News Release Article from  Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Canadians Reminded to Plan Ahead for Safe Travel

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(No. 395 - December 28, 2011 - 4 p.m. ET) The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), today issued the following statement reminding Canadians of the importance of careful planning for safe travel and what consular officials can and cannot do:

“During this holiday season, the many Canadians travelling abroad are reminded to be proactive in reducing the risks and increasing the chances of having a safe and enjoyable trip. Consular services are available in more than 150 countries around the world, it is important for Canadians to know which services we do and do not provide.

“Our consular website offers advice for planning a safe trip, including Travel reports and warnings for more than 200 countries, the Traveller’s Checklist and tips for travelling with children.

“Consular Officials CAN:

  • Provide advice and information for medical services.
  • Contact relatives or friends when you need serious help.
  • Provide sources of information for local laws and customs.
  • Replace lost or stolen passports.

“Consular Officials CANNOT:

  • Ask your mother-in-law to leave your house.
  • Purchase tickets for a musical or entertainment event.
  • Settle disputes between you and your partner.
  • Pick up your dog at the airport.

“Travelling anywhere involves a degree of risk, but this risk can be lessened with a little advance planning. Our government encourages Canadians going abroad to observe the 3 Rs of international travel:

  • Read up on relevant topics such as safety, security and local laws in the destination country by consulting our travel reports and warnings.
  • Register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service, which lets us contact and assist Canadians in the event of emergency.
  • Reach us at our Emergency Operations Centre in Ottawa if a Canadian experiences problems abroad.

“Safe and secure travel is primarily the responsibility of travellers. However, when travellers find themselves in situations beyond their control, Canadian officials are there to help.”

For more information on these and other topics, please consult www.travel.gc.ca.

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

John Babcock
Senior Communications Adviser
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs)
613-944-2300

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874
Follow us on Twitter: @DFAIT_MAECI

Backgrounder - Canadian Consular Services

Canada’s consular services operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week through a network of more than 260 offices in over 150 countries. The network includes embassies, high commissions, and consulates. These offices provide different levels of services to Canadians abroad.

Requests consular officials can’t help you with

Tales from the consular front lines

A family called about their son, who had been arrested for trafficking drugs in Germany. They wanted to know if the Government of Canada was planning to send a helicopter into the prison yard to rescue him. They were very surprised to learn this wasn’t a service provided.

For more information, please visit Drugs and Travel.

An U.S. citizen called wanting to know how she could get a Canadian passport. When told she could not get one, because she was not a Canadian citizen, she said that she thought an American going to Canada needed a Canadian passport.

For more information, please visit Passports.

A Canadian citizen visiting Chicago wanted to know if consular officers could get tickets for The Oprah Winfrey Show. Another Canadian, flying into London, wanted to see a play that was ending that night and asked consular officers to line up that morning for cheap, same-day tickets.

A Canadian asked the Embassy in Beijing if someone could come and pick up his dog at the Beijing airport after the dog was refused boarding due to lack of proper paperwork. He wanted consular officers to pick up the dog and take care of it until he could get things sorted out—and he did not want to miss his flight and lose the ticket.

A Canadian citizen living abroad had an argument with his girlfriend, after which she kicked him out. He wanted consular officials to talk to the girlfriend and negotiate his return home.

A Canadian living in Cairo asked consular officials to escort her mother-in-law out of the Canadian woman’s apartment.

In medical emergencies, consular officials can:

  • provide a list of local doctors and hospitals;
  • contact next of kin, with authorization, if there has been an accident;
  • arrange for a medical evacuation, on a cost-recovery basis, if a necessary treatment is not available locally;
  • provide advice on and contact information for medical services to victims of robbery, sexual assault or other violence;
  • transfer funds, on a cost-recovery basis, if urgent financial assistance is required.

However, consular officials cannot:

  • pay for medical expenses; or
  • provide compensation or reimbursement for delayed or cancelled travel.

When legal problems arise, consular officials can:

  • provide a list of local lawyers and sources of information about local laws and regulations;
  • seek to ensure that Canadians who are arrested or detained are treated fairly under a country’s laws;
  • contact next of kin, with authorization, if a Canadian has been detained by police;
  • request that local authorities investigate suspicious circumstances, in the event of an alleged or apparent crime or death.

However, consular officials cannot:

  • interfere in a local investigation or legal matter or investigate a crime;
  • intervene in private legal matters;
  • provide legal advice, post bail or pay fines or legal fees;
  • get Canadians out of prison; or
  • ask local authorities to give preferential treatment to Canadians.

Consular officials can:

  • replace a lost, stolen, damaged or expired passport on a cost-recovery basis;
  • notarize certain Canadian documents on a cost-recovery basis;
  • contact relatives or friends to request assistance in sending money or airline tickets; or
  • provide assistance in missing-persons cases.

However, consular officials cannot:

  • make travel arrangements or pay hotel, travel or other expenses;
  • store personal effects, search for lost items or accept mail on a Canadian traveller’s behalf;
  • acquire local permits or licences, or foreign visas or work permits, on a Canadian traveller’s behalf;
  • assist with job-hunting or finding accommodation;
  • perform marriage ceremonies; or
  • coordinate or pay for search-and-rescue efforts to locate missing Canadians.
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