Receiving Medical Care in Other Countries
Travellers from Canada access medical care in other countries for a number of reasons:
- Travellers may require medical care in other countries due to a medical emergency, such as an injury or illness. Injuries are the most common cause of disability and death in travellers.
- A growing number of Canadians are travelling specifically to access medical care in other countries, often called “medical tourism.”
It is important to remember that medical practices, health standards, and infection control measures in other countries may differ from those in Canada and could result in lower-quality medical care.
We remind you that there are risks involved in receiving medical care in other countries.
- “Medical tourism” (also called “health tourism” and “medical travel”) describes travelling to other countries for the purpose of receiving medical care. For more information about medical tourism, consult Well on Your Way: A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad.
- In addition to the general recommendations listed below, we also recommend that travellers going to another country to receive medical care should:
- ensure that the health care facility is accredited and the health care practitioner is licensed
- research the follow-up care you will need in Canada after your procedure to ensure it will be available once you return home
- discuss your medical care plans with your health care provider in Canada before leaving and follow up with him or her after you return
- be informed about the source of tissues and organs if you are seeking a transplant abroad. Vulnerable people may be coerced into organ donation without their full consent. Because of this, “transplant tourism” and selling organs are illegal in many countries.
- bring back copies of your medical records to Canada for your health care provider, including information about the medications you received, results of medical tests, and a description of the procedure(s) you underwent
Recommendations for travellers
Consult a doctor, nurse or health care provider, or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
- Pack a travel health kit.
- While planning your trip, prepare for the possibility that you might require medical care abroad.
- Be aware that there are multi-drug resistant bacteria in hospitals and other health care facilities around the world.
- Some countries’ medical services may not test blood for blood-borne infections like HIV or hepatitis B. There can also be a risk of acquiring malaria from local blood banks in areas where malaria is present. Avoid blood transfusions except in an emergency.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- Your provincial/territorial health card may not cover your health care expenses. Take out comprehensive insurance that covers medical procedures in other countries. For more information about choosing the right travel health insurance for you, consult Well on Your Way: A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad.
- If you have surgery in another country, discuss the risks of airline travel following surgical care with your health care provider.
- If you are travelling with medical supplies:
- Bring more than enough to last your entire trip.
- Leave medications in their original containers.
- Carry a copy of the original prescription and a note from your health care provider explaining what the medication is for.
- Do not buy medication outside of Canada unless you have been advised to do so by a health care professional. Be aware of counterfeit medications or those that may not meet Canadian standards.
- Contact the embassy of your destination country before departing to make sure the medical supplies you intend to bring are allowed into the country.
- If you need to use needles or syringes, carry a medical certificate explaining that the needles or syringes are for medical use.
- Consult our page on What You Can Bring on a Plane to determine what you can and cannot pack in your carry-on luggage.
- Assistance - Sickness or Injury
- Returning to Canada - If you get sick
- Well on Your Way: A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad
- Date modified: