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Moving abroad: planning for your healthcare

Ensure you plan ahead

Moving to another country can be an overwhelming experience. Travel arrangements, accommodation and visa or work permit are obvious things to consider when preparing to move, but what about planning for your healthcare?

If you are moving abroad on a permanent basis, you will no longer be entitled to medical treatment under normal NHS rules. This is because the NHS is a residence-based healthcare system. You’ll also have to notify your GP so that you and your family can be removed from the NHS register.

Most people will no longer be entitled to use your UK-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access healthcare abroad.

tipYou should budget for any additional healthcare costs you may face, including health insurance.

Before leaving for your new destination, it's important to check what health services are available to you in that country. Healthcare systems vary from country to country and might not include services you would expect to get free of charge under the NHS.   

In most cases you’ll have to register with the relevant authorities abroad. Once you are registered to work and make National Insurance contributions, you'll be entitled to state-run healthcare on the same basis as a national of that country. However, many countries still expect you to make patient contributions or to join the national health insurance scheme. 

tipThe Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides useful information about Help for British nationals living abroad on the GOV.UK website, including what UK benefits are available to Britons living abroad.

However, there are circumstances in which you might be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK. This depends on whether you want to live abroad permanently, or only work outside the UK for a set period. The assistance available only applies within Europe and can also depend on whether or not you receive a UK State Pension or other UK benefits. For more detailed information see the Living and working abroad section, below.

Moving outside the EEA

You will not be covered for healthcare paid for by the UK if you are going to live permanently outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Planned treatment

If at any time in the future you want to come back to the UK for planned treatment, you must consult your new authorities to find out the options available to you. However, you will be charged in the UK, unless you can provide an S2 (or E112) issued by your country of residence under European reciprocal arrangements.

Living and working abroad 


General requirements

If you move to an EEA country or Switzerland long-term or plan to work in another EEA country, you'll need to register with the appropriate authorities. Once you are registered to work in the country and make National Insurance contributions, you'll be entitled to state provided healthcare on the same basis as a national of that country.

Check whether there are any other entry requirements for the country you are going to. Look up the country-by-country guide for more guidance on access to healthcare or visit GOV.UK’s section on Help for British nationals living overseas.

If you are a worker seconded abroad to an EEA country or Switzerland for more than two years but less than five years, your employer should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for the following forms:

  • A1 - this will show that National Insurance contributions are paid in the UK
  • S1 (previously E106) – this will give you and your family the same medical cover as residents of the country you will be working in

Note: Ensure when you submit the forms you mention relevant family members and dependants.

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

  • Telephone: 0300 200 3506
  • Outside UK: +44 191 203 7010
  • Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday - closed weekends and bank holidays 

Once the S1 form is issued, you’ll need to register it with the appropriate authorities before you register with a local GP surgery.

tipIf you are sent to work in an EEA country or Switzerland for two years or less you’ll have to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which enables you to access healthcare, with a valid and registered A1 form, while working abroad. For more information, contact HMRC.

Note: the maximum length of time that a UK-issued EHIC is valid for is five years.

tipAu pair or nanny – If you are working as an au pair or nanny in an EEA country, you're entitled to an EHIC for a period of up to 12 months. After the 12 months, you must obtain healthcare cover in the country where you are working.

tipBritish Armed Forces – If you are stationed in an EEA country or Switzerland, you and your dependants are entitled to a UK issued EHIC. This means your EHIC will cover you and your dependants if you visit a country other than the one you are stationed in.

UK pensioners

If you are living in an EEA country or Switzerland and you receive a UK State Pension or long-term Incapacity Benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You'll need to apply for a certificate of entitlement also known as an S1 form. If you are living in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland then the form is called E121.

You can apply for your form via the International Pension Centre on 0191 218 7777. Once issued, register the S1/E121 form with the relevant authority abroad. Often you need to do this before you can register with a GP surgery or obtain a medical card.

Once you have registered your S1/E121 in the country you are moving to, you will be entitled to apply for and use a UK-issued EHIC to access state-funded necessary medical treatment when you visit other EEA countries.

tipIf you get a UK benefit, such as short-term Incapacity Benefit or Maternity Allowance, your healthcare cover is subject to different rules. The period of your cover and application criteria may differ depending on your particular circumstances. For more information, contact the International Pension Centre (IPC) or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).


The 33 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

MarcusGB said on 05 August 2015

The Automated system 24 hrs a day, is not working.
The BT Voice when you press 1 after the call is charged at a premium rate number, connects you to a cut off "The other person has cleared!" I wasted 2 calls and of course have been charged.

So that does not work as of 5th August 2015.

