The University of Iowa

Health Abroad

Preparing to Travel Abroad

You may be exposed to unfamiliar climates, food, and health care systems. In many cases, a good measure of common sense and a healthy respect for your own body will help to avoid medical problems. A few preliminary precautions can spare you a good deal of unpleasantness. Consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for health information specific to international destinations.

Medical and Dental Checkups

Medical and dental checkups prior to your departure are crucial. Only your physician knows your personal medical history and can advise you if your situation warrants some alteration of the general preventive guidelines outlined here. Frequently, health statements from your doctor are required to obtain a visa to enter your host country, if a visa is required.


Some countries require immunizations before allowing foreigners in. Some countries require a health screening by a local physician after you arrive in order to allow you to get a temporary residence permit. Your program provider should inform you of any required vaccinations prior to departing. To find out about specific inoculations that may be required to enter your host country or countries in which you may wish to travel, consult your physician or the international travel clinic at Student Health Services (4189 Westlawn, 319-335-8730). For information about health risks and vaccination requirements for international destinations consult the CDC.

Since many inoculations require more than one visit to the clinic or cannot be taken in combination with others, it is recommended that you begin your inquiries well in advance of your departure.

What to Bring

Medic Alert Emblem

Consider wearing a medical alert bracelet that can be recognized internationally if you have a specific medical problem (i.e., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, food or drug allergies).  Talk to your doctor for more information.

Prescription Medicine

If you take prescription medication, please check with the foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. for your destination country for information on bringing prescriptions abroad. 

Over-the-Counter Remedies

If you regularly use any over-the-counter remedies, you may want take a supply with you. For customs purposes, take all medicines in their original containers.

Health Insurance Information for University of Iowa Education Abroad Participants

The University of Iowa mandates international health insurance for all UI students traveling abroad for education purposes - studying abroad, interning, conducting research, performing a rotation, presenting at a conference, or any other educationally-related activity abroad.  This 'blanket' insurance coverage is provided through Cultural Insurance Service International (CISI). You can find more information about this coverage on our Health Insurance Information webpage.

Pre-existing Conditions/Treatment Abroad

CISI will cover treatment for pre-existing conditions, and can help connect students to local doctors for continuation of care planning.  Students are encouraged to work with their doctor in the U.S. and contact CISI well in advance of their departure date to begin planning for any anticipated medical needs while abroad.

Additional information regarding your health abroad will be covered in mandatory pre-departure orientations.