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United Kingdom (UK) - Health Risks, Inoculations, Vaccinations and Health Certificates

The United Kingdom is an advanced country, medically speaking, compared to other parts of the world. HIV and AIDS, cancers, and common colds are health risks. Cholera, bird flu, and malaria are not common in the United Kingdom, however this does not mean that travellers are incapable of bringing diseases into the country. To prevent the spread of new diseases or possible pandemic diseases, the United Kingdom reserves the right to require a medical inspection. It is best for expats to take a medical exam before entering the United Kingdom in case customs officers would like to see the paperwork. An immigration officer can determine whether a medical inspector is required in order to avoid the spread of disease. Unlike other countries travellers or expats might go to, the United Kingdom does not require specific inoculations or vaccinations against diseases.

In general, whenever travelling outside a home country, a person should be inoculated for common ailments such as flu, TB, tetanus, hepatitis, measles, mumps, and rubella. In this way an expat is protected for various diseases and accidents. It is also possible to suffer from sun exposure during the summer, therefore sunscreen is important.

Heart and circulatory disorders, cancer, respiratory disorders, nervous system disorders, digestive disorders, kidney problems, and non-transport-related accidents account for the leading causes of death in the UK. Diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, suicide and transport accidents are second-highest on the list. Mental health issues, undetermined events, medical complications, pregnancy, and war are the lowest on the scale of common deaths.

High blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, and obesity make up the most prevalent health risks in the UK. Infections are rather low on the list, accounting for about 1.6%. By contrast, high blood pressure is at 16.2% and obesity is 10.1%

Explicit Details Regarding Health

Immigration officers usually determine whether a passenger needs to go through a medical examination and obtain a medical certificate before entering the United Kingdom. Certain diseases can automatically be flagged by the immigration office, such as persons infected by AIDS or HIV. Typically, a person suffering in the latter stages of a disease will need to be cleared before entry. If the issue happens after entry, a referred entry clearance may be required. The Mental Health Act provides guidance for the procedure that must be followed. This Act covers more than just AIDS and HIV; it also includes information regarding in-patient treatment pertaining to mental illness for foreigners looking to move to the United Kingdom.

It is unlawful for an immigration officer to ask direct questions about health during entry at a port or in the airport. However, if there is a suspected illness, the immigration officer can ask the person to submit to a medical examination. The medical inspector will then decide whether a health certificate for special entry is required or if the person needs to return to their home country. Any passenger suspected to suffer from a venereal disease, TB, leprosy, trachoma, lice, scabies, or with poor personal hygiene will be required to undergo an examination and may be given a certificate or turned away.

The Medical Act also states that a passenger intending on remaining in the United Kingdom for more than six months must have a medical examination, but all other cases are subject to discretion. There has to be a significant and apparent reason for the immigration officer to require a medical inspection, which is usually due to worry of risk to the general public.

If a person refuses to submit to the requested medical examination at entry they will be refused entry and be put on a plane back to their country of departure. It is possible for the person to be held at a hospital during the examination if there is a serious threat of illness suspected. If cleared, the person will be allowed to enter the country.

Exceptions to the Act

Passengers of good standing, on short visits, teachers with employment documents, students sponsored by the British Council, and dependents of the US forces can all enter without a medical examination requested by the immigration officer. This is due to a medical exam already taken before the person is given clearance to enter the country.

Contact Details for Health Information

Border Agency

+44(0) 870 606 7766


The NHS is the main health service provider and this includes mental health services, which are available to expats. Anyone can contact them using an online form, emergency numbers or through a local hospital.


The Health and Social Care Information Centre coordinates with the NHS in order to care for patients in need of mental health services, including treatment plans.

+44(0) 845 300 6016

Expat Health Insurance Partners


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.

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