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, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. There’s different guidance for healthcare if you’re:
When you travel to an EU country you should have either:
- a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
- a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)
- travel insurance with healthcare cover
An EHIC or GHIC 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.
Visiting Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland from 1 January 2021
You can use a UK passport to get medically necessary healthcare in Norway.
For most people, UK-issued EHICs are not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland from 1 January 2021.
Make sure you take out travel insurance with medical cover for your trip.
You may not have access to free emergency medical treatment and could be charged for your healthcare if you do not get health cover with your travel insurance.
Visits that start in 2020 and end in 2021
If you’re visiting Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland over the Christmas and New Year period, your UK EHIC entitlements will continue until you leave that country.
Using an EHIC from 1 January 2021
Some people can get a new UK-issued EHIC which will remain valid for visits to Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland that begin from 1 January 2021.
You’ll be able to apply if you’re:
- an EU, Norwegian, Icelandic, Liechtenstein or Swiss national living in the UK before 1 January 2021
- receiving a UK State Pension or some other ‘exportable benefits’ and living in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland before 1 January 2021
- a ‘frontier worker’ (someone who works in one state and lives in another) before 1 January 2021, for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker in the host state
- an eligible family member or dependant of one of the above
UK students using an EHIC
If you’re in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland on 31 December 2020 because you’re studying there, you need to apply for a new EHIC.
This entitles you to medically necessary state healthcare until the end of your course.
European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC)
An EHIC or GHIC covers state healthcare, not private treatment.
With an EHIC or GHIC 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 or GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance – it does not cover everything, such as mountain rescue or being flown back to the UK (medical repatriation). Make sure you have both before you travel.
You’ll need to pay in full for treatment if you do not have an EHIC, GHIC or provisional replacement certificate (PRC).
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
If you do not have your EHIC or GHIC with you
You’ll need to apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) if you need treatment and you do not have your card, or your EHIC is lost or stolen abroad.
Call the Overseas Healthcare Services. This is part of the NHS Business Services Authority (BSA).
NHS Overseas Healthcare Services
Telephone: +44 (0)191 218 1999
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Travelling with a health condition
Buy travel insurance with healthcare cover for your condition. Your EHIC will cover medically necessary 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.
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.