Where Is Expat Health Insurance Mandatory?

When living or working abroad one of the major issues to be addressed is healthcare.  Ensuring you can access quality healthcare is essential whether you are working or retiring abroad.  In many countries you can access the state healthcare system if you are a resident of that country, but there may be conditions before you qualify.  Brexit is bringing this issue to the fore for British expats in Europe.

In some countries health insurance is becoming a mandatory condition of entry to the country.  Without proof of the correct insurance coverage entry will be refused.  These include the following:


  • Qatar – Medical insurance is compulsory for expats in Qatar and private companies have been legally required to pay the premiums on behalf of their expat employees since 2015.
  • United Arab Emirates – Health insurance is required for anyone applying for a visit or tourist visa. Any expats applying for a new visa or renewal of a current visa must be able to demonstrate that they have health insurance.
  • Turkey – Expats must have health insurance if they want to get a residence permit in Turkey. Those over the age of 65 have been exempted from the requirement.
  • Shengen Zone (26 European countries) – Anyone applying for a Shengen visa, whether for tourism or business purposes, must have international health insurance. There are a number of countries whose citizens do not need a Schengen visa. These include the USA, Canada, Japan, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and the UAE.
    The coverage required is for a minimum of €30,000 and it must cover medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.  It must also cover all of the Shengen countries.
  • France – Although part of the Shengen zone, France also has additional requirements for students and non-working expats who may be exempt from the Shengen visa. Students over 28 planning to stay over 90 days must show that they have private health insurance.  Non-working European expats under retirement age have to meet more onerous standards of health insurance cover.
  • Cuba – All visitors entering the country must have health insurance. If no insurance is in place on arrival you will be required to purchase coverage from the local Cuban insurance provider available in the immigration area in Arrivals.  The coverage may not match what you can get from an international provider and premiums are likely to be high.
  • USA – Although not a formal requirement medical costs in the US are so high that it would be very risky to travel there without medical insurance. There is no such thing as “free” treatment in America and even in urgent care clinics there is a cost. All care, including emergency care, will have to be paid for.  If your health insurance does not pay, you will need to pay and then make a claim.
    As an expat moving to America will need to have good quality health insurance cover.  If your employer in the US will not be providing insurance cover you will need to be sure you have identified the cost for you and your dependents.