Getting travel health insurance should be one of the first things anyone does as soon as they book a trip abroad. A good travel insurance policy can give you financial protection in case you need to cancel the trip and cover your medical bills if you have a medical emergency abroad.

This is why a lot of countries have added travel health insurance as part of their visa requirements. But if we travel to a place where visas are not required, travel insurance is usually optional – so many of us tend to overlook it.

If you want to travel to one of the countries listed below, chances are you won’t have a choice except to get travel insurance – and maybe that’s a good thing.

Here is the complete list of countries that you cannot enter without travel insurance:

  • Schengen countries.
  • Cuba.
  • Ecuador.
  • Iran.
  • Turkey.
  • Morocco.
  • Thailand.
  • The UAE.
  • Togo.
  • Algeria.
  • Romania.
  • Croatia.
  • Moldova.
  • Georgia.
  • Aruba.
  • Cambodia.
  • Lebanon.
  • Seychelles.
  • Antarctica.

Countries That Introduced Mandatory Travel Insurance Due to COVID-19

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries have made travel insurance mandatory if travellers wish to enter. This is usually in addition to a negative PCR test. The countries which now require travel health insurance before allowing you in are:

  • Aruba
  • Cambodia
  • Lebanon
  • Seychelles

All Schengen Countries

Anyone who applies for a Schengen Visa has to submit proof that they have obtained Schengen travel health insurance for the entire duration of their stay. The insurance must be at least €30,000 and valid in all 26 Schengen countries.

Travellers who do not normally need a short-stay visa for Schengen may not be required to purchase travel insurance but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to do it anyway!

Citizens of EU countries can get by with their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) as well.

Who needs travel insurance for the Schengen Area?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa-free countries No

Cuba

Cuba’s vibrancy, sandy beaches, tropical climate and the beautiful colonial architecture make it a popular tourist destination. However, before you can hop on a plane, or apply for a Cuban visa you will very likely have to make sure you’re equipped with adequate travel health insurance for Cuba (covering sudden illness, accidents, and repatriation). Travel insurance is a requirement regardless of what type of visa you apply for.

You have to get travel insurance even if you don’t need a visa for Cuba at all.

Who needs travel insurance for Cuba?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa-free countries Yes

Ecuador

Ecuador, named after the Equator line which runs across the country*, will also not let you in if you don’t have Ecuador travel health insurance. You must get health insurance (either private or public) which will cover the duration of your stay in Ecuador. This applies to tourist visas as well as temporary and permanent resident visas.

*They have actually drawn a line across the ground, marking the two sides of the Equador, and you can stand with one leg on the Northern Hemisphere and one leg on the Southern one. It’s pretty cool.

Who needs travel insurance for Ecuador?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa-free countries Yes

Iran

All foreign travellers who enter Iran must have adequate travel insurance. This applies to those travelling via an Iran visa obtained at an Embassy or an Iran Visa on Arrival. If someone does not have travel insurance, many travellers have reported they had to buy it at the airport, at the office for issuing travel insurance for foreign nationals.

Who needs travel insurance for Iran?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa-free countries Yes

Turkey

Another place where you won’t be able to visit without a comprehensive travel insurance policy if Turkey. Visa-required visitors under the age of 65 are required to have travel insurance with minimal coverage of €30,000 for the Turkish territory.

Health insurance is also obligatory for foreigners who want to get a Turkish residence permit, except retirees over the age of 65.

If you are from an EU country, you don’t have to apply for a Turkish visa, but you still need travel insurance since your EHIC is not functional in Turkey.

Who needs travel insurance for Turkey?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa-free countries No

Morocco

Morocco receives millions of visitors every year, who come to visit the popular attractions like the Marrakech Medina, Casablanca, Rabat’s picturesque Oudaias Kasbah neighbourhood, and its countless breathtaking mosques.

Anyone who travels to Morocco or applies for a Moroccan visa is advised to obtain travel insurance. However, not every Moroccan representative office will ask you to submit proof of travel health insurance for Morocco along with the visa application… but they might.

Who needs travel insurance for Morocco?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants No
Visitors from visa-free countries No

Thailand

Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world, due to the diverse attractions, starting from the countless temples and ancient ruins to the canals and vibrant, floating water markets to the sandy tropical beaches and modern cityscapes.

Although it’s not technically a Thailand visa requirement, the Thai government has been discussing making travel health insurance an entry requirement for a few years now. The reason behind that is the large amounts of unpaid hospital bills left from the travellers.

Bottom line is, you may be required to present travel health insurance if you apply for a Thai visa or when you enter.

Who needs travel insurance for Thailand?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants No*
Visitors from visa free countries No*

*Not implemented yet

The UAE

If you’re travelling to Dubai or another city in the United Arab Emirates, you have to present proof that you have obtained travel health insurance. This is a requirement for all foreign visitors, regardless of whether they need a UAE visa or not.

