If you are coming to Scotland on holiday or to visit friends or relatives, you may have to pay for any healthcare you need while you are here.
You should always get travel insurance with medical cover before your trip.
If you need treatment while you are in the UK, NHS staff may want to see:
- your passport or national identity card
- documents showing where you live that prove you are registered for work or receive health care in your own country
If you don’t have these you may need to pay for any care you receive.
More about accessing NHS services and treatments
Holidaymakers eligibility to receive free healthcare while in Scotland will depend on their individual circumstances. However, access to emergency treatment is free until the overseas patient is stabilised.
European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland citizens
If you normally live in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will not have to pay any treatment while you are here. This includes treatment for an illness or condition you had before you travelled and routine maternity care.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Before you travel to Scotland you must get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in your own country.
NHS staff may ask to see your EHIC before starting any treatment. If you don’t have an EHIC, they might not be able to treat you as an NHS patient and you may need to pay for any care you receive.
If you're normally resident in the Republic of Ireland (RoI) you don't need an EHIC card to receive NHS treatment in Scotland.
However, if you have an EHIC you can show it to NHS staff. If you don't have an EHIC they might ask to see proof that you're normally resident in the RoI. This could be your Irish passport or driving licence.
Non-EEA or Switzerland citizens
The UK has special arrangements with some countries outside the EEA. If you come from one of those countries you will be able to get some free healthcare while you are here.
If you don’t normally live in the EEA or Switzerland and your country does not have an agreement with the UK you will need to pay for all of your healthcare.
The Scottish Government provides details of who is entitled to healthcare through reciprocal agreements.
If you become ill or have an accident and need transport with medical support to go back to your home country, you will have to pay for this. This is not not covered by the EHIC, or by any arrangements with countries outside the EEA.
If you run out of medicine while you are visiting, you can find a local GP surgery and ask to make an appointment.
The GP will decide if you can be registered as a temporary resident and may ask to see:
- your EHIC card
- your passport
- a document showing where you live
If you are registered as a temporary resident, you will not need to pay to see the GP.
If you are not registered as a temporary resident, you may need to pay to see the GP and pay the full price for each medicine on the prescription.
Medicines without a prescription
Alternatively, you can find a local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for a small supply of the medicines you need.
If the pharmacist agrees to do this, you will need to pay the full price for the medicines.
The Scottish Government provide more information for overseas visitors regarding the health service.
Healthcare in Scotland for Holidaymakers from Overseas (Factsheet)
This information is also available as a factsheet, which has been translated into different languages and formats - including audio and large print.
Print-ready versions for professionals are also available.
Download a factsheet