How to get state healthcare when you’re on holiday or travelling to a country in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel advice
This information is about visiting the EU. There’s different guidance for healthcare if you’re:
At the moment, when you travel to an EU country you should have both:
- a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
- travel insurance with healthcare cover
You can use an EHIC until the end of 2020.
If you’re visiting an EU country on 31 December 2020, you can continue to use your EHIC until the end of your visit to that country.
An EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. Make sure you have both before you travel.
Each healthcare system is different, and in some countries you’ll need to pay to have treatment.
European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC)
An EHIC covers state healthcare, not private treatment.
With an EHIC you can get emergency or necessary medical care for the same cost as a resident in the country you’re visiting. This means that you can get healthcare at a reduced cost or for free.
Find out what an EHIC covers in each country. You can select the country you are planning to visit from the drop-down list.
An EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance – it does not cover everything, such as mountain rescue or being flown back to the UK. Make sure you have both before you travel.
You’ll need to pay in full for treatment if you do not have an EHIC.
The following European countries do not accept the EHIC:
- the Channel Islands, including Guernsey, Alderney and Sark
- the Isle of Man
- San Marino
- the Vatican
How to apply
Replacing a lost or stolen EHIC
If you’re still in the UK, you can apply for a new EHIC for free on the NHS website.
Using EHIC from 1 January 2021
You’ll still be able to access healthcare using a UK-issued EHIC for visits that begin from 1 January 2021 if you’re either:
- a UK State Pensioner living in the EU before the end of 2020
- a UK student studying in in the EU before the end of 2020 until your course finishes
- a ‘frontier worker’ (someone who works in one state and lives in another) before the end of 2020, for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker in the host state
- an EU national living in the UK before the end of 2020
Travelling with a health condition
Buy travel insurance with healthcare cover for your condition. You can use an EHIC for emergency treatment.
If you need to have treatment while you’re abroad, you may need to pre-arrange it. For example, if you need dialysis or oxygen treatment. Speak to your doctor in the UK for advice before you travel.
You can use a UK prescription in pharmacies in EU countries.
Bringing medicine with you
You need a letter to prove your medicine is prescribed to you if it contains a ‘controlled drug’. You may need to show this at the border when you’re entering or leaving the UK.
You may also need a licence for controlled drugs if:
- your trip is longer than 3 months
- you’re travelling with more than 3 months’ supply
Read more about travelling with controlled medicines.
Travelling to have planned treatment
You cannot use an EHIC for planned treatment. For example, if you’re going abroad to give birth.
You can apply for NHS funding for planned treatment. There are 2 ways to do this:
- the S2 route
- the EU directive route
Read the NHS guide to going abroad for medical treatment for more information on these funding routes.