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Jul 21, 2023

7 min. read

Canada has four travel advisory risk levels that can be applied to any country, territory or region. It’s important to know what they are and what the security conditions are for your specific travel destination.

Checking before you book, just before you leave and even after your departure means you’ll be well-informed about any important precautions that you should take.

The Canadian Government will often issue destination-specific travel advisories that provide valuable information that could affect your safety when you’re travelling abroad.

Advisories can be triggered for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:

  • Health emergencies like Zika, Ebola and most recently, COVID-19

  • Terrorist threats

  • Civil unrest or political instability

  • War or military coups

  • Natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, etc.

Levels of travel advisories. 

Four different risk levels of travel advisories: Level 1 - Exercise normal security precautions. This is the lowest level advisory with no significant safety concerns. You’re advised to use common sense and take similar precautions to those you would in Canada.

Level 2 - Exercise a high degree of caution.

When travelling to locations under this advisory, you should be cautious at all times because the government has identified safety and security concerns. This doesn’t mean that you should completely avoid travelling to these countries. Just be alert, plan ahead and be sure to monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities if anything concerning is reported or happens.

IMPORTANT: The two levels below are official Government of Canada Travel Advisories and are issued when the safety and security of Canadians travelling or living in the country may be compromised.

Level 3 - Avoid non-essential travel.

Destinations placed under this advisory have specific safety and security concerns that could put you at risk and you should reconsider your need to travel to them. If you are already there, consider leaving if it’s still safe to do so.

Level 4 - Avoid all travel.

There is an extreme risk to your personal safety and security and you should not travel to this area. If you’re already in the country under this advisory, you should leave as soon as it is safe to do so.

Get up to date travel advice and on the go.

How travel advisories affect your travel insurance.

Canadians should always consider purchasing travel insurance and never leave home without any coverage. It’s also important to understand the significance of travel advisories and how they may influence your coverage.

When you’re covered.

Depending on the travel insurance plan you’ve purchased, your policy may cover medical costs if:

  • There wasn’t a Level 3 or 4 travel advisory in place before your departure date

  • There wasn’t a Level 3 or 4 travel advisory in place for your destination at the time of your departure

  • The sickness or injury-related expenses you’re seeking compensation for are not connected to the reason for the travel advisory

Example: If you break your ankle and need care, you will still be covered even if there is a Level 3 travel advisory in place due to COVID-19.

  • The travel advisory was issued after the date you left for your trip

  • You weren’t participating in or voluntarily exposing yourself to a risk (like a riot or civil disorder)

When you’re not covered.

The two highest risk levels of travel advisories, “avoid non-essential travel” and “avoid all travel,” can affect your travel insurance, depending on when the travel advisory comes into effect.

Most travel insurance companies may not cover your claim if:

  • At the effective date of your policy, an official travel advisory was issued by the Canadian Government stating “avoid non-essential travel” or “avoid all travel” for the country, region or city you’re travelling to.

Staying safe and connected.

What’s great about travel is it gives us a chance to get away from it all and just disconnect – even for a short period of time. But by taking a few precautions ahead of time, you’ll be able to truly relax, with confidence, knowing you’re protected.

When it’s safe to travel again, be sure to remember the following:

  1. Before you leave. Make sure to register with Global Affairs Canada. This ensures the government knows your whereabouts if something goes wrong, and they can inform you if there’s an emergency back home. Registration is free at Registration of Canadians Abroad.

  2. Keep tabs on travel advisories. Refer to the travel advisories page on the government site for up-to-date travel advice and information.

  3. Have additional questions? Connect with an expert CAA Travel Consultant for assistance.

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