Canadians love to travel, but they sometimes forget to take measures to protect their health while abroad. Consular officials assist thousands of Canadian travellers through our network of Canadian embassies and consulates because of illness, injury and other medical emergencies. Most of these problems can be avoided if travellers take preventive steps. Make sure you are aware of the following travel health tips before leaving Canada to enjoy a healthier and safer trip.
All travellers should get an individual health assessment from a travel health clinic or health care provider preferably six weeks before their departure.
Vaccines and preventive prescriptions, such as anti-malarial medication, may be recommended or required for certain destinations. Travellers should bring along a copy of their personal immunization record, if available. One way to find a health care site that provides travel health services is through the Public Health Agency of Canada’s list of designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres, at www.travel.gc.ca/clinic. Travellers should consult their health care provider if they’re not feeling well before their trip to discuss postponing their departure. Doing so could help avoid a potential health emergency abroad.
Purchase travel health insurance that covers both illness and injury.
Canadian travellers should not rely on their provincial or territorial health plan to cover costs if they get sick or are injured while abroad. Medical evacuations from abroad are costly. Provincial or territorial health plans will cover only part, if any, of the bill and will not pay up front. Travellers should always carry proof of their insurance coverage when travelling and leave a copy of their insurer’s contact information with relatives or friends in Canada. We encourage you to consult travel.gc.ca/insurance to be better informed and to select a suitable plan.
Canadian travellers should carry proof of their need for any prescription drugs.
Requirements vary from country to country (e.g. a copy of the prescription, an original drug container with a pharmacy label, etc). Travellers should also contact an embassy or consulate of their destination country before leaving Canada to make sure the prescription and over-the-counter medications they intend to bring into the country are legal. We remind Canadians who travel with syringes and needles that they must carry a medical certificate or an explanation from their health care provider.
Read up on health conditions in your destination country.
We encourage you to review the country’s Travel Advice at travel.gc.ca/advice along with Travel Health Notices at travel.gc.ca/healthnotices before leaving. Travellers should be prepared to acclimatize to jet lag, altitude sickness, and the effects of heat or other elements. Keeping hydrated, using sunblock, and taking precautions when handling food and water is essential to ensure a healthy stay abroad. Also, remember to take extra precautions against insect- and tick-borne diseases by wearing bright, long-sleeved clothes and using repellent.
If you experience illness when returning to Canada, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Inform your health care provider that you’ve been abroad, where you’ve been, and what – if any – medical treatment you have received. Canadians who travel to malaria-affected areas and develop fever within a year of returning home should visit their health care provider immediately.
Canadian travellers should sign up for the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.
Registration enables the Government of Canada to contact and assist you in case of an emergency abroad. This service is free, mobile-friendly and completely confidential. You can register directly at travel.gc.ca/register.
Did you know?
- Even if you are taking a day trip to the United States, purchasing the best travel health insurance you can afford is the key to avoiding expensive medical bills.
- Travellers should carry essential medication in their hand luggage and bring more than enough for the duration of the trip.
For more information, see travel.gc.ca/health. The booklet, Well on Your Way, also offers valuable health-related advice. Download an electronic copy or order a print version by calling 1-800-267-8376 (in Canada) or
Consular Outreach and Partnerships Program of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.