How Canadians travelling out of country can register with Ottawa

Canadian citizens travelling outside of the country are urged to fill out a ‘Registration of Canadians Abroad’ form in order to get updated information, but Global Affairs Canada says registering does not guarantee consular assistance.

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Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says Ottawa is planning to airlift Canadians out of Tel Aviv in “the coming days,” as conflict between Israel and Hamas escalates.

Joly says the government aims to conduct the evacuation using aircraft from the Canadian Armed Forces, and it is working on additional options for people who are unable to reach the airport in Tel Aviv.

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She says the flights will be available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents, along with their spouses and their children. According to Global Affairs Canada, some 35,000 Canadian citizens live in Israel, and around 90,000 travel to Israel every year.

However, the government registry of Canadians, which is voluntary, currently counts 2,450 in Israel and 480 in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank.

In recent days, Ken Hardie, the Liberal MP for Fleetwood-Port Kells, in Surrey, has been urging all Canadians travelling anywhere outside the country to register with the federal government.

Posting on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Hardie said it “doesn’t matter where outside Canada you’re going. … Take a moment to register with Global Affairs. It’s a dangerous world out there.”

Later, he added, “per my note yesterday, it is very important for Canadians there or anywhere in this troubled world to register with Global Affairs.”

Canadians who are abroad or making plans to travel can register by filling an online form, known as Registration for Canadians Abroad or ROCA, that collects return dates and mobile phone numbers for receiving information by text.

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The form is intended for Canadian citizens, but by a special agreement, Canada also registers Australian citizens travelling to a list of 18 countries and Israeli citizens travelling to Cuba.

Canadian citizens travelling with immediate family members who are not Canadian citizens may first register themselves and list family members, including those under the age of 18, as co-travellers.

The federal government uses the registry to contact Canadians with information about emergencies such as natural disasters or civil unrest and to update them if there are changes to specific travel advice and advisories for their destinations.

Global Affairs strongly recommends that in addition to registering, travellers should also leave a detailed travel itinerary and contact details with family or friends in Canada, provide them with details for contacting the federal government and carry contact information for Canadian government offices abroad in the countries to be visited.

In the past, the registry has been useful for informing Canadians travelling abroad such as at the beginning of the COVID pandemic when countries abruptly shut borders, airlines cancelled flights en masse and travellers needed to get quickly-changing information in order to return home.

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Global Affairs says that the federal government takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously, but signing up for Registration of Canadians Abroad does not guarantee consular assistance.

“The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad,” says the Global Affairs website.

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