Limitations When Travelling Overseas

This article outlines what you can expect from the Canadian Embassy, Canadian Consulate, or Honorary Consul when you are outside of Canada.

If you are a citizen of Canada and another country and you are travelling in the other country, please understand that having Canadian citizenship does not stop that other country from imposing restrictions upon you. While the Canadian authorities can do their best to protect you, the other country to which you are a citizen does have authority over you. If the Canadian authorities are limited in what they can do, they can make suggestions such as seeking legal assistance from a lawyer in that country.

Honorary Consuls are appointed by Canada to represent its interests in a specific region or city where there is no full embassy or consulate. Honorary Consuls can provide guidance with emergency situations and act as liaisons with local authorities.  They do not have the power to issue passports or visas. They can help you to connect with local services as required. They also promote cultural and educational exchanges.

If you are in a country that does not have a Canadian Embassy, Consulate or Honorary Consul, you can ask for help from the authorities of another country (such as the USA or European countries). Often you can get information about that from Global Affairs Canada through their Emergency Watch and Response Centre. You can also ask local authorities for help. Or if you have travel insurance, you can contact your insurance provider’s emergency assistance hotline.

To obtain assistance from a Canadian embassy or consulate, you will need to show proof of your identity. The best document is your Canadian passport or another government issued photo ID if you do not have a passport (such as your permanent resident card). You can be subject to security screenings and other restrictions.

Canadian embassies or consulates will have set time frames for providing services. An appointment is often required. If you need help outside of their business hours, you will need to contact Global Affairs Canada through their Emergency Watch and Response Centre which is open 24/7.

Despite what is often shown in the movies, Canadian embassies and consulates are not places which you can “hide out” or seek refuge from local authorities. Canadian embassies and consulates are bound to respect and abide by local laws and regulations. They can provide you with information and guidance if you are facing investigations or legal actions from local authorities.

Canadian embassies and consulates can help in emergency situations. Check their websites to see if they have 24/7 emergency assistance services. Other sources of help include local authorities, your travel insurance provider, Global Affairs Canada Emergency Watch and Response Centre, your family or friends, or perhaps the local Canadian community or expatriate group.

Typically Canadian embassies and consulates do not provide financial assistance for airfare if you have lost your airplane ticket. If you have lost your passport, they can provide emergency travel documents or a temporary passport to permit you to return to Canada.  They could provide information on other resources to help you in an emergency situation. On occasion, political tensions or diplomatic challenges can impact the type of services you can receive from Canadian embassies or consulates.

It is advisable that prior to travelling, you be prepared and informed of the local laws and customs of the countries you will be visiting. It is important to read the travel advisories that are regularly updated by the Government of Canada. They provide information on health and safety issues. Please understand that when travelling abroad, you do not have the same health and safety standards that you are accustomed to while living in Canada.

This is legal information and not legal advice. If you need further information or need legal advice, please call our Intake Line at 416-441-1764 ext. 1 or complete our online Intake Form.