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Travel Health Notices
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CDC uses Travel Health Notices (THNs) to inform travelers about global health risks during outbreaks, special events or gatherings, and natural disasters, and to provide advice about protective actions travelers can take to prevent infection or adverse health effects.
A THN can be posted for: 1) a disease outbreak (higher number of expected cases) in a country or region, 2) sporadic cases of a disease in an unusual or new geographic location, 3) natural and human-made disasters with severe environmental health risks, or infrastructure damage that would limit healthcare services availability and 4) mass gathering events that can lead to disease outbreaks. See types of travel notices .
Level 4 - Avoid All Travel
- Currently there are no Travel Health Notices at this level.
Level 3 - Reconsider Nonessential Travel
Level 2 - practice enhanced precautions.
- Some international destinations have circulating poliovirus. Before any international travel, make sure you are up to date on your polio vaccines. Country List : Afghanistan, Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, Sudan, Mali, Botswana, Zambia, Republic of the Congo , Burundi, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, including Zanzibar, Guinea, Mauritania, Egypt, ZimbabweGlobal Polio734 Global Polio January 05, 2024 Some international destinations have circulating poliovirus. Before any international travel, make sure you are up to date on your polio vaccines. Destination List: Afghanistan, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Guinea, Indonesia, Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, including Zanzibar, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe Read More >>
- There is an outbreak of diphtheria in Niger. If you are traveling to an affected area, you should be up to date with your diphtheria vaccines.Diphtheria in Niger752 Diphtheria in Niger December 21, 2023 There is an outbreak of diphtheria in Niger. If you are traveling to an affected area, you should be up to date with your diphtheria vaccines. Read More >>
- There is an outbreak of diphtheria in several states in Nigeria. Vaccination against diphtheria is essential to protect against disease. If you are traveling to an affected area, you should be up to date with your diphtheria vaccines.Diphtheria in Nigeria 740 Diphtheria in Nigeria December 21, 2023 There is an outbreak of diphtheria in several states in Nigeria. Vaccination against diphtheria is essential to protect against disease. If you are traveling to an affected area, you should be up to date with your diphtheria vaccines. Read More >>
- There is an outbreak of mpox in 22 out of 26 provinces, including urban areas, in the DRC.Mpox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo438 Mpox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo December 07, 2023 There is an outbreak of mpox in 22 out of 26 provinces, including urban areas, in the DRC. Read More >>
- There is an outbreak of diphtheria in several districts in Guinea. Vaccination against diphtheria is essential to protect against disease. If you are traveling to an affected area, you should be up to date with your diphtheria vaccines.Diphtheria in Guinea751 Diphtheria in Guinea December 07, 2023 There is an outbreak of diphtheria in several districts in Guinea. Vaccination against diphtheria is essential to protect against disease. If you are traveling to an affected area, you should be up to date with your diphtheria vaccines. Read More >>
- There is an outbreak of chikungunya in Burkina Faso. Several districts have reported cases.Chikungunya in Burkina Faso755 Chikungunya in Burkina Faso November 09, 2023 There is an outbreak of chikungunya in Burkina Faso. Several districts have reported cases. Read More >>
- There is an outbreak of yellow fever in Nigeria. Travelers to Nigeria should take steps to prevent yellow fever by getting vaccinated at least 10 days before travel and taking steps to prevent mosquito bites.Yellow Fever in Nigeria392 Yellow Fever in Nigeria May 04, 2022 There is an outbreak of yellow fever in Nigeria. Travelers to Nigeria should take steps to prevent yellow fever by getting vaccinated at least 10 days before travel and taking steps to prevent mosquito bites. Read More >>
Level 1 - Practice Usual Precautions
- Dengue is a risk in many parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands. Some countries are reporting increased numbers of cases of the disease. Travelers to Asia and the Pacific Islands can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. Country List : Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, CambodiaDengue in Asia and the Pacific Islands429 Updated Dengue in Asia and the Pacific Islands January 22, 2024 Dengue is a risk in many parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands. Some countries are reporting increased numbers of cases of the disease. Travelers to Asia and the Pacific Islands can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. Destination List: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand Read More >>
- Dengue is a risk in many parts of Africa and the Middle East. Some countries are reporting increased numbers of cases of the disease. Travelers to Africa and the Middle East can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. Country List : Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Burkina Faso, Mali, Ethiopia, Senegal, Cape VerdeDengue in Africa and the Middle East428 Updated Dengue in Africa and the Middle East January 22, 2024 Dengue is a risk in many parts of Africa and the Middle East. Some countries are reporting increased numbers of cases of the disease. Travelers to Africa and the Middle East can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. Destination List: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Sudan Read More >>