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aboldhussar said on 05 May 2015

Good morning, I served 40 years in the British Army and currently live n Germany. I get a Military pension which I pay UK tax and national insurance from, I have paid UK tax and national insurance since I stated work at the age of 15 in 1971. I am getting conflicting reports that because of money saving changes of the rules I am no longer entitled to a form S1 which gives me health cover in another EU country. Also that I am not entitled to health care in UK, is this true?

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eddiepie said on 11 September 2014

Hello All. We are moving to Malta April 2015, my wife is receiving a state pension, i am not, am i covered as a dependent. Kind Regards. Eddie

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thomsonnm1 said on 21 July 2014

Although I receive a basic UK old age pension, I have lived most of my life outside the UK, and am still abroad in the USA. I do have a Nat. Insurance number though. As I am planning on moving to Spain to live out my retirement, do I qualify for the form S1?

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SamKW said on 29 June 2014

Hi, At the moment I'm living in Germany, early retiree. I use my daughters address in England for various admin such as Bank and certain utility bills. I am in receipt of a full U K military pension and two private pensions and I pay UK tax on all of these. I retired early as I have suffered with cancer, Upper and middle lobes removed, right lung ( spindle cell sarcoma) full right axial lymph nodes removal (Melanoma) I do not claim any benefits as I am self funded from my pensions even though I was offered help.
Am i entitled to NHS treatment free of charge when I visit UK or if I need treatment in the future. Can I also get help from the NHS covering medical costs whilst living in Germany. I cannot get the German equivalent state medical cover as I do not have a job so cant pay into the system.
Many thanks

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Jimwin said on 19 May 2014

My wife and I live in Guernsey and we each receive a UK pension. We are applying for an EHIC card but we cannot find out from this website if we will be able to use the card if we need medical treatment whilst visiting the UK.

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Shida63 said on 23 April 2014

Hi Lauda201,
my husband and I are in the same situation. We are both uk pensioners, have worked together for 70 years in the uk. England pays the basic health insurance which is about £100 each to the health insurance and we have to pay the own risk ourselves ( 2x €360) and also for some medication that is not covered by the health insurance companies. We are living in Holland near my daughter who got married to a dutch man. We are in holland to help out with our granddaughter so that my daughter could go back to work. In a way we had no choice but to stay here because my husband suffered a heart attack which has also speeded up his dementia. He needs a lot of care . Now i need my daughter to help me too. So we were kind of forced to stay here. I hate the fact that i have to pay for any health costs after all the contributions we have made. I had hoped to work as a supply teacher in one of the international schools but I have been told that if I do that, I will lose the basic health cost that the uk pays. It is all so stupid. A dutch pensioner moving to the uk will be better off than us moving to holland.

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SeptimkusFry said on 24 March 2014

Not sure if one gets a reply here, but here goes:

I am 75, receiving my state pension and resident in France. Since arrival, I have been integrated into the French health system, i.e. the state reimburses a proportion of my health costs and a medical third-party assurance ( ca. € 1000/an) reimburses most or all of the balance.

It seems, from the information here, that, if I had a form S1 then my medical costs would actually be paid for by the NHS - the organisation for which I paid contributions from my salary for 45 years.

Is this correct ? And, if so, how long is the mandate of a Form S1 ? Where would I get a Form S1 ?

I do hope there is some method for responses !

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john philippo said on 17 March 2014

I have been resident in Spain for 6 years with an allocated Spanish doctor but I am in the process of moving to live in The nederlands. I have already seen a local Dutch doctor about a knee injury which requires keyhole surgery.
I am told this can be done within 48 hours.
How do i go about getting NHS cover for this treatment. Any advice will be most welcome.

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chrisrobin said on 28 February 2014

There is a possibility that I will be taking early retirement later this year and living between the UK & Poland at least for a year or two. I will not be working there full time but may at times do some part-time work. Likewise when I'm in the UK I may do some part-time work.

I'm unclear what classes as residency from the perspective of NHS care. I was informed today by telephone that if I live more than 183 days in one year in Poland then I lose my NHS entitlement but what then of the 182 days I'm in the UK? I'm aware that from a tax perspective the criteria is more complex and there is a possibility that I may be classed as resident from a Tax perspective and pay my Tax here. Or at the very least my tax situation is split between both countries.

I'm not sure of the S1 form how to progress with this and this issue of the S1 form when I will be back and forth and not in full time work? I will probably be in the UK for 4 months out of 12 and still paying council tax etc Any advice would be appreciated.

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Jeanhw said on 07 February 2014

Does anyone know if I need pay contributions towards my German health insurance if I am covered by an E121(S1)?

I live in Germany and draw my pension from the UK.

