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Oct 28, 2021

5 min. read

What you need to know about Canada’s travel advisory system

In our COVID era, travelling the world has never been more complicated. “It’s more important than ever for travellers to be alert, prepared and flexible,” says CAA Travel Consultant Selena Harrison. To ensure you’re fully aware of any risks waiting for you abroad, the Canadian government compiles a list of Travel Advice and Advisories: travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories. To help you navigate the list, Harrison answers common questions and offers tips for safer journeys.

Who sets the advisories?

Global Affairs Canada monitors world events, collects reports on safety and security from different sources, and analyzes trends that affect travellers. The Travel Advice and Advisories are regularly revised if security conditions change. Ultimately though, it’s always your decision whether to travel or not.

What are “normal security precautions”?

It’s an advisory that applies to safe countries, and underscores good old-fashioned common sense, like paying attention to your surroundings. If something comes up—like the floods in Germany or Greece’s wildfires—further info will be posted. It also reminds Canadians they are responsible for healthcare expenses while travelling.

How do I exercise a “high degree of caution”?

Be extra vigilant when travelling to countries with “identifiable safety and security concerns,” including Mexico, Ecuador and China. Keep an eye on the local news and listen to regional authorities. Turkey is on the list because it borders Syria, while the Bahamas is mentioned due to some high-crime areas.

Does “avoid all non-essential travel” mean I’m grounded?

Not necessarily. The federal government currently recommends all Canadians avoid leisure travel, but this isn’t a binding mandate. This advisory means there are specific safety and security concerns, like Covid-19. Though “nonessential” is subjective, you should carefully assess travel under this advisory and weigh the potential pitfalls against your personal risk tolerance.

When is it recommended to “avoid all travel”?

This is an advisory for countries where there is extreme risk to your safety due to war, conflict or terrorism—think Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan. Don’t go! If you’re already there, get out immediately by contacting the nearest Canadian embassy. If you ignore a government-issued travel advisory, it could impact your travel insurance.

Does the government offer other travel resources, in addition to advisories?

The Travel Advice and Advisories website also includes details about local customs, climate and health concerns—malaria or measles, for example. Read up as you plan your trip and check the site again before you travel. You can also register to be notified of any emergency at home or in your destination.

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