UK nationals living in the EU, EFTA and Switzerland: Healthcare

Information on healthcare for UK nationals living in the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) 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 UK nationals and EU and EFTA citizens.

This means the UK government will continue to pay for healthcare costs for current or former UK residents who are living or working in or visiting the EU. The government wants to work with EU partners to reach such agreements.

But if countries do not agree to extend the existing healthcare arrangements, your access to healthcare when visiting the EU and EFTA may change and become like arrangements in the rest of the world.

You are therefore strongly advised to review your access to healthcare. If your current arrangements end in the event of no deal, you should urgently take steps to prepare. This will differ according to the country you are living in.

How you can prepare

Read NHS advice about the country you live in for more information on accessing healthcare in countries in the EU/EEA and Switzerland.

Register for healthcare

If you are eligible, register for healthcare under the local rules of the country you live in. You may have to be a long-term legal resident or pay social security contributions to access free or discounted healthcare in the EU or EFTA country.

It is recommended that you get comprehensive health insurance while you are applying for residency.

Health insurance

You may need to buy healthcare insurance in the country you live in so you can receive the healthcare treatment you need.

Information for students

If you are a UK resident and studying in a country in the EU, your UK EHIC and/or A1 National Insurance form may not be valid in the event of no deal. You are strongly advised to buy comprehensive insurance to cover your healthcare for the full duration of your placement, as you would if visiting a non-EU country.

If you are a UK resident studying or about to study in an EFTA country (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland), and are entitled to a UK EHIC, your EHIC rights will remain valid for the duration of your course, as long as you stay on the course. You will need to:

  • enrol on your course before the date the UK leaves the EU
  • enter the country you’re studying in before the date the UK leaves the EU

You should always buy travel insurance for any health treatment you may need, just as you would for a non-EU country.

Find out more about healthcare:

S1 certificate (formerly known as E106)

An S1 certificate helps you and your dependents access free healthcare in the country where you live in the EU/EEA/Switzerland. If you have an S1 certificate, it may not be valid in the event of no deal, depending on decisions by and arrangements with your host state. You should go to the NHS website for the latest information on each country.

You can continue to apply for an S1 certificate prior to a no-deal scenario.

You may be eligible for an S1 certificate, if you:

  • have worked and paid contributions in the UK
  • receive some UK benefits such as pensions

Apply through the Business Services Authority for an S1 certificate on 0044 (0)191 218 1999.

If you are a posted worker, contact HMRC: National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
United Kingdom

Telephone: 0044 (0)300 200 3500

Outside UK: 0044 (0)191 203 7010

Agreement with Switzerland

The UK has agreed a Citizens’ Rights Agreement with Switzerland in both a deal and a no-deal scenario.

Find out more about the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement.

Agreement with EEA EFTA states

The government has agreed citizens’ rights agreements with the EFTA states (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) which will protect the healthcare rights of UK nationals resident in those countries at exit even in a no-deal scenario.

Find out more information on the EEA EFTA separation agreement (for a deal scenario).

Find out more information on the EEA EFTA citizens’ rights agreement (for a no deal scenario).

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 28 January 2019
Last updated 26 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. We have updated the information for students about EHIC rights when studying in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.
  2. Updated with information about health insurance.
  3. First published.