Off Campus & Safety Abroad

Login to the OCASP 2.0 Online Tool here 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 Update: 
The Government of Canada has lifted the pandemic-related global travel advisory.  

Faculty and staff planning university sponsored essential international travel are required to follow the requirements of the Off Campus Activities Safety Policy.  All international travelers must complete either the high-risk or low risk path in the OCASP online system. Further instructions on which path to complete are provided within the OCASP web-based planning tool.

Reimbursement for university-sponsored high risk international travel is contingent upon prior approval and registration in the OCASP online system before scheduling travel.

Graduate students planning essential international travel must have approval from their academic supervisors and also from their unit/department chairs/delegate (for example, graduate coordinator) before submitting an OCASP record.  Points of contact in non-departmentalized faculties/schools are as follows:

  • for faculty in non-departmentalized faculties/ schools: Associate Deans Research
  • for staff in non-departmentalized faculties/schools:  the Executive Director/delegate, Dean’s Office (Smith) or Executive Director, Non-credit (Faculty of Education); and,
  • for graduate students in non-departmentalized faculties/schools: the Associate Dean Graduate.  

Please note that all undergraduate students travelling internationally are automatically classified as higher risk (this is consistent with the OCASP process).

University-sponsored international travelers must have received two Covid-19 vaccinations before travel. It is strongly recommended that the third dose is received before travel. It is incumbent upon travelers to familiarize themselves with the vaccine requirements of the host country.

Suspension of international exchanges, internships, study abroad and other forms of international teaching and learning opportunities have been lifted and are no longer in place. Contingent upon robust risk mitigation strategies in place and other required elements, international exchanges in planning for the Spring and Summer 2022 may proceed.  

Resources on the OCASP registration process can be found below under “Resources” section – see Reference Sheets for Low Risk and High Risk Activities and the Example of a Comprehensive Safety Planning Record PDFs. Please direct any questions about the OCASP process to ocasp@queensu.ca. 

Insurance and Eligible Expenses

Review your current travel and health insurance coverage to ascertain limitations or restrictions, such as time frame, maximum reimbursements, or exclusions, for travel.  At present, supplementary COVID-19 insurance is considered by Queen’s University and most funding bodies to be an eligible expense since it could reduce the cost of unanticipated travel disruptions and provide additional medical coverage for charges ineligible under ordinary insurance packages, but it is important to check the rules of your specific funding body.  Queen’s University’s insurance provider offers a COVID-related supplementary insurance package.  Purchasing supplementary insurance before travel will ensure coverage of Covid-19 related costs, including mandatory quarantine accommodation.  

Contact Financial Services if you have travelled without supplementary insurance and if you have incurred quarantine costs for university-sponsored travel to determine if these costs will be considered an eligible expense.  

International Visitors

If you are expecting to host an international visitor in 2022-23, please contact global@queensu.ca for advice on the timing of the visit, given current vaccination requirements for access to campus and public health restrictions on size of gatherings and other factors.  

Please direct any questions about the OCASP process to ocasp@queensu.ca and questions about any other aspect of international travel to global@queensu.ca.

Off Campus Activity Safety Policy

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.  If the event is sanctioned by the University it falls under the purview of the Policy. Access the Off Campus Activity Safety Policy which is housed on the University Secretariat website.

From the initial stages of planning, off-campus activities must be evaluated from a safety perspective.  The Policy recognizes that most off-campus activities entail risks that are no greater than the participants would face in everyday life and can be safety carried out with minimal planning and preparation (low-risk). For activities that entail higher risk appropriate planning, preparation and training must be carried out to mitigate/manage risks associated with the activity. For activities falling into the higher-risk category a Safety Planning Record, complete with a full risk assessment, must be submitted and approved prior to departure. In circumstances where it is concluded that the risks are unmanageable, the activity should not be carried out. 

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. If you are accessing the OCASP system for the first time or are unsure of the process please access the appropriate link below. Login to complete your OCASP records.

OCASP Info

For each NEW off-campus activity the Principal Investigator/Activity Coordinator (PI/AC) and the Department/Unit Head (Person in Authority) (PIA) must undertake a preliminary risk assessment. This can be done formally, via the OCASP 2.0 Planning Tool, or informally within the unit.

To help evaluate whether an activity entails “low risk”, the University created a list of activity categories that are deemed to entail low risk. Department/Unit Heads can also identify frequently occurring activities in their unit that they determine to fall in the low-risk category. These lists are referred to in the Policy as the “University List of Low-Risk Activities (ULLRA)” and the “Department List of Low-Risk Activities (DLLRA).

