In recently published guidance, the Home Office has clarified that European nationals will be able to continue to access the NHS without charge until at least 31 December 2020.
During this time, EHIC cards will continue to be valid and will be continue to provide cover. The Home Office does recommend that European visitors also hold valid travel insurance.
The position for European visitors after 1 January 2021 is less certain as it is contingent on the outcomes of trade talks which will continue throughout 2020. In the future European nationals visiting the UK may be charged for healthcare as other overseas nationals are. The future of the EHIC card is uncertain. It may be that visitors will need to rely on private travel and health insurance in the future.
European nationals who are lawfully resident in the UK by the end of 2020 will continue to be entitled to receive free NHS healthcare. To be lawfully resident, a European national who is resident in the UK before the end of 2020 will need to register on the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline for registration is 30 June 2021.
Overseas nationals who apply for a visa which is valid for more than six months currently pay the immigration health surcharge. This gives them access to free NHS healthcare during their residence. European nationals arriving in the UK for the first time after 2020 who plan to stay for longer than six months may need to factor in the cost of the immigration health surcharge. This is currently £400 per year of the visa per person and is expected to increase.
Access to emergency treatment in an A&E department and frontline services in GP surgeries will continue to be available without charge.
We will be providing updates on agreements reached on the rights of European citizens in the UK as the 2020 trade negotiations progress. .
There will be no changes to healthcare access for residents from the EEA and Switzerland who visit the UK before the end of 2020. From 1 January 2021, EEA/Swiss visitors may not be covered for healthcare as they are now and may become chargeable.