Before You Arrive

Before you arrive for first day on the job

Are you excited for your first day at Columbia University? You can prepare for your first day now, and start the onboarding process before arriving on campus. On your first day, bring your personal identification documents to complete required paperwork.

Your manager and Human Resource (HR) representative will be ready to provide guidance throughout your new career, especially in the beginning.

You can get a head start by completing section 1 of the Form I-9. Within the first 3 business days from your start date, you must go in person to an I-9 center to complete section 2. 

If you are a Student Casual Employee, visit the Student Casual Employees page for additional information. 

Prepare for Your First Day

COVID-19 vaccination is mandatory for all University students, faculty, and staff—this includes officers of instruction, officers of research, officers of the libraries, student officers, officers of administration, union and non-union support staff. Full vaccination is to be completed as soon as possible.

It is also strongly recommended that all faculty and staff be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations, i.e., that they have received their recommended booster doses in addition to the primary series. While there is currently no university deadline for uploading first booster dose documentation, we encourage all faculty, staff and students who have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster to upload that documentation as well.

Individuals who do not submit their primary vaccination documentation or have not received an approved medical or religious exemption will be unable to access campus.

Submit Vaccine Documentation:

Once you have been assigned a University Network ID (UNI) by your department, you can follow the vaccine/booster documentation upload instructions from the University's COVID-19 website.

Request Medical or Religious Exemption from Vaccination Requirement:

If you plan to request a medical or religious exemption, please use the links below to complete the appropriate form.

Once the form is complete:

  • If you already have a UNI, please follow the instructions on the COVID-19 ReopenCU Checklist under Apply for an Exemption to Vaccination and/or Booster.
  • If you do not have a UNI yet, please send the completed form, along with all required documentation, to [email protected]

A Columbia University ID card is required to enter most buildings on campus, ride the University’s shuttles and access benefits like discounted tickets. Your manager will submit the necessary paperwork. Until you have an ID card, to enter a building you may need to present a valid photo ID and provide the name and phone number of your manager.

Every Columbia employee has a University Network ID (UNI). Your UNI, which will include your initials and random numbers, is used to provide access to the University's systems and services. Your manager will work with Columbia University Information Technology (CUIT) to assign you a UNI.


Your hiring manager is your first point of contact when you join Columbia. Some departments have an HR representative who will reach out to you before you arrive. Otherwise, go to Ask HR with any questions:

Ask HR

Phone: 212-851-2888


  • Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.


Every employee is part of an employment group that determines how your position is managed in Columbia University systems, including benefits and salary grades. Check your offer letter or ask your hiring manager if you are unsure of your employment group.

Find out more: What Is My Employment Group?

Identification Documents

A portion of your first day will be spent completing necessary forms that verify your employability and get you into the Columbia system so you can be paid and receive benefits. To complete the required forms, you must bring identification documentation.

Please refer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for acceptable documents you can bring to confirm your identity and authorization to work.


If you have completed any portion of your I-9 and E-verify or tax forms (W-4 form, IT2104 form or IT2104.1 form), bring and give them to your hiring manager or HR representative.

Water Bottle and/or Coffee Mug

Reusable drinking containers are part of the Sustainable Columbia initiative. You can help make a difference—and be prepared if your work location's pantry is free of disposable cups—by bringing your own reusable container.  

Faculty and staff arrive on campus daily in a variety of ways—walking, taking the subway or buses, driving and parking on campus, and transit connections from railways and buses outside of Manhattan. Planning ahead for your daily commute should include not only the travel time but walking to your campus building from subway stations, shuttles stops or parking garages that may be several blocks away.

Columbia is spread across several campuses with interconnecting shuttles. Your office may be in one building, while another colleague could be across campus or on another campus. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with Columbia’s expansive campuses.

Guides to help you determine your best commute: