Within the EU

Reciprocal Healthcare Arrangements within the EU

  • UK pensioners and dependents with an S1 certificate issued before 31 December 2020 can receive full access to state healthcare in the EU country they retire to and can return to the UK for treatment if they wish. EU country residents holding an EU country issued S1 certificate can access healthcare in the UK in the same way.
  • UK residents and their family members can access planned healthcare and maternity treatment in an EU member state via an S2 Certificate.
  • The EU directive route can no longer be used by UK residents following the UK’s exit from the EU, unless an application was in progress on 31 December 2020 or where treatment was accessed before 11pm on 31 December 2020.

The UK Government will pay the EU country for treatment of UK patients in that country who hold an GHIC, EHIC, UK EHIC, S1 or S2 certificate. Some countries require payment in advance and patients can claim these costs back from the UK Government.

EU patients who receive treatment in the UK and hold an EHIC, S1 or S2 certificate (please see page on planned medical treatment in EU, EEA/EFTA and Switzerland) will have those costs paid to the UK Government by that country.

Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) and European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and European Health Insurance Card (UK EHIC)

GHIC, EHIC and UK EHIC give UK residents travelling in the EU access to emergency and medically necessary healthcare, including medically necessary treatment for a pre-existing or chronic condition. These cards cannot be used for any planned medical treatment.

The GHIC replaces EHIC, which remains valid in the EU until its expiry date. The UK EHIC ,is retained for certain individuals with rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

You can apply for a new GHIC, or UK EHIC free of charge at Healthcare Cover Abroad - EHIC and GHIC, where further details regarding entitlement and coverage of the schemes may be found.

If you need medical treatment and do not have your GHIC, EHIC, UK EHIC , you will need to apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to evidence your entitlement.

All UK travellers to the EU are strongly advised to obtain travel insurance in addition to the GHIC, EHIC or UK EHIC as these may not cover all costs resulting from medically necessary treatment e.g., repatriation.  You could be charged for some or all of the healthcare you receive.

Click here for information on Foreign Travel Insurance on the UK Government pages.

You should check what is covered by your GHIC or EHIC or UK EHIC for the country you are visiting: European Health Insurance Card.

Withdrawal Agreement

If you are covered by the EU Withdrawal Agreement your healthcare rights remain as they were prior to 31 December 2020.

Planned Medical Treatment– S2 Funding Route

You may be entitled to NHS funding for planned state healthcare treatment in an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland with an S2 certificate.

Please see our page on Planned Medical Treatment in the EU, EEA/EFTA and Switzerland – S2 Funding Route

Healthcare in Wales after 1 January 2021

If you are a citizen of the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland who lived lawfully in Wales before 31 December 2020, you can use the NHS in Wales and access NHS services free of charge provided you have successfully applied to the EU Settlement Scheme for settled or pre-settled status, applied and hold a Certificate of Application whilst awaiting determination, or have made an appeal awaiting determination.

Additional support and guidance: EU Settlement Scheme.


Healthcare in Ireland

The Commons Travel Area arrangement between Ireland and the UK mean that Irish citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in Ireland can access NHS healthcare free of charge in the country they live in.

Healthcare in Ireland. 


Studying in the UK

If you are a citizen of the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland and began studying at an accredited high education institute in the UK on or before 31 December 2020, you can use your EHIC for medical necessary healthcare until the end of the course.

If the course extended beyond 30 June 2021, you can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme if you or your family are from the EU, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland and were living in the UK by 31 December 2020.

Where the course began after 1 January 2021 and  lasts for more than 6 months, the Immigration Health Surcharge must be paid when applying for your student visa. You may be able to get back the money you paid for the IHS if eligible.

Last Updated: 11/01/2024 14:16:22