Guidance

Healthcare in Iceland

Healthcare information for UK nationals visiting, living in or moving to Iceland.

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This content was originally published on the NHS website.

Healthcare in Iceland after Brexit

If you currently live in Iceland

The UK has reached an agreement with Iceland on citizens’ rights.

This means that if there is a no-deal Brexit, existing healthcare entitlements will be protected.

The agreement protects the rights of UK nationals living in Iceland and Icelandic nationals living in the UK before exit day.

Current healthcare arrangements will not change for UK nationals who are resident in Iceland before the UK leaves the EU, for as long as they are living in Iceland and covered by the agreement.

This includes:

If you are a posted worker with a UK-issued EHIC or S1 certificate working in Iceland before exit day, read the guidance about national insurance when you go abroad.

If you move to Iceland after Brexit

If you are planning to move to Iceland after the UK leaves the EU, you need to make the best decisions for your circumstances and consider:

  • registering to live in Iceland
  • applying for a permanent residence permit if you have lived in Iceland for 4 years
  • registering with Registers Iceland if you have lived in Iceland for 6 months to gain access to the national health service under the Icelandic Health Insurance Fund
  • buying comprehensive health insurance to cover you while you are applying for residency or if you are not eligible for any local schemes

Make sure you have all the right documentation and it is up to date.

You can find information on registering for residency on the Directorate of Immigration website.

S1 certificate holders

The existing healthcare entitlements of UK nationals who are living in Iceland before exit day will be protected, even if there is a no-deal Brexit. This is because of the Citizens’ Rights Agreement between the UK and Iceland.

This includes:

  • S1 holders who are living in Iceland before exit day
  • UK nationals living in Iceland before exit day who reach state pension age after Brexit

If you do not have an S1 certificate, you can continue to apply for one until the UK leaves the EU. It is important to have all the right documentation and that it is up to date.

Studying in Iceland after Brexit

If you are a UK resident studying, or about to study, in Iceland your UK-issued student EHIC will remain valid for the duration of your course, as long as you stay on it.

After the UK leaves the EU, you may need to apply for a residence permit. The Directorate of Immigration website sets out the eligibility criteria and application process for student residence permits.

Get help paying for medical treatment after Brexit

During the first 6 months after Brexit, if you need medical treatment and you’re being asked to pay for it, the UK can help.

To organise a payment, you’ll need to give your healthcare provider’s details to the NHS Business Services Authority’s Overseas Healthcare Services.

Call the NHS Business Services Authority on +44 (0)191 218 1999 for more information. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 3pm (UK time).

Using NHS services when visiting the UK

You can use NHS services in England, Scotland and Wales without charge, when you are visiting the UK after exit day, if both of the following apply:

  • you are living in Iceland before exit day
  • the UK government currently pays for your healthcare (for example, if you have a UK S1 certificate registered in Iceland)

You should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK if you are moving to Iceland after Brexit.

You should take out appropriate travel insurance when visiting the UK, as you would when visiting any other country.

Returning to the UK permanently

If you return to the UK permanently and meet the ordinarily resident test, you will be able to access NHS care without charge.

European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC)

If your visit starts after the UK leaves the EU, your EHIC may not be valid if there is a no-deal Brexit.

If your visit begins before the UK leaves the EU, the Citizens’ Rights Agreement between the UK and Iceland means that:

  • existing healthcare entitlements will be protected
  • your EHIC will be valid for the duration of your stay if there is a no-deal Brexit

Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance if you’re planning to visit Iceland.

Check your travel insurance has the necessary healthcare cover to ensure you can get any treatment you might need.

If you have any pre-existing health conditions, talk to your insurer about how to get the right cover, and how this affects your travel.

Living and working in Iceland

This information is about healthcare in Iceland before Brexit. Find out about healthcare for UK nationals living and working in Iceland after Brexit.

You have access to the national health service under the Icelandic Health Insurance Fund if you have been resident in Iceland for more than 6 months and are registered with Registers Iceland.

UK posted workers

If you’re a worker posted to Iceland by a UK company, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK in Iceland.

You can find out more from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC):

S1 certificate

This information is about healthcare in Iceland before Brexit. Find out about S1 certificates after Brexit.

