Compulsory travel insurance

Compulsory Travel Insurance:  Which countries?

Compulsory travel insurance is becoming more common these days with some countries denying entry in cases where the traveller is uninsured.

It can be a little tricky too as some countries not only insist travellers have compulsory travel insurance but also require travellers to purchase cover from a local insurer.

So do you know which countries insist on compulsory travel insurance?  Let’s look at some.

Schengen countries

Fortunately, Australian citizens can travel throughout Europe with few restrictions.  However, if you are planning to live, study or work in the Schengen area for more than 90 days, you will need a Schengen visa.  Schengen refers to an EU passport-free zone and covers 26 European countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

To apply for a Schengen visa, you must arrange compulsory travel insurance.  The policy must provide a minimum level of medical expenses and repatriation cover in the event of illness, injury or death.  The minimum cover level is EUR 30,000.


Entry to Cuba is conditional on the traveller holding a comprehensive travel insurance policy.  Travellers over the age of 70 must purchase additional insurance from a local Cuban insurance provider.  This is also the case for travellers who plan to participate in high risk sports or competitions.  Such high risk activities include parachuting and diving.

Travellers planning to visit Cuba should take care to ensure their chosen travel insurance provider is able to provide cover for this destination.  In late 2018, the US government reinstated trade sanctions against Cuba which means that US based insurance providers may not be able to provide cover to travellers who are visiting Cuba.


Thailand is the latest country to consider compulsory travel insurance for international visitors.  Whilst compulsory travel insurance has not yet been approved by the Thai Tourism and Sports Ministry, Thai officials hope that introduction of the scheme will reassure travellers visiting the country.

The proposal seeks to charge visitors THB 20 (approx. A$1) at the Immigration counter.  In return for this expenditure, the traveller will be covered for stays of up to 30 days.  In the event of death, the policy will pay up to THB1,000,000 (approx. A$45,000).

A decision on whether Thailand introduces compulsory travel insurance for foreign visitors is expected in the latter part of 2019.


Travel insurance for Antarctica isn’t mandatory.  However, the risks of visiting Antarctica should not be under-estimated and it is unlikely you will find a tour operator that does not insist on you having comprehensive travel insurance which covers (at least) weather related cancellation and medical expenses including evacuation.  Compulsory travel insurance for visitors to Antarctica is enforced by most if not all tour operators who lead expeditions to this region.

Final words …

As a travel insurance provider, we always recommend travellers arrange adequate cover before heading off overseas.  Whilst compulsory travel insurance is required to visit certain countries, it is always a good idea to arrange cover for any international destination.  Travel can be unpredictable and it is always best to be prepared for any eventuality.  Remember too that rules change – so what one country’s entry requirements are today may be different when you’re planning to visit.  Make sure you keep up to date with what is expected of you when planning to visit foreign countries.

Got questions about travel insurance?  Why not call us on 1300 819 888 or send an email to