Pre-departure Orientation

Australia - surfing at sunset


DepartSmart is a MANDATORY online pre-departure orientation program for all students travelling internationally (including the U.S.) as part of their academic program.  

By completing the modules in DepartSmart, you will learn about visas, budgeting, safety while abroad, health and cultural adaptation, and other important information. It is your responsibility to read through the modules and the checklists. You must complete and pass a short quiz at the end of DepartSmart and you have three chances to pass. Once you have passed the quiz, CIP will be alerted that you have completed DepartSmart.


Once you have accepted your study abroad nomination you will receive an email from CIP confirming that you have been registered for DepartSmart on CourseLink.

If you are participating in international travel through a course field trip, conference, research, etc. that is separate from a program offered through CIP you will need to register for DepartSmart at least 3 weeks before you leave. To register please complete the following form:

Other International Academic Travellers Registration for Students

We will register you in DepartSmart and email you with instructions on how to access the DepartSmart modules, and complete the Emergency Contact, and Liability online forms and a deadline for completion. You must also purchase GuardMe insurance for the duration of your trip.

Please provide your group of student’s information, 3 weeks before departure, using the excel file (attached at the bottom of this page) so we can register them all as a group in our online application (collects emergency info and online waiver for liability etc.) & DepartSmart.

You will also be registered in DepartSmart and it’s highly recommended but not mandatory that as a coordinator taking students abroad that you take the time to review the information in DepartSmart. To access DepartSmart log onto Courselink from the University of Guelph homepage. DepartSmart will be listed as one of your courses. Please note that since DepartSmart it's not being linked to a particular semester is listed under “All”.

We will inform the students regarding the completion of DepartSmart and purchasing the mandatory Guard Me health insurance that covers third-party liability, security evacuation, repatriation, flying a family member if the student is hospitalized, travel to other countries, emergency evacuation for our students in the event of a natural disaster or political unrest, which most other health insurance plans do not provide. 
You will receive a file with the student’s emergency info collected from our online system as well as an update on the completion of their online application, DepartSmart, and purchasing the mandatory Guard Me insurance prior to your departure.
Please forward the emergency info for Coordinators, attached at the bottom of the page, prior to your departure. There is also attached the Emergency Contact Numbers for Group trip Coordinators for your disposal.

Athletics clubs and teams are exempt from the mandatory DepartSmart requirement. However, the support CIP is able to provide these groups is as follows:

Support Provided by CIP:

  • Provide access for individual participants to purchase Guard.Me insurance through the U of G portal, at the University of Guelph discounted rate
  • Assist when groups wish to purchase insurance in one transaction (provided a point person provides us all the required information through a template, on our OneDrive and at the bottom of this webpage, at least two weeks prior to travel)
  • Connect individuals with our Guard.Me rep should any questions about coverage related to pre-existing conditions, high-risk activities etc., come up
  • Provide advice about destination appropriateness and safety, when requested

Support Not Provided by CIP:

  • Ensure that Guard.Me will cover sports activities that may be deemed high-risk by the insurance company (e.g., equestrian, cheerleading, rugby) We can, however, connect coaches/risk managers with our Guard.Me rep to ask relevant questions
  • Ensuring that all University of Guelph students travelling abroad (including the U.S.) as part of a University of Guelph program or activity have reviewed the Global Affairs Travel Advisory for their destination to become familiar with the risks and recommendations for the area
  • Determine whether or not individual students have purchased their insurance and report that information to coaches. Coaches should ask athletes to provide proof of insurance directly to them if that is a concern
  • Collect emergency contact information for athletes and provide it to coaches
  • Enter students into our on-line pre-departure orientation program (DepartSmart), which is geared for longer-term academic travel (not super helpful for short club trips). We assume coaches will advise students as to appropriate behaviour and expectations prior to their trip
  • Provide emergency response if a crisis occurs during a trip (Guard.Me insurance provides this in most circumstances, provided students and coaches are covered)