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Lauda201 said on 07 January 2014

I am trying to find a definitive answer to a relatively simple question. I moved to an EU country 3 years ago, and was issued with a EUHI card. I have found that not 1 hospital or GP accepts the card as valid payment for medical attention. I contacted the office in Newcastle, only to be told that I shouldn't have been given the card in the first place, and that was why it wasn't being accepted - WRONG - the card that was being refused wasn't in fact mine, but that belonging to a pensioner who also lives here for his treatment. So, no reliable explanation for that one.
Then I asked, what do I do for medical care? Basic answer - pay for it. Have I got this right? For the whole of my working life I paid NI contributions, now until I reach pensionable age, when I may need assistance,I will have to pay for it myself? If I was on holiday here, the NHS would pay. I still pay UK tax on my income plus the 20 per cent mandatory tax in this EU country.

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Taliskerman said on 03 February 2013

Wonder if anybody can help??

Iam planning to move to Switzerland on a permanent basis and my work permit is getting processed. I have a 5 yr old boy who has diplegia( cerebral palsy) which has affected his mobility ad needs support.

I have been trying to get some information about whether there will be any support from NHS just for him as he receives higher DWP category benefit. Looking at the Swiss health care premiums, we are not sure whether there will be any support for his future tretments and management.

Any help in giving an insight will be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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sjdw said on 25 January 2013

My Husband is nearly 82 and i am 65 we regularly visit Gibraltar. Would we be covered for any medical or hospital care if unexpectedly required whilst in Gib ? Any Advice welcome and appreciated.

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liliput114 said on 14 June 2012

My 83 yr old Mother is moving to Germany to live with me as she has Dementia she needs the care which I can give her.
How do we go about it ? She has an EHIC card and recieves her state pension and attendance allance,
Please help someone as i am at my wits end .

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jackietopp01 said on 15 March 2012

Hi, can anybody tell me the situation regarding EHIC when living abroad (France) my husband will be working but I will not we are both under pension age. Can we still use EHIC?

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Diatom said on 15 March 2012


I am starting up a limited company registered and based in London. My income taxes and national insurance contributions will be paid in the UK, however I will be living permanently in Spain and operating de company from there. ¿Am I still entitled to healthcare paid by the UK? ¿Am I entitled to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

Thanks in advance for your advice

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lovesrings said on 06 December 2011

Hello can any one help please I'm 66 and geting old age pention I want to go and live in MALTA but I don't know if I can still get my pention and could I still get my medicationj on the HNS . Thank you for any help

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mouchas said on 28 November 2011

If I am retired, receiving a UK State Pension and live for 6 mths in UK and 6 mths in an EU country how can I get repeat prescriptions? I have a UK GP

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mfl said on 08 October 2011


I am moving to France to live with my partner who is French. As I am only 30 and not quite at pensionable age yet, I m unsure as what I need to do. Everything I have read so far mentions pensions one way or another, and I am now a little confused!

I will not start work immediately on arrival, and may in fact study for a year or more.

Do I need an s1? Where do I get one?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

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AlbusDumbledore said on 23 September 2011

To Kidson

If you are in receipt of a UK Pension then its an S1 form you require.

The purpose of the S2 is 'authorisation for medical/maternity treatment abroad where the main purpose of that visit is for treatment/give birth'

the S1 Form you can attain that from the Pension service on 0044 191 218 7777.

Give them a call and they should be able to issue that form over to you, which you can then register with your local authorities in Portugal and that form will cover you and any dependants resident in that member state.

Hope this helps

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Kidson said on 23 September 2011

Having retired I have now become a resident of Portugal and have recently applied to join their healthcare scheme.

They informed me here in Portugal that I need an S1 form from the UK - As I receive a UK State pension I understand I should automatically be provided with such a form but that has not been the case.

I have also read somewhere that because I receive a UK State Pension I will be provided with an S2 form in lieu of an S1 - can anyone tell me if that is the correct? What entitlement differences if any are there between the two?

I am starting from scratch so any information would be welcomed and appreciated

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AlbusDumbledore said on 15 September 2011

Hi all,

can i ask why you need the S1 form, obviously i understand you may be emigrating but depending on the reason for emigrating you may need to contact a few different departments

For Example

1) if you have retired and you would like to enjoy your retirement in an EU country then you need to contact the pension service on 0191 218 7777 or 0044 191 218 7777 from abroad, that S1 would cover you and any dependants. Usually this form is issued automatically to pensioners but if not the pension service can re-issue this.

2) an S1 may be issued to family members of E101, E102 or E106 holders if that sounds familiar.

The E101 and E102 are now known as A1 forms

You would be in receipt of an A1 form if your a posted worker in another EU country usually this forms confirms your still paying the UK National Insurance Contributions whilst working abroad.
if working abroad you may need to contact HMRC for your S1 so that telephone number is 0845 915 4811 or 0044 191 225 4811 from abroad.

if again you are a non-employed person(s) with underlying entitlement to Incapacity Benefit who go to live abroad or family members of the un-employed person you need to contact the Pension Service on

0191 218 7644
or 0044 191 218 7644

I understand the numbers for the Pension Service may be different however hopefully this will help you to get through to the correct department.

