Healthcare for EU and EFTA citizens visiting the UK

Information on healthcare for residents in the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) visiting the UK, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The government has proposed to EU member states and EFTA states (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) to maintain the existing healthcare arrangements in a no-deal scenario.

This offer will apply until December 2020 with the aim of minimising disruption to healthcare provision for people including UK nationals and EU citizens.

The UK has agreed Citizens’ Rights agreements with Switzerland and the EEA EFTA countries of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein for both a deal and a no-deal scenario.

Under those agreements, citizens of these countries living lawfully in the UK on exit day will be able to access the NHS as they do now.

If you are visiting from the EU or EFTA after the UK has left the EU then your healthcare cover may change in a no-deal scenario and without a reciprocal agreement in place.

You are advised to visit NHS.UK for information on accessing healthcare in the UK.

Travel insurance

The government always advises visitors to the UK to take out travel insurance when coming to the country, from both EU and EFTA and non-EU countries.

If you are planning to visit after the UK has left the EU, you should buy travel insurance. Make sure that any insurance product you buy has the necessary healthcare coverage to ensure you can get the treatment you might need for the duration of your visit.

European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC)

If you have an EHIC issued by an EU or EFTA country, this will still be valid until the day the UK leaves the EU. It may not be valid after this date, depending on decisions by individual countries on agreeing reciprocal healthcare arrangements.

Studying and working in the UK

If you are an EU citizen and receiving education or training in the UK, and you have an EHIC, it will be valid until exit day. While the government is seeking agreements with EU countries, it may not be valid after this date. You should buy insurance to cover your healthcare as you would if visiting another non-EU country.

Swiss and EFTA (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) nationals who start their studies in the UK before exit day, will continue to benefit from their EHIC cover for the duration of their course, even if it finishes after exit day.

For those who come to the UK and commence their education or training after exit day, their EHIC may not be valid. However, we are seeking agreements with Switzerland and the EFTA states to continue reciprocal healthcare arrangements after exit day.

Find out more about healthcare on NHS.UK.

People with pre-existing health conditions

If you have a pre-existing health condition, you should buy medical travel insurance before visiting the UK. You must tell the insurance company about any health conditions you have, to make sure you can get the cover you need.

If you have an EHIC, this will be valid until the day the UK leaves the EU but may not be accepted after this date. The UK government is working to protect EHIC entitlements in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

You should consult your doctor for advice before you travel and make plans for how to care for your condition when you are in the UK. You should also take your health condition identification or letter saying what medication you are taking.

Agreement with Switzerland

The UK has agreed a Citizens’ Rights Agreement with Switzerland if the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal. In a no-deal scenario, broadly, this deal protects the rights of Swiss nationals who live or work in the UK, or are visiting the UK, on exit day (and UK nationals who do the same in Switzerland) . It does not enable Swiss nationals visiting the UK after exit day to use their EHIC card for emergency treatment.

Find out more information on the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement.

Agreement with EEA EFTA states

The UK has agreed a separation agreement with the EEA European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states for a deal and a separate citizens’ rights agreement for a no-deal scenario. These deals protect the rights of EEA EFTA nationals who live or work in the UK, or are visiting the UK, on exit day (and UK nationals who do the same in EFTA countries). It does not enable all EEA EFTA nationals to be covered for EHIC rights while visiting after the UK has left the EU

Find out more information on the EEA EFTA states Citizens’ Rights arrangements

Agreement with Ireland

British citizens who live in Ireland and Irish citizens who live in the UK will continue to have the right to access healthcare there. This is because of longstanding arrangements under the Common Travel Area.

Both governments are committed to continuing to help people access healthcare after the UK leaves the EU.

Find out more information on the Common Travel Area between the British and Ireland.

Published 19 March 2019