In the case of solitary field research/academic or extra-curricular off-campus activity, it is the solitary participant who carries out the preliminary risk assessment; the participant the works with their Person in Authority to determine the risk level.

Note - Activities taking place in "remote" locations fall into the higher-risk category and should be planned for accordingly. "Remote" can be determined by a number of factors such as the distance to the nearest medical service,and/or lack of 911 (or equivalent) coverage in the area. Once the risk level has been determined participants should access the appropriate link to register their off-campus activity in the the OCASP 2.0 Planning Tool. 

Access the Risk Assessment - Reference Sheet (PDF 326 KB) for further information.

If needed, access the Preliminary Risk Assessment Tool.

Register a low-risk off-campus activity

For help access the How to complete the online low-risk activity form (PDF 412 KB)

Register a higher-risk off-campus (including those in "remote"locations) activity 

For help access the How to complete the online higher-risk activity form (PDF 842 KB)

Learn how to complete a "group trip" form (PDF 457 KB)

Cannabis in Canada

The Cannabis Act came into force on October 17, 2018.  Provinces and territories are responsible for determining how cannabis is distributed and sold within their jurisdictions. 

They set rules around:

  • how cannabis can be sold
  • where stores may be located
  • how stores must be operated. 

Provinces and territories also have the flexibility to set added restrictions, including:

  • lowering possession limits
  • increasing the minimum age
  • restricting where cannabis may be used in public
  • setting added requirements on personal cultivation

Each province and territory has its own excise stamp for legal cannabis products.  You are responsible for knowing what will be legal in the province or territory that you travel to. 

Visit the Government of Canada for more information on cannabis regulations across Canada.  Visit the Risk and Safety Services webpage for more information on cannabis as it relates to Queen's University campus. 

Register a low-risk off-campus activity

For help access the How to complete the online low-risk activity form (PDF 412 KB)

Register a higher-risk off-campus (including those in "remote"locations) activity 

For help access the How to complete the online higher-risk activity form (PDF 842 KB)

Learn how to complete a "group trip" form (PDF 457 KB)

Access Safety Abroad - Queen's University Emergency Support Program for more pre-departure resources.

Cannabis and International Travel

The legalization of cannabis in Canada did not change Canada's border rules.  Taking cannabis or any product containing cannabis across Canada's international borders is illegal and can result in serious criminal penalties both at home and abroad.  This is the case even if you are travelling to places that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis.  Travelling across Canada's international borders with cannabis used for medical purposes is also illegal.  

Cannabis is illegal in most countries and previous use of cannabis, or any other substance prohibited by local law, could result in a traveler being denied entry to his or her destination country or in returning back to Canada. Each country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders and the Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination's entry or exit requirements.  It is the travellers responsibility to learn about the laws of the countries they intent to visit.  

Visit Global Affairs Canada (GAC) for more information on cannabis and international travel.

If you find yourself in a situation that is deteriorating quickly please: 

Don't forget to carry your Queen's University Emergency Contact Card with you while traveling (Collect calls will be accepted).

Pick one up at your department or faculty office, at the Department of Environmental Health and Safety, or print from here.

"OCASP Emergency Contact Card in Canada"

Queen's University has partnered with International SOS  (ISOS) to provide out-of-country emergency assistance for all Queen's community members traveling on university-sanctioned activities. In the event of an emergency you can access International SOS to speak to a  doctor, get referred to a local health care provider, receive travel information and alerts, and assistance for immediate medical and security concerns. You can also contact International SOS prior to your travel for country-specific information. A network of multilingual specialists are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

If you find yourself in a situation that is deteriorating quickly please contact the appropriate agency, listed below, for assistance/support:

Emotional Support 

As a travelling student, staff or faculty member, there may be occasions when you are confronted with unexpected situations when you are in a foreign country. Recognizing that organizations need to cope with risks associated with travel, International SOS has selected WorkPlace Options - the world leading employee wellbeing company - to provide Emotional Support as part of a global wellbeing programme. This service has been designed to complement the benefits of Queen's University's International SOS membership and provides a more holistic global travel risk mitigation programme. 

What is Emotional Support and how do I access this service:

  • International SOS emotional support services assist mobile workforce in dealing with any psychological issues while they are away and for which short-term counselling is appropriate.
  • Accessing emotional support is easy: simply contact International SIS and they will transfer you to a professional counsellor from WorkPlace Options.
  • All call begin with assessment delivered by one of WorkPlace Options' professional mental health counsellors, which determines the appropriate level of intervention.
  • The assessment covers the presenting issue, support systems, coping strategies, background information, and a risk assessment.
  • The outcome is a plan with up to 5 sessions of structured counselling that covers the short-term focus including goals agreed upon with the participant. 
  • The therapy concentrates on helping individuals identify the skills, strengths, and resources that are already present and moves them towards a solution. 
  • Counselling methods are tailored to a mobile workforce: phone, video-call or face to face sessions are available. 

