As entry rules continue to evolve at pace, we take a look at the countries that require travel insurance as standard
Travel has had a turbulent few years to say the least. Following the stasis of the pandemic, this summer has seen a sharp rise in passenger numbers thanks to easing restrictions and increased traveller confidence.
The surge caught the industry by surprise. Transport hubs around the world have struggled under the pressure with long airport queues, lengthy delays, staff strikes, lost luggage and cancelled flights. Britain’s busiest airport even asked airlines to stop selling summer flights to cap passenger numbers.
While nearly all countries have relaxed entry restrictions put in place during the pandemic, some have retained certain criteria. One such condition is the requirement for visitors to hold valid travel insurance.
Another consequence of the pandemic is that workers have been freed from the office. In response, a number of countries have introduced initiatives and remote work visas to smooth the way for flexible working. Again, this has led to a raft of new entry regulations.
As such, it is more important than ever to obtain travel insurance and check that it provides sufficient cover including all overseas medical costs, medical repatriation and evacuation.
SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance covers travel delay, lost checked luggage, emergency response, natural disasters and personal liability as well as medical assistance up to $250,000 USD. It can be purchased while already abroad, covers home trip visits and operates like a monthly subscription.
Whether you’re visiting on a city break or to set yourself up as a remote worker, there are now over 50 countries that require travel insurance before entry is granted.
Countries that won’t let you in without travel insurance
Entry requirements differ for travellers depending on your country of citizenship and/or residency. Always check the advice from your country’s foreign office.
Due to the continent’s remoteness and the sheer scale of costs associated with treatment or evacuation from the region, any reputable tour operator to Antarctica should insist on clients carrying adequate travel insurance. For our voyage to Antarctica, it was mandatory for all passengers to have emergency evacuation insurance of at least $200,000 USD.
Aruba introduced mandatory travel insurance during the pandemic. All travellers must get approval to visit through an online ED Card (embarkation/disembarkation card) before departure. This includes taking out mandatory insurance covering Covid.
All non-resident foreign nationals visiting Argentina must have medical insurance with comprehensive cover for Covid, including hospitalisation and the costs of self-isolation and medical transport services for positive and suspected cases, as well as for close contacts.
The British Overseas Territory of Bermuda recently launched a residency initiative called the Work from Bermuda Certificate which permits executives and students to work and study remotely from the island nation for up 12 months. If you’re planning to take advantage of the scheme, you must hold valid health insurance.
Brazil is the only South-American country so far to launch a digital nomad visa. The scheme allows remote workers to stay in the country for up to 12 months. If you’re planning to take advantage of the scheme, a condition is that you must hold valid health insurance.
The self-governing British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands has introduced the Global Citizen Concierge Program permitting remote workers to stay for up to 24 months. One of the conditions is that applicants must have proof of valid health insurance.
Costa Rica recently passed a decree to grant visas to digital nomads. Applications are yet to open, but the criteria will insist applicants have medical insurance for the duration of their stay in Costa Rica.
Depending on your nationality, you may need an extensive travel insurance policy before travelling to Cuba. Most foreign citizens will need to show evidence of travel insurance that covers all overseas medical costs including medical evacuation for the full duration of their stay. You will have to present a copy of your insurance on arrival.
You should check if it’s a requirement with your country’s foreign office or at Cuba’s Representative Office Abroad. In exceptional cases, acquiring a policy from Cuban insurance companies at your port of entry is possible. Regardless, we recommend taking out comprehensive cover for visiting Cuba.
Travel insurance has long been mandatory for all foreign tourists travelling to the Galápagos Islands and from 2018 most tourists are required to carry valid health insurance for the duration of their stay on mainland Ecuador as well.
Travellers to Georgia should ensure they have a valid travel insurance policy. Airlines are likely to ask for proof of a policy at check-in, or the immigration authorities upon arrival in Georgia will. Travellers may face difficulties entering the country if they cannot provide evidence of a valid policy.
Any remote workers planning to take advantage of Georgia’s one-year visa scheme for digital nomads will also need to hold valid health insurance for their stay.
Visitors to Iran are required to obtain a valid insurance policy (with Covid coverage) before they will be issued a visa. Insurance has to cover the cost of any potential Covid testing or quarantine measures in Iran.
During the pandemic, Lebanon introduced compulsory travel insurance. The rule has now been relaxed, but for certain types of visas, Lebanese authorities still insist on travellers carrying travel insurance. Regardless, all foreign offices strongly recommend taking out comprehensive cover for visiting Lebanon.
In 2020, Mauritius established a renewable premium travel visa that entitles eligible visitors to stay for up to 12 months. Applicants must have sufficient health insurance for the entirety of their stay.
On arrival in Moldova, all travellers on all types of visas must provide proof of travel insurance covering a minimum of €30,000. Although not specified, we recommend any policy should cover all possible Covid-related issues for the duration of your stay.
The British Overseas Territory of Montserrat launched the Remote Workers Stamp that allows remote workers to stay for up to 12 months. Applicants must have sufficient health insurance for the entirety of their stay.
Romania was recently ranked one of the best countries for remote workers. It has now launched a 12-month digital nomad visa for non-EU citizens aiming to attract 2,000 digital nomads annually. One of the criteria is that applicants must have valid health insurance.
Several nationalities visiting Saudi Arabia are required to have travel insurance that will cover the costs of Covid infection treatment during their stay in Saudi Arabia. If travelling with children under 12, then said child must have a valid health insurance policy approved by the Saudi Central Bank to cover the risks of Covid. See Saudia Airline’s guidelines for more information.
During the pandemic, Seychelles introduced compulsory travel insurance. To enter the country, all visitors must have valid travel health insurance which covers any potential Covid related costs such as testing, isolation, quarantine and treatment.
The St. Maarten government has implemented mandatory Covid insurance for all travellers to the islands. The insurance must be purchased through the EHAS application (Electronic Health Authorization System) as part of the centralised St. Maarten Visitors Protection Plan. The plan covers hospitalisation expenses, transportation, isolation and quarantine expenses, testing, doctor consultations and intensive care treatment.
During the pandemic, Thailand, one of the most visited countries in the world, introduced compulsory travel insurance for all tourists mandating all policies must cover at least $10,000 USD for Covid-related treatment. The rule has now been relaxed and is no longer compulsory but is still highly recommended.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine is ongoing, all foreign offices continue to advise against all travel to Ukraine. Before the invasion, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine had a policy in place insisting on all visitors holding valid travel insurance covering a minimum of €30,000 for Covid-related issues for the entirety of their stay.
The border-free Schengen Area is the world’s largest visa-free zone, guaranteeing free movement to over 400 million EU citizens and additional residents. The Schengen Area includes most EU countries, except for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania. However, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are de facto members as they’re in the process of joining the Schengen Area. Other non-EU States applying the Schengen policies include Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. A complete list can be found here.
Anyone who is not a Schengen Area resident usually 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, be valid in all 26 Schengen countries and cover any expenses for repatriation, urgent health attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death.