Pre-Arrival: Packing and Travel

Read below for more information on packing for the U.S., what the travel procedures will be for entering the United States, what documents you should have with you when you board the plane, and transportation options from the San Francisco International Airport to USF.

What to Bring with You
Important Documents to Bring
Forms to Complete on the Flight
Immigration and Customs Procedures
Transportation Options from the Airport to USF

What to Bring with You

Weather and Dress: Although California is known for being the “land of golden sunshine,” the city of San Francisco does not have a very warm climate. The temperature in San Francisco averages between a low of 40 degrees and a high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 to 21.0 degrees Celsius).

  • June through August are usually cold and foggy.
  • September and October are the warmest months.
  • December through May usually bring rain and colder temperatures.

You will require a light-weight jacket or coat at all times of the year and a medium- to heavy-weight coat for certain winter months. You should bring plenty of warm clothing as students who come from warm or tropical climates usually find San Francisco’s temperatures to be rather cool. Most of the students dress informally for class (jeans and shirts) but dress more formally when they go out to dinner or attend special events.

Shipping: Do not ship any of your personal belongings to your campus address prior to your arrival; they will be returned if you are not there. USF will not accept any packages on your behalf and cannot store them for you on campus. If you wish to ship some of your belongings in advance, you will need to ship them to a private address. You can obtain information about freight and shipping services through your local travel agencies or postal service. Insure any valuable items that you ship overseas. Items for your room can be purchased once in the United States.

Finances for Living Expenses and Tuition: Plan to bring with you enough money to cover the expenses of your first month, which is likely to be one of the most expensive periods of your stay. You will need to pay for local transportation, meals, and possibly several nights of lodging. If you plan to live off-campus, you should bring enough funds to pay a safety deposit and one month’s rent before you move in. Be careful if you choose to carry cash and avoid carrying a large sum of cash. Travelers’ checks are a safer way to carry money, but not all vendors accept them. Having a credit card, such as Visa or MasterCard, is recommended. To access money from your home country bank in order to pay your tuition and fees, we suggest you discuss the situation with your home country bank prior to your departure. New students typically select the bank wire transfer that transfers funds directly from their home country bank to USF in order to pay for their tuition and fees during their first semester. Please visit to view the different payment options.

For more information about what to bring for living on-campus, please visit the student housing website, and read about "What is in My Room".

Important Documents to Bring

  • Bring with you to the United States any important documents that relate to your immigration, travel, legal, academic, and medical history:
  • Passport, identification cards, driver’s licenses, etc.
  • Marriage certificate and birth certificates (for you and your dependents if applicable)
  • Proof of health insurance coverage in the United States if any (otherwise you will be required to purchase USF student health insurance)
  • Information about medical conditions or treatments, prescriptions for medication (including the generic and brand names), and eye glasses
  • Medical and dental records, including certificates of immunizations and vaccinations, especially rubella, rubeola, and tuberculin for you and your dependents if applicable (USF requires proof of these vaccines, if you do not get them before you arrive, you can get them during orientation).
  • Any other copies of immigration and travel documents from the past
  • Official transcripts from secondary schools, colleges, or universities If possible, obtain English translations of these documents and have the translations certified by a U.S. educational advising center at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Retain photocopies of all original documents for your records.

Forms to Complete on the Flight

Toward the end of your flight, the airline flight attendant will give you a Customs Form. Please fill this form out while you are on the airplane and have it ready along with your Passport and Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20 or Form DS-2019) when you depart the plane. It is forbidden to bring certain items into the United States (for example, fruits, vegetables, drugs, or firearms). You will be asked to report the value of the things you are bringing in to the United States. Simply follow the directions on the form. If you have questions, ask the flight attendant for clarification.