This is all about keeping you safe and health while travelling abroad! 

Don't forget to carry your Queen's University Emergency Contact Card with you while traveling (Collect calls will be accepted).

Pick one up at your department or faculty office or at the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

Queen's University has partnered with International SOS  (ISOS) to provide out-of-country emergency assistance for all Queen's community members traveling on university-sanctioned activities. In the event of an emergency you can access International SOS to speak to a  doctor, get referred to a local health care provider, receive travel information and alerts, and assistance for immediate medical and security concerns. You can also contact International SOS prior to your travel for country-specific information. A network of multilingual specialists are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So let's get that set up:

1. Download, print and carry the International Travel Emergency Contact Card. (You must log into the OCASP system using your Net ID for access to this card which includes the Queen's ISOS membership number)

2. Download the International SOS Assistance App on your smartphone (Use your Queen's email account and Queen's ISOS membership number to gain access to our member services!)

3. Check out the ISOS Assistance App User Guide.

4. Connect and browse around the International SOS portal. (You will need to enter your Queen's ISOS membership number to access this)

5. When you are in the portal don't forget to sign up for email alerts. eg. severe weather, political crisis, etc. in your country. (Click on the "Email Subscription" link on the left side bar to set it up) 

6. Download the Membership Pocket Guide.

7. Check out the Woman's Travel Risk Guide(Everyone should check this out...it has great info for all!)

Checklist for Setting up a New Off-campus Activity (PDF 232 KB)

Off-campus Activity Departmental Handbook  - Under construction

Going Abroad Checklist

All students must complete the following steps prior to departure (all others are encouraged and sometimes required to do so as well):

  1. Queen's University has partnered with International SOS (ISOS) to provide out-of-country emergency assistance for all Queen's community members traveling on university-sanctioned activities. Access the International SOS (ISOS) webpage for the Queen's Membership number and details. Before you depart you need to:
    • Print off the Emergency Contact Card and carry it with you during your travels. (You must log into the OCASP system using your Net ID for access to this card)
    • Set up your ISOS account 
  2. Ensure that you have adequate out-of-country health insurance coverage, trip cancellation insurance, property insurance, etc. Review the Health Insurance Information Sheet (PDF 206KB) to assist you in reviewing your health coverage while abroad.
  3. Learn if you need to get specific immunizations for travel to (or through) your host country or countries. DrugSmart Pharmacy, located in the ARC, operates a travel medical clinic under the direction of Dr. Jay Keystone, a world-renowned expert on tropical medicine and senior author of the textbook Travel Medicine. 
  4. Register as a Canadian abroad at travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration  OR with your country of citizenship, if you are traveling on a non-Canadian passport.
  5. Consider an Emergency Action Plan (PDF 165 KB)
  6. Research your host country/culture prior to departure using the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) Country Profiles and the International SOS portal. 
  7. Complete, submit and receive approval for the Off-Campus Activity Safety Policy (OCASP) Safety Planning Record which includes the on-line Pre-Departure Orientation.
  8. NEW!  Cannabis Legalization -  On October 17, 2018, recreational cannabis became legal in Canada. This, however, did not change Canada’s border rules. Taking cannabis or any product containing cannabis across Canada’s international borders is illegal and can result in serious criminal penalties both at home and abroad. This is the case even if you are travelling to places that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis. Transporting cannabis used for medical purposes is also illegal. The federal government provides detailed information on cannabis and international travel.

To support Queen’s participants in their preparations for study, work and travel abroad, EH&S offers an on-line pre-departure orientation (PDO). All undergraduate students taking part in Queen’s University-sanctioned international activities are required to complete the on-line modules which are embedded in the Off-campus Activity Safety Policy – On-line Planning Tool.  All other participants are strongly encouraged to complete it.  The on-line PDO offers information on travel logistics, cross-cultural adjustment, health insurance, the Queen’s Emergency Support Program and more.

EH&S also offers in-person/group PDO sessions that can be customized to meet specific travel needs including crossing cultures/cultural adjustment, risk assessment and mitigation, country-specific information and more. For information or to book an in-person workshop please contact the Queen's University Off-campus Activity Health and Safety Team.

