Getting started

What to do before going abroad for medical treatment

If you're thinking about having medical treatment in another European country, it's important to understand how it works and the risks involved. If you don't follow the correct procedures, you may end up being responsible for the full cost of treatment.

For example, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) does not cover going abroad for medical treatment. The EHIC is for emergency treatment that becomes necessary while you're abroad.

As an NHS patient, you have the right to receive treatment anywhere in the European Economic Area (EEA). However, conditions may apply in some cases. Read about entitlements to treatment abroad.

There are two ways to access NHS-funded healthcare in other EEA countries:

  1. The S2 route (or E112)
    This is a direct arrangement between the NHS and the state healthcare provider in the country of your choice. Prior approval is required.
  2. The EU Directive on cross-border healthcare (or Article 56)
    Generally, you’ll have to pay the costs of treatment abroad and then claim reimbursement from the NHS when you return. Depending on the treatment, it may be necessary for you to obtain authorisation from your health board before receiving treatment.

Each option works in a different way. Read a detailed description the S2 route and EU Directive on cross-border healthcare.


Last Updated: 01/04/2017 09:00:00
The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website