United Kingdom

Quick Overview

Capital: London
Population: 66 million
Official language: English
Time zone: Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), British Summer Time (BST)
Emergency #: 999
Vaccinations required: No
Risk of malaria: No
Climate Info

United Kingdom: Travel Health Information

The United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) is a popular travel destination home to modern cities, countryside, castles, and cultural and historical sites such as Stonehenge, Hadrian’s Wall, Roman Baths, the Tower of London, and St. David’s Cathedral.


The standards for patient care and medical services in the UK may differ from your home country. All regions in the UK share one public health system: the National Health Service (NHS). A small private sector also exists. The quality of care meets international standards but access to health services may vary by region due to the autonomy of each. The UK has a lower-than-average number of physicians and a declining number of nurses, which may lead to long wait times for services.

In the event of a medical emergency, contact your travel health insurance company immediately. Hospitals in the UK typically require upfront payment in cash or credit card, regardless if you have travel health insurance. Ensure that you have accessible funds to cover upfront fees and adequate travel health insurance. Before you depart, check with your insurer about the extent of their coverage in the UK.

Pharmacies and medications

Pharmacies and online pharmacies are widely available. Prescriptions for medications must be obtained from a doctor and prescription drugs cannot be purchased without one (online or in-person). Pharmacists are trained and licensed.

If you are travelling with medication, check with the UK’s embassy, consulate, or Ministry of Health for details on medication allowances and restrictions. If your medication is a psychotropic or narcotic, you can review the UK’s regulations on the International Narcotics Control Board. Note that these sources may provide incomplete or out-of-date information.

Road safety

Roads are generally very well maintained, but unclassified roads in rural regions may be unpaved. Old and narrow roads, as well as wandering wildlife in some areas, may pose a challenge for drivers. Seat belts must be worn by all occupants of a vehicle. Helmets are mandatory for motorcycle drivers and passengers at all times.

  • European Commission. State of health in the EU: Country Profile United Kingdom. European Commission. (2017).
  • National Health Service. Dangers of buying medicines online. National Health Service (NHS).
  • World Health Organization. Global status report on road safety 2018. Geneva: World Health Organization. (2018).
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