Travel Information and Advisories

Updates

Update: March 16, 6:30 p.m.:  Important information for students who are considering travelling home

This page was significantly updated on March 13, 2020 to reflect updated travel directives for all University of Alberta Employees and Students (see below).

Travel restrictions while conducting university business

Updated: March 13, 1:30 p.m.

Following the most recent directions from the World Health Organization and Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health, the University of Alberta has updated travel restrictions as follows:

  • All upcoming university-related travel outside of Canada is suspended.
  • Strongly recommending that all students studying abroad make arrangements to come home, regardless of the risk rating in your current location. Your home U of A contact will continue to be in touch with you to understand your wishes and provide support as necessary.
  • Students abroad can contact the U of A via email at uairm@ualberta.ca if they have questions or concerns.

All travel outside Alberta not considered vital to the academic mission of the university is also suspended. If you are uncertain or require advice about this requirement, please see Additional Information (below) and discuss with your supervisor (i.e. director, chair, and/or dean).

No member of the community is expected to travel on behalf of the university if they are not comfortable doing so, even when it could be considered vital to the academic mission of the university. 

Travellers are expected to take all reasonable precautions to minimize the likelihood of exposing the university community to increased risk upon their return. Any community members returning from outside Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.

Staff, faculty and students already abroad on university business should ensure they are registered with the UGo Travel Registry and contact their supervisor (i.e. director, chair, and/or dean) to ascertain whether they should return home and what precautions they are to take once back in Alberta.

Additional information

When travel is considered vital to the academic mission of the university

Travel that would be considered vital to the academic mission of the university includes such things as presentations of major research, field research that cannot be rescheduled, urgent meetings with senior government or funding agency officials, or student enrolment activities. 

Travel that would not be considered vital to the academic mission of the university would include professional development events or regularly scheduled association meetings.

These are examples only, and travellers should, in consultation with their supervisor, chair or dean, use their best judgement to assess whether the travel is required.

Personal travel

Before booking or embarking on travel outside the province of Alberta, all members of the university community are strongly encouraged to evaluate all associated risks, which may include the risk of becoming ill, falling under the restrictions of a foreign government, or forfeiting travellers cancellation or medical coverage.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health is advising Albertans to not travel outside of the country at this time. If you are planning travel outside of Canada, consult the:

All members of the community returning from any international location should consult the Info for Travellers section on the Government of Alberta website for more information about precautions to follow upon return to Alberta.

Additionally, any university community members returning from outside Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.

Returning from international travel

Any university community members returning from outside Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms. Follow Alberta Health's self-isolation guidelines, and inform your instructor or supervisor. Employees should consult "Self-isolating but not feeling ill" on the Information for Employees page.

You should also consult the Info for Travellers section on the Government of Alberta website.

If you believe you may have contracted COVID-19, stay home and complete the COVID-19 self-assessment provided by Alberta Health Services.

Visitors to University of Alberta campuses

All visitors and contractors are expected to take all reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to members of the University of Alberta community, including the precautions described above.

If a member of the university community has plans to host visitors to any University of Alberta campus, they are required to assess the risk of exposing the community to COVID-19. This includes confirming that all visitors consult the Info for Travellers section on the Government of Alberta website and follow any precautions required.

Additionally, any community members, including visitors to campus, coming from outside Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.

If the university host is unable to attain reasonable assurance that there is no risk to the community, they should consider cancelling the visit or making alternate arrangements.

Other resources:

Support in COVID-19 affected areas

The university is in direct contact with students, faculty, and staff who are known to be in affected areas, to ensure they have current information and the support they require. The U of A continues to follow the Government of Canada's advisories and update travel directives as necessary.

All students studying abroad are strongly encouraged to make arrangements to come home, regardless of the risk rating in your current location. Your home U of A contact will continue to be in touch with you to understand your wishes and provide support as necessary.

All upcoming university-related travel (students and staff) outside of Canada is suspended.

Impact on study abroad programs

All students studying abroad are strongly encouraged to make arrangements to come home, regardless of the risk rating in your current location. Your home U of A contact will continue to be in touch with you to understand your wishes and provide support as necessary.