- Dengue is a risk in many parts of Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Some countries are reporting increased numbers of cases of the disease. Travelers to the Americas can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. Country List : Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Guadeloupe, Martinique (France), Jamaica, Costa Rica, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, French Guiana (France), Haiti, Mexico, Turks and Caicos Islands (U.K.)Dengue in the Americas427 Updated Dengue in the Americas January 22, 2024 Dengue is a risk in many parts of Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Some countries are reporting increased numbers of cases of the disease. Travelers to the Americas can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. Destination List: Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana (France), Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique (France), Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Turks and Caicos Islands (U.K.) Read More >>
- There are reports of confirmed and probable human cases of Western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV) infection in rural areas of several provinces in Argentina with WEEV activity in horses.Western Equine Encephalitis Virus in Argentina 757 New Western Equine Encephalitis Virus in Argentina January 12, 2024 There are reports of confirmed and probable human cases of Western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV) infection in rural areas of several provinces in Argentina with WEEV activity in horses. Read More >>
- There have been reports of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) in people traveling to the United States from Tecate, in the state of Baja California, Mexico.Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Mexico 756 Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Mexico December 11, 2023 There have been reports of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) in people traveling to the United States from Tecate, in the state of Baja California, Mexico. Read More >>
- Many international destinations are reporting increased numbers of cases of measles. Country List : Afghanistan, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Republic of the Congo , Senegal, Somalia, Republic of South Sudan, Sudan, Tajikistan, Togo, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Mauritania, Lebanon, Equatorial Guinea, Syria, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Burkina Faso, Turkey, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Libya, Burundi, Mozambique, RomaniaGlobal Measles743 Global Measles November 20, 2023 Many international destinations are reporting increased numbers of cases of measles. Destination List: Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Republic of South Sudan, Republic of the Congo, Romania, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe Read More >>
- An outbreak of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) typhoid fever in Pakistan is ongoing. Extensively drug-resistant infections do not respond to most antibiotics.XDR Typhoid Fever in Pakistan397 XDR Typhoid Fever in Pakistan June 16, 2023 An outbreak of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) typhoid fever in Pakistan is ongoing. Extensively drug-resistant infections do not respond to most antibiotics. Read More >>
- Some travelers who have spent time in Mexico have been infected with multidrug-resistant (MDR) Salmonella Newport. Salmonella Newport in Mexico732 Salmonella Newport in Mexico September 08, 2022 Some travelers who have spent time in Mexico have been infected with multidrug-resistant (MDR) Salmonella Newport. Read More >>
Types of Notices
Visit U.S. Department of State's website for the latest Travel Advisories .
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- COVID-19 travel advice
Considering travel during the pandemic? Take precautions to protect yourself from COVID-19.
A coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine can prevent you from getting COVID-19 or from becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19 . But even if you're vaccinated, it's still a good idea to take precautions to protect yourself and others while traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you've had all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including boosters, you're less likely to become seriously ill or spread COVID-19 . You can then travel more safely within the U.S. and internationally. But international travel can still increase your risk of getting new COVID-19 variants.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you should avoid travel until you've had all recommended COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses.
Before you travel
As you think about making travel plans, consider these questions:
- Have you been vaccinated against COVID-19 ? If you haven't, get vaccinated. If the vaccine requires two doses, wait two weeks after getting your second vaccine dose to travel. If the vaccine requires one dose, wait two weeks after getting the vaccine to travel. It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination.
- Have you had any booster doses? Having all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including boosters, increases your protection from serious illness.
- Are you at increased risk for severe illness? Anyone can get COVID-19 . But older adults and people of any age with certain medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 .
- Do you live with someone who's at increased risk for severe illness? If you get infected while traveling, you can spread the COVID-19 virus to the people you live with when you return, even if you don't have symptoms.
- Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? Even if you've had all recommended vaccine doses, you must follow local, state and federal testing and travel rules.
