UK passport holders working abroad

If you work anywhere outside the UK you can get healthcare from the NHS in Scotland if you lived in the UK legally for more than 10 years before moving abroad and:

  • you have come back to the UK for a visit at least once every 2 years
  • your contract of employment allows you to visit the UK at least once every 2 years
  • your employer will pay for the cost of your return to the UK at the end of your contract

Working in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland

If you work in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you can get healthcare from the NHS in Scotland if you:

  • have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued in the country where you work
  • pay compulsory UK National Insurance contributions (your employer will be able to tell you about this)

Working out with the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland

The UK has special healthcare arrangements with some countries outside the EEA. If you live in one of those countries, you can get some healthcare from the NHS when visiting Scotland.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides a list of countries with a health care agreement with the UK.

Accessing healthcare

When registering you may be asked to show the following documents:

  • your passport
  • your EHIC card
  • documents showing that you lived in the UK for 10 years (for example, evidence of employment in the UK, schools attended in the UK, previous UK addresses)
  • your employment contract

If you don’t have the documents they ask for, NHS staff may not be able to treat you as an NHS patient. You may need to pay for any care you receive.

Healthcare costs

Free healthcare for UK passport holders and their families who normally reside overseas is dependant on their particular circumstances. There are, however, some treatments that may incur a cost.

Families of UK passport holders

If you are registered as an NHS patient your partner and children might also qualify for healthcare. If you have children they must be aged under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education.

UK passport holders living abroad

If you have a UK passport and you move to Scotland to live permanently, you can get healthcare from the NHS.

In order to receive care, you will need to register with a GP as soon as you arrive in Scotland.

Find out how to register with a GP.

Accessing healthcare

When registering you may be asked to show:

  • your passport
  • documents showing that you intend to stay in the UK – for example, the lease or mortgage for your home in the UK, council tax documents, a TV licence, one-way travel tickets, or a bill for shipping goods to the UK

If you don’t have the documents they ask for, NHS staff may not be able to treat you as an NHS patient and you may need to pay for any care you receive.

Find out more about accessing NHS services and treatments.

Healthcare costs

Free healthcare for UK passport holders and their families is dependant on personal circumstances. There are, however, some treatments that may incur a cost.

Families of UK passport holders

If you are registered as an NHS patient your spouse or civil partner and children will also qualify for healthcare. If you have children they must be aged under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education.

Staff at the GP surgery will ask you to fill in a form to register your family. You may need to show your marriage or civil partnership certificate and birth certificates for your children to complete the process.

UK pensioners living abroad

If you receive a UK pension or UK war pension, you can get NHS healthcare when you visit Scotland if you spend at least:

  • six months of the year in the UK and the rest of the time in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
  • nine months of the year in the UK and the rest of the time in another country

Permanently living abroad

If you live abroad all or most of the time and need treatment when visiting Scotland, you will be able to get this from the NHS if you:

Travelling with an illness or condition

If you have an EHIC card, you will also be able to get NHS treatment for a condition or illness that you had before coming to Scotland.

If you don’t have an EHIC card, you may be able to get treatment for an illness or condition that you had before you came to Scotland, if it gets worse after you arrive. It is up to the doctor providing treatment to decide whether to treat you as an NHS patient.

Accessing healthcare

If you are a UK pensioner and need treatment, NHS staff may ask to see the following to help them decide if you should be treated as an NHS patient:

  • Your UK pension book or war pension book
  • A letter from the Department for Work and Pensions saying that you receive a UK state or war pension
  • Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you don’t have these documents, you may need to pay for any treatment you receive.

Families of UK pensioners

If you receive a UK state or war pension your partner and children might also qualify for healthcare. If you have children they must be aged under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education