All upcoming university-related travel (students and staff) outside of Canada is suspended. We are in regular contact with our students abroad to ensure they are healthy and safe.

University of Alberta International advisors are in contact with students accepted into programs starting this spring/summer.

The University continues to monitor the evolving global situation and is in communication with our international partners. As partners make decisions on future programming or as situations change in regard to travel advisories, we will be in touch with impacted students, faculty, and staff directly to determine how best to support them.

Reimbursement for cancelled travel

Whether expenses for booked and cancelled travel can be reimbursed depends on the source of funding for the travel.

Travel paid for through federal granting agencies as a source of funding

The three federal granting agencies (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) are aware that the rapidly changing situation involving COVID-19 may have an impact on researchers with plans to travel for meetings or other research-related activities. Individuals may decide to cancel trips as a result of various considerations and factors such as cancelled conferences, travel advisories (including those from  Health Canada and  Global Affairs Canada), or personal choice due to health or other concerns.

 The agencies confirm that the reimbursement of non-refundable travel fees from agency funds is acceptable considering the impacts of COVID-19. This applies to the travel of both principal investigators and research personnel, when cancellation occurs as described above.

 Note: Given the uncertainty of the situation with COVID-19, the agencies suggest that those travelling for agency-funded research consider purchasing either cancellation insurance, or tickets that are at least partially refundable. In this specific situation, some additional cost could still be viewed as economical if it allows for partial or full reimbursement/credit in the event of cancellation.

 Travel paid for through university operating budgets, or other source of funding

 The university travel program includes Maritime Travel (booking tool) and the University purchasing card (P-Card) which were introduced to provide the best value to the university traveller and provide financial protections in instances such as this.  Prepaid expenses are to be processed through central pay options including Maritime Travel for airfare and the P-Card for conference/course fees. If travellers have used online travel services such as expedia, the ability to be reimbursed for certain expenses may be limited.  The university strongly recommends when traveling on university business employees use Maritime Travel and the P-Card.

 In an effort to try and reimburse travelers who have incurred non-refundable travel fees the following approach will be taken.

  • Central Administration will not be responsible for any non-refundable travel fees. If a decision is made to pay for non-refundable travel fees that will be the responsibility of the department, faculty or other funding source.
  • Non-refundable travel fees include airfare and conference/course registration only. Reimbursement of any other prepaid travel expenses will be determined by Supply Management Services. 
  • The claimant is required to cancel and attempt to recover any prepaid expense immediately and cancel all bookings that did not require prepayment.
  • Non-refundable travel fees incurred prior to March 7th (University wide directive date) can be reimbursed based on the directive provided by Federal Granting Agencies (above). 
  • Non-refundable travel expenses incurred prior to March 7th that relate to provincial funding or other organizations may be subject to rules as established by that organization, would require the approval of the Dean or Chair and would be charged to the unit or the funding source if permitted.
  • Prepaid travel expenses should only be incurred after March 7th if approval for travel has been provided. If the prepaid travel expense will be paid using university operating funds (not including research grants) the travel must be booked through the central pay options; Maritime Travel and University of Alberta purchasing card.
  • If the claimant has booked airfare outside of the university booking tool (Maritime Travel) and been reimbursed by the university and issued an airline credit by the airline; the value of the airline credit would require repayment to the university.
  • Airline credits issued by Maritime Travel remain the property of the university and the claimant for 9 months; after 9 months they are used centrally across the institution (budget transfer is not completed).  

Travel paid for through Professional Expense Reimbursement (PER)/Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF):

  • PER/HRDF expenses are booked and paid by the claimant and expensed through Human Resources.
  • Prepaid expenses that are non-refundable and incurred prior to March 7th can be expensed through the PER/HRDF program. In most cases this would include airfare, conference/course registration and one night hotel cancellation [WU1] only. Reimbursement of other prepaid expenses will be determined by Human Resources and Supply Management Services.
  • After March 7th, it is expected that expenses relating to travel are not scheduled and expensed through the PER program until further notice.
Impact on foreign nationals
On March 16, the Government of Canada announced new travel restrictions, including closing Canadian borders to most non-citizens or non-permanent residents.

For advice on immigration matters, please contact a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Human Resource Services at immigration.services@ualberta.ca.

Resources


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