Vaccinations, health care & insurance for travelling to Scotland

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  • A doctor makes notes on a medical chart (image © Kurhan via SXC)
    A doctor makes notes on a medical chart (image © Kurhan via SXC)

When travelling to Scotland from outside of the UK, make sure you know what emergency healthcare you are entitled to, what medicines you can bring into the country, what to do in an emergency, and what travel insurance you will need.

The Scottish Government provides detailed information on healthcare for overseas visitors in PDF, audio and large-print formats.

No vaccinations are required for entry to the UK.

Medical Treatment 

European Union citizens are entitled to free medical treatment at National Health Service (NHS) hospitals, which can be made quicker and easier on production of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC card). The card is not, however a replacement for insurance.

Australia, New Zealand and several non-EU European countries have reciprocal healthcare arrangements with the UK.

Citizens of other countries will be charged for most medical services with some exclusions including emergency treatment.

You should obtain travel insurance with medical cover before your trip.
Doctors' surgeries are usually open during the working day from 9am to 5pm, and some have late surgeries in the evening. Outside of surgery hours, you can visit the nearest hospital which has an accident and emergency or minor injury department for complaints that require immediate attention.

Pharmacists can dispense only a limited range of drugs without a doctor's prescription. Most are open standard shop hours, though in large towns some may close as late as 10pm. Local newspapers often carry lists of late-opening pharmacies, or you can call the NHS inform Helpline on 0800 22 44 88 or visit the NHS 24 website.

In emergencies, phone for an ambulance by calling 999.

What medicine can I bring into the UK?

If you bring in medicines for yourself, you do not need to declare your medicines to UK Customs.
However, incase there is an issue in the UK or abroad, it is a good idea to have a letter from your doctor confirming your need for the medication. Always carry medicines in a correctly labelled container as issued by the pharmacist. There may be restrictions on the amount of drugs that you can bring into the country, before you travel, seek advice about the requirements from HM Customs and Exercise.

Travel insurance

Visitors from countries outwith the European Union should get travel insurance with medical cover before the trip. Some all-risks home insurance policies may cover your possessions when overseas, and many private medical schemes include cover when abroad. Students may find that their student health coverage extends during their vacations and for one term beyond the date of last enrolment. If you need to make an insurance claim, you should keep all your receipts for medicines and medical treatment, and in the event you have anything stolen, you must obtain an official statement from the police.

Find out more about holiday healthcare in Scotland.

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