 We recommend that you use this list of extra safety resources when planning for your international experience:

Guidance in Completion of Online Forms:

Quick Reference Guide - Low-Risk International Travel During Covid-19 (PDF, 188 KB)

Covid-19 Checklist for Low-risk International Travel

Reference Sheet – Completion of Online form – Low-Risk Activity (PDF 412 KB)
Reference Sheet – Completion of Online form – Higher-Risk Activity (PDF 483 KB)
Reference Sheet – Completion of the Acceptance Process – Participant (PDF 457 KB)

Guidance in Policy Interpretation:

Reference Sheet – How Do I Comply with OCASP? (PDF 351 KB)
Reference Sheet – Where do I Start? (PDF 284 KB)
Reference Sheet – Risk Assessment (PDF 326 KB)
Reference Sheet – Responsibilities of the Person-in-Authority (PDF 339 KB)

Off-campus Activity Departmental Handbook - under construction

Example of a Comprehensive Safety Planning Record (PDF 354 KB)

  • Pre-departure orientation
  • Field Safety Workshop
  • Considering Risk...How to complete the OCASP Safety Planning Record
  • Crossing Cultures  - Preparing to live, study and work as a cultural newcomer.
  • Program Emergency Contact Orientation

To learn more or to request a training session contact Queen’s University Off-campus Activity Health & Safety Team.

Coming "home" after an international study/work program can be exciting, and also a little bewildering. Re-Entry is the adjustment process that you go through when you have returned from an experience abroad.   Some people call this re-adjustment "reverse culture shock" but unlike regular culture shock, it is often unexpected. It is important to know that there are people on campus who can relate to this adjustment and who are interested in hearing about your study/work abroad experience.

"Coming Home quote: It's a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what's changed, is you."

We want you to remember that the experience and insights you have had abroad makes you a wonderful resource on campus.  Your experiences, perspectives gained and knowledge of other places:

  • Adds to the internationalization and diversity of our university academic and cultural community
  • Will be really helpful to those students interested in going abroad
  • Could also be an invaluable resource to international students studying at Queen's

We highly encourage you to build on your international experience and to get involved at Queen's so that we continue to create a campus that values international perspectives.  Here are some ways that you can do that.

  • Think about inviting an international student to join your housing group
  • Get involved in international without leaving campus
  • Attend Queen's University International Centre (QUIC) Events…watch their events calendar for upcoming activities
  • Volunteer at QUIC (e.g. QUIC's new World Link Volunteer Program, English Language Support programs, and International Student Orientation program)
  • Reach out to your faculty exchange - remember you are a great resource for other students considering exchange!
  • Consider your next international experiences at Career Services Events & Workshops
  • Visit the AMS Clubs Page for information on Queen's international clubs and associations

Common Challenges of Re-entry

  • Boredom
  • No One Wants to Hear/”Snob”
  • You Can't Explain
  • Reverse "Homesickness"
  • Relationships have Changed
  • Inability to Apply New Knowledge and Skills
  • Feelings of Alienation/Loneliness/Compartmentalization of Experience
  • Loss/Grieving over Experience
  • Being Critical of Home/Contrasting cultures & lifestyles
  • Understanding the value of being away and the value of being here

Tips for transitioning to home

  • Recognize that this is a major transition. Mentally prepare for the adjustment process
  • Give yourself sufficient time and space to reflect on your experiences
  • Understand that the familiar will seem different
  • Beware of comparisons; try not to put down your home culture while lavishing praise on foreign cultures
  • Don’t focus on how much you miss; think about what’s ahead for you
  • Respond thoughtfully and carefully when asked about your time abroad
  • Seek support networks, connect with other exchange students, get involved
  • Remain flexible.  Balance reconnecting to old networks with cultivating new ones
  • Cultivate sensitivity by showing an interest in what others have been doing while you were away
  • Understand that not everyone will fully understand your abroad experience
  • Share your experiences; act as resources for others
  • Be a tourist at home!
  • Incorporate your experiences abroad into your academic work here
  • Get involved in the Queen’s and Kingston international communities
  • Hang out at QUIC! Get to know current international students studying here.  Remember, they are going through exactly what you did.
  • Seek out the Cross-cultural Counselor at Student Wellness Services - make an appointment to chat about your transition.

Coming Home/Re-Entry Workshops for students returning from an international experience are facilitated by Environmental Health and Safety each Fall and Winter terms.

Learn more or register for the Re-entry Workshop contact Queen’s University Off-campus Activity Health & Safety Team.

Safety Abroad - Queen's University Emergency Support Program

The opportunity to travel, study and work around the world is one of the greatest privileges many in our campus community enjoy. However, we want to ensure that your international experience is as safe and healthy as possible.

