Tips for ensuring you have access to appropriate medical care while abroad.

After all the years employees have been relocating abroad, medical advice is still one of the most overlooked details in preparation.  Here are some basics to consider.

Physicians recommend that each person moving abroad should undergo thorough medical, dental, and eye examinations.  During your pre-move checkups, ask doctors, and dentists for copies of the family's medical records, and prescriptions.  Find out whether immunizations will be required for your destination country, and schedule shots early.

Medical Records

Take documents (i.e., dates and treatments, test results, and illnesses, surgeries and emergency ward visits) with you.  List current doctor's addresses, and telephone numbers in case you need to contact them for clarification of medical records, drugs or care.


Know if your medications are available in the destination country and what your alternatives are if they are not.  Pack several days' worth of medication in your carry-on luggage, and the remainder in your suitcase.  Know that certain medications, even some over-the-counter remedies, may be illegal in your destination country.  To avoid a problem, carry with you verification from your doctor stating the medical necessity.  Persons with chronic illness or drug allergies should wear medical alert bracelet or emblem.

Health Insurance

Some health policies limit coverage to the country of origin.  Your insurer should enlighten you on available international plans.  Fully understand doctor and hospital coverage, and select a policy that allows for emergency evacuation services to your home country.  Medical insurance needs to be reviewed with the company relocation manager as well.  Assure that you have the same comprehensive plan overseas that you have at home.

Follow-up Overseas

Facilities, services, and terminology vary considerably from country to country.  Visit medical facilities as soon as possible upon arrival.  This will help clear up any confusion about routine, and urgent medical care.  It is also important to discuss insurance coverage, rehearse unfamiliar routes, learn procedures, and hours of operation before an emergency arises.  When in doubt or in need or a resource, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest you.  These entities often will have a list of nearby physicians, and other medical professionals, and should be able to refer you to a reliable source of medical care.

International Medical Resources IAMAT - This non-profit organization provides medical information worldwide, and is associated with English speaking doctors in over 300 countries. The Center for Disease Control - The CDC provides health information for specific destinations regarding food and water qualities, vaccines, infectious diseases, quarantine, and more.