Healthcare in the UK for EU, EEA and Swiss Students

Updated on 17 May 2021

For students currently in the UK or coming to the UK before 31 December 2020

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This information is for students currently in the UK or coming to the UK before 31 December 2020

Pre-settled status

You are still required to possess Comprehensive Medical Insurance for the duration of your pre-settled status, even though you will not be asked about this during the application.

NHS Scotland, and regional differences

There are slight differences in the provision of healthcare in each of the countries in the UK. When referring to healthcare information, always make sure you are checking information for NHS Scotland.


Register for healthcare

You will need to register with a GP after arriving in Scotland. If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, NHS staff may ask to see your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). They may also ask for a letter that shows you are a student, which you can request through eVision.


Is all healthcare free?

In Scotland, most NHS services are provided free of charge, including:

  • GP practices
  • local pharmacies
  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • emergency services
  • NHS prescriptions
  • eye tests (you will need to pay for spectacles/contact lenses)
  • dental examinations (you will need to pay for treatments)

You might be able to get free dental treatment, and help with other NHS costs. Use the form at to find out.

You may be entitled to healthcare in the UK paid for by an EU country.

Coronavirus Covid-19 treatment

People who have come to Scotland to work, study or claim asylum (including refugees) will not pay for any coronavirus tests or treatments they need.

Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI)

UKVI requires students and their families to have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) during their stay in the UK.

Most EU, EEA, or Swiss students can obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from their country of residence prior to coming to the UK. This card allows EEA nationals to get the same medical treatment, which is free to residents of the country they are visiting, without being charged.

If you are unable to obtain an EHIC, you must take out a private, comprehensive medical insurance plan.

Students' dependants must also show they are insured.

European Health Insurance Card

The EHIC obtained from your country of residence is acceptable evidence of Comprehensive Sickness Insurance, if your stay in the UK is to be temporary.

The UK government does not accept entitlement to the National Health Service as sufficient evidence, so you will need to get the EHIC before you leave your country of residence or obtain the adequate insurance.

Apply for an EHIC

You should apply for an EHIC in your country of residence. Find the application form for your country.

Anyone insured by or covered by a state social security system in any EU Member State, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland can use an EHIC card in the UK.

Non-EU nationals who are legally residing in the EU may obtain an EHIC card, but their EHIC is not usable in the UK, Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland

If you lose your EHIC

If you have lost your EHIC, and need treatment, you should apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC). Contact your domestic healthcare provider and ask them to send a PRC to the NHS facility where you're being treated.

If you cannot provide an EHIC or PRC you will likely be charged for any non Accident and Emergency treatment. Most EEA permanent residents can obtain a refund for all or part of their treatment costs from their health care provider when they return home.


Private comprehensive medical insurance

If you are not able to acquire an EHIC card before coming to the UK, you will need to take out a comprehensive private medical insurance plan in order to show that you have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance.

This private plan must cover most of the medical treatment that you may receive in the UK.

The definition of CSI does not include:

  • cash back health schemes such as: dental, optical, prescription charges
  • travel insurance policies with access to the UK’s NHS

See the official UK guidance for EEA nationals for more information


Insurance for if you have to return home for treatment

Regardless of the healthcare that you can get on the NHS you should have medical insurance that covers the cost of a return journey to your home country.

In the unfortunate event of serious illness or accident the costs of transport with medical support are not covered by the EHIC, or by any special health arrangements that Scotland has with some countries outside the EEA and Switzerland and neither the Scottish Government nor NHS Scotland will pay for a journey home with medical cover.

Source: NHS Inform

Additional private insurance

The waiting list for certain NHS procedures can last months. Private medical insurance may give you quicker access to healthcare. The UK Council for International Student Affairs advise you to consider the possible need for supplemental insurance including:

  • lost fees if you are unable to complete your course
  • costs of returning home if a relative is ill
  • costs of a relative visiting you in the UK if you fall ill
  • cost of returning to your home country for treatment

International Advice Service

+44 (0)1382 385676