On this page you will find useful information and advice to help you have safe and healthy travels outside Canada.
On this page
Before you go
As an older traveller, you could face certain barriers and risks when you travel outside Canada. Research and prepare for your trip in advance to help your travels go smoothly.
Visit the Travel Advice and Advisories page for your destination for information on:
- local safety and security conditions and areas to avoid
- entry and exit requirements
- local laws and culture
- possible health hazards and health restrictions
- natural hazards and climate
- where to find help while you are travelling outside Canada
List of destination-specific Travel Advice and Advisories
Be sure your passport is valid before you leave Canada.
- Ensure that you and all accompanying family members have a Canadian passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended return to Canada. This is a requirement of entry for many countries.
- If you need to renew your passport or apply for a new one, start the process well before your planned departure from Canada. Allow more time if you need a visa since you will need to obtain a passport first.
More information about applying for a Canadian passport
Visas and other requirements
While you may not need a visa for all destinations when travelling with your Canadian passport, most countries require a visa for longer stays (usually more than 90 days).
- Consult the Travel Advice and Advisories for destination-specific visa information.
- Contact the embassy or consulate of your destination country in Canada, as well as countries you are transiting through, to check the entry and exit requirements and other regulations. Ensure that you allow enough time to get the proper documentation.
More information about visas
List of foreign embassies and consulates accredited to Canada
Register your trip
Sign up for the Registration of Canadians Abroad service so that Global Affairs Canada (GAC) can contact and assist you in case of an emergency. Through this service, GAC can also help your family or friends reach you in case of an emergency abroad.
Register your next trip
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes health, life and disability coverage. This will help you avoid large expenses, such as the cost of hospitalization and medical treatment outside Canada.
- Be sure it covers pre-existing medical conditions, medical evacuation and repatriation in case of death.
More information about travel insurance
Accessibility and accommodations
- If you have mobility issues, find out what accessibility and accommodations are available at your destination.
- Do not forget to pack a travel health kit.
More information about travelling with disabilities
Visit a health care provider or a travel health clinic to discuss your travel plans, preferably 6 weeks before you leave, to reduce your risk of illness or accidents while abroad. For more information, visit Receiving medical care outside Canada and Well on Your Way - A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad.
Visit a health care professional to find out if any vaccines are required or recommended for your destination. With increasing age, it may take your body longer to develop immunity. If possible, get vaccinated well in advance of your travels so that you have enough time to develop immunity. Be sure your routine vaccines and adult boosters recommended in Canada, such as the pneumococcal vaccine, are up to date.
The protection you received from vaccines when you were younger decreases over time. This could increase your risk of getting some diseases. Discuss your immunization history with your health care professional before you travel.
For more information, visit Travel vaccinations
- It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series in Canada before departing to reduce their risk of infection when travelling internationally.
- For more information on COVID-19, visit Vaccines for COVID-19: How to get vaccinated and check the Health tab for your destination in the Travel advice and Advisories.
Yellow fever vaccine
Some countries require proof that travellers have received a yellow fever vaccination and have an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis before allowing them to enter the country.
- The entry requirements of a country may not reflect your risk of developing yellow fever at your destination.
- Those who are 60 years or older are more likely to experience serious side effects from the yellow fever vaccine.
- If you are travelling to a country that requires proof of yellow fever vaccination to enter or to a destination where there is a risk of yellow fever, discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with a health care provider at a designated yellow fever clinic.
- You should call ahead to determine if the vaccine will be available at one of Canada’s Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres as there is an ongoing shortage of the only yellow fever vaccine authorized for sale in Canada: YF-VAX®.
- If a health care professional determines you should not receive the vaccine for medical reasons, they will provide you with a medical waiver.
- Influenza (flu) season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, from April to October in the southern hemisphere and year-round in tropical regions.
- If you did not receive the flu vaccine at the beginning of the season and are now planning to travel, consider getting the flu shot. It is important to get it well in advance so that you develop immunity before your departure.
Travelling with medicines
In some countries, drugs that are legal and readily available in Canada may be considered illegal, require a prescription or may arouse suspicions among local officials and customs and immigration authorities.
- Contact the foreign government office accredited to Canada of the country you plan to visit, as well as any transit points, to make sure the medications or medical supplies you intend to bring are allowed into the country.
