Healthcare in Iceland

Each country's health system is different and might not include all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS.

This means you may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care.

Visitors to Iceland

Finding help in an emergency

If you find yourself in a serious or life-threatening emergency during your stay in Iceland, dial 112. Calls to this number are free of charge from any phone, including mobiles.

Ambulance services are not free of charge, so it's best to only call an ambulance if the patient is not in a fit state to go by car, taxi or bus.

There's a fixed charge for EHIC holders. If you cannot show a valid EHIC, you'll have to pay the full cost.

You might want to download the 112 Iceland App, which provides added safety if you plan a lot of outdoor activities in Iceland.

Other important numbers to note down are:

  • 1770 – medical assistance
  • 444 1000 – police
  • 575 0505 – dental emergencies

Ambulance services are not free of charge in Iceland.

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

Emergency medical care is provided to anyone requiring urgent attention.

You can expect to be charged in full for any care provided without an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

You should always buy enough travel insurance and make sure you have access to funding to cover any medical treatment abroad.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund.

Currently, your EHIC enables you to access the necessary state-provided healthcare in Iceland at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free, if you're staying there temporarily.

If you're asked to pay for health services upfront, it's likely that you're not being treated under the state health system.

EHIC does not cover certain costs, including:

  • private treatment
  • being brought back to the UK
  • mountain rescue services
  • cruises

Be careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative.

They might reassure visitors that they can claim back whatever is paid out, but they're referring to private insurance and not the treatment given under the EHIC.

Provisional replacement certificate (PRC)

A PRC is a certificate demonstrating a person's entitlement to EHIC.

If you need healthcare but do not have your EHIC with you, you can call Overseas Healthcare Services and ask them to send a PRC to show to the hospital. This will avoid you being directly charged.

Contact Overseas Healthcare Services:

UK: 0191 218 1999
Outside UK: +44 191 218 1999

Open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm UK time.

People with pre-existing health conditions

If you have a pre-existing health condition, you should buy medical travel insurance before visiting Iceland.

You must tell the insurance company about any pre-existing health conditions you have to make sure you can get the cover you need.

If you have an EHIC, this will be valid until the UK leaves the EU, but may not work after that.

If you have a pre-existing condition that will need treatment while abroad, ask your doctor in the UK for advice before you travel.

Make sure you take any documents about your health condition or medication with you.

If you're travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, see our section about seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Dentists

Children under the age of 18, state pensioners over the age of 66 and those receiving invalidity benefits are entitled to a partial reimbursement for dental treatment.

You'll have to pay the bill in full and then seek reimbursement at the local Icelandic Health Insurance office.

Make sure you keep the receipt, have a valid EHIC and prove that you're a pensioner or entitled to benefits.

Hospitals

To be admitted to hospital, you need a referral from a GP. Immediate admissions are only possible in emergencies.

Generally, there's no charge for inpatient treatment. But you'll be charged IKR 5,400 for outpatient treatment.

There are no private hospitals in Iceland, with all inpatient and ambulatory care being state-funded.

Prescriptions

You must pay for your prescription in Iceland.

Bringing your own medicines to Iceland

Some prescribed medicines contain drugs that are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation in the UK. This means that extra legal controls apply to these medicines.

You may need a personal licence to take controlled medicines abroad.

Specific requirements also apply to:

  • the information that you must take with you
  • how you carry your controlled medicines

You can visit the GOV.UK website for more information about travelling with controlled medicines.

After the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your access to healthcare when visiting Iceland is likely to change.

If you're planning to visit Iceland after the UK leaves the EU, you should continue to buy travel insurance and ensure that any insurance product you buy has the necessary healthcare coverage to ensure you can get any treatment you might require.

UK citizens are always advised to take out travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations.

If you're currently using an EHIC issued by the UK, this will still be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

The UK government is seeking agreements with countries, including Iceland, on healthcare arrangements for UK nationals after the UK leaves the EU.

This guide will be updated with further information on travelling to Iceland as the circumstances change.

Working in Iceland

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

If you have been resident in Iceland for more than 6 months and are registered with Registers Iceland, you have access to the national health service under the Icelandic Health Insurance Fund.

If you're a worker posted to Iceland by a UK company, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK in Iceland.

Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for more details:

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AN
United Kingdom

Telephone: 0300 200 3500
Outside UK: +44 191 203 7010

Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (closed weekends and bank holidays).

For more information, see Planning your healthcare when moving abroad.

After the UK leaves the EU

If you have lived in Iceland for longer than 6 months and are registered with Registers Iceland, you may have access to the national health service under the Icelandic Health Insurance Fund.

You may need to apply for a residence permit. The Directorate of Immigration website explains the eligibility criteria and application process for work permits.

If you're a UK posted worker, you may be able to buy into the state system (if permissible) to continue to receive the healthcare you need on the same terms as an Icelandic national.

Alternatively, you may need to obtain private healthcare insurance.

Pensioners in Iceland

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

If you live in Iceland and receive an exportable UK State Pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK.

You'll need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate.

You may need to liaise with a different team, depending on the exportable benefit.

Further information is available under Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on the GOV.UK website.

Different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

S1 certificate (formerly known as E106)

An S1 certificate helps you and your dependants access healthcare in the Iceland. If you have an S1 certificate, it'll be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

After this date, the certificate may not be valid, depending on decisions by member states.

You should continue to apply for an S1 certificate until the UK leaves the EU.

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 for an S1 certificate through the Business Services Authority

For exportable UK pensions and contribution-based Employment Support Allowance, you can apply for your certificate via the International Pension Centre at the Department for Work and Pensions on 0191 218 7777.

Further information is available under Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on the GOV.UK website.

Different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

After the UK leaves the EU

If you're resident in Iceland and have been for 6 months, you may be able to register with Registers Iceland to gain access to the national health service under the Icelandic Health Insurance Fund.

If you do not have residency, you'll need to apply for a permit. Further information can be found on the Directorate of Immigration website.

You may be able to apply for a permanent residence permit if you have stayed in Iceland for 4 years.

Students

Until the UK leaves the EU, if you're going to study or are currently studying in Iceland as part of a UK-recognised course, you may be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK government.

You and any dependants will need an EHIC.

The government always advises UK citizens to take out travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations.

After the UK leaves the EU, you may need to apply for a residence permit. The Directorate of Immigration website sets out the eligibility criteria and application process for students' residence permits.

You should continue to buy travel insurance and ensure that any insurance product you buy has the necessary healthcare coverage to ensure you can get any treatment you might require.

Page last reviewed: 28/01/2019
Next review due: 28/01/2022