Holidays in the UK
Many organisations provide holiday accommodation for adults and children with a serious illness in the UK. Some organisations also provide financial help to enable people with a serious illness to have a break with their families. You can find out more information by contacting an organisation appropriate to your illness.
Healthcare while travelling in the UK
If you're a UK citizen travelling in the UK and you become ill, you can be treated free of charge by the nearest GP or NHS hospital.
It can help to have a letter from your hospital doctor with you. The letter should describe your condition, giving details of any medicines you are taking and information on how to deal with any potential medical problems.
It helps to wear a medical alert badge or pendant (from a jewellers or chemist) with emergency contact numbers, especially if you are travelling on your own.
Healthcare abroad - Travelling within the European Economic Area (EEA)
If you’re travelling within the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you are entitled to free or reduced-cost emergency medical treatment if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC has replaced the E111 form, which can no longer be used.
The EHIC allows you to be treated on the same basis as a person who is resident in that country. The treatment you are entitled to may not be the same as in the UK. The EHIC can also be used if you need to have on-going treatment while you are abroad, such as regular injections. Every person travelling needs to carry an EHIC. The government recommends that you also buy travel insurance.
Find out how to apply for or renew your EHIC.
Travelling outside the EEA
Some countries outside Europe have an agreement with the UK to provide emergency medical treatment to people from the UK. You will be treated in the same way as a resident of the country you are in, which may differ from what you’d expect from the NHS. Visit the NHS England website for a list of countries, further information about the agreements and information on what is covered. Even in countries where the UK has healthcare agreements, you will need a certain amount of insurance.
In all other countries, including the USA, South America, Africa, most of Asia, and Turkey, you will have to pay the full cost of any healthcare that you have if you become ill. You are strongly advised to take out full medical insurance to cover the cost of any treatment.
The high commission, consulate or embassy of the country you are visiting should be able to give you information on the health care services available.
Claiming costs of treatment
If you need to claim refunds for the cost of healthcare while you are abroad, you need to apply (in person or by post) to the relevant authority in the country you’re visiting. You must enclose the original invoices and documents. If you wait to claim until you have returned to the UK, you should apply to the Pensions and Overseas Benefits Directorate (MED) who will liaise with the authorities of the other countries on your behalf (for contact details see the Health Advice for Travellers booklet). The costs will be refunded from the other country, but this may take a while to arrange.
Contacting relatives if necessary
Keep the names and addresses of friends and relatives with your passport, so that British Consular officials can contact them if their help is needed. If you need to return to the UK quickly, contact British Consular officials. They can usually arrange this for you, but you may need to pay the costs.