This guide provides a summary for key travel guidance, available support services and processes, to identify, assess and control travel risk, including risks associated with COVID-19.
Last Updated: July 27, 2021
General News & Updates
Since March 2020 the Canadian Government has placed an official global travel advisory (Level 3), to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. There are also travel restrictions and exemptions when moving between some provinces and territories.
Since January 6, 2021, air travellers 5 years of age or older travelling to Canada are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test, no more than 72 hours before the aircraft's initial scheduled departure time.
Upcoming border changes: Commencing August 9, 2021: Fully vaccinated foreign nationals may be allowed to enter Canada for discretionary travel if they meet specific criteria. Visit the travel.gc.ca site for more details.
Before booking any travel ensure you are up to date with the latest information using the below planning guide, above links and the "Flying to and within Canada".
UBC faculty, staff and students (Canadian nationals) who are currently overseas or plan on travelling outside of Canada for business or leisure should register with the Canadian Government. Students must also refer to the following specific guidelines for their UBC related travel.
Visit the covid19.ubc.ca website for all of UBC's COVID-19 related information and FAQ's.
All University business travel must be planned, booked and undertaken in accordance with the University’s employee travel policy. Decisions about travel are based upon the regularly updated Canadian Government Travel Advice and Advisories. Travellers must review and take into account travel advisories published by other countries for which the traveller hold citizenship or residency. As foreign governments have implemented strict travel restrictions and as transportation options are less frequent and subject to changes on short notice, you may have difficulty returning to Canada or may have to remain abroad for an indeterminate period of time.
Travel to high-risk destinations per the CDN Government, level 3 (Avoid non-essential travel) and level 4 (Avoid all travel) should not be considered unless exceptional circumstances apply and the travel is supported by:
- documented risk assessment;
- communication and emergency plans;
- pre-approval from the traveller’s Dean or VP (depending on unit)
- employees should use UBC travel booking resources (SAP-Concur / Direct Travel) and UBC's security and health services with International SOS to ensure 24/7 support in emergency situations
Due to airline and hotel policies, it is recommended to use the UBC credit card program for payment. This will ensure any refunds are returned to UBC and not the traveller and any airline ticket credits will be properly managed and not spoiled/expired.
Given the dynamic nature of travel risks, it is essential that travellers and their supervisors continue to monitor relevant information leading up to and during travel. For approved essential travel, travellers and supervisors can best be kept informed by booking through the UBC Travel Program and by downloading UBC's travel security services company (International SOS) app. Travellers are responsible to review each travel destination and transit point by (country/region/city) prior to travel for medical and visa entry requirements. Travel destination and medical/security information is available on the following sites:
- Canadian Government Travel Advice and Advisories
- International SOS (ISOS), provides UBC travellers with timely medical and security updates on their location
- Travel advisories published by other countries for which the traveller hold citizenship or residency
- UBC HR: Travel and immigration during COVID-19
Travellers with bookings made with SAP-Concur and/or Direct Travel will automatically be provided with:
- Destination risk alerts including medical, travel advisors along with final destination Entry/Exit Visa requirements
- Travel itinerary disruption alerts and updates from Direct Travel
- Proactive communications and support services are not available when travellers use public websites and/or directly book directly with the airlines.
Employees are encouraged to download the following apps for real-time alerts via a mobile device and have access to the online booking tool 24/7 along with itinerary management through the Concur TripIt app (allows you to consolidate your itinerary and view even when you don't have access to WiFi). ISOS and SAP-Concur services should be used for UBC-related travel.
- ISOS App
- Canadian Government Travel Smart App
- SAP-Concur Mobile App & TripIt App is available on the App Center
The Canadian Government offers an online registration tool for Canadians travelling abroad. Additional information regarding COVID-19 may be found on the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and/or the World Health Organization (WHO). Information specific to the UBC community can be found on covid19.ubc.ca.
Cancelled Travel Plans:
Airlines and hotel cancel policies are changing and are not consistent due to COVID-19. In the event of a planned trip cancellation travellers should ensure the following steps are actioned before the scheduled air departure and hotel check-in date to minimize no-show losses:
- Contract Direct Travel if the booking/s were made in SAP-Concur or with an advisor at Direct Travel to cancel and manage the trip credits and/or refund if applicable.
- If travel was booked outside of the UBC travel program, contact each travel provider and request written confirmation for any refunds if applicable or future credits.
- If you purchased trip cancellation insurance ensure you advise the insurance provider to open a claim for a refund.
- IMPORTANT: Ensure you provide your department with a copy of all refund or credit notifications.