Thanks and Good Luck!


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Dickey said on 09 August 2011

`Johnys6` is obviously extremely patient as he did have the normal aggravating problems! The site does not say how to get the application forms so thanks to `Rosiesmum` for telling us. Why hasn`t the site been updated since the EU rules changed April 2010? How much other info is out-of-date?

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johnys6 said on 07 August 2011

I don’t understand why people on this page are finding it so difficult I moved to France last year contacted Newcastle in plenty of time ok once or twice I was redirected incorrectly but eventually spoke to someone who knew what they were talking about filled in all the appropriate forms and went to France, a month later our S1 came through the post, hiccup with the wife’s it had to go back but two months later our S1 was sorted down to the local French CEPAM two months later all official we are now on the French system The NHS have washed their hands of us after 50 years of contributions, that I do not agree with, the whole process hasn’t been difficult just time consuming with the occasional little jobs worthy being awkward and uncooperative

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Rosiesmum said on 22 April 2011

First one on here says:

For those that need an S1 form, (previously an E121) you need to contact the pension service, Tyneview Park, Medical Benefits, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE98 1BA. e-mail

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tindara said on 16 December 2010

For those that need an S1 form, (previously an E121) you need to contact the pension service, Tyneview Park, Medical Benefits, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE98 1BA. e-mail

When registered this will give you the same entitlement to health care as a national of the EU country. This form only applies to those in receipt of a UK state pension but will also cover family members/dependents.
I have done this in Italy and received my card and now have a local doctor. The UK will still issue the EHIC in accordance with the change of rules on 1/5/2010.
If you are working abroad only, I suggest that your employer should be sorting this out for you. Hope this helps.

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jgl said on 28 September 2010

my friend has lived in italy for more than 3 years,2 years ago he had aheart attack ,he is now on medication to alieviate the problem.he is having problems however registering with a doctor to recieve said medication ,he does however know a doctor who is supplying him with the medication.could anyone supply him with an email address so that he can actually find out what he needs to actually register with a doctor for any other ailments he aquires.

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Yddav said on 02 September 2010

Actually they don't look at these comments .. perhaps "last reviewed" should say last read and according to the date below it was last read 30th April 2009 and won't be looked at again until April 2011. theres no hope!

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Yddav said on 02 September 2010

I begin to think that since no one has answered the previous questions, that the organization does not read our comments.??? Surely if the forms have changed we should be able to download them by now? or are we still living in the dark ages and have to make a telephone call and expect it by pidgeon post?

Maybe it is here .. somewhere.. and I am just not looking in the right place??

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GRCS said on 03 June 2010

Where are the answers to the questions raised by the previous commenters?

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Mike Jackson said on 02 June 2010

Well said, suzanne!!
I'm not faintly interested in NHS public relations rubbish. I came to this site for INFORMATION. Is that too much to ask? I need a S1 card. Where do I go to get one?
Simples, no?

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suzanneelizabeth said on 25 May 2010

How about some information on the website as to how and where we can apply for card S1. We are moving to France in July and need this info.

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Page last reviewed: 01/07/2014

Next review due: 01/07/2016

Changed rules for early retirees

New rules state that if you retire early to another EEA country you can no longer apply for UK funded healthcare

Other important contacts

UK state pensioners can obtain an S1 (or E121) by phoning 0191 218 7777 (Monday to Friday 8am–8pm).

UK long-term Incapacity Benefit holders can obtain an S1 (or E121) by phoning the Working Age Group Incapacity Benefit team on 0191 21 87644  (Monday to Friday 8am–5pm).

The phone number for the Employment Support Allowance team is 0191 2182050  (Monday to Friday 8am–5pm).

Apply for a free EHIC 

The EHIC is entirely free of charge. However, other, unofficial, websites may charge you if you apply through them. Apply now for your free EHIC.

If you're having difficulties with the online application form, to update your personal details, or to replace a lost or stolen card, call the automated EHIC application service on 0300 3301350.

For general enquiries about the EHIC or claim refunds, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999. If calling from abroad ring +44 191 218 1999.

Moving to Spain? Think about your healthcare

Are you a British national thinking of moving to Spain? This animation tells you how to register for healthcare as a resident in a way that is easy to understand. This video was produced by the Department of Health and the British Embassy in Madrid. Follow their top tips for a healthy and happy life in Spain.

Media last reviewed: 01/10/2014

Next review due: 01/10/2016

Country-by-country guide

Find out if you are entitled to free or reduced-cost healthcare when travelling in the European Economic Area (EEA)

Going abroad?

If you're travelling to an EEA country, make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Want to have treatment abroad?

Find out what your options are if you wish to have NHS-funded treatment abroad, and how to go about it