Safety and Study Abroad

Your safety is paramount for all SFU’s study abroad programs. ISS exchange, short-term summer programs, and field school programs are governed by SFU’s interim university-related international travel policy. After selection, you will automatically be enrolled in the SFU Travel Safety Program which gives you access to SFU’s international travel safety information and emergency support provider, International SOS.

The below provides further details on the safety-related programming, resources and support for ISS study abroad programs that require travel.  We are here to support you through your study abroad journey before, during and after your study abroad.  More in-depth information is provided once you have been approved for participation in your study abroad program.   

See our separate Study Abroad and COVID-19 webpage for all COVID-19 specific study abroad safety information.



Acknowledgment and Waiver
Review the signed Acknowledgement and Waiver documents that you submitted for your program application. These documents outline the general terms and risks of your participation. It is important to read these thoroughly, and to contact ISS if you seek clarification on any of their contents. 

Collection of Emergency Contacts
You are required to submit at least one emergency contact as part of your application. ISS would contact this person only in the event of an emergency that directly impacts you, or if ISS needed to verify your location or safety and was unable to contact you through other methods.

Travel Health Insurance 
Travel medical coverage is part of your secondary medical coverage through the SFSS or GSS StudentCare program, unless you have opted out, are travelling to your home country, or are participating in a field school as a visiting participant. You are responsible for purchasing sufficient travel medical insurance based on your own needs to cover you while in the host country and while travelling. Additional consideration details on the importance of navigating your insurance and limitations are included in the SFU Study Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation program.  

SFU’s Pre-Departure Program

After selection into the program, you are required to complete a Pre-Departure Orientation program: Exchange 101 or Field Schools 101.  This program is delivered through SFU’s online learning platform, Canvas, and you will have access for the full duration of your study abroad program. This program includes safety-related topics such as: 

  • Personal safety and risk management
  • Researching and planning for your host country and other travel destinations 
  • Travel preparation (eg preparing documents, packing and arrival plans)
  • Travel health
  • Travel health insurance
  • Emergency support and contacts (eg Global Affairs Canada and consular services, International SOS)

    This robust resource also includes modules on cultural transition, financial planning, and academic preparation. You will be invited to a pre-departure session during which you can often meet past program participants, as well as other students who will be travelling to similar locations.

Resources for Independent Research on Host Destination

  • Global Affairs Canada's travel advisories: This site has important information regarding safety and security, travel warnings, consular contact information, and more , for each host destination. Global Affairs Canada also provides an online registration service. Non-Canadian citizens are recommended to look at whether similar resources are provided by their country of citizenship.
  • International SOS : You can contact International SOS 24/7 for pre-travel information. They can provide itinerary-specific advice and information to help you make informed travel decisions. To contact International SOS call SFU’s dedicated number at +1-215-942-8478 and give them SFU’s membership number, 27acas593560. You can also review destination-specific reports through the Member Portal to help you prepare for your trip.  
  • Country Insights: This site contains in-depth cultural information and considerations for a range of countries/regions. 
  • Immigration: ISS cannot assist with the immigration process to host destinations. For inquiries, you are to contact your host institution or host country’s consular services directly. If you are an international student at SFU, you should contact SFU's International Student Advisors to discuss your exchange as it pertains to your status in Canada.


SFU’s Travel Safety Program

When you participate in ISS' study abroad programs (where travel is required), you are automatically enrolled in SFU’s Travel Safety Program, which includes:

  • Enrollment in SFU’s Travel Safety Registry for your study abroad program dates. In the event of a major incident in or near your host location, SFU will contact you and/or in-field program staff to verify your safety and offer support as needed.  
  • Access to International SOS (via phone, website or Assistance App), which is one of your first points of contact in the event of an emergency abroad. They provide 24/7/365 medical, security and logistical expertise to travellers before, during, and after international trips and while abroad. International SOS is not a travel insurance provider. To contact International SOS call SFU’s dedicated number at +1-215-942-8478 and give them SFU’s membership number, 27acas593560.

Consular Support

You are advised to register your travel details with the Consular Services of your citizenship, such as the Registration of Canadians Abroad, so that they are aware of your location in the event of an emergency (this information is presented in SFU’s pre-departure program also).

Support from Host Institution

All exchange and short-term summer programs, and most field schools, are hosted by SFU’s partner institutions abroad. These institutions have their own health and safety supports for students, and will connect with ISS staff as appropriate

Mental Health Resources

The following resources are in place to support you, your mental health, and well-being. 

  • International SOS offers Emotional Support service in over 60 languages as part of the SFU Travel Safety Program, which is automatic for SFU’s study abroad program participants. 
  • My Student Support Program (My SSP) is a free service available to you as an SFU graduate and undergraduate student, including before, during and after returning from abroad. With My SSP, you will have access to immediate or ongoing, confidential support - accessible from anywhere in the world by phone or through the downloadable app. Worldwide, immediate options are available 24/7 in multiple languages.


SFU’s Returning from Study Abroad Program

  • This optional course is designed to help you transition to life back home following your study abroad experience. This is an ungraded/unmoderated course which you are enrolled in following the end of your program, with resources to reflect upon after your return home. 
  • This course also reminds you of the many supports available at SFU to support your return, including Health and Counselling Services and the My Student Support Program (MySSP), and continued support by ISS’ Study Abroad Team.