Check local requirements, restrictions and situations
Some state, local and territorial governments have requirements, such as requiring people to wear masks, get tested, be vaccinated or stay isolated for a period of time after arrival. Before you go, check for requirements at your destination and anywhere you might stop along the way.
Keep in mind these can change often and quickly depending on local conditions. It's also important to understand that the COVID-19 situation, such as the level of spread and presence of variants, varies in each country. Check back for updates as your trip gets closer.
Travel and testing
For vaccinated people.
If you have been fully vaccinated, the CDC states that you don't need to get tested before or after your trip within the U.S. or stay home (quarantine) after you return.
If you're planning to travel internationally outside the U.S., the CDC states you don't need to get tested before your trip unless it's required at your destination. Before arriving to the U.S., you need a negative test within the last day before your arrival or a record of recovery from COVID-19 in the last three months.
After you arrive in the U.S., the CDC recommends getting tested with a viral test 3 to 5 days after your trip. If you're traveling to the U.S. and you aren't a citizen, you need to be fully vaccinated and have proof of vaccination.
You don't need to quarantine when you arrive in the U.S. But check for any symptoms. Stay at home if you develop symptoms.
For unvaccinated people
Testing before and after travel can lower the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 . If you haven't been vaccinated, the CDC recommends getting a viral test within three days before your trip. Delay travel if you're waiting for test results. Keep a copy of your results with you when you travel.
Repeat the test 3 to 5 days after your trip. Stay home for five days after travel.
If at any point you test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 , stay home. Stay at home and away from others if you develop symptoms. Follow public health recommendations.
Stay safe when you travel
In the U.S., you must wear a face mask on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation. The mask must fit snugly and cover both your mouth and nose.
Follow these steps to protect yourself and others when you travel:
- Get vaccinated.
- Keep distance between yourself and others (within about 6 feet, or 2 meters) when you're in indoor public spaces if you're not fully vaccinated. This is especially important if you have a higher risk of serious illness.
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.
- Avoid crowds and indoor places that have poor air flow (ventilation).
- Don't touch frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails, elevator buttons and kiosks. If you must touch these surfaces, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands afterward.
- Wear a face mask in indoor public spaces. The CDC recommends wearing the most protective mask possible that you'll wear regularly and that fits. If you are in an area with a high number of new COVID-19 cases, wear a mask in indoor public places and outdoors in crowded areas or when you're in close contact with people who aren't vaccinated.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
- Don't eat or drink on public transportation. That way you can keep your mask on the whole time.
Because of the high air flow and air filter efficiency on airplanes, most viruses such as the COVID-19 virus don't spread easily on flights. Wearing masks on planes has likely helped lower the risk of getting the COVID-19 virus on flights too.
However, air travel involves spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people. Getting vaccinated and wearing a mask when traveling can help protect you from COVID-19 while traveling.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has increased cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and equipment, including bins, at screening checkpoints. TSA has also made changes to the screening process:
- Travelers must wear masks during screening. However, TSA employees may ask travelers to adjust masks for identification purposes.
- Travelers should keep a distance of 6 feet apart from other travelers when possible.
- Instead of handing boarding passes to TSA officers, travelers should place passes (paper or electronic) directly on the scanner and then hold them up for inspection.
- Each traveler may have one container of hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces (about 350 milliliters) in a carry-on bag. These containers will need to be taken out for screening.
- Personal items such as keys, wallets and phones should be placed in carry-on bags instead of bins. This reduces the handling of these items during screening.
- Food items should be carried in a plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening. Separating food from carry-on bags lessens the likelihood that screeners will need to open bags for inspection.
Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds directly before and after going through screening.
If you travel by bus or train and you aren't vaccinated, be aware that sitting or standing within 6 feet (2 meters) of others for a long period can put you at higher risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 . Follow the precautions described above for protecting yourself during travel.
Even if you fly, you may need transportation once you arrive at your destination. You can search car rental options and their cleaning policies on the internet. If you plan to stay at a hotel, check into shuttle service availability.
If you'll be using public transportation and you aren't vaccinated, continue physical distancing and wearing a mask after reaching your destination.
