Safety Abroad

The university is committed to ensuring that all off-campus activities are conducted in as safe and as fully aware a climate as possible, with all persons involved being fully aware of their duties and responsibilities with regard to due diligence.

All international study activities are captured under the Off Campus Activity Safety Policy (OCASP) which students complete pre-departure. But ensuring you have a safe experience begins a lot earlier.

  1. Research your destination before applying
    Look at the Government of Canada's Travel Advice and Advisories. Please note that Queen’s does not permit student exchange to locations with active “avoid non- essential travel” or “avoid all travel” advisories. You can also log into International SOS, our third-party travel and safety partner. Click on "Custom Location Reports" and select the country you're interested in and city if available; choose the categories that are relevant to you.
  2. Ensure appropriate medical coverage
    You are required to have travel health insurance for your exchange. If you have the AMS travel health coverage, you may wish to obtain a copy of the AMS office's confirmation before your departure. We highly recommended that you review the AMS Travel Health Coverage information; you must notify Studentcare before leaving on an exchange.. If you have opted out of the AMS health plan in previous years, you are able to rejoin at the beginning of the next academic year. If you decide not to join the AMS plan, ensure your parent/guardian's plan covers you or you will need to purchase supplemental global health coverage through another provider. Some exchange schools may require you to purchase their health insurance, which could be in addition to the insurance that you already have.
  3. Attend mandatory pre-departure safety session(s)
    The number and format of the pre-departure sessions will vary from program to program. If you are unable to attend a session, let your program coordinator know, and ask if there is another way you can access the relevant information.
  4. Complete OCASP
    The Off-campus Activity Safety Policy (OCASP) applies to ALL members of the Queen's community involved in university-sanctioned activities that take place off campus. This includes (but is not limited to): study, research, work, internship, practicum, placement, sporting events and conference attendance. Find out more about OCASP and start your Safety Record.
  5. Register with home government
    Make sure you register with your home country's government before travelling. Your government will typically be able to notify you in case of an emergency abroad or a personal emergency at home. The service also enables you to receive important information before or during a natural disaster or civil unrest.
  6. Download the International SOS (iSOS) app
    The app is available for download on both iOS and Android. We recommend downloading it well before departure so you can familiarise yourself with the settings and information.

Safety and Wellness Tips

The advice here is general to most countries. Research your destination to fully understand all the risks you face in your host destination and use the OCASP tool to develop your risk mitigation strategy.

Photocopy important documents such as your passport and any visas in case of theft or loss. You may also wish to consider photocopying your driver's license, student ID, health insurance cards, and any travel tickets. Leave a copy with parents/caregivers at home so that they may be faxed or mailed should the spare copies go missing.

Know how to get back home, how local transportation works, and what areas you may wish to avoid. You can explore cities using Google Streetview prior to travelling to help you familiarise yourself with landmarks. Most universities will have an online campus map.

We encourage you to research official/regulated buses and taxis before getting into a vehicle, which will typically have a company name and/or registration number. With any kind of ride/limo service, it’s a good idea to agree on a fare before entering the vehicle to avoid confrontation later. Some countries don’t carefully regulate transportation safety. Ask the host school/program which services are trustworthy and reliable. 

Once you are in your host destination you may not always think or it may not always be practicable, to let your family/caregiver know where you are going, so it may be easier to tell a roommate or friend in-country. For longer trips, consider emailing your itinerary in a secure format to someone you trust.

Put these numbers in your phone. For example, in Australia the same number – 000 – can be used for all services, but in Japan police – 110 – is separate to fire and ambulance – 119.

See the Emergency Support Program for more details about what to do in an emergency. 

It’s always good to be alert and aware of what is going on around you. If you are in a busy market or square, just make sure you are aware of the people and what is going on around you and if you feel uneasy or are not sure about something get out and away from the place. Ultimately, it’s best to be safe than sorry – you should trust your instincts and if you are not happy about something move away and to an area that you feel more comfortable.

When you are in a foreign country you are subject to that country's laws. You don't need to know every single law, but you should be aware of any major differences to your home country or Canada. For example, did you know it is illegal to wear camouflage clothing in Barbados? The right to assemble is also not universal.

It is also generally a good idea to avoid photographing police and military installations and personnel, industrial structures including harbor, rail, and airport facilities, border areas, and scenes of civil disorder or other public disturbance. You could be detained, your camera and film confiscated, and made to pay a fine.

For some countries, you will require certain immunizations before you travel. To find information on what immunizations are required for specific countries, refer to the website. You can receive the immunization from your family doctor or from a travel immunization clinic such as KFL&A Public Health Centre.

Some countries do not allow certain medications to be brought into the country, even for travel purposes. If you are required to take prescribed medications, it is essential to check if your medicine is allowed in the country where you are going on exchange. Please check the embassy or consulate website for this information. You may also be required to obtain the necessary documentation for certain medications.

Prepare to take enough of your medication with you to cover your entire exchange if necessary. It is also important to note that common medications that are used within Canada may not be available/easily accessible in the country that you are going on exchange. You may want to pack common medications such as Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl, etc.