Protocol considerations for Hosting International Visitors

Georgia State University values its many partnerships with higher education institutions around the world. Building and sustaining these international linkages is critical to the achievement of our vision of becoming a leading global university. Therefore, international visitors to our campus must be well received and afforded culturally relevant courtesies and considerations.

This guidance in not intended to be definitive. Rather, it highlights a few important considerations that will enhance the quality and success of international visits. In preparing for international visitors, do not hesitate to refer to the many online resources on international protocol and other information related to hosting international visitors. Some useful links are included below. Also, if you have specific questions or require assistance in preparing for a visit, please contact the Office of International Initiatives.

Single Point of Contact for International Visitors

Hosting College Deans or the Associate Provost for International Initiatives will coordinate arrangements for visits involving the President and Provost of the University. The Office of International Initiatives will support and assist colleges and departments as requested with other international visitors (see Guidelines for Hosting International Visitors).


Prior consideration should be given to accommodations for international visitors. While in most instances local hotels within walking distance of the university will be adequate, factors such as the position/status of the visitor(s), relative importance of the visit to GSU, and nature of accommodations afforded to comparable GSU visits to the visitor’s country also will need to be considered.


If possible, meet visiting delegations at the airport. Also, make plans to escort visitors to all meetings and events and to provide them with transportation for the duration of their visit. This is particularly important if GSU has received such treatment in the visitor’s country.

Scheduling Considerations

Always prepare a detailed itinerary that minimally includes names, titles, and arrival and departure information of visitor (s); names and titles of GSU officials to be seen; date, time, location of meeting or event; responsible GSU party and the latter’s contact information. Do not over-program guest(s) and if jet lag is a factor, build in down time.


Err on the side of formality when introducing guests. Titles and positions often carry more prestige in other cultures than they do in the U.S. Try to review the cultural practices relative to handshakes, bowing, etc. before the guests arrive. Always be prepared with an adequate supply of business cards to exchange with guests.


It is appropriate to exchange gifts with visiting international delegations and GSU should expect that official international delegations will arrive on campus bearing gifts. International visitors typically present high quality gifts and this should be kept in mind in selecting gifts for our guests. The hosting unit is responsible for acquiring appropriate gifts and coordinating presentation arrangements.

Signing Ceremonies

Ceremonies involving the signing of agreements or special presentations should always be conducted with an air of formality. Gifts can be exchanged either at the beginning or end of the ceremony. Consider displaying flags, floral arrangements, memorabilia of the country in GSU possession etc., to lend a special touch to the venue. Sign the documents with high quality GSU pens to mark the occasion and use them as gifts to the visiting delegation. The university photographer should memorialize the event. Be sure to send the photos to the guests and use them on our websites to publicize the relationship. Also, consider appropriateness of inviting outside media.

Meals and Receptions

Avoid over scheduling guests but do convey that we value the relationship by showering them with hospitality. If the delegation is led by the head of the international institution, the GSU President or Provost, if they are available, should host an event in their honor. Not only is social interaction very important in many cultures, it is often the context within which business is transacted. Consider incorporating special entertainment or performances by members of the university community into events such as dinners and receptions. At meals, the highest ranking visitor is typically seated to the right of the host. Place cards are recommended for meals of more than six people. It is not advisable to prepare foods from the visitor’s culture unless you are absolutely certain it can be prepared properly.

Translation and Special Services

Establish and ensure translation services for visitors whose language preference is other than English.Additional special services such as sign language or other disability services should also be planned for when necessary.

Useful links related to International Visitor Protocol