Guidance

Healthcare in Switzerland

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

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This content was originally published on the NHS website.

Healthcare in Switzerland after Brexit

The UK and Switzerland have agreed a transitional social security agreement which ensures healthcare access in Switzerland will remain the same if there’s a no-deal Brexit. This complements the existing agreement with Switzerland on citizens’ rights.

If you currently live in Switzerland

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

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

The agreement protects the rights of UK nationals living in Switzerland, and Swiss nationals who are living in the UK, before exit day.

Current healthcare arrangements will not change for UK nationals who are resident in Switzerland before the UK leaves the EU, for as long as they’re living in Switzerland and covered by the agreement. This includes:

UK posted workers

If you’re a posted worker with a UK-issued EHIC or S1 certificate working in Switzerland before exit day, read the government’s guidance about National Insurance if you go abroad.

If you decide to continue working in Switzerland and pay contributions there, your EHIC or S1 may not continue to be valid.

If you’re a UK posted worker and you need to pay social security contributions in Switzerland after Brexit, consider buying into the state system if you’re eligible.

This will mean you can continue to receive healthcare on the same terms as a Swiss national.

Or you could think about buying comprehensive health insurance.

If you move to Switzerland after Brexit

The UK and Switzerland have agreed that healthcare access in Switzerland will remain the same if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

This arrangement will continue until at least 31 December 2020.

You need to make the best decisions for your circumstances and consider:

  • registering to live in Switzerland – as with current arrangements in Switzerland, there are 3 types of permits you can get: short-term (less than a year), annual or permanent
  • registering for healthcare in Switzerland – if you remain resident in Switzerland, you’ll need to pay into the state healthcare scheme
  • buying comprehensive health insurance to cover you while you’re applying for residency

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

Studying in Switzerland after Brexit

Your EHIC will remain valid in Switzerland until 31 December 2020. If your course starts before this date but continues after, the UK will pay for treatment under existing rules until the end of your course.

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

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 should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free if you move to Switzerland after Brexit. You should take out appropriate travel insurance when visiting the UK, as you would when visiting any other country.

You can use NHS services in England, Scotland and Wales without charge after exit day if you’re living in Switzerland before exit day and:

  • have a UK-issued S1 form
  • have a UK-issued EHIC
  • would have been eligible for the UK to fund your healthcare access if exit day had not occurred

Returning to the UK permanently

If you meet the ordinarily resident test, you’ll be able to access NHS care without charge.

European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC)

The UK and Switzerland have agreed that Switzerland will continue accepting UK EHICs until 31 December 2020. The UK will continue to accept Swiss EHICs until 31 December 2020.

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

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

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.

Working in Switzerland

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

If you work in Switzerland, you’ll need to buy the mandatory basic healthcare insurance. This entitles you to healthcare under the same conditions as Swiss nationals.

The mandatory basic healthcare insurance in Switzerland covers:

  • services provided by a doctor - all costs of services provided by doctors are normally covered, and doctors are required to tell you whether procedures they perform are covered by basic insurance
  • hospital costs - hospitals should be chosen as per the list of hospitals kept by the canton (region) in which you reside; if you get treatment from another hospital, the costs and treatment of the general ward will only be covered up to the amount that would have been reimbursed if you had treatment at your cantonal hospital
  • accidents - if you work 8 hours a week or more, your employer should insure you for work-related and non-work-related accidents under the Accidents Insurance Law
  • medical transport and rescue - insurance covers half the cost of transport or rescue, but with a maximum cover of 500CHF for transport and 5,000CHF for rescue per year
  • emergency treatment outside EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland - insurance covers costs up to twice the value of what you’d have been expected to spend in Switzerland

UK posted workers

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

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

S1 certificate

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

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

You’ll need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate. An S1 certificate helps you and your dependants access healthcare in Switzerland.

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’re 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.

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

The existing healthcare entitlements of UK nationals living in Switzerland before Brexit will be protected. This is because of the Citizens’ Rights Agreement between the UK and Switzerland.

This includes:

  • S1 holders who are living in Switzerland before Brexit
  • UK nationals living in Switzerland at exit day who reach State Pension age after Brexit

If you do not have an S1 certificate, you can still apply for one until 31 December 2020.

It’s important to have all the right documentation and that it’s up to date.

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

Find out more about claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad

Different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

Studying in Switzerland

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

All foreign nationals have 14 days after they arrive in Switzerland to register with local authorities in the town they’ll reside in and apply for a residence permit. This does not apply to tourists.

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.

Find out more about healthcare when studying abroad

Plan your healthcare if you’re moving abroad

Visiting Switzerland

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

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

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 Switzerland at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free, if you’re staying there temporarily.

Make sure that you’re treated by a healthcare provider in the state system, as you will not be covered for private healthcare with an EHIC.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork.

Pre-existing health conditions

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

You must tell the insurance company about any pre-existing health conditions you have so 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 medicines with you.

If you have a UK-issued EHIC, this will be valid for the duration of your stay if your visit begins before 31 December 2020.

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

Healthcare services in Switzerland

Finding help in an emergency

Call 112 if you have a serious or life-threatening emergency.

Dentists

Dental treatment is not covered unless it’s caused by serious illness or an accident.

Hospitals

You’ll need to be referred by a doctor for any hospital treatment, unless it’s an emergency.

Either provide your EHIC or proof of your Swiss health insurance at admission.

Inpatient treatment in a state hospital is covered according to the current tariffs, but not in a semi-private or private ward, or in a private hospital.

Prescriptions

Pharmacies also have an out-of-hours service.

You can ask the directory enquiries service on 1818 for an out-of-hours pharmacy. Information is available in German, French, Italian and English.

You can also search online using SOS-Pharmacy.

You’ll have to pay extra if you buy medicines at an out-of-hours pharmacy.

Bringing your own medicines to Switzerland

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 license 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 about travelling with controlled medicines.

Published 23 September 2019
Last updated 5 November 2019 + show all updates
  1. Added details of the transitional social security agreement.
  2. First published.