Healthcare for UK nationals living in Iceland

How to get state healthcare if you live, work or study in Iceland.

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This guidance will be updated if anything changes to how you get state healthcare in Iceland.

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This information is about living in Iceland. There are different rules if you’re visiting Iceland - find out how to get healthcare cover abroad with a UK-issued Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) on the NHS website.

State healthcare in Iceland is not completely free. Healthcare costs are covered by the state (through the Icelandic Health Insurance fund) and through patient contributions.

Patient contributions are capped each month. Once you’ve spent a certain amount, your state healthcare is free for the rest of the month.

UK nationals usually access the Icelandic healthcare system in one of these ways:

  • using a UK-issued GHIC or EHIC for temporary stays when studying, or as a ‘posted’ (detached) worker
  • registering a UK-issued S1 form with the state insurance fund (see ‘UK-funded healthcare: getting and using an S1 form in Iceland’ below)
  • taking out private health insurance for the first 6 months of living in Iceland
  • registering as a legal resident in Iceland then joining the state social insurance system

Healthcare if you live and work in Iceland

If you are planning on moving to Iceland, see the guidance on Living in Iceland for more information about visa and residency requirements.

You must register as a resident if you’re living in Iceland for more than 3 months.

You need private health insurance when you move to Iceland for the first 6 months.

The Icelandic healthcare system is state funded. After you’ve been legally resident for 6 months, you automatically become a member of the Icelandic social insurance system.

You need to pay patient contributions directly towards the cost of your healthcare. The rest is paid for by the state through the Icelandic Health Insurance fund.

There’s a limit to how much you pay for your healthcare in Iceland. The maximum amount you’ll pay depends on:

  • your age
  • whether you have a disability
  • how often you need to get medicine

Once you’re a resident, you may also be entitled to an Icelandic EHIC for travel.

How to register for healthcare

If you’re moving to Iceland from the UK, you’ll automatically become a member of the Icelandic social insurance system after being legally resident in Iceland for 6 months.

You need to give your Kennitala ID number each time you receive healthcare to prove that you’re covered.

How much you’ll pay

State healthcare in Iceland is not completely free. You may have to pay some of the cost when you receive treatment.

See how much you’ll pay for health services each year in Iceland

Patient contributions are capped each month. The amount is lower if you’re a child, over 67 years old or disabled. Once you’ve spent that amount, your healthcare will be free for the rest of that month.

The following healthcare services are free in Iceland:

  • visits to healthcare clinics if you’re over 67 years old or disabled
  • inpatient hospital care and treatment
  • maternity care
  • all healthcare services for children with a GP referral

Dental care is not covered by Iceland Health Insurance for most people.

Children’s dental care is free if they register with a family dentist. There’s an annual check-up charge for this of 2,500 Icelandic krona per child.

If your UK employer has sent you to Iceland temporarily (‘posted workers’)

A posted worker, also known as a ‘detached worker’, is someone employed or self-employed in the UK, but temporarily sent to a European Economic Area (EEA) country.

UK posted workers can access healthcare in Iceland using a GHIC, EHIC or S1 form.

HMRC has a helpline for National Insurance enquiries from non-UK residents. They can answer questions about posted worker status and explain which documents you will need to get healthcare while posted.

UK-funded healthcare: getting and using an S1 form in Iceland

There’s different guidance if you have an S1 as a ‘posted worker’ (see ‘If your UK employer has sent you to Iceland temporarily (‘posted workers’)’ above).

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you’re an Icelandic resident and receive either:

  • a UK State Pension
  • some other ‘exportable benefits’

Not all UK benefits that can be claimed while abroad entitle you to UK-funded healthcare. Read more about claiming benefits if you move abroad or contact Jobcentre Plus to ask about a benefit.

You may also be entitled to an S1 form if you’re a frontier worker (someone who works in one state and lives in another). You must contact HMRC National Insurance enquiries to find out if you’re eligible.

Once you have an S1 form, you must register it on the Icelandic system.

