6 Things to Bear in Mind when Visiting a Doctor Abroad

The last thing you want when travelling, studying or working overseas is to suffer from a bout of ill-health that means you need to visit a local doctor. Being unwell can be worrying enough at home, but when you’re overseas and do not speak the language or understand the customs, it can make what would be a simple trip hard work.

To make your life easier, we’ve created this guide to six things you should bear in mind when visiting a doctor overseas…

  1. Take your European Health Insurance Card with you

If you need to see a doctor or receive medical treatment of any kind in another EU country, ensuring you have your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you will make your life much easier. That card entitles you to free healthcare in the EU and makes the administration and reimbursement for that healthcare a far simpler process.

  1. Private health care may not be covered

The European Health Insurance Card only entitles you to free medical treatment by doctors and hospitals that are part of the statutory healthcare system. Private health cover is not covered by the EHIC. It might be that your travel insurance covers you for such care, but if not, you could face a hefty bill.

  1. Be prepared to pay the doctor upfront

Even if you are covered by the EHIC for the treatment you receive, you may still be required to pay a doctor or hospital upfront and claim it back after the event. That’s because health care and social security systems differ from one EU country to the next. You can find out more about the healthcare system in the country you are visiting by downloading the EHIC smartphone app.

  1. Buy travel insurance

Whatever country you are travelling in, whether it’s inside or outside the EU, we would always strongly recommend taking out a travel insurance policy before you leave. A policy for a two-week long holiday could cost as little as £5 but could potentially save you thousands. We also recommend not automatically opting for the cheapest quote you receive. Instead, look at the type of cover each policy provides carefully and consider what type of care you would need if you were to be injured or fall ill.

  1. Take medication with you

If you take prescription medication, try to take enough to last for the duration of your trip and ask your doctor for an extended prescription if possible. For those taking birth control, the availability of contraception in different countries around the world can vary tremendously, both in terms of ease of access and price. We’d always recommend taking this with you to avoid any issues.

  1. Take a valid form of UK ID with you

While you can receive free medical treatment in EU countries, many other countries around the world also have reciprocal healthcare agreements in place with the UK. That allows you to access certain healthcare and even some prescriptions free of cost. However, you must ensure that you take a valid form of UK ID with you to the doctor’s surgery, hospital or even dentist. These are the different types of ID each country will expect to see.


Hopefully, this is information you will not need, but it can provide reassurance to know that if you do have to access medical treatment overseas, you will be able to do so without too much trouble.

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