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Traveling out of Country for the Holidays? See this info from the Minister of State

January 6, 2015

December 15, 2014 – As many Canadians escape the winter cold this holiday season to visit family and loved ones or to celebrate with their toes in the sand, it is important that Canadians understand what they need to do to ensure that their well-deserved vacation does not turn into a holiday disaster.

Canada’s team of dedicated consular officials assist thousands of Canadian travellers abroad each year. We provide consular assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through more than 260 points of service in 150 countries. However, there are some situations that not even a Christmas miracle can resolve. That is why Canadians need to prepare before they travel to ensure that their vacation goes off without a hitch. Here are some tips from me to you this holiday season:

  1. A Canadian Passport Is Not a “Get-Out-of-Jail-Free-Card” Canadians should recognize that they are subject to the local laws of the country they are travelling, which are often different from those in Canada. Canada cannot intervene in foreign judicial processes, just as we would not accept a foreign government intervening in ours. Canadians abroad are expected to adhere to local laws, just as they would in Canada. We keep Canadians up-to-date on country-specific advice and information which can be found at: Country travel advice and advisories.
  2. Say Yes to Travel Insurance Canadians are urged to always purchase travel and medical insurance before they leave Canada. In almost all circumstances, the Government of Canada—and the taxpayer—will not help pay for a ticket back to Canada or medical treatment. Don’t let unforeseen bills ruin your vacation and your wallet. For more information please visit: Travel insurance.
  3. Register With Us Canadians can register their travel plans with our team of consular officials for free either online or through our mobile app. The purpose of registering is solely to ensure that if there is an emergency in the area you are travelling in, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, we can reach you quickly and provide you with guidance and assistance. This quick registration will take you two minutes but will provide us with invaluable information to help assist you when you need it most. For more information on our Registration for Canadians Abroad, please visit: Registration of Canadians Abroad.
  4. Know How to Reach Us Canadian consular officials can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through our call collect number (613) 996-8885 or by email sos@international.gc.ca. We staff this line with live officials at all times. Call us immediately if you are in trouble.
  5. We Love to Help—But We Cannot Supply You with Maple Syrup Yes—Canadians have asked us to supply them with an emergency supply of maple syrup and have even asked us to arrange for a chauffeur for their pet poodle through the airport during their holiday travel. As much as we love a good Canadian breakfast staple and are pet lovers ourselves, unfortunately Canadians have an unrealistic expectation of what we are here to help them with. For a list of what consular officials can and cannot do, please visit: Consular Services: general.

Finally, from my family to yours, I would like to personally wish you warm wishes this holiday season and safe travels wherever it may take you.

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular)

Remember to check with a travel clinic to ensure all immunizations are up to date. Some countries may ask about your immunization status. Keep track of your immunizations by downloading this app. It includes any health alerts.

Courtesy of Health Services