The following information is intended to inform and guide you as you prepare for your upcoming experience abroad AND in the event of an emergency:

Safety Abroad Info

Checklist for Going Abroad

All students must complete the following steps prior to departure (all others are encouraged and sometimes required to do so as well):

  1. Queen's University has partnered with International SOS (ISOS) to provide out-of-country emergency assistance for all Queen's community members traveling on university-sanctioned activities. Access the International SOS (ISOS) webpage for the Queen's Membership number and details. Before you depart you need to:
    • Print off the Emergency Contact Card and carry it with you during your travels. (You must log into the OCASP system using your Net ID for access to this card)
    • Set up your ISOS account 
  2. Ensure that you have adequate out-of-country health insurance coverage, trip cancellation insurance, property insurance, etc. Review the Health Insurance Information Sheet (PDF 206KB) to assist you in reviewing your health coverage while abroad.
  3. Learn if you need to get specific immunizations for travel to (or through) your host country or countries. DrugSmart Pharmacy, located in the ARC, operates a travel medical clinic under the direction of Dr. Jay Keystone, a world-renowned expert on tropical medicine and senior author of the textbook Travel Medicine. 
  4. Register as a Canadian abroad at travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration  OR with your country of citizenship, if you are traveling on a non-Canadian passport.
  5. Consider an Emergency Action Plan (PDF 165 KB)
  6. Research your host country/culture prior to departure using the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) Country Profiles and the International SOS portal. 
  7. Complete, submit and receive approval for the Off-Campus Activity Safety Policy (OCASP) Safety Planning Record which includes the on-line Pre-Departure Orientation.
  8. Cannabis Legalization -  On October 17, 2018, recreational cannabis became legal in Canada. This, however, did not change Canada’s border rules. Taking cannabis or any product containing cannabis across Canada’s international borders is illegal and can result in serious criminal penalties both at home and abroad. This is the case even if you are travelling to places that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis. Transporting cannabis used for medical purposes is also illegal. The federal government provides detailed information on cannabis and international travel.

Pre-departure Orientation

To support Queen’s participants in their preparations for study, work and travel abroad, EH&S offers an on-line pre-departure orientation (PDO). All undergraduate students taking part in Queen’s University-sanctioned international activities are required to complete the on-line modules which are embedded in the Off-campus Activity Safety Policy – On-line Planning Tool.  All other participants are strongly encouraged to complete it.  The on-line PDO offers information on travel logistics, cross-cultural adjustment, health insurance, the Queen’s Emergency Support Program and more.

EH&S also offers in-person/group PDO sessions that can be customized to meet specific travel needs including crossing cultures/cultural adjustment, risk assessment and mitigation, country-specific information and more. For information or to book an in-person workshop please contact the Queen's University Off-campus Activity Health and Safety Team.

 We recommend that you use this list of extra safety resources when planning for your international experience:

Queen's University has partnered with International SOS  (ISOS) to provide out-of-country emergency assistance for all Queen's community members traveling on university-sanctioned activities. In the event of an emergency you can access International SOS to speak to a  doctor, get referred to a local health care provider, receive travel information and alerts, and assistance for immediate medical and security concerns. You can also contact International SOS prior to your travel for country-specific information. A network of multilingual specialists are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So let's get that set up:

1. Download, print and carry the International Travel Emergency Contact Card. (You must log into the OCASP system using your Net ID for access to this card which includes the Queen's ISOS membership number)

2. Download the International SOS Assistance App on your smartphone (Use your Queen's email account and Queen's ISOS membership number to gain access to our member services!)

3. Check out the ISOS Assistance App User Guide.

4. Connect and browse around the International SOS portal. (You will need to enter your Queen's ISOS membership number to access this)

5. When you are in the portal don't forget to sign up for email alerts. eg. severe weather, political crisis, etc. in your country. (Click on the "Email Subscription" link on the left side bar to set it up) 

6. Download the Membership Pocket Guide.

7. Check out the Woman's Travel Risk Guide(Everyone should check this out...it has great info for all!)

If you find yourself in a situation that is deteriorating quickly please contact the appropriate agency, listed below, for assistance/support:

Additional ISOS resources

  • Return to Travel Q&A amid COVID-19 (PDF, 166 KB).  
  • Omicron Variant - What does it mean for business travel? (PDF, 1.3 MB)
  • ISOS has developed a set of micro learning courses designed specifically to assist travellers as they navigate through the challenges of COVID-19: 
    • Coronavirus Awareness - a brief, 5-minute course which includes tips for avoiding exposure
    • Mental Health (Stress Management) - dealing with stressful situations in changing environments
    • Top Tips for Staying Healthy - ways to stay healthy during this crisis