European nationals do not automatically have free healthcare coverage, nor free access to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. The only exception to this is if you are an Irish passport holder, which means that you can access the UK’s NHS system in the same way as a British citizen without obtaining any additional documentation or insurance.
In most cases, European nationals will be able to obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from their country of residence prior to coming to the UK. This card allows EEA nationals to access the NHS without being charged for treatment from a GP and/or initial, non-specialist hospital treatment. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) healthcare webpages have more details on which types of treatment you would be entitled to under the NHS in England.
To be eligible for an EHIC, you must be insured by or covered by a state social security system in any EU member country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. The European Commission’s EHIC webpage has more information on applying for an EHIC.
If you do not hold a valid EHIC card or are ineligible for one, then you might be asked to pay for your medical treatment and therefore, we strongly recommend that you ensure you are covered by an insurance policy that includes coverage of medical expenses.
Important to know:
- These healthcare arrangements will remain in place until 31 December 2020 the end of the current transition period, for EU/EEA and Swiss Nationals coming to the UK. We'll update this article once we have more information on health care arrangements after 31 December 2020.
- You are advised not to rely on EHIC rights at any point, as this is not an alternative to travel insurance
- We also advise you to ensure your insurance includes adequate healthcare for any period you study or work away from your home country.
- Take a look at UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) webpage on healthcare for EU/EEA/Swiss students in light of Brexit