This will mean you and your dependants will be entitled to healthcare in Iceland on the same basis as an Icelandic citizen.

You’ll also get:

  • a UK-issued GHIC or EHIC for travel
  • planned treatments in the EEA

You can find out more about using your GHIC or EHIC abroad and the rules on planned treatments in the EEA on the NHS website.

Dependants and family members may be classified differently in Iceland than the UK.

Check with the local authorities when you register your S1 form.

If you’re entitled to an S1 form as a dependant of a State Pensioner, your health cover will be cancelled once you begin claiming your UK State Pension.

You will be sent a new S1 form to your registered address from NHS Overseas Healthcare Services. You must register this form to ensure continuation of healthcare cover.

You are responsible for informing NHS Overseas Healthcare Services if you change your address or your circumstances change.

NHS Overseas Healthcare Services
Telephone: +44 (0)191 218 1999
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Saturday, 9am to 3pm

How to get an S1 form

If you have a UK State Pension or another qualifying exportable benefit, you must request an application form by phone from NHS Overseas Healthcare Services (see contact details above).

How to use an S1 form in Iceland

You must register your S1 form with Icelandic Health Insurance.

Complete the application for Icelandic health insurance form and send it with your S1 form to:

Icelandic Health Insurance
International department
Vínlandsleið 16
113 Reykjavik

You can also email it to:

Once registered, you’ll be entitled to state healthcare on the same basis as an Icelandic citizen.

If you are experiencing delays registering your S1 with local authorities and require emergency or urgent treatment, contact the Overseas Healthcare Services on +44 (0)191 218 1999.

Studying in Iceland

You should apply for a Student GHIC to get medically necessary, state-provided healthcare for the duration of your study period in Iceland, whether this is for part or all of your course. This means that you’ll get necessary healthcare services on the same basis as an Icelandic citizen either for free or at a reduced cost.

If you already hold a valid Student EHIC, you can use this until the card expires.

Read more about eligibility and how to apply on the NHS website.

As part of the immigration process, you may have to:

  • take out private travel insurance with healthcare coverage
  • register as a resident to get state health insurance after 6 months

Speak to your university for further advice.

Getting treatment in the UK

Because the NHS is a residency-based system, under NHS rules UK nationals who move abroad on a permanent basis may lose their entitlement to free NHS healthcare.

If you are a UK national and move to the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK unless you have an EHIC, PRC or S2 to show your healthcare costs are funded by the EU country in which you now live or by Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, or another exemption applies.

Some former UK residents do not have to pay for NHS treatment when visiting England. This includes:

  • UK war pensioners
  • UK government employees
  • UK nationals living in the EU on or before 31 December 2020, once they have a registered, UK-issued S1

Read more about using the NHS when you no longer live in the UK (see ‘UK nationals who no longer live in the UK’ in Healthcare for visitors to the UK from the EU).

If you return to live in the UK, you’ll be able to use the NHS like any other UK resident.

Read more about using the NHS when you return to live in the UK.

Published 23 September 2019
Last updated 15 January 2024 + show all updates
  1. Various changes to the text to reflect EEA and EFTA changes that came into force on 1 January 2024.

  2. Updated 'UK-funded healthcare' to include information for S1 dependants who begin claiming a UK State Pension, and guidance for S1 holders who are experiencing delays in registering their S1. Updated 'Getting treatment in the UK' to provide additional detail about NHS access when visiting the UK.

  3. Updated 'posted worker' section to reflect how posted workers can continue working and accessing state healthcare in Iceland, and added detail to ‘getting treatment in the UK’ section about healthcare when you no longer live in the UK.

  4. Updated sections on living and working in Iceland, using an S1 form in Iceland, posted workers and studying in Iceland. Changes reflect healthcare arrangements for people moving to Iceland from 1 January 2021.

  5. Updated 2 sections: ‘Healthcare if you’re using an S1 form in Iceland' and ‘Healthcare if you’re studying in Iceland’. Students and people with a registered S1 in Iceland can now apply for a new UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) that will remain valid from 1 January 2021.

  6. First published.