufts
  • If you have current medication needs (including prescription medicine and insulin), plan to bring a supply with you since access to a US doctor, medication, or other resources may be limited in your first days and weeks in the US
  • Obtain short-term travel insurance from your home country or a US provider to cover the time following your arrival in the US and before your studies or employment at Tufts begins
  • If you will be joined by family members, review your health insurance plan to see what coverage is provided for standard and urgent medical care
  • If you anticipate needing dental care, review your options available through the Tufts Dental Clinic

If you are coming to the US as a new student, scholar, or employee, it is essential to understand the US health insurance system. Unlike many other countries, where health insurance is provided by the national government and is widely available to most persons, in the US health insurance is provided primarily through your school, job (employer), or private insurance companies. No matter how you obtain it, it is essential that you have health insurance while in the US. The cost of even minor medical procedures in the US can become extremely expensive and even unaffordable without health insurance.


International students are required to enroll in the University's student health insurance plan or show evidence that they have an alternative plan from a US-based carrier that provides comparable insurance benefits. Students in Arts & Sciences, School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), School of Engineering, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy will enroll in the Tufts student health insurance plan. Go to the Student Insurance web site for more information about the Tufts student health insurance plan, or learn about how you can request a waiver of the Tufts student health insurance plan if you have health insurance coverage through another source. All students at the Medford or SMFA campuses will be charged each semester for the Health and Wellness fee regardless, as this is used to support Tufts's public health mission and services, including the Student Health Services, Counseling and Mental Health Services, and other campus health services.

Students in Arts & Sciences, School of Engineering, SMFA, and the Fletcher School: Review this handout about Tufts's Student Health Insurance Plan and Waiver Process

Students at the Boston Health Sciences campus and North Grafton campus will work with the Student Advisory and Health Administration office for insurance-related needs.


Employees who receive benefits from Tufts University may access information about employee insurance benefits from Access Tufts.

If you need medication while in the US, you must ordinarily see a doctor or nurse first in order to get a prescription to take to a pharmacy. US pharmacies primarily give out medications while providing simple medical procedures and consultations. Students should first see a doctor with the Tufts Health Service or Counseling and Mental Health Services for a prescription; the Health Service also has an on-site lab and pharmacy. In other circumstances, your doctor or nurse will give you a prescription to take to a retail pharmacy (or your doctor or nurse will call the retail pharmacy directly for you to pick up your medication at a later time). The best known retail pharmacies include Walgreens or CVS; many supermarket and grocery chain stores also have pharmacies.

You should review your insurance plan or talk to your health care provider to see which retail pharmacy should be used to fill prescriptions. The cost of medications may be higher if you use a pharmacy service not covered by your plan.

J-1 Exchange Visitors (which include J-1 students and scholars) and their J-2 dependents should be aware that they are required to have health insurance that meets specific J-1 visa requirements. Go to our J-1 Health Insurance page for more information about J-1 insurance requirements. Failure to have adequate insurance is a violation of J-1 status and can lead to termination of eligibility to stay in the US.

J-1 scholars who will be employed by Tufts will receive coverage through Tufts. However, scholars who are not employed by Tufts must have their own J-1 health insurance coverage. If you need assistance finding a J-1 health insurance plan, contact the International Center.

J-2 family members are subject to the same health insurance requirements as J-1 visa holders and must be covered by an appropriate J-1 insurance policy.

Starting Employment at Tufts

If you will be working at Tufts in either a student employment position (e.g., student worker position) or a faculty, researcher or other staff position, you must enter the US in valid status that allows work. The rules and requirements for employment depend on your specific visa type. However, in general any person employed by Tufts should understand or complete the following processes:

  1. Completing your I-9 Employment Verification Process
  2. Obtaining a Social Security Number (SSN), if needed
  3. Research your US tax requirements and complete tax forms for new employees

Read more below about each of these requirements.

Any person who will be employed at Tufts must complete an I-9 Employment Verification form by the first day of employment. Employers are required to complete the I-9 process to verify an employee's identity and ability to work in the US.

You will receive instructions from your department or from Human Resources in order to start the I-9 process. In general, you should receive an email so that you can start the I-9 process online. After submitting your information online, you will then complete the I-9 process in person at a Tufts Support Services (TSS) office by presenting your original identity and employment authorization documents. For more information about the I-9 process and for TSS locations, go to TSS's I-9 web page.

If you will be working at Tufts and do not already have a US Social Security Number (SSN), you will need to apply for one at a local Social Security Administration office. Go to our Social Security page for more information about application procedures.

  • You may start working without a SSN, but when you go to the Social Security office, ask for a receipt to show to your department and to TSS. Once you have received your actual SSN, provide the number to TSS so that your Tufts employment record can be updated.
  • If you received a SSN based on previous employment or presence in the US, you do not need to apply for a new SSN. The SSN is a permanent, lifetime number that does not change.

International students, scholars and employees who will be employed at Tufts may be subject to US taxes on their income. The exact amount of taxes you may be subject to will depend on a number of factors, such as:

  • Whether you are a tax resident or non-resident under US tax laws
  • Whether you are eligible for any tax treaty benefits
  • Your country of citizenship or nationality
  • Your expected income
  • Your current and previous US immigration status and history
  • Other factors

Review our tax site for general information about your tax situation. Please note: the International Center is not authorized to provide tax advice or complete any tax forms for specific individuals; any information provided is general in nature.