It is vital to check for travel advisories for your specific destination before booking your trip and a few days before leaving by going to This is Canada’s official source of destination-specific travel information.

What is a travel advisory and why is it important?

The Government of Canada issues travel advisories to provide Canadian travellers with official information and advice (country-wide and region-specific) on situations that may affect their safety and well-being abroad. Information is regularly updated on

  • local safety and security conditions and areas to avoid
  • entry and exit requirements
  • local laws and culture, including political instability
  • possible health hazards and health restrictions (like Zika virus)
  • natural hazards and climate issues like earthquakes or hurricanes.

Risk levels of a travel advisory

Advice and safety precautions provided by the Canadian government help you analyze the risk of travelling to your planned destination so you’re better prepared for your trip.

Exercise a high degree of caution

Avoid non essential travel

Avoid all travel

Below are the risk levels (as described by the Government of Canada) that you’ll want to take note of:

The two highest risk levels, “avoid non-essential travel” and “avoid all travel,” should be taken seriously—they suggest major concerns for tourists.

How travel advisories affect your travel medical insurance coverage

Travel medical insurance policies have exclusions when it comes to travelling in risky countries. It’s important to know how your travel insurance policy will cover you, so you can travel more confidently.

As described by the Government of Canada, the two highest risk levels of travel advisories — “avoid non-essential travel” and “avoid all travel” — can affect your travel insurance coverage, depending on when the travel advisory comes into effect.

When you buy travel medical insurance before you leave, your policy will cover medical costs, as long as

  • there was no high-risk travel advisory in place when you left Canada
  • you were not participating in or voluntarily exposing yourself to a risk (like a riot or civil disorder)
  • the sickness or injury-related expenses are unconnected to the reason for the travel advisory.

If the travel advisory is issued after the date you leave for your trip, your travel medical insurance policy will cover you normally for any unforeseen event.

Tips to help you stay safe

Use these travel safety tips to become better prepared for unforeseen circumstances:

  • Register with Global Affairs Canada
    Check in with the government before you leave so they will know 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
  • Keep tabs on travel advisories

    Refer to the travel advisories page on the government site, or download the Government of Canada’s Travel Smart App for up-to-date travel advice and information on your smartphone. The app has information for 200+ destinations and includes advisories, health updates and even emergency contact numbers.

  • Set Google Alerts for your destination
    Google Alerts will inform you of any important political events or natural disasters in the time leading up to your departure and during your trip. You can use keywords like ‘destination + travel’ or ‘Canadian travel advisory’ for a specific location.
  • Print a copy of your travel itinerary
    Keep your loved ones at home informed of your travel plans and print them a copy of your travel itinerary, including the contact details for your hotel and travel insurance provider in case they need to reach you.
  • Carry personal documents
    Carry your ID and passport with you at all times. You should also keep your travel insurance information card in your wallet to help you in case of any accidents or injuries. Create back-up documents by scanning important information and emailing the files to yourself in case of theft or loss.
  • Carry an information card
    This Information Card can be printed to credit card size (try printing it at 30% size), folded and put into your wallet.
  • Keep the Canadian Consulate contact information handy
    Whether you’re travelling to the U.S. or anywhere outside of North America, it’s always a good idea to have Canadian Consulate contact information for the country you are going to. The Canadian consular services help travellers abroad with a number of medical emergencies, legal issues, lost or stolen passports and contacting friends or relatives back home. You can also email, call directly at 1-613-996-8885, or text 1-613-209-1233.

Plan it safe and get your travel medical insurance today

At SBIS we can help you select travel medical insurance coverage that fits your plans and budget. Call us today for good advice.