The different levels of travel advisories and what they mean to travellers

When traveling abroad there are many things to think about, and safety is a big one. Luckily the The Government of Canada has a program in place that provides Canadians with the safety information they need. These are called travel advisories, and these advisories are broken down into 4 categories. Let’s have a look at what these categories entail, and what they mean to you as a Canadian traveler.

What is a travel advisory?

Before we look at the 4 levels of travel advisories, let’s take a look at what travel advisories are, and how they are determined. A travel advisory contains official information from the Government of Canada that helps to warn Canadians of any unsafe regions where extra safety and precaution is needed. The Global Affairs Canada Travel Information Program collects safety and security data from regions around the world and determines the level of threat a given location can pose to Canadians traveling there.

Level 1 - Exercise normal security precautions

This is the lowest advisory and indicates that there are no significant safety or security concerns. As a Canadian traveling to a location with this advisory, you will experience an overall safety and security situation as back at home. Be sure to still remain vigilant and exercise typical safety precautions.

Level 2 - Exercise a high degree of caution

This is the second level of advisory, and indicates that there are various identifiable safety or security concerns you should be wary of when traveling to a given location. In addition the location may be in a volatile state and safety could shift will little to no notice. Canadians traveling to a location with this level of advisory should exercise a high level of caution at all time, and stay connected as to the state of the location’s safety and security level.

Level 3 - Avoid non-essential travel

As the second highest advisory level, travel here should be avoided if possible. A location with this advisory has specific safety or security issues that can put you and your traveling companions at risk. This means Canadians are at a high level of risk when traveling and should seriously reconsider travel plans and opt for a safer location.

Level 4 - Avoid all travel

As the highest level of advisory, all travel should be canceled as the safety and security concerns of the given location pose an extreme amount of risk. Canadians should not travel to locations with this level of risk, and if they find themselves in a location with such an advisory, they should vacate as soon as possible.

What to do when your travel location has a travel advisory

If it turns out that your travel location is affected by a travel advisory speak to your travel insurance broker as soon as possible. In many cases your travel insurance can become void when traveling to a location with a travel advisory. Speaking to your broker will help you understand your policy and where your coverage sits in relation to your trip. If your coverage is no longer viable due to a high-risk travel advisory, it may be worth your while to re-evaluate your travel plans.

To avoid booking a trip to a destination with a travel advisory, be sure to check the Government of Canada’s Travel Advisory site ahead of time. It is also a good idea to double-check the advisory warnings before you leave on your trip so there are no surprises when you get there.