Healthcare Abroad – Medical Alert Translation Letters (Free Download)

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Travelling and holidays are part of our life. When you have a chronic condition, this should not be a reason to enjoy time away, but it is important to ensure a few checks are in place.

You may need to check with your specialist before you leave, for blood tests or medications. Ensure you have contact details for your specialist in case of an emergency. Ensure you have adequate health insurance that covers your condition for the time away and enjoy the break.

Professor Marie Scully MBE
Consultant Haematologist, Clinical Lead for Haemostasis & Thrombosis

What if I need to see a doctor abroad?

As a traveller living with a medical condition or a disability, there is a very small chance you may be faced with a medical emergency while travelling and have to see a doctor abroad.

If you have a serious health condition and you’re concerned about feeling unwell or having an accident in a foreign country, you may want to carry a medical travel document with you. These can be used to give to a doctor or hospital abroad, giving them information about your specific medical condition(s) and the best ways to care for you.

You can download an English version of this letter as well as multiple translations below. Fill out the version in English first and a version in the main language spoken at your destination(s), and keep these with you at all times when travelling. We recommend keeping them alongside your travel insurance documents, as well as carrying digital copies on your smartphone.

If you’ll be travelling with friends or family, send a copy of this document to a trusted person and explain to them what they need to do in case you are unwell, or in an emergency.

The international language of medicine is recognised as English, so don’t forget to add in your name, medical condition(s) and contact details of your GP or specialist consultant at home. A foreign doctor or hospital may be able to contact them and get advice on your treatment if you’re too unwell to speak.

Downloadable Medical Alert Letters

More letters coming soon!

Author’s Note: For anyone with the rare blood disorder TPP (Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) like myself, travel translation letters are available here.

What is considered a medical ID?

Medical identification (‘medical ID’) usually refers to any piece of jewellery, like a bracelet or necklace, that states your name, medical condition(s), and emergency contact. It may also list any allergies, names of medications you’re currently taking, or medical supplies you carry with you. 

You can register for a medical ID bracelet on the MedicAlert website – membership costs less than 10p a day. You’ll normally receive your bracelet within 10 days, so make sure to plan ahead if ordering one.

You may also be able to use a Medical ID application on smartphones such as iPhone and Android. The Health app on iPhone includes a Medical ID section which you can set up to include your medical condition(s) and emergency contact information. 

This information is private and will not be shared with any other application. However, you can choose to share Medical ID information automatically during an emergency call. This may allow emergency services to provide improved response and bring the right equipment or medication to treat you. The app can also be set up to be accessible from your Lock Screen so emergency services or medical can access your information without having to unlock your phone.

A similar Medical ID app is also available on Android. Like on iPhone, it allows you to create a medical profile for use by emergency services while keeping your medical data safe from any third parties. The app supports the creation of multiple profiles, allowing you to enter data for other family members – this is particularly handy if you have children who suffer from a medical condition.

Do I need a letter from my doctor to take medication abroad?

Your Travel and Health’s Travel Translation Document is intended for emergency situations only and is not a valid doctor’s letter for travelling with medication.

If your prescription drugs fall under the category of “controlled drugs”, you’ll need to request a letter from your doctor in order to take your medicine abroad. This also applies to any liquid and injectable medications. Speak to your GP, nurse or specialist consultant about your travel plans a minimum of 8 weeks before you are due to depart. 

They will let you know if you need to make special arrangements for transporting your medicines or equipment, and can provide a doctor’s letter which should include:

  • Your full name, address, date of birth and passport number
  • Your travel plans, including departure and return dates, names of each destination, and flight details if applicable
  • Details of your prescribed medicine, including its generic name (not just the brand name), total quantity you’ll be carrying, and your dosage
  • Details of the medical condition you need the medication for
  • Details of your medical equipment, if applicable

Make sure that the expiry dates of your medicines will be valid for the duration of your trip, and request a new prescription from your doctor if needed. Always carry your medication and medical equipment such as syringes, needles or EpiPens in their original labelled package, and keep them in your carry-on luggage alongside a copy of your prescription. (You may also want to pack extra doses of your medication in your checked-in luggage in case you lose your hand luggage.)

Any further details such as the carrying of controlled medicines should be discussed with your doctor. If you’ll be carrying more than 3 month’s supply of a controlled substance, such as opioids needed for pain management, you may need to get an export licence from the Home Office. Obtaining a licence is free and will cover you throughout the duration of your trip.

Bear in mind that while doctor’s letters may be required for you to be able to travel, they are not an obligation under the NHS. This means your GP practice may charge you to provide this letter or decline to write it and direct you to a private travel clinic for this service. Contact your GP surgery for more information.

Please note that all the information contained on this website, including the Travel Translation Letters, are subject to our Disclaimer Policy.

Summary on Medical Alert Translation Letters

Accessing quality healthcare abroad can be a challenge, but our medical alert letters are here to help! 

Speak to your doctor before going on holiday and prepare the information you’ll need to provide should you fall ill in a foreign country. Using a medical ID application on your smartphone or wearing a medical alert bracelet are both easy ways to carry your medical information with you at all times, and allows it to be easily accessed by doctors, paramedics or hospital staff if needed.

Before travelling with medication, check you are allowed to carry it on a plane. Certain substances are classed as “controlled medicines” and may require special permission from a healthcare professional, so speak to your GP ahead of time and make any arrangement necessary.

Have you ever had to receive treatment abroad? What other tips would you recommend? Share your experience in the comments!

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