Advice for Canadian travellers: Buy travel insurance

News release

January 9, 2019 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

Many Canadians have made plans to travel abroad this winter. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and wants to ensure that Canadian travellers are well-informed so that they can travel safely and enjoy their trip. Unforeseen bills can ruin a vacation, so it is recommended that Canadians purchase the best travel insurance they can afford before leaving the country.

It is important to remember the following:

  • Canadian public health insurance is almost certainly not valid outside of Canada. 
  • Foreign hospitals can be very expensive and may require immediate cash payment.
  • The Government of Canada will not pay a Canadian’s medical bills for an illness or accident suffered abroad.
  • Even young, healthy Canadians should have travel insurance.
  • Travel insurance should include health, life and disability coverage that will help avoid large expenses, such as the cost of hospitalization and medical treatment outside Canada.
  • Travel health insurance should include or have provisions for pre-existing medical conditions, medical evacuation and repatriation.

Canadian travellers should register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive the latest updates in case of an emergency abroad or a personal emergency at home.

Canadians requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the nearest embassy or consulate abroad. Canadians can also contact Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at any time by calling collect 1 613 996 8885 or by sending an email to

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has up-to-date Travel Advice and Advisories for more than 230 international destinations.

  • In 2017 and 2018, was visited by over 12 million users, with over 31.5 million page views.

  • The Travel Smart mobile app gives users access to key information while they are travelling. Since its launch in 2015, the app has been downloaded over 94,000 times.

  • In 2017, consular officers abroad opened 916 cases for medical assistance for Canadians abroad. Close to one third of these cases occurred in the most popular sun destinations.

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