Hotels and other lodging
The hotel industry knows that travelers are concerned about COVID-19 and safety. Check any major hotel's website for information about how it's protecting guests and staff. Some best practices include:
- Enhanced cleaning procedures
- Physical distancing recommendations indoors for people who aren't vaccinated
- Mask-wearing and regular hand-washing by staff
- Mask-wearing indoors for guests in public places in areas that have high cases of COVID-19
- Vaccine recommendations for staff
- Isolation and testing guidelines for staff who've been exposed to COVID-19
- Contactless payment
- Set of rules in case a guest becomes ill, such as closing the room for cleaning and disinfecting
- Indoor air quality measures, such as regular system and air filter maintenance, and suggestions to add air cleaners that can filter viruses and bacteria from the air
Vacation rentals, too, are enhancing their cleaning procedures. They're committed to following public health guidelines, such as using masks and gloves when cleaning, and building in a waiting period between guests.
Make a packing list
When it's time to pack for your trip, grab any medications you may need on your trip and these essential safe-travel supplies:
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)
- Disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol)
Considerations for people at increased risk
Anyone can get very ill from the virus that causes COVID-19 . But older adults and people of any age with certain medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness. This may include people with cancer, serious heart problems and a weakened immune system. Getting the recommended COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses can help lower your risk of being severely ill from COVID-19 .
Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19 . If you're unvaccinated, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 . If you must travel and aren't vaccinated, talk with your health care provider and ask about any additional precautions you may need to take.
Remember safety first
Even the most detailed and organized plans may need to be set aside when someone gets ill. Stay home if you or any of your travel companions:
- Have signs or symptoms, are sick or think you have COVID-19
- Are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test
- Have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the past five days and you're not up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines
If you've had close contact with someone with COVID-19 , get tested after at least five days. Wait to travel until you have a negative test. Wear a mask if you travel up to 10 days after you've had close contact with someone with COVID-19 .
- How to protect yourself and others. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
- Domestic travel during COVID-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
- Requirement for face masks on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/face-masks-public-transportation.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
- International travel. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel/index.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
- U.S citizens, U.S. nationals, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and immigrants: Travel to and from the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
- Non-US. citizen, non-U.S. immigrants: Air travel to the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/noncitizens-US-air-travel.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
- People with certain medical conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
- Stay up to date with your vaccines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
- Pack smart. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/pack-smart. Accessed Feb. 4, 2022.
- Travel: Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html. Accessed Feb. 7, 2022.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) information. Transportation Security Administration. https://www.tsa.gov/coronavirus. Accessed Feb. 7, 2022.
- WHO advice for international traffic in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/articles-detail/who-advice-for-international-traffic-in-relation-to-the-sars-cov-2-omicron-variant. Accessed Feb. 7, 2022.
- VRHP/VRMA Cleaning guidelines for COVID-19. Vacation Rental Management Association. https://www.vrma.org/page/vrhp/vrma-cleaning-guidelines-for-covid-19. Accessed Feb. 7, 2022.
- Safe stay. American Hotel & Lodging Association. https://www.ahla.com/safestay. Accessed Feb. 7, 2022.
- Khatib AN, et al. COVID-19 transmission and the safety of air travel during the pandemic: A scoping review. Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases. 2021; doi:10.1097/QCO.0000000000000771.
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Where to Go
You can get most recommended vaccines at your doctor’s office, and many recommended vaccines are also available at local pharmacies, health centers, health departments, and travel clinics. Below you’ll find information and tools to help you find out where to get vaccinated near you—and some tips for making an appointment.
Find vaccines near you!
How do I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free for everyone age 12 and older living in the United States, regardless of insurance or immigration status. To find a COVID-19 vaccination location near you:
- Text your zip code to 438829
- Call 1-800-232-0233
- Visit Vaccines.gov
Your doctor’s office
If you have a doctor who you see regularly, you can schedule an appointment to talk about vaccines you and your family may need — and to get vaccinated.
Many local pharmacies offer most recommended vaccines for adults, as well as some travel vaccines. If you plan on getting vaccinated at a pharmacy, consider calling ahead to:
- Find out if the pharmacy has the vaccine you need . This is an especially good idea if you need a travel-related vaccine.
- Ask what you will need to pay . Many vaccines are covered by health insurance. But if you don’t have insurance, try calling a few pharmacies and ask what they charge for vaccines — prices can vary.
Federally funded health centers provide a variety of health care services, including vaccination. You can go to a health center even if you don’t have health insurance — and some may offer sliding fees based on your income.
Use the Health Center Finder to find a list of health centers near you.
