Getting Medical Treatment Abroad

Travelling abroad can be a great adventure. But amongst all the excitement, there is a chance you might get sick or have an accident, resulting in the need for medical treatment. You might even need treatment as the result of a pre existing medical condition.

What do you need to know about getting medical treatment abroad?

  • Before you leave, apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) so that you can receive free or low cost state healthcare in the EEA (European Economic Area) and Switzerland. Please note: Even though the UK has now left the EU, the EHIC will still be valid until the end of the transition period.
  • Carry your EHIC with you at all times so that you can prove your right to healthcare if you need it
  • If you have a pre-existing medical condition, your EHIC can cover you for treatment that you require as a result of your condition
  • In addition to your EHIC, make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance. Your travel insurance will cover medical treatment that isn't covered by your EHIC. can cover you, even if you have a pre existing medical condition
  • Make a note of the 24 hour emergency medical assistance telephone number that came with your travel insurance policy - they can give you advice if you need urgent medical attention
  • If you will need special medical care while you are abroad (e.g. the use of a dialysis machine) contact the local hospital before you leave to find out if they can meet your needs
  • If you take regular medication, make a note of the name of it and translate it into the local language in case you lose it or run out of supplies
  • If you have an allergy, make a note of it and translate it into the local language if you can
  • While you are at the hospital request an English speaking doctor if there is one available
  • Make sure all medicine you receive abroad is labelled. You might need to tell a doctor what you have been taking once you get home
  • If you receive medical treatment abroad, hang on to any receipts or prescriptions so that you can claim the expenses back on your travel insurance
  • If you sustain injuries as the result of a serious accident, go to the nearest hospital immediately. Delay might only lead to further complications
  • Take a first aid kit with you - it could prevent the need to seek medical treatment. Pack antibiotics, pain killers and diarrhoea tablets
  • Take a phrasebook that contains basic medical terms or a medical Kwikpoint visual translator