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

As an ostomate travelling overseas, its a good idea to carry a Doctors letter explaining your condition or a “Travel Certificate” on your person to avoid embarrassment whilst obtaining Customs clearance. The Australian Council of Stoma Associations Inc Travel Certificate comes in a range of languages to assist ostomates while travelling. The certificate requires your personal information such as name, address and passport number and must be signed by either your Stomal Therapy Nurse or doctor.

Click on the language to download a copy of the travel certificate:

Arabic        Chinese        French        German        Greek

Indonesian       Italian        Japanese      Korean      Malay

Portugese      Spanish        Thai      Vietnamese

Travel Hints and Tips

  • Make sure your travel documents are in order e.g passport/ travel insurance policy documentation / Medicare Card / travel certificate / details of your appliance supplier and product codes.
  • Make a checklist of equipment you need to take with you on your journey. Put together a small travel kit containing items needed for a change of appliance. Keep it with you at all times and regularly update its contents.
  • When ordering supplies from your association, make sure you order adequate supplies to cover your holiday period. Remember: a different environment may mean more changes!
  • Remember to work within your associations order availability time frames when placing your holiday order. NB: up to 6 months supply can be issued by your association for your holiday order (international travel only).
  • Remember that scissors cannot be carried in your hand luggage. If using a “cut to fit” appliance, pre-cut an adequate number to carry in your hand luggage. Scissors must always be packed in checked luggage!
  • If using a closed end pouch, carry some drainable pouches with you in case of tummy upset.
  • If possible, find out the details of local product suppliers at your travel destination. These will prove invaluable in case of emergency.

Travel Insurance

It is 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!