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Iceland and receive:

  • an exportable UK State Pension
  • a contribution-based Employment Support Allowance
  • another exportable benefit

You can apply for a certificate of entitlement, known as an S1 certificate, if you are eligible. An S1 certificate helps you and your dependants access healthcare in Iceland.

You may be eligible for an S1 certificate if you:

  • receive certain UK benefits, such as a UK State Pension
  • are employed by a UK body or firm (you are a posted or frontier worker)
  • are a dependant of someone who has an S1 certificate

You can apply for an S1 certificate through the NHS Business Services Authority.

Make sure you have all the right documentation and that it is up to date.

If you receive a UK State Pension, you can apply for your certificate via the Overseas Healthcare Service on +44 (0) 191 218 1999 (option 5).

For other exportable benefits, you may need to contact a different team depending on the exportable benefit.

You can find more information under claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad. Please note that different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

Studying in Iceland

This information is about healthcare in Iceland before Brexit. Find out about healthcare for UK nationals studying in Iceland after Brexit.

The government always advises UK nationals to take out comprehensive insurance when going overseas.

Your EHIC is not an alternative to insurance and you should have both when you travel abroad.

If you are a UK resident studying, or about to study, in Iceland your UK-issued student EHIC will remain valid for the duration of your course, as long as you stay on it.

Read the NHS guide for healthcare when studying abroad.

For more information about healthcare when living abroad, read the NHS guide on planning your healthcare when moving abroad.

Visiting Iceland

This information is about healthcare in Iceland before Brexit. Find out about healthcare for UK nationals visiting Iceland after Brexit.

Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance if you’re planning to visit Iceland.

The government always advises UK nationals to take out comprehensive travel insurance when going overseas.

Your EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both when you travel abroad.

Emergency medical care is provided to anyone requiring urgent attention. You can expect to be charged in full for any care provided without an EHIC.

Your EHIC enables you to access necessary state-provided healthcare in Iceland at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free, if you’re staying there temporarily.

Make sure you are treated by a healthcare provider in the state system as you will not be covered for private healthcare with an EHIC. Almost all healthcare providers operate within the state system.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork.

Pre-existing health conditions

You should buy medical travel insurance before visiting Iceland if you have a pre-existing health condition.

You must tell the insurance company about any pre-existing health conditions you have to make sure you can get the cover you need.

If you have a pre-existing condition that will need treatment while abroad, ask your doctor in the UK for advice before you travel.

Take any documents about your health condition or medication with you.

If you are travelling to have planned medical treatment, read the NHS guide on seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Healthcare services in Iceland

Non-emergency medical care is provided in health centres. These are located throughout Iceland. You will be charged a standard fee. Treatment is free for children under 18 years of age.

Call 1770 if you need medical advice outside opening hours.

Finding help in an emergency

Call 112 if you have a serious or life-threatening emergency during your stay in Iceland. Calls to this number are free of charge.

Ambulance services are not free of charge, so it’s best to only call an ambulance if the patient is not in a fit state to go by car, taxi or bus.

There’s a fixed charge for ambulance services for EHIC holders. If you cannot show a valid EHIC, you’ll have to pay the full cost.

You can download the 112 Iceland App, which provides added safety if you plan to do a lot of outdoor activities in Iceland.

Dentists

You will be charged for general dental and orthodontic treatment if you are aged between 18 and 66 years of age.

You’ll be entitled to a partial reimbursement for dental treatment if you are:

  • a child under the age of 18
  • a state pensioner over the age of 66
  • receiving invalidity benefits

You’ll need to pay the bill in full and then seek reimbursement at the local Icelandic Health Insurance office.

Make sure you keep the receipt, have a valid EHIC and can prove that you’re a pensioner or entitled to benefits.

Hospitals

You need a referral from a GP to be admitted to hospital. Immediate admissions are only possible in emergencies.

Generally, there’s no charge for inpatient treatment. You will be charged a fee for outpatient treatment.

There are no private hospitals in Iceland. All inpatient and outpatient care is state-funded.

Prescriptions

You must pay for your prescription in Iceland.

Bringing your own medicines to Iceland

Some prescribed medicines contain drugs that are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation in the UK. This means that additional legal controls apply to these medicines.

You may need a personal licence to take controlled medicines abroad.

Specific requirements also apply to:

  • the information that you must take with you
  • how you carry your controlled medicines

Read more information about travelling with controlled medicines.

Published 23 September 2019