Understanding Canadian Government Travel Advisories

Once it is safe to travel again, we strongly encourage all Canadians to check the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories page for information and updates about your 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. 

Canada has 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. 

Avoid all cruise ship travel. With the outbreak of COVID-19, health authorities identified that cruise passengers are at an increased risk of person-to-person spread of the disease. This led to the Canadian Government issuing a new advisory to avoid all cruise travel.

How travel advisories affect your travel insurance. 

COVID-19 has impacted the entire world. As such, when it’s safe to travel again, 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 depending on: 

  • Travel advisories in place before your departure date 
  • Travel advisories 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) 

Coverage through CAA Travel Medical Insurance.

For trips departing on or after July 1, 2021. 

Our emergency medical plans already provide coverage for COVID-19 related illnesses when Canadian government travel advisories are at Level 2 or 1 (i.e. “Exercise a high degree of caution” or “Exercise normal security precautions”). 

Our emergency medical plans now also include up to $2.5 million CAD if partially vaccinated, or up to $5 million CAD if fully vaccinated, for COVID-19 related illnesses that may occur when travelling at a time when the Canadian government has issued a related Level 3 travel advisory (i.e. Avoid non-essential travel”).

Learn more here.

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. 

Purchasing Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance under Level 3 and Level 4 advisories may impact your benefits if you are cancelling your trip for COVID-19 related reasons. 

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. 

Example: The Canadian Government issued a Level 3 advisory on March 13, 2020, for every country in the world due to COVID-19. This meant that if you travelled after March 13, 2020, you would not be covered for any medical costs associated to COVID-19. 

Why? COVID-19 would be considered a known issue and therefore a general exclusion within the policy. 

Note: This exclusion does not apply to claims for an emergency or a medical condition unrelated to the travel advisory: 

Example: If you sustain an injury that was not related to COVID-19 like a broken arm or leg, you would still be covered.

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. 

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.

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