Who needs travel insurance for the UAE?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa free countries Yes

Togo

Before getting a visa for Togo, you must buy a travel health insurance policy or submit proof you have paid a repatriation deposit, in the tragic event of death.

Who needs travel insurance for Togo?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa free countries No

Algeria

If you are from one of the following countries, you have to get travel health insurance covering at least €30,000 for illness, accidents, and repatriation for the entire duration of your stay when applying for a visa to Algeria:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • The Netherlands

Romania

If you need a visa to travel to Romania, you have to show proof you have obtained travel health insurance for the entire duration of your stay, which covers at least €30,000 of medical expenses.

Who needs travel insurance for Romania?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa free countries No

Croatia

Anyone who requires a visa to enter Croatia must obtain a travel health insurance plan covering a minimum of €30,000 in medical expenses for the entire duration of their stay.

Who needs travel insurance for Croatia?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa free countries No

Moldova

Similarly to other European countries, if you have to apply for a Moldovan visa, you have to purchase a travel insurance policy covering at least €30,000 in medical expenses.

Who needs travel insurance for Moldova?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa free countries No

Georgia

If you apply for a Georgian visa or eVisa, then you have to submit a valid travel insurance plan, covering a minimum  €30,000 worth of medical expenses, valid for the entire duration of your stay.

Who needs travel insurance for Georgia?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa free countries No

Aruba

Before entering Aruba, you are required to purchase a health insurance plan from the Aruban government which covers up to $75,000 in medical expenses.

The only ones exempt from purchasing Aruba health insurance are visitors who arrive and leave the same day, travellers in transit who do not need to recheck their luggage, and Aruban students returning from abroad.

Who needs travel insurance for Aruba?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa free countries Yes

Cambodia

To enter Cambodia, you must get travel health insurance covering at least $50,000 of medical expenses. This new rule is applicable to all travellers, regardless of visa requirements.

Who needs travel insurance for Cambodia?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa free countries Yes

Lebanon

To enter Lebanon, all travellers must have travel insurance covering the entire duration of their stay and all treatment for COVID-19 on Lebanese territory. If you do not possess a valid travel insurance certificate, you have to buy it upon arrival at Rafik Hariri International Airport-Beirut.

Exempt from this requirement are only the staff of international organizations, UNIFIL and members of the Lebanese National Social Security Fund.

Who needs travel insurance for Lebanon?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa free countries Yes

Seychelles

All travellers to Seychelles are required to obtain a travel health insurance policy from a company in their country before being allowed to enter.

Who needs travel insurance for Seychelles?

Group of travelers Mandatory
Visa applicants Yes
Visitors from visa free countries Yes

Antarctica

Okay, Antarctica may not technically be a country, but it is a relatively dangerous place to visit. One which you can only visit as part of a cruise.

That’s not to say you’ll be facing death if you’re on a cruise to Antarctica, but since it is prone to harsh weather conditions, you will have to be equipped with a good travel insurance policy before you embark.

Do I Need Travel Insurance to Enter the USA?

The USA does not necessarily require foreign visitors to obtain travel health insurance before they’re allowed to enter, however, it is highly recommended. The US is known for having very high healthcare costs, where a simple ER visit can reach thousands of dollars. If you need hospitalization or more extensive treatment, the bills that can reach tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you do not have health insurance, you will have to cover all of the expenses yourself. This is why US travel health insurance is a must for all visitors, no matter how short the visit is.

What’s the Point of Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is a type of protection for your trip. It ensures that you will receive compensation for any unplanned for expenses due to medical emergencies abroad, loss of personal items while travelling, for missed or delayed flights, or in case you have to cancel your trip.

So, if you get into an accident or become ill while you’re in a foreign country and have to get medical assistance, then your travel insurance will cover the cost of your medical bills.

If you have to cancel your trip for some reason, then your travel insurance makes sure you don’t lose all your money. They will reimburse you part of your pre-paid expenses, such as accommodation and flight.

If you lose your luggage or it gets stolen during your travels, then your travel insurance will reimburse you for the cost of lost items.

You can get even more coverage, such as repatriation or emergency evacuation, where your insurers cover the costs of you having to evacuate a foreign country.

Some countries demand that you have travel insurance so that you can pay for your medical expenses. In some cases, healthcare is really expensive, and tourists leaving without paying their medical bills can put a strain on the hospitals.

What Should a Good Travel Insurance Policy Include?

A good travel insurance policy should cover any medical emergencies which may happen abroad, as well as protect you against financial loss. You can customize it according to your needs, but a basic policy must always have the following features:

  • Medical emergencies coverage
  • Trip disruption (cancellation, delay) coverage
  • Coverage for loss of personal belongings
  • Coverage for emergency evacuation or repatriation

Guide to Choosing the Best Travel Insurance Policy