Trip Cancellation Insurance:
- UBC does not carry trip cancellation insurance. Employees who use their own UBC issued credit card will have trip interruption insurance (i.e. a delay +4hours) but not trip cancellation insurance.
- Trip cancellation insurance is only available through insurance providers or sold through Direct Travel. Some airlines are including it in their ticket prices but travellers should read the fine print regarding exceptions.
- IMPORTANT: Due to COVID-19, exemptions and restrictions may apply to trip cancellation insurance. When purchasing trip cancellation insurance, request a written confirmation of coverage from the insurance provider.
UBC Extended Health Benefits with Sun Life for faculty and staff plan members while travelling for business or leisure:
- Sun Life will treat a medical emergency resulting from COVID19 in the same way as any other medical emergency while outside Canada. Some restrictions may apply, always refer to the UBC HR site for the most up to date information.
- Medical Assistance: Contact Sun Life's Out-of-Country emergency assistance provider, Allianz GlobalAssistance. Click here for complete instructions. Coverage cards with emergency contact and contract number details can be printed or downloaded to a mobile device from mysunlife.ca.
UBC Mental Health Supports while travelling for business or leisure:
- UBC Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) – faculty and staff plan members and their dependents can contact Lifeworks by Morneau Shepell (24/7) at (1-800-387-4765 in North America)and (International destinations refer to their website country phone listings). Additional resources visit UBC HR
- International SOS: Emotional support services available for all students, faculty and staff while travelling
Travellers should include health considerations in their travel planning. Plan for travel vaccinations at least eight weeks prior to departure. Consider any pre-existing conditions, fitness for travel and medications that may be required whilst travelling. Other considerations include:
- Travellers with pre-existing conditions should consult a GP or travel doctor for confirmation of fitness for travel.
- Consult travel advisories for general advice about health and vaccinations.
- Consult International SOS for a pre-departure assessment.
- Travellers should reconsider travel plans if they are experiencing illness, especially symptoms of respiratory illness.
- Travel may be restricted during health screening at borders and transit points at any time during a traveller’s journey.
- Travellers should follow the advice of local authorities at their destination.
- Travellers should also minimize the risks of exposure to infections by practicing good hand hygiene
- Travellers should monitor their health closely. If symptoms develop (fever, cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath), travellers should arrange to see a doctor for an urgent assessment. ISOS has 24/7support available to connect travellers with local English-speaking doctors and health services.
- Employees with UBC SunLife emergency medical travel coverage will need to contact Allianz Global assistance for all medical invasive and investigative procedures.
- Travellers and supervisors should review and take into account CDN travel advisory published information and information from International SOS, login to the UBC ISOS portal for complete information, membership number 27AYCA486500.
Travellers should expect to experience additional health screening at borders, including during airport transits, which may result in delayed transit times. Travellers may also be subject to quarantine or self-isolation based on the requirements of local authorities. This may occur as a result of immediate past travel destinations and/or current health conditions.
Travel restrictions may be applied or changed by local authorities at destinations at very short notice, and travellers may be refused entry or have a visa cancelled upon arrival. Airlines responding to local authorities and other changing circumstances may also cancel, reschedule or re-route at short notice.
Restrictions imposed by local authorities may prevent travellers from attending or participating in planned or scheduled activities.
Direct Travel provides 24/7 support and advice on airline restrictions and ticket cancellation policies for bookings made with them, or through SAP-Concur.
Direct Travel provides 24/7 support to travellers to re-route or change flights and can provide advice on changes to flight services and airline ticket cancellation policies, provided the original booking was made through them or SAP-Concur.
- Contact email@example.com or 604-637-1466 or 1-844-905-3824; after hours number and access codes are located on the travel e-ticket receipt.
- And/or check your invoice to see if the SAP-Concur itinerary is available to change online.
International SOS provides bespoke risk advice specific to individual travellers and their travel itineraries. This service is at no cost to the traveller or department (UBC related travel) and can be requested by contacting ISOS through their App or on your desktop and the ISOS/UBC member portal, membership number 27AYCA486500.
Sun Life – Allianz Global Assistance If you experience a medical emergency while travelling outside of Canada and you are enrolled in the UBC Extended Health Plan, Allianz Global Assistance will refer you to medical help and in some circumstances, will arrange for payment of your medical emergency expenses to the provider directly. Get complete information here.
The information in this guide has been compiled by the UBC Travel Program. If you need further information or have any questions or comments, please contact the Travel Program Manager Judith Fograscher or call 604-822-5878.