Immigration and Customs Procedures

At Immigration Control

  1. Present your Passport, Visa, and Certificate of Eligibility to the officer.
  2. After questioning you about your plans in the United States, the officer will process your documents for entry.
  3. You will be required to use an inkless, digital fingerscanner to scan your fingerprints. Follow the officer’s instructions by placing each finger on the scanner.
  4. The officer will also take your digital photograph. These procedures add only seconds to the overall processing time.
  5. The immigration officer will give you one stamp in your passport once you have been cleared for entry into the United States.
  6. Your passport and Certificate of Eligibility will be returned to you. Please check that all original documents are returned to you and that they are stamped in red ink and marked “F-1” or “J-1” and “D/S” for “Duration of Status.

At Baggage Claim and Customs

  1. Proceed to the appropriate baggage claim area to pick up your luggage. Baggage carts availability vary depending upon your port of entry.
  2. After this, you will be directed to the Customs Service for inspection of your baggage.
  3. Give the Customs Form to the Customs Official and allow your baggage to be checked.
  4. After your baggage has passed through Customs you will be allowed to exit the airport.

Transportation Options from the Airport to USF

Door-to-Door Shuttle Service

Shuttle buses, or door-to-door shuttles, leave from the departures/ticketing level at all terminals approximately every 12 minutes and will drop you off anywhere in the city of San Francisco. Depending on the number of passengers, door-to-door shuttles may make multiple stops. No reservation is necessary, but is recommended for passengers arriving after 11:00 pm. The cost for this service is between $20 and $30 and a tip of 15% is recommended as a courtesy. You may pay by cash or credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express), although some companies only accept credit with advance reservations. These vans have luggage space and generally carry 4 to 6 passengers. Some of the bay-area shuttle companies and their phone numbers are listed below followed by the address for USF.


Lorrie’s Airport Shuttle: 

American Airporter Shuttle:

Address for the University of San Francisco: 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117. 

Estimated time from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to USF by general shuttle is 45 minutes to 2 hours (depending on the number of passengers and drop off locations).


Taxis depart from designated taxi zones located outside of the arrivals/baggage claim area of the international terminal. The approximate cost of a taxi from the airport to USF is between $50.00-$65.00. As a courtesy, you should tip the driver 15% of the total cost. If you share the trip with other people, passengers can divide the bill to pay an equal portion of the fare. If possible, you should verify the approximate cost of the ride before you accept the taxi, but licensed cabs are on a metering system so the driver is required to charge the rate that appears on the electronic device located in the cab. You will need to give the specific street address of the University to the taxi driver. Address for the University of San Francisco: 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117.
Estimated time from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to USF by taxi is 30-45 minutes.

Please Note:You should only hire a taxi-cab at the airport from the designated taxi zone on the street outside of the baggage claim area. Do not hire a driver or accept a ride from anyone offering this service inside of the airport. These cabs are illegal, often charge VERY high rates, and can be dangerous.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) & San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MUNI)

If you have lots of luggage, you may want to take a shuttle service or taxi rather than BART. BART is the San Francisco Bay Area’s regional rail system. You can take BART from the San Francisco airport by following the BART signs in the airport baggage claim terminal to the BART station.

From San Francisco Intl Airport

Travel Time: 60-90 minutes
Fares: As of July 2016, the BART fare is $9.65 and the MUNI fare is $2.75.
*MUNI requires exact change. No change will be given.

  1. Go to the BART Station located between International Terminal G and International Parking Garage G.
  2. Take the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART train towards San Francisco.
  3. Disembark at Powell St Station.
  4. Take the A1 Exit.
  5. Take the Outbound 5 or 5R Fulton MUNI bus. The bus stop is located in front of the Gap clothing store and the Cable Car turnaround.
    1. If you took the 5, disembark at Clayton St, which is directly next to campus.
    2. If you took the 5R, disembark at Parker St, which is across from St. Ignatius Church. You will have to cross the street, towards the church, to get onto campus.
  6. To request the stop, you will need to pull the wire cord located throughout the bus. If you have problems or concerns about getting off at the correct stop, tell the bus driver that you need to get off at the University of San Francisco.

For additional transit directions, please visit:
For BART information, please visit:
For MUNI information, please visit: