8. Travelling abroad

The Department of Health website includes information for people travelling abroad: www.nhs.uk


Taking Medicines Abroad

Information on taking medicines abroad can be found here: https://www.formularymk.nhs.uk/includes/documents/Taking-medicines-abroad-5.pdf



Travelling Abroad

Under NHS legislation, the NHS ceases to have responsibility for people when they leave the UK. However, to ensure good patient care, the following guidance is offered:

  • People travelling within Europe should be advised to carry an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
  • GPs are not responsible for the prescribing of items required for conditions, which may arise while travelling e.g. travel sickness, diarrhoea. Patients should be advised to purchase these items locally prior to travel. Advice is available from community pharmacists if required. For conditions unresponsive to self-medication the patient should normally seek medical attention abroad.
  • Medication required for a pre-existing condition should be provided in sufficient quantity to cover the journey and to allow the patient to obtain medical attention abroad. If the patient is returning within the timescale of a normal prescription (usually one or no more than three months*) then this should be issued. For longer visits abroad, the patient should be advised to register with a local doctor for continuing medication (this may need to be paid for by the patient). NB. It is wise to check with the manufacturer that medicines required are available in the country being visited.
  • Advice from the NHS Executive: There is no explicit time limit on prescriptions for patients travelling abroad, but as patients would normally be removed from a GP's list if absent for 3 months or more, we would not expect a prescription to be for more than 3 months. Of course, the actual length of any prescription would depend on the GPs clinical judgement.
  • Emergency travel kits are available in two forms: the 'basic kit' contains items such as disposable needles and syringes, IV cannulae, sutures and dressings; the 'POM kit' contains additional items such as plasma substitues and medicines. A private prescription is required for the latter. The kits, or lists of suppliers, are available through community pharmacists. Neither kit is available under the NHS.

It should also be borne in mind that many countries have strict laws where visitors are carrying drugs about their person, particularly controlled drugs and this fact should always be taken into account in advice to patients.

For information on controlled drugs, please refer to HM Customs & Excise Notice 4; Taking Medicines with you when you go abroad, available on the HM Revenue and Customs website.

EHIC and E112 Forms:
Arrangements exist for patients already receiving or drugs at NHS expense in the UK to obtain drugs and other treatment in another EC country at UK expense. Under these regulations, two forms can be issued to provide medical insurance to cover visitors from the UK to another EC country.

EHIC: Intended to cover a UK resident for any medical treatment that becomes necessary, free or at a reduced cost, when temporarily visiting a European Union (EU) country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Only treatment provided under the state scheme is covered. For more information about what is covered in each country see the country-by-country guide.  To obtain treatment an EHIC is required. These are issued free of charge, applications available from Post Offices, or on 0300 3301350 or apply on-line at www.ehic.org.uk.

Please note: An EHIC is now issued on an individual, as opposed to a family, basis.



New EHIC rules from July 1 2014

What has changed?

Each country’s healthcare system is slightly different. With your EHIC, you should be able to get the same treatment as a resident of the country you're visiting.

In some countries, you may have to pay a patient contribution, also known as a co-payment. These payments are typically for such things as GP or dentist consultations, prescriptions, or stays in hospital. See our country-by-country guide for more details.

Since July 1 2014 you are no longer able to claim a reimbursement of these co-payments in the UK.

What does this mean for me?

If you visit another EEA country where that country requires its own citizens to pay a patient contribution, you will also need to pay this. You will no longer be able to claim reimbursement for this payment when you return to the UK for treatment received after July 1 2014. 

You may still be able to claim reimbursements for any co-payments you made for treatment received abroad before July 1 2014. 
Your EHIC will continue to allow you to receive medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip and you will be treated on the same basis as a resident of the country that you are visiting.

Where can I get advice?

For further advice, contact the Overseas Healthcare Team (DWP):
Overseas Healthcare Team
Room MO601, Durham House
Tyne & Wear
NE38 7SF
Phone 0191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday 8am–5pm).

E112: The issue of Form E112 for people going to another EEA country specifically for medical treatment, will not usually be considered unless:

  • a UK NHS consultant recommends treatment in the other country and a full medical assessment has been made
  • the CCG agrees to meet the cost of the treatment
  • the treatment is available under the other country's state health insurance scheme
  •  the patient is entitled to an EHIC.

Last updated by: Dupe Fagbenro on 18-04-2018 16:50