State and local health departments
State and local health departments are a great resource for finding out where to get vaccinated. They may also have information about state vaccine requirements and free and low-cost vaccines, including vaccines for travel.
Click on your state to explore your state health department’s vaccine information.
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Planning a trip outside the United States? Travel clinics are a great resource for getting pre-travel health advice and vaccines for travelers. Travel clinics have doctors and nurses who specialize in travel health and vaccines. They may also stock vaccines that doctor’s offices and pharmacies don’t have.
Always call a travel clinic before you go — you’ll need an appointment at most of them, and you may need to see a doctor before you get vaccinated. Use the resources below to find a travel clinic.
To find a travel clinic near you, visit:
- International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) — travel medicine specialists
- American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) — infectious disease specialists who may practice travel medicine
Yellow fever clinics
Only certain travel clinics stock the yellow fever vaccine, which is required to travel in some countries. If you need the yellow fever vaccine, find a clinic that offers the yellow fever vaccine .
Learn more about vaccines for travelers .
Getting immunized is easy. Vaccines and preventive antibodies are available at the doctor’s office or pharmacies — and are usually covered by insurance.
Find out how to get protected .
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Foreign travel advice
Get advice about travelling abroad, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.
Countries or territories
226 Countries or territories
Countries starting with A
- Antarctica/British Antarctic Territory
- Antigua and Barbuda
Countries starting with B
- Bonaire/St Eustatius/Saba
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- British Virgin Islands
- Burkina Faso
Countries starting with C
- Cayman Islands
- Central African Republic
- Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue
- Côte d'Ivoire
- Czech Republic
Countries starting with D
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Travel Medical Insurance: Emergency Coverage While You Travel Internationally
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Table of Contents
What is travel health insurance?
Travel insurance vs. travel medical insurance, what does travel medical insurance cover, different types of travel medical insurance plans, how to purchase travel medical insurance, who needs travel health insurance, how much does travel medical insurance cost, how do i use my travel health insurance, what you need to know about limits, exclusions and deductibles, long-term travel medical insurance options for expats.
Travel medical insurance provides protection against unexpected illnesses or injuries during travel abroad.
Premium travel credit cards may offer limited coverage, making stand-alone travel medical insurance necessary.
In case of a medical emergency, contact the insurer, pay expenses and file a reimbursement claim.
Primary vs. secondary coverage: Primary allows direct claims, secondary requires filing with primary first.
If you’re looking for a policy that protects you in the event of an unexpected illness or injury while traveling abroad, then you need to learn about stand-alone travel medical insurance. This type of insurance can be provided by the benefits of certain premium travel credit cards , but the coverages can be both limiting and low in value.
Emergency medical coverage is included within some comprehensive travel insurance policies but can also be purchased on its own. Even if you have a primary U.S. insurance plan, including Medicaid or Medicare, odds are it will help very little (or often not at all) while out of the country.
Checking all the different sources of information can get confusing, and it's easy to misunderstand what type of medical insurance you have when traveling or accidentally duplicate your coverage by purchasing a policy when you already have those benefits covered from another source. Here’s everything you need to know about travel medical insurance so you can choose the best option for your trip.
» Learn more: The majority of Americans plan to travel in 2022
Travel medical insurance provides reimbursement for emergency medical expenses, including medical evacuations, while you’re traveling. These policies do not provide coverage for routine expenses.
So, if you break your leg while you're on vacation internationally, emergency medical coverage will protect you. However, if you decide to get a teeth cleaning while you’re abroad, you will not be covered. Travel medical insurance is meant to protect you in case of emergency.
Expats, frequent business travelers or individuals who spend significant periods of time living outside the U.S. can purchase a comprehensive travel health insurance policy meant for long-term travelers (more on this below). These policies offer routine medical coverage for those living abroad (generally for one year or longer) rather than vacationers. Long-term international travel health insurance policies should not be confused with travel medical insurance.
Travel medical insurance products and comprehensive policies may also include coverage for family members who are traveling with you, or coverage for a family member to visit you if you become hospitalized. The definition of "family" can vary, but it commonly includes your spouse, children, siblings, parents, grandparents and more. So if your travel companion gets sick or injured during the trip, trip cancellation benefits may kick in. Or if you get hospitalized in a foreign country, the insurer could pay for a flight and hotel accommodations for a designated family member to visit you.
