Healthcare cover abroad and for visitors requiring treatment

You can use a European health insurance card or global health insurance card to get state-provided medically necessary healthcare cover when you’re visiting a European Union (EU) country.
Medically necessary healthcare means healthcare that cannot reasonably wait until you come back to the UK. Whether treatment is necessary is decided by the healthcare provider in the country you are visiting.

There are 2 types of cover available. You can apply for either.

  1. UK global health insurance card
  2. UK European health insurance card if you have rights under the withdrawal agreement.

For most people, the UK global health insurance card replaces the existing European health insurance card for new applications. They provide the same access to healthcare in the EU.

A global health insurance card or European health insurance card is free of charge. Beware of unofficial websites, they may charge you a fee to apply.

Healthcare cover for overseas visitors

Unplanned treatment on a temporary visit to England

A visitor from an EU country who falls ill or has a medical emergency during their temporary stay in England, can continue to use your European health insurance card

The European health insurance card will cover them for treatment that becomes medically necessary during a visit to England, until they return to their country. It also covers them for the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, providing the reason for their visit is not specifically to give birth or receive treatment.

Healthcare cover for visitors from Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland

A resident of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland who’s visit began before but ends after 31 December 2020, you can continue to use their European health insurance card to access healthcare until the end of their visit to the UK.

From 1 January 2021, most visitors from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland may need to pay for NHS healthcare. Any treatment that they have to pay for will be charged at 150% of the national NHS rate.

A UK national who moved to Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland before 31 December 2020, can continue to use their European health insurance card or a provisional replacement certificate in the UK.

Seeking planned treatment in England

From 1 January 2021, planned treatment under the S2 arrangement, which allows people residing in a European economic area or Switzerland to obtain planned healthcare treatment in another European economic area country at the expense of their home state, is only available to visitors from EU countries.

They will need to make all the necessary arrangements themselves in advance. Planned treatment is not covered by the European health insurance card. If they do not have valid documentation, they will be charged for treatment. They need to arrange an S2 form from the relevant organisation in their home country before traveling to England.

UK nationals and others whose healthcare in the EU is paid for by the UK

A UK national living outside the UK, should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK. They should take out appropriate travel insurance when visiting the UK, as they would when visiting any other country.

People living in an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland on or before 31 December 2020 and the UK government pays for their healthcare through S1 arrangements, which is a healthcare certificate that entitles the holder, and any dependants, to healthcare in another EU country on the same basis as a resident of that country, they will be able to use NHS services in England without charge when visiting the UK. People who have their healthcare paid for by the UK include those who get a UK State Pension or some other UK benefits, and posted workers, who are people working abroad for UK companies or organisations.

A UK national who move to an EU country, can only use NHS services for free if they have a European health insurance card, provisional replacement certificate or S2 to show the healthcare costs are funded by the EU country where they now live, or another exemption applies.

If they move to Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, they may have to pay for any treatment that is needed when visiting the UK. Any treatment that they have to pay for will be charged at 150% of the national NHS rate.

Healthcare cover for visitors from outside the European Economic Area (EEA)

Unplanned treatment on a temporary visit to England

Visitors from a non-European economic area country, even if you’re a former UK resident, will be charged for NHS secondary care at 150% of the standard NHS rate, unless an exemption from the charge category applies to them or the treatment.

Further information is available from NHS England.

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