UK nationals who no longer live in the UK

The NHS is a residency-based system, and under NHS rules, UK nationals who move abroad permanently lose their entitlement to free NHS healthcare. 

UK nationals living and working in EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland on or before 31 December 2020 and family members may be eligible to use NHS services without charge. We advise that you check with the relevant authority where you live for further information before travelling to the UK. 

UK nationals who moved to the EU on or after 1 January 2021 should not expect to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK unless you have an EHIC, PRC or S2 to show your healthcare costs are paid for by the EU country where you reside, or another exemption applies. 

If you live outside the EU, including former UK residents, you are not automatically entitled to free NHS care. You should make sure you have personal health or travel insurance to recover costs from your insurer for any treatment you must pay for. You will be charged at 150% of the NHS national tariff unless an exemption applies to you or the service you are accessing, or you have a reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and your country.  

General practitioner (GP) 

A General Practitioner (GP) is your family doctor and is the main point of contact for general healthcare for NHS patients. All UK residents are entitled to the services of an NHS GP. You need to register with a GP as soon as you can when you arrive in the UK so you can see the GP when you are sick.  

To register at a GP practice, you must complete a registration form known as a GMS1.  

Find a GP in your area

Do I need documents to register with a GP?  
You do not have to provide ID when registering with a GP, but it is helpful to do so.  

It is helpful if you can provide at least one of the documents below when registering with your GP:  

  • ARC card 
  • Biometric residence permit 
  • Birth certificate 
  • HC2 certificate 
  • Passport 
  • Travel document 
  • Utility bill 

There is no charge to register with a GP and once you are registered, there is also no charge to see your GP. If your GP decides that you need medicine, you will receive a prescription which you will need to take to any pharmacy. 

Paying for prescriptions  

In England, prescriptions are charged by the item. Current prescriptions charges are £9.15 for each medicine or appliance dispensed.  

If you have been issued with a HC2 certificate, you will not be charged for the medicine. You should show this to the pharmacy staff and tick the correct box on your prescription. 

In Northern Ireland and Scotland, all prescriptions are free with prescription charges removed in Scotland in April 2011. 

If you are registered with a GP in Wales you are entitled to free prescriptions from a pharmacist in Wales. If you live in Wales but are registered with a GP in England, you will be issued with an entitlement card. This allows a prescription issued in England to be dispensed at a pharmacy in Wales for free. 

The NHS prescription prepayment scheme helps patients in England save money on the cost of their prescriptions. You could be entitled to help with these costs depending on your circumstances. Check what help you could get to pay for NHS costs 

  • Free prescription guide for patients  
  • guide to help with health costs including charges and optical voucher values 

Prescription Prepayment Certificates (PPCs) 

If you live in England and don’t fall into certain health or income related categories, you will have to pay for your prescription. A PPC lets you get as many NHS prescriptions as you need for a set price. 

If you regularly pay prescription charges, a PPC could save you money. The prescription charge in England is £9.15 per item. A PPC costs: 

  • £29.65 for 3 months 
  • £105.90 for 12 months 

People with certain medical conditions can get free NHS prescriptions if they have a valid medical exemption certificate. Having a bleeding disorder is currently not a valid medical exemption.  

Check to see if you can apply for a medical exemption certificate. If you’re not sure about the name of your condition, speak to your doctor. 

Hospital services 

Hospital treatment is free to people who are ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK. To be considered ordinarily resident and entitled to free hospital treatment, you must be living in the UK on a lawful and properly settled basis for the time being. You may be asked to prove this. 

NHS hospitals have a duty to identify and charge overseas patients for hospital treatment they receive. Hospitals are required to check documentary evidence of entitlement to prove that you are ordinarily resident in the UK. 

To establish your eligibility, the hospital may ask you questions about your residential status when you register for a clinical appointment. All patients admitted to UK hospitals must provide the correct information when registering their details, whatever their nationality and residence status. If you live lawfully with a settled purpose in the UK, or are a visitor to the UK, you should provide evidence. 

You must bring at least one valid document from each of the lists below to your first hospital appointment: 

Proof of identity 

  • Citizen card 
  • Current signed passport 
  • EU or Swiss national identity photo-card 
  • Photographic disabled blue badge 
  • Residence permit issued by the Home Office   
  • Valid armed or police forces photographic identity card 
  • Valid UK photo-card driving licence 

Please note, it is best to bring proof of your right to reside in the UK (for example a UK or EEA passport, EEA national ID photo card, Visa or residence permit issued by the Home Office, Biometric Residence Card or Permit, Asylum Registration Card or valid UK armed or police forces photo ID). This will help determine your eligibility quicker and avoid delays in your treatment. 

Proof of address 

  • Bank, building society or credit union statement or passbook 
  • Council tax bill (valid for the current year) 
  • Current council/housing association rent book or tenancy agreement 
  • Notification letter from Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue and Customs confirming your right to benefit or state pension 
  • Recent original mortgage statement from a recognised lender 
  • Recent original utility bill (gas, electric, water, telephone) (mobile not acceptable) 

If you cannot provide the documents, you may have to pay a deposit equal to your treatment’s estimated cost before you receive an appointment or treatment. 

What is an NHS number? 

Your NHS number is unique to you. It helps healthcare staff and service providers identify you correctly and match your details to your health records. 

If you have an NHS number, it does not mean you’re automatically entitled to the free use of all NHS services. 

Patients in England are required to contribute to the cost of their NHS care, such as paying prescription costs, eye or dental charges and you will be required to make the same contributions.