Although natural disasters that impact your plans are usually covered, travel medical insurance policies often exclude pandemics from coverage or those countries that have a ‘Level 4 Do Not Travel’ advisory issued by the U.S. Department of State . If U.S. citizens travel to those countries, travel medical insurance services may not be available. It's important to check the fine print of your policy to determine what may or may not be covered.
» Learn more: Where can U.S. citizens travel right now?
A comprehensive travel insurance policy will include more protections than stand-alone travel medical insurance.
Travel medical insurance plans will have protections related to emergency medical events, while comprehensive trip insurance policies cover everything from medical care to trip cancellations.
Here are how those differences generally shake out.
With travel medical insurance, there are no trip cancellation benefits, so the cost of the trip is irrelevant. This makes the policy cheaper compared to purchasing comprehensive travel insurance, where you’ll need to include the entire nonrefundable cost of your vacation when calculating your quote.
Although travel medical plans can include coverage for benefits like trip interruption, the covered amounts will usually be limited.
» Learn more: How to find the best travel insurance
You will be reimbursed for unplanned, emergency medical costs that you incur during your trip. We reviewed several travel medical insurance plans on InsureMyTrip and found that they offer the following protections:
Since we reviewed several policies in the chart above, these limits show a wide range.
» Learn more: Does travel insurance cover medical expenses? Kinda.
Both the type of trip and type of coverage determine which travel medical policy makes the most sense. You’ll need to become familiar with four terms: primary coverage, secondary coverage, single trip and multi-trip.
Primary vs. secondary coverage
Travel medical insurance plans will refer to medical coverage as primary or secondary.
Primary means that you can submit a claim to your travel medical insurance company before submitting to any other insurer.
When the policy is secondary , you will need to submit your claim to your primary insurance provider before you can submit a claim to the travel insurance provider.
For example, say you break your leg on vacation and have to go to the emergency room right away. If your travel health insurance is primary, you can pay your medical bill with your credit card and then submit a claim directly to the travel insurer.
However, if your travel medical coverage is secondary, you will first have to submit this claim to your U.S.-based medical insurer even though they may deny the claim (because the policies limit coverage abroad). You may even be required to include the refusal notice from your primary insurance along with your claim to your secondary travel health insurer.
Single-trip vs. multi-trip
Whether you’re a frequent traveler or go on vacation only once a year, you can choose a policy that is tailored to your travel needs. You can purchase either single- or multi-trip coverage, and it's important to know the difference between the two types.
Single-trip coverage: You leave home, travel internationally and return home. You can visit as many countries as you like while traveling, but when you return home, the coverage ends. These plans are purchased for each trip, whether you’re gone for four days or four weeks.
Multi-trip coverage: You can leave, travel and return home as many times as you want during the covered period. You can, for example, leave home, travel to France for a week, return home for a month, travel to Panama for three weeks and return home. The coverage continues no matter how many times you return home as long as each trip does not exceed the allowable period (usually 30 to 90 days). These plans must be purchased on an annual basis, and they require you to have health insurance in the United States.
Multi-trip coverage makes sense (and is usually more cost effective) if you travel frequently and do not want to purchase a single policy each time you go on an international trip. However, if you do not have medical insurance in the U.S., you will not be covered under multi-trip plans.
Do I need to have primary health insurance in the U.S. to be eligible for travel medical insurance?
The answer to this question is: maybe. It depends on the type of coverage you have. If your single-trip plan refers to your medical coverage as primary, you don’t need another health insurance policy. However, if the coverage provided under your single-trip plan is secondary, then you must have primary health insurance.
As noted above, all multi-trip plans require that you have primary medical insurance coverage in the U.S.
» Learn more: What to do if you get sick while traveling overseas
You can search for medical travel policies on insurance comparison sites like Squaremouth (a NerdWallet partner), InsureMyTrip or Travel Guard . Policies differ by state, and availability may change during or after the pandemic, so verify that the state you reside in offers travel medical insurance in light of coronavirus.
If you plan on traveling and your existing medical insurance will not cover you in the country you are traveling to, buying a travel medical insurance plan could make sense. You could either purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy or one that only provides medical coverage.
Purchasing a policy strictly for travel medical insurance is a good idea for those who want emergency coverage while traveling but:
Have a premium travel card that already provides trip cancellation and trip delay coverage the individual deems sufficient.
