Travelling Overseas?

The following information may be useful to Australian Ostomates travelling internationally

International Departure – Body Scanning

Full body scanning was introduced to Australia’s main international airports in December, 2012 as an additional layer of security.

As body scanners will detect stoma and ostomy pouches on a person, the Australian Government has developed guidelines to be used by screening officers when dealing with persons with a medical device or aid including an ostomy to ensure that the privacy of that person is appropriately maintained at all times. Details of the guidelines can be found here. We do recommend that, to avoid confusion or embarrassment at an Australian international airport screening point, persons travelling internationally should be aware of these guidelines.

Persons are randomly selected by screening officers for body scanning. Persons who refuse to participate in body scanning will not be allowed to pass through the screening point and will therefore not be allowed to board their flight.

Ostomy Appliances

Ostomates travelling overseas should ensure that they take enough supplies with them to cover the duration of their stay as supplies cannot be sent by Associations to destinations outside of Australia. There may be times however when you need to obtain appliances during your travels and it is recommended that a list of associations/contacts within your destination country be carried with you in case of emergency. A full list of associations may be obtained from the International Ostomy Association (IOA) website.

Reciprocal Heath Care Agreements (RHCA)

The Australian Government has signed Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with some countries which means that, as an Australian resident, you may be eligible to receive assistance with the cost of medically necessary treatment, including stoma appliances if necessary, while travelling in Finland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Malta, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, Belgium and Slovenia. It is highly recommended that travellers to these countries check eligibility and entitlement for supply prior to leaving Australia.

To access assistance through an RHCA travellers may need to provide local authorities with:

  • an Australian passport or other passport which shows you are a permanent Australian resident and
  • a valid Australian Medicare card.

It is important when seeking treatment that medical staff in the country you are visiting be advised that you wish to be treated under the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia. For more information about Australia’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreements, see here.

When travelling to a destination that does not have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia, stoma appliances will need to be purchased. Unfortunately Medicare reimbursement cannot be obtained for the cost of stoma appliances purchased overseas.

Travel Certificate

It is a good idea as an ostomates travelling overseas to carry a Doctors letter explaining your condition or a “Travel Certificate” (obtained from any Australian Stoma Association to be completed and signed by a GP) on your person to avoid embarrassment whilst obtaining Customs clearance.

Travel Insurance

It is also recommended that appropriate travel insurance be obtained prior to departure. Although obtaining travel insurance with a stoma can be a little difficult at times due to the “pre existing condition” clause there are companies that will cover ostomates depending on the underlying condition so keep trying!