More information about travelling with medication
More information about travelling with a medical device
What you can bring on a plane
List of foreign embassies and consulates accredited to Canada
While you are away
If you become ill and require medical assistance while outside of Canada, consult Sickness or injury.
If you are travelling to areas where malaria is present, you should discuss your risk with a health care professional to determine if antimalarial medication is required.
- Older travellers may be at an increased risk of severe, complicated or fatal malaria.
- Some antimalarial medications may interact with medications you may already be taking. Make sure to bring a complete list of all your medications so a health care professional can assess potential drug interactions.
- Whether or not you take antimalarial medication, protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- If you develop a fever while travelling or after returning home, seek medical attention immediately. Tell a health care professional that you have recently travelled to an area where malaria is present.
Complications from travellers’ diarrhea are a particular concern in older travellers with underlying medical conditions. Ask a health care professional if there are any extra precautions you should take.
- To prevent travellers’ diarrhea, practice safe food and water precautions and wash your hands frequently.
- If you get travellers’ diarrhea, drink enough oral rehydration solution or other fluids to maintain a flow of pale-coloured urine.
- Seek medical attention if the diarrhea is bloody and accompanied by a high fever, jaundice (yellow skin) or persistent vomiting, or if the dehydration does not improve despite the use of oral rehydration solutions.
Air travel may cause blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). You may be at greater risk of developing blood clots if you have cancer or congestive heart failure or had recent surgery.
- Older travellers have a higher risk of developing DVT.
- The risk of DVT can be reduced by getting up and walking around occasionally, exercising and stretching your legs while seated and selecting an aisle seat when possible.
- A health care professional may recommend additional ways to reduce your risk, such as wearing compression stockings and/or taking preventative medication.
You can get jet lag after crossing multiple time zones. Symptoms of jet lag can include difficulty falling asleep at night, waking up earlier than usual and feeling irritable and tired.
- Older travellers may feel the effects of jet lag more than younger ones.
- You can minimize the symptoms of jet lag by:
- getting more exposure to sunlight
- eating at your usual mealtime in the new time zone
- drinking lots of water and staying well hydrated (it is important to limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine)
- Even if you can drive safely in a familiar environment, it can be difficult to adapt to different driving conditions such as:
- driving on the left-hand side of the road
- unfamiliar routes
- poor road surfaces
- operating an unfamiliar vehicle
- Consider safer transportation options other than driving.
- Remember to wear a seat belt even if it is not legally required in your host country.
- Older travellers are generally at less risk of altitude sickness than younger travellers.
- Being in good physical shape and ascending to high altitudes slowly can help your body adapt.
- If you have heart or lung disease or diabetes, a health care professional may discuss other ways to help reduce the effects of altitude sickness.
- Older travellers are at a higher risk of non-exercise-related heat stroke due to decreased sweat production and the use of certain medications.
- Protect yourself from the heat.
- Be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat stroke (confusion, dizziness, headache, nausea). Seek medical attention if you think you are developing heat stroke.
- Take some time to get used to the heat before engaging in any vigorous physical activity.
- Older travellers also have a decreased ability to tolerate cold temperatures.
- Protect yourself from the cold.
- Be aware of the early signs and symptoms of hypothermia (shivering, feeling tired, confusion, slow and shallow breathing) and frostbite (numbness or tingling, stinging or pain, and pale or waxy skin). Seek medical attention if you think you are developing hypothermia or frostbite.
If you need help
If you need assistance while you are outside Canada, contact the Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate in your host country or GAC at the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
- Carry an Emergency contact card with the coordinates of the nearest Government of Canada office in your host country, in case you have problems while abroad.
- Stay in touch with your family and friends in Canada to let them know that all is well with you.
- Have contact information to request emergency consular assistance.
If you plan to retire outside Canada, check with the foreign government office accredited to Canada of the country where you plan to live to find out what regulations are in place, what the tax implications might be and what documents you may require.
More information about retiring abroad
Returning to Canada
Entry requirements can change suddenly. Even if you are a Canadian citizen, check the updated travel requirements before your departure to return to Canada.
COVID-19 travel, testing and borders
- People who are at risk of more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19 (Public Health Agency of Canada)
- Canada Pension Plan (Service Canada)
- Old Age Security pension (Service Canada)
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