Healthcare for UK nationals visiting the EU

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

See the latest health advice for UK travellers following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

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
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • the Vatican

How to apply

Apply for an EHIC for free on the NHS website.

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.

You’ll need to apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) if your EHIC is lost or stolen abroad.

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.

Read the Money and Pensions Advice Service guidance for buying travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

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.

Getting prescriptions

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.

Published 28 January 2019
Last updated 13 March 2020 + show all updates
  1. Link to the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) travel advice added.

  2. Added new section on how to get help paying for treatment after Brexit, and update on student EHICs.

  3. Added link to Foreign Office travel insurance guidance in the travel insurance section.

  4. Increased visibility of calls to actions. Highlighted the guidance on what to do to prepare for Brexit, agreements with EFTA countries (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and studying in the EU.

  5. Updated guidance on buying travel insurance.

  6. First published.