Do not need trip cancellation, trip delay or the other benefits provided by a comprehensive policy because the traveler will remain in one location for a while and is not worried about a canceled trip.
If you do not have a travel card with trip cancellation benefits and you also want emergency medical coverage, then you’re better off with a comprehensive travel insurance policy.
The cost of the policy varies based on a number of factors including:
The country you’re going to.
The state you’re from.
We did a search on InsureMyTrip for a one-month trip to Italy in November 2024 for a 36-year-old, and found one policy that offered medical coverage.
While we only got one result for this search, $31.80 is around the typical price you're likely to see for basic medical travel insurance for a trip of this nature. This is because travel medical insurance does not include other travel insurance benefits.
If you encounter a medical emergency while traveling, contact your travel insurance provider about how to proceed.
You will likely need to pay for your medical expenses using your credit card and subsequently file a claim for reimbursement with the insurer.
Some coverage (e.g., emergency evacuation) may need to be arranged by your travel medical insurance provider to be eligible for reimbursement.
In all instances, it's best to contact your insurance provider before making any arrangements or paying any bills.
Similar to your regular health insurance, travel medical coverage also comes with limits, exclusions and deductibles.
Exclusions are specific events that are excluded from coverage. For example, some plans may exclude coverage for activities (e.g., skydiving) that are deemed risky. Check the policy to make sure that the activities you plan to partake in are not excluded.
Limits are monetary caps on coverage. For example, the policy may cover emergency dental treatment but only up to $500 worth. Anything over that maximum you would be responsible for paying.
A deductible is an amount you need to pay before your policy will reimburse. For example, if you have a policy with a $250 deductible and you submit claims for eligible expenses totaling $400, the insurer will reimburse you only $150. Policies can often be customized to increase or decrease the deductible. The screenshot below includes the same travel medical policy for a one-month trip to Costa Rica in June 2023 for a 30-year-old, with the option to change the deductible.
The lower the deductible, the more expensive the policy and vice versa.
Individuals who live or work abroad and spend a considerable portion of the year living outside the U.S. are eligible for a travel health insurance plan that provides coverage for routine medical care. These policies are different from travel medical insurance, which is meant to cover only emergencies.
Long-term international travel health insurance plans usually have higher limits than travel medical insurance policies and are available on a long-term basis only (one year or more).
The policies are only available for one year or longer and have high maximum limits of $1,000,000 to $8,000,000. The plans are customizable and allow you to receive worldwide medical treatment.
For the most part, your U.S.-based medical insurance provider will not cover your medical treatment when you’re abroad. If you want peace of mind while you’re on a trip away from your home country, a travel medical insurance plan is your best bet.
Anytime before your trip begins.
Generally, the emergency medical insurance coverage on credit cards offers fewer protections and lower limits than a stand-alone policy. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers emergency medical coverage up to $2,500 with a $50 deductible. The policies we looked at above offered medical coverage from $50,000 to $2,000,000. If you want a higher limit, you may want to purchase a travel medical insurance policy.
It depends on the type of coverage you’re looking for. Generally, if you’re only concerned with emergency medical benefits and don’t need trip cancellation, trip delay, rental car coverage or any of the other benefits provided by a comprehensive travel insurance plan, a medical plan should be enough for you. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, and your particular circumstances determine which policy is most suitable.
Yes. Travelers can purchase medical-only travel insurance coverage, and on the bright side, this type of plan is often more affordable than comprehensive policies. In 2023, travelers spent an average of $96 on medical-only travel insurance, versus over $400 on average for comprehensive plans, according to Squaremouth.
Generally, the emergency medical insurance coverage on credit cards offers fewer protections and lower limits than a stand-alone policy. For example, the
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
offers emergency medical coverage up to $2,500 with a $50 deductible. The policies we looked at above offered medical coverage from $50,000 to $2,000,000. If you want a higher limit, you may want to purchase a travel medical insurance policy.
Final thoughts on international medical insurance plans
Travel health insurance can protect you if you experience an unexpected medical emergency during a trip. Although this is a topic no one wants to think about, it's important to know your options.
Depending on the coverage you’re looking for, you can either pick a stand-alone medical policy or get a comprehensive travel insurance one. Deciding what policy is best depends on your situation and any additional protections you may already have through your premium travel credit card.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024 , including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
on Chase's website
1x-10x Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
1x-2x Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.
50,000 Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.