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Planning your healthcare abroad

If you're moving abroad on a permanent basis, you'll no longer automatically be entitled to medical treatment under normal NHS rules. This is because the NHS is a residence-based healthcare system.

You'll have to notify your GP practice so you and your family can be removed from the NHS register.

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'd expect to get free of charge on the NHS. You may have to pay a patient contribution towards any treatment you get, or it may be necessary to take out health insurance.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) provides useful information for British nationals living abroad on GOV.UK, including information on entry and residence requirements, health, benefits and finance.


Use the GOV.UK country healthcare guides to find out how to access state healthcare services if you're moving to an EU country or Switzerland.

In most countries, you'll have to register with the relevant authorities.

Once you're registered as a resident, to work and make social security (national insurance) contributions, you'll be entitled to state-run healthcare on the same basis as a resident of that country.

Even if you're not working, many countries expect you to make patient contributions or to join a national health insurance scheme.

Moving to Europe

There are circumstances in which you might be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK.

This will depend on whether you want to live abroad permanently or only work outside the UK for a set period.

The assistance available only applies within the European Union (EU) and in Switzerland and can also depend on whether you receive a UK State Pension or some other UK benefits.

You can use a UK-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) to access healthcare for temporary stays, usually up to 90 days.

Once you're registered to live and work in an EU country or Switzerland, you should not use your EHIC or GHIC to get healthcare in that country.

However, you may be able to get an EHIC card from that country for travel.

If you live in an EU country or Switzerland, you may also be eligible to apply for an S1 form once you begin to draw a UK State Pension.

You will not be covered for healthcare paid for by the UK if you're going to live permanently outside the EU and Switzerland.

Posted workers

If you're a worker temporarily posted by a UK company to an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK in the country you're posted to.

You can find out more from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC):

Contact HMRC about health cover abroad (UK residents)

Contact HMRC about health cover abroad (non-UK residents)

If you move to an EU country or Switzerland and you receive a UK State Pension, 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 form. S1 forms show that your state healthcare is paid for by the UK if you live in an EU country or Switzerland.

If you’re applying for an S1 form in Switzerland, you'll need to satisfy additional nationality criteria to be eligible. You'll only be issued with an S1 in Switzerland if you're a UK national, a Swiss national, an EU citizen, a refugee or a stateless person, or if you're the family member or survivor of someone who has one of these nationalities or statuses.

If you receive both a pension from the country you now live in and your UK State Pension, you cannot get an S1 form. This is because the country you live in will be responsible for your healthcare.

If you receive your UK State Pension as well as a pension from an EU member state, but are now living in a different EU state, the country to which you paid contributions toward your pension for the longest period becomes responsible for your healthcare.

Healthcare if you have an exportable benefit

If you've been living in an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland since before 1 January 2021, and you receive contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or some other exportable benefits, you may also be entitled to an S1 form.

Read more about claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on GOV.UK

How to get an S1 form

You can apply for an S1 form from the Overseas Healthcare Services.

Telephone: +44 (0)191 218 1999


Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm (GMT)

You can apply for an S1 form up to 90 days before moving to live in an EU country. You can ask for the form to be sent to your UK address if you need it for your visa application.

But for the S1 form to be issued, you need to have an address in the EU country you are moving to. This can be a temporary address, but you must contact NHSBSA and the relevant authority in the country you are moving to, to let them know your new address (if it changes). This is to prevent important confidential information being sent to the wrong address.

How to use an S1 form

Once issued, register the S1 form with the relevant authority in your country of residence.

Often you need to do this before you can register for healthcare or obtain a medical card.

If you have registered an S1 in an EU country, you'll be able to use your UK-issued EHIC or GHIC to access state-funded necessary medical treatment when you visit other EU countries. You'll not be able to use it in Switzerland.

Changes to who can get an S1 form

The rules have changed around S1 cover for people who claim the following exportable benefits:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Carer's Allowance (CA)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)

These benefits currently entitle you to an S1 form if you moved to an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland before 1 January 2021, for as long as you receive that benefit.

If you do not yet have an S1 form

You can no longer get an S1 form based on receiving one of the exportable benefits listed above.

However, it may still be possible to receive an S1 if you export your Maternity Allowance or certain qualifying industrial accident or bereavement benefits.

Read more about exporting benefits on GOV.UK

You may also be entitled to an S1 form through exporting a UK State Pension or other qualifying benefit if you are in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you already have an S1 form

You'll continue to be covered by your S1 form if you already have one for as long as you're receiving one of the above benefits.

If you have a time-limited S1 form, you can apply to renew it, as long as you're still receiving one of the benefits listed above.

Further information about accessing NHS services can be found on the visiting or moving to England pages.

Page last reviewed: 21 January 2021
Next review due: 21 January 2024