This section of our web site includes information useful in planning for safe travels and – if an emergency should arise – for accessing help.
Before making a decision to travel, and certainly before purchasing an airline ticket, read the Country Travel Report for your destination on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT): www.voyage.gc.ca
The Country Travel Report will alert you to potential hazards related to health and safety, and suggests how to mitigate risks. (For example, the Austria Travel Report has advice for skiers who venture into avalanche-prone areas.)
It also includes practical details such as:
- requirements for entry visas
- access to automatic teller machines and use of local currency
- special considerations for women travelers
- addresses and contact details for the Canadian government office (i.e. embassy, high commission, or consulate) which provides “consular assistance” to Canadians in that location
- if you should register with that office and, if so, how.
In some circumstances the Country Travel Report may include a Travel Warning, recommending that Canadians should not travel to a specific country or region. Warnings are issued only in serious circumstances and signal that the Canadian government may not be able to provide consular assistance there. Saint Mary's travelers should be aware that, in those cases, University officials may withhold approval to travel or to use University funds for travel expenses.
The DFAIT web site also includes a wealth of useful information in addition to the Country Reports. These include –
- Emergency response services provided by the Consular Affairs Bureau of Foreign Affairs Canada in Ottawa, which is staffed 24 hrs per day, 7 days a week.
- Registration of Canadians Abroad
- Advice for travelers with dual citizenship
- Bringing back goods purchased outside of Canada
- Special interest publications
The International Activities Office provides the following important advice about visa applications for any country you may enter or transit.
Start investigating the issues related to visas right away! Many countries require you to obtain a visa to allow you to transit, to visit as a tourist, or to attend post-secondary institutions. The visa requirements, types of visas issued, and processing times for your visa vary depending on your nationality, purpose of your visit, and the duration of your stay. Check to see if you will need to apply for a visa. It is your responsibility to find out what documents you need to submit and apply to the appropriate government offices (i.e. embassy, high commission, consulates, etc.) of the country nearest to your residence. A list of foreign offices is available at:
The International Activities Office of Saint Mary’s University does not provide any information related to visas. As well, this office does not call the foreign government offices on your behalf.
Normally you can apply for a visa once your travel is confirmed, or in the case of exchange students after the official acceptance letter from the host university is received. As soon as you start considering a trip overseas, you are strongly encouraged to find out about visa requirements. For example, most visa applications ask for proof of financial support while in the country, which is one of the reasons why you have to start thinking about a long term financial plan. As well, proof of your insurance coverage while in the host country may be requested.
- Many foreign government offices ask that the applicant be present at the visa issuing office to receive a visa. This means that you may need to travel to the consulate in Montreal or other locations or embassies/high commissions in Ottawa where your application is processed, for which you need to allocate a budget to travel there.
- Visa application requirements and procedures could change without prior notice. You should check the visa information at a very early stage of your travel planning, but you should not assume that the information you acquired previously will remain the same when you actually apply for a visa.
- When you review the visa information on the host country’s website, never try to interpret unclear information in your own way. If you are unsure about any aspect of your visa application, call the appropriate Consulate/Embassy/High Commission for accurate information. Ignorance is no defense and could cost you extra money and time.
In recent years the rules for what you can carry with you on flights has been tightened considerably. For tips on packing – and in particular the do's and don'ts of carry-on luggage – see the web site of Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, http://www.catsa.ca/.
If you're heading to (or in transit through) the United States, see www.TSATravelTips.us.