Retiring Abroad: The Implications For Your Healthcare


When thinking about retiring abroad, one of the most important things to take into consideration is healthcare.

What is on offer, and are you able to easily and affordably access it? Residents of the UK are used to excellent healthcare with no charge, via the NHS. It can be a shock to the system to find that your new country’s healthcare system works quite differently. Read our guide to what to expect from your healthcare when leaving the UK after retirement.

Are You Retiring Within The EU?

As a general rule, the NHS is a residence-based system and people who move permanently abroad are no longer eligible for medical treatment. Usually, UK citizens who are travelling in the EU are covered by their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) but that becomes void once you are actually resident in another country.

However, if you receive a UK State Pension (or another exportable benefit) then the NHS might still cover the costs of any healthcare treatments you have in your new country. In order to access this, you need to apply for a “certificate of entitlement” (S1) from the International Pension Centre.

Once you have received it, you can register it with your new country and access their healthcare system. You can then also apply for your EHIC card, which will cover you for medical treatment throughout the EU and EEA, if you travel from your new country of residence on holiday or for a short visit.

Are You Retiring Outside The EU?

Unfortunately, there is no provision for the NHS to fund your medical needs if you retire outside the EU, and you will need to do as the locals do. Some countries which are very popular with UK retirees such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand offer universal healthcare, which is along the same lines as the NHS and free at the point of service.

It is incredibly important that you take advice if you are retiring outside Europe, especially if you are retiring to a country with a healthcare insurance system. Ensure you work out the best and most cost-effective method for you to access the coverage you need.

What If You Want To Come Back And Get Treatment On The NHS?

You can use the NHS for specific treatment if you want to - this is known as “planned treatment”. If you would like to come back to the UK for a specific medical reason (but while remaining resident in your new country) then you will be charged for using the NHS.

If you are coming back from an EU country however, you might be entitled to free treatment under a reciprocal agreement. To save some money when transferring money abroad, make an account with Wise, to securely move your money without incurring bank transfer fees. Retiring abroad can be a complicated and confusing process, so we’ve put together some guides to give you an overview of how it can affect your finances, your pension and your tax situation.

Read them and see where you stand.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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