Travel health and vaccinations

If you’re planning to travel outside the UK, your travel health needs will depend on your individual situation. This includes:

  • your destination
  • how long you’ll stay
  • what you’ll be doing
  • your general health

The fitfortravel website provides country-specific advice on:

  • recommended vaccines
  • malaria
  • other risk prevention advice

Travel health risk assessment

If you think you require vaccines and/or a malaria risk assessment, you should make an appointment with a travel health professional.

A travel health risk assessment is also recommended for some people, even when vaccines or malaria tablets aren’t required. This includes:

  • older people
  • those with a weakened immune system
  • those with long-term conditions that need medications
  • pregnant women
  • children

To make an appointment for a travel health risk assessment in Scotland, contact the NHS health board where you live. 

Alternatively, you can visit a private clinic for:

  • a travel health risk assessment
  • advice
  • other travel vaccines

You should arrange a travel health risk assessment 6 to 8 weeks before you travel. This gives time for any vaccines you might need to become fully effective.

If your trip is sooner, remember it’s never too late to get advice.

Preventing risk whilst travelling

Vaccines or anti-malarial tablets will not protect against all travel health risks. This means you’ll need to take extra measures to protect your health whilst travelling abroad.

Further advice on preventing health risks whilst travelling is available on the fitfortravel website. This includes advice on:

Travel vaccines

The following travel vaccines are free on the NHS in Scotland:

  • diphtheria, polio and tetanus (combined booster)
  • hepatitis A
  • typhoid
  • cholera

It’s likely that you’ll have to pay for vaccines against:

  • yellow fever
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • tick-borne encephalitis
  • rabies

Additionally, you might have to pay for the following vaccines if they’re only required for travel purposes:

  • hepatitis B
  • meningitis
  • tuberculosis (TB)

Coronavirus (COVID 19)

Before booking any travel, check the entry requirements for the country you’re going to. You can find this information on the UK government website.

Before travelling, you must consider that:

  • some countries may refuse entry to UK travellers if levels of coronavirus (COVID-19) are high in the UK
  • the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) may advise against travelling to a country with high levels of coronavirus

Information on travelling abroad during the coronavirus pandemic is available on the fitfortravel website.

Proof of vaccination

Some countries request that you carry proof of having had particular vaccines to enter their country. This includes the:

Yellow fever vaccines are only available from designated centres. To find out if you need a yellow fever vaccine or proof of yellow fever vaccine, you should contact a designated yellow fever clinic.

Find clinics in Scotland that offer yellow fever vaccinations

Proof of coronavirus vaccination can be obtained using the COVID Status app. If you can’t use the app, you’re also able to apply for paper proof of your coronavirus vaccination status.

Find out how to access the COVID status app or get paper proof of coronavirus vaccination

To request a list of any other vaccines held on your GP record, contact your GP practice in the first instance.  Please be aware GP practices cannot provide proof of COVID vaccine.

Travelling abroad to visit friends and relatives

If you’re travelling abroad to visit friends or relatives, you may be at higher risk of developing travel-related illnesses like malaria or typhoid. This could be because:

  • you may be living with the local community
  • your trip might be longer than the average holiday
  • you might be visiting more rural areas where it’s difficult to take precautions that reduce your risk

The fitfortravel website provides information and advice on visiting friends and family abroad.

Travel safety advice

You can find country-specific safety and security advice through the UK government website.

Travel insurance advice

Many countries don’t have the same access to medical treatments as the UK and can be expensive. Comprehensive travel insurance is therefore strongly recommended for all travellers.

When you return home

If you become unwell and/or develop a fever when you return home, it’s important to get medical advice as soon as possible. You should seek medical help even if it’s up to 1 month after you’ve been travelling.

Always make sure you tell the health professional that you’ve recently travelled abroad. This is especially important if you have been to a country where malaria is a risk.

Last updated:
22 November 2023