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Healthcare under the EU Directive

The EU Directive on cross-border healthcare was passed in 2011.

The EU Directive grants a fundamental right to purchase healthcare services across the European Economic Area for all EEA citizens and to apply for reimbursement from their home system. The EU Directive route to accessing healthcare in Europe is similar to the S2 route, but there are some important differences.

How it works

The EU Directive gives you the right to purchase healthcare services in another EEA country and to aplly for reimbursement from the NHS, as long as the treatment is medically necessary and would be made available to you under the NHS.

It covers both treatment given in state-run hospitals and by private service providers.

In most cases, you will have to pay the costs upfront. You can claim reimbursement when you return, up to the amount the treatment would have cost under the NHS.

Prior authorisation may be required in some cases. This will confirm whether you are entitled to the treatment and the level of reimbursement you can expect. It will also ensure that you are aware of all the possible treatment options within the NHS, which may be more convenient for you than going abroad. Find out what types of services require prior authorisation (PDF, 72kb). Please note that this is not necessarily a definitive list.

You must be allowed to have treatment abroad if you cannot have the same treatment on the NHS within a medically acceptable period. As with the S2 route, if 'undue delay' applies in your particular case, you must be granted authorisation. Find out more about the general rules.

For more information and to ensure you don’t have any difficulties when claiming back your money, england.europeanhealthcare [at] nhs.net (contact NHS England) before making any arrangements abroad.


Below is the map of the European Economic Area Countries


Further infromation can be found via on the NHS Choices Website.



PDF icon EEA Countries & Contact Points1.52 MB