Students participating in University-sanctioned international activities have access to Safety Abroad Office (SAO) emergency services. The SAO works closely with various Student Life offices and the High Risk team to provide you with supports while overseas and can assist you if you need to return home.
In case of emergency abroad, call the CIE at 416-946-3929 or reach us at the 24-hour collect Emergency line via Campus Police at 416-978-2222.
If you experience a personal emergency while travelling, whether it’s losing your passport or wallet or encountering sexual harassment, please contact our office immediately for support. We will work with you, your department and your host institution to come up with the best course of action.
Prior to going abroad, you should know these phone numbers:
Telephone number for local police, ambulance, fire
Local Emergency Number (e.g. 911 equivalent)
Emergency number for hosting partner
Telephone number for the Canadian Consulate and Emergency Services
Telephone number for Safety Abroad Office (416-978-3929) and U of T Campus Police (416-978-2222).
Program these numbers into your phone, carry a copy in your wallet and email them to yourself.
Mental health and wellness
Travel can be tiring and stressful, and can even trigger mental health issues. If you are currently seeing a counsellor we recommended that you talk to them about your upcoming trip and talk to CIE to get extra support for your mental health and wellbeing. Health & Wellness and CIE can work with both University and non-University services to provide you with a wide range of relevant assistance. Feel free to contact the Safety Abroad Office if you have any questions.
To participate in a University-sponsored activity, you will need to confirm that you are mentally and physically fit. Please contact us as early as possible, if additional accommodations need to be considered.
Your Emergency Contact at home
Your Emergency Contact is someone that you designate to act as your contact with home when you are abroad. They should have knowledge of your itinerary, copies of your important documents and be able to provide support to you in case of an emergency.
Provide your Emergency Contact with:
Itinerary for your trip
Medical and eyewear prescriptions
Access to emergency funds
Important telephone numbers (i.e., credit card company, personal contacts)
Instructions of who to contact in an emergency
Your Emergency Contact should be prepared to:
Provide support during a crisis
Help contact friends, family
Access accounts/ transfer money in an emergency
Answer collect calls any time of day
Assist in providing information and/or take action if items are lost or stolen
About power of attorney
Power of attorney is a legal document signed, usually in the presence of a notary public, by you and an appointee giving certain rights to that person. Such limited powers may include:
Ability to transfer funds, sign over cheques
Sign OSAP documents
Access academic or institutional info while you are absent
File tax returns
It is unlikely that you will need to be evacuated from your site. However, if you are going to a high risk destination you should consult with your Activity Sponsor (e.g., academic supervisor) to develop an emergency plan. You should also consult with your hosting institution to familiarize yourself with their emergency plans.
Make a point of knowing in advance the location and the route to nearby hospitals, Canadian government agencies, and the airport. Once you arrive in the country, mentally mark out these routes, and take note of landmarks that will make it easier for you to navigate in an emergency.
Evacuations are rare, but should be considered in the event of:
- Medical emergencies
- Natural disasters
- Political unrest
Prior to evacuation, if possible, contact the Department of Foreign Affairs Trade and Development (DFATD) and the Safety Abroad Office (Campus Police for Emergencies) at the University of Toronto.
Precautions for evacuation
In the unlikely event of an evacuation, consider the following precautions:
- Establish emergency routes to nearest hospitals, Canadian Offices and airports, and devise alternative routes where possible
- If travelling in a group, establish a meeting point in the event of an emergency
- Book the earliest available civilian passage out of the country
- Ensure that you have all the documents you need
- Close any bank accounts, finalize any business (if prudent) and inform local contacts of your intentions
- Prepare for a long wait at the airport
Prior to going abroad, Canadian citizens can register with the embassy. We recommend this for anyone who will be outside the country for more than 3 months or travelling to areas that have a potential for problems.
Consular service abroad can range from replacing a missing passport to arranging emergency medical assistance. In case of an emergency, contact the nearest Canadian embassy or call these numbers to reach the DFATD for help:
- Canadian citizens outside Canada can call collect to 613-996-8885
- For calls originating in Canada and the U.S., call 1-800-267-6788, or 613-944-6788
- You can also communicate with the Consular Service via TTY by dialling 613-944-1310
- Contact the Consulate directly via their online e-mail form
- You can also reach the Operations Centre by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are not a Canadian citizen, contact your consulate. It is important to do this well in advance of departure. Consider what services are available to you and know that our office may not be able to access these services on your behalf; evaluate the risks involved. You should also consider the fact that the SAO relies on the assistance of DFATD when responding to emergencies. Given that their assistance is not available to non-residents, we may need to rely on the supports from your national embassy office; our ability to access these supports will vary and may hinder the SAO to intervene on your behalf.
If you are wary about the services provided by your consulate, contact your program advisor to discuss your concerns.
In most emergency situations, the best help will be found locally. If you are going overseas with an organization it is important that you understand their emergency operations. Ask for copies of their safety guidelines and emergency protocol, and attend all pre-departure sessions that they offer.
Find out what kind of support the organization can offer you, and